The Fight for the Champions League Places

Grace Crispin

The Fight for the Champions League Places

The race for the final Champions League place is heating up - with Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and West Ham looking to compete in the highest level of European football.

Six points separate fourth-placed Tottenham and seventh-placed Manchester United, even eighth-placed Wolves are only two points from West Ham and United.

However, another potential factor could be Chelsea. The Blues seemed to be locked in for third place, but after two painful defeats, they thumped Southampton 6-0 on Saturday at St Mary’s.

With form dipping in and out for many and injuries affecting teams - it could be a lot closer than many could’ve anticipated at the start of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham currently occupies the coveted fourth spot with 54 points after 30 games played. With no current cup competitions to focus on, Spurs can fully focus on a return to the Champions League.

Spurs have four wins in their last five, including an important 3 - 1 win over top-four rivals West Ham before the international break. Tottenham moved fourth when they defeated Newcastle 5-1, before further consolidating their position with a 4-0 victory against Aston Vill last time out.

Tottenham have seen vast improvements under Antonio Conte, especially with top scorer Heung-min Son and Harry Kane hitting form at just the right time. Son has 17 goals for the season, with Kane also picking up 12 so far whilst creating eight assists. The duo have now passed Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard for most goal combinations in the Premier League, contributing over 50% of all of Spurs’ goals.

The key fixtures for Tottenham’s push for a top-four finish are: Brighton (H), Leicester (H), Liverpool (A) and a North London derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Spurs have won four of their last five games against Brighton and also have a good record against Leicester - three wins in the last five.

However, Spurs’ record at Anfield leaves much to be desired. Tottenham last won at Anfield in 2011 and have only won there six times since 1909. Spurs have also had a mixed experience in the North London derby more recently, with two wins in the last five, but they have also lost the last two.

Premier League Top 4 Odds

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TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR @ 1/3

Arsenal

The Gunners had a less than favourable start to their Premier League campaign - their worst start in 67 years, losing the opening three games. Before their 3 - 0 defeat to Crystal Palace, Arsenal had beaten Aston Villa, their tenth win in 13 games. The loss at Selhurst Park saw them concede fourth place to North London rivals. The Gunners’ hopes of the Champions League places were further dented by a shock 2-1 home defeat to Brighton at the weekend.

Arteta

Arsenal have two wins in their last five games, with one of the three losses coming against title-challenging Liverpool.

However, injuries may have a big impact on Arsenal’s ability to play Champions League football next season. Centre back Takehiro Tomiyasu is said to be making progress with his injury, with a potential return in April. Yet, other main fixtures in the side, Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey are still out and have no potential return date. The fate of their top-four hopes may lie in how well Nuno Tavares and Sambi Lokonga can step up.

The Gunners no doubt have a tough run in to finish the season, facing all of their tour four rivals in the last eight games. Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the London Stadium while also hosting Manchester United at the Emirates.

United have historically had an impressive record at both Highbury and the Emirates Stadium, winning 56 of the 98 games played there. But, The Red Devils have only won once in their last five meetings with Arsenal in the Premier League. The Gunners also boast good records away at Chelsea, Tottenham and West Ham.

Premier League Top 4 Odds

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ARSENAL @ 9/4

West Ham United

David Moyes West Ham

The Hammers not only find themselves in the tight fight for Champions League football, but also in a close Europa League Quarter Final with Lyon. The first leg finished 1 - 1, West Ham battling the French side despite being down to ten men.

West Ham sit in sixth place with two wins in their last five games and 51 points. A defeat to Tottenham before the international break dented their hopes a little, but wins against struggling Everton and Aston Villa have kept them in contention. Although a recent defeat to Brentford has put them back on the back foot again.

The Hammers make the trip to Stamford Bridge and to Brighton’s Amex Stadium in important fixtures. Whilst also hosting top four contenders Arsenal and title-challenging Manchester City in the penultimate game of the season.

West Ham have a good record at Chelsea, who have begun to stutter in their league form. However, Manchester City at home has always been a difficult fixture for The Hammers, with City winning 38 games of the 53 hosted at the Boleyn Ground and London Stadium. This is also the case against Arsenal, who have won 38 of the 65 games away at West Ham.

Premier League Top 4 Odds

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WEST HAM UNITED @ 150/1

Manchester United

ronaldo fernandes man united

Following a blockbuster summer transfer window, with Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varana moving to Old Trafford and the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, United looked ready to progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Following his departure, interim boss Ralf Ragnick has only lost three Premier League games, but has still failed to make significant progress.

The Red Devils are completely out of contention to win any trophies, having exited all cup competitions this season - making this their fifth successive season without a trophy.

Manchester United have won just three wins in their last 12 games, with the most recent of those victories coming against top-four rivals Tottenham and struggling Leeds. The Red Devils need to continue picking up points in order to avoid the Europa Conference League or no European football at all.

United’s run-in sees some favourable ties with relegation candidates Norwich and Brentford. But, they still need to travel to Anfield and the Emirates Stadium and host Chelsea at Old Trafford.

Premier League Top 4 Odds

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MANCHESTER UNITED @ 20/1


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