The race for the top 4

It’s the most prestigious prize, other than winning the league itself, for a Premier League team to finish in the top four to then go on and play some of the biggest of teams in Europe. With just nine games to go, the race for fourth is all but finished, Chelsea, Tottenham, Everton and Arsenal will all fancy their chances of playing Champions League Football next season.

 

Just seven points separate Chelsea (3rd) from Everton (6th). Tottenham have played a game extra. That means that if Arsenal and Everton win their next games, they’ll be within touching distance from 4th place. Arsenal will be only a point behind their London rivals, whilst Everton will be a win away from equalling the same amount of points Spurs have. The showdown between #EFC and #THFC on April 7th, could well determine who has, or who hasn’t got what it takes to be battling it out with Europe’s elite next season.

 

Tottenham

 
Tottenham seemed to have squandered a 7 point cushion over 5th placed Arsenal, whom at the time looked all but out of contention for the fourth spot. But back to back defeats against Liverpool and Fulham have landed given the following pack a chance to play catch up. It’s exciting viewing for the neutrals as Spurs, once again looked to have pressed the self-destruct button, the same button Harry Redknapp pressed at the same stage last season. Having not won in their last three, conceding eight goals in the process, Villas-Boas’ side need to start playing the same type of football that got them into such a strong position in the first place.

 

Tottenham’s remaining fixtures

 

  • Swansea (A)
  • Everton (H)
  • Chelsea (A)
  • Man City (H)
  • Wigan (A)
  • Southampton (H)
  • Stoke (A)
  • Sunderland (H)

 

Verdict:

 

Spurs face four tough fixtures on the spin as they look to crack the top 4 once again. Wigan away is never easy and with the team competing on the European stage as well, this may distract Bale and co as they look to finish in that Champions League spot. I think they’ll just miss out.

 

Chelsea

 

Chelsea sit in 3rd and look set to secure a place in the top four once again.  They have 55 points at present, a point above Tottenham with a chance to stretch the gap to 4 points as they face Southampton next weekend. With Man City falling further behind United, they could well be dragged in to the scrap for 4th. Having collected 6 points in their last 2 outings, unlike rivals Arsenal and Tottenham, Rafa Benitez may well leave the club in the summer with a place in the competition that they defied the odds by winning last season.

 

Chelsea’s remaining fixtures:

 

  • Southampton (A)
  • Sunderland (H)
  • Tottenham (H)
  • Fulham (A)
  • Liverpool (A)
  • Swansea (H)
  • Man United (A)
  • Aston Villa (A)
  • Everton (H)

 

Verdict:

 

Still in the FA Cup alongside the Europa League, Chelsea have to play the most games out of anyone challenging for the top 4 before the end of the season. Tiredness shouldn’t be a factor as Mata continues to impress alongside Hazard and Lampard in the #CFC midfield. Tottenham, Liverpool, United and Everton still to play, it may come down to the last day of the season, but I  think they’ll have a Champions League spot come the end of the season.

 

Arsenal

 

Arsenal haven’t had the best of seasons under Arsene Wenger and this is quite arguably the biggest test that the Arsenal manager has had to face to date, racing for the Champions League spot. Anything but a top 4 finish would be a huge disappointment for an Arsenal side that have qualified for the competition 16 consecutive seasons. Fortunately for Arsenal fans, they have an easier run in than their closest rivals, and with Tottenham seemingly in self-destruct mode, they are back in with a chance for a top 4 place, something that looked unlikely after their 2-1 defeat to Spurs at the Lane.

 

Arsenal’s remaining fixtures:

 

  • Reading (H)
  • West Brom (A)
  • Norwich (H)
  • Everton (H)
  • Fulham (A)
  • Man United (H)
  • QPR (A)
  • Wigan (H)
  • Newcastle (A)

 

Verdict

 

Since their move to the Emirates, Arsenal have made the top 4 time and time again, against the odds. Their solely focusing on the Premier League at present, coupled with the easiest run in out of the 4 teams competing for a Champions League place. Having seemingly sorted their defensive woes out after the Tottenham defeat, there should be no reason why Arsene Wenger’s side shouldn’t once again qualify for the Champions League.

 

Everton

 
Everton have the slimmest chance of Champions League qualification from the four teams mentioned. They sit in 6th place, and are 4 points off fourth placed Spurs. It may seem a mountain to climb with just 9 games to go, but a run which sees The Toffees face Tottenham could lift them closer that Champions League place. Overcome that, and the match against Arsenal that will see them play 3 games in 9 days ( Spurs, QPR, Arsenal) and David Moyes could well be on course for a season in the Champions League next term.

 

Everton’s remaining fixtures:

 

  • Stoke (H)
  • Tottenham (A)
  • QPR (H)
  • Arsenal (A)
  • Sunderland (A)
  • Fulham (H)
  • Liverpool (A)
  • West Ham (H)
  • Chelsea (A)

 

Verdict:

 

In two words, slim chance. Footballs a funny game! A few wins on the trot can set you up for a mammoth last few games of the season however I can’t see this happening. Trips to Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea I feel will be far too much for this Everton side. Fair play however, if they do gain a Champions League place this season!

 

The race for fourth looks set to go down to the last few weeks of the season, and with the Premier League title already settled, the focus should well settle on this very interesting race indeed.

 

Top 4 Prediction:

 

1- Man United

2- Man City

3 – Chelsea

4 – Arsenal
Follow @Welbecked on Twitter.

 

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