There’s absolutely nothing like a spectacular fight for the top four and right now, the Premier League has one of the best. Five teams all battling it out for European glory and only one will make the cut for the most glorious European competition there is, while the others settle for scraps.
Welcome to the Premier League, the greatest and most marketable football league in the world because it has arguably the two best teams in Europe plying their trade. It’s where physical, tough-tackling footballers are born and where style and panache comes to die, although sometimes that moment of magic can be the difference between Europe and no Europe. Five teams, one Champions League spot, two Europa League spots, and one Europa Conference League spot. There is also a potential Europa League final for one.
But everyone is vying for just the one and it’s the spot in the most glorious, chaotic, and marvellous European tournament there could ever be. No not the Europa League but the Champions League and after Arsenal’s massive win over Chelsea and then Manchester United, the race is open again. Tottenham and their rivals sit only slightly behind the Gunners while Manchester United’s humbling losses to Liverpool and Arsenal have handed West Ham and Wolverhampton Wanderers a lifeline in the race.
Once again, we look to a supercomputer and it believes that the battle lies only between the two North London rivals and the two North London rivals only. But does it? Does it really?
The European scenarios:
3rd: Chelsea – 65 points (32 games) GD +40 | GF 67 | GA 27
4th: Arsenal – 60 points (33 games) GD +12 | GF 52 | GA 40
——————————————————–————————— (Champions League cut off)
5th: Tottenham – 58 points (33 games) GD +18 | GF 56 | GA 38
6th: Manchester United – 54 points (34 games) GD +2 | GF 53 | GA 52
——————————————————–————————— (Europa League cut-off)
7th: West Ham United – 52 points (34 games) GD +8 | GF 52 | GA 44
——————————————————–————————— (Europa Conference League cut-off)
8th: Wolves – 49 points (33 games) GD +4 | GF 33 | GA 29
For Chelsea (3rd) to finish in a Champions League place:
Well, the Blues will finish in a Champions League place even with their recent blip in form because thanks to their 65 points total, so far, they’ll need to lose all six games left and need other factors to go their way to drop out. That includes either Tottenham or Manchester United winning their remaining games although even one more win, aka the game against Manchester United, puts it beyond the Red Devils.
Nine more points from the remaining six games and that puts it beyond both Tottenham and United which is why Thomas Tuchel’s side are nailed on to finish in the top four. Well not completely but more like a 99% nailed on to finish in the top four.
Games left: Manchester United (A), Everton (A), Wolves (H), Leeds (A), Leicester (H), Watford (H).
Chances of finishing in the top four: A world class 99%
For Arsenal (4th) to finish in a Champions League place:
The emotional rollercoaster that Arsenal have put their fans through this season has been downright incredible with them even sitting in the relegation zone at one point. Then they improved on that and became the standout challengers for the last top-four place before losing three games in a row. Unhappy with that, Mikel Arteta’s side has now beaten both Chelsea and Manchester United in consecutive games which has placed them back in pole position for the final top-four spot.
It’s been a weird up and down season but the supercomputer has predicted a 69 point season for the Gunners, which means at least three wins from their next five games. But, the game that will essentially decide things will be the North London derby. Tottenham sits two points behind and if both sides keep the same pace, then that game will be the decider although not really. Because, thanks to the way things sit, even if Arsenal do lose that game, then winning their remaining four games might give them a chance.
That’s only if Tottenham loses at least twice in their run-in and Arsenal somehow manage to beat West Ham, Leeds United, Newcastle United and Everton. However, Goal Difference could come into play, if somehow the two sides finish on the same number of points, and right now Arsenal are behind their rivals. Spurs have a better Goals For tally (56 to 52) and a better Goals Against tally (38 to 40) which means a better Goal Difference (12 to 18), and that’s something Arsenal need to improve.
How? By scoring goals and not conceding as many, football is simple like that.
Games left: West Ham United (A), Leeds United (H), Tottenham (A), Newcastle United (A), Everton (H)
Chances of finishing in the top four: A shocking 66%
For Tottenham (5th) to finish in a Champions League place:
When Arsenal dipped out of the top four, Tottenham took full advantage and won three games on the trot by a combined scoreline of 12-2. Then the pressure took over, Spurs lost to Brighton and produced a goalless draw against Brentford to hand Arsenal the top four place again. But with only two points separating the two sides, Spurs don’t need a minor, or even major, miracle to make the cut because the final top four place hinges on the North London derby.
The winner of that particular game has the best chance of finishing in that final spot but even if Tottenham lose, much like Arsenal, then winning their final four games keeps them in with a shout. Now while that is dependent on Arsenal losing, at least, twice, Spurs also have to play Liverpool, Leicester City and Burnley which might just be a tougher run-in than many think. Not that Arsenal’s is any better with games against West Ham, Newcastle, Leeds United and Everton.
But that’s where Goal Difference and all that comes into play because since Spurs, at the moment, have the better GD (12 to 18), it might help them. They still have to better Arsenal’s results though although at this point, even one win vs one loss/draw might turn this race around.
Games left: Leicester City (H), Liverpool (A), Arsenal (H), Burnley (H), Norwich City (A).
Chances of finishing in the top four: A not great 34%
For Manchester United (6th) to finish in a Champions League place:
With a deal for Erik ten Hag done, many expected a response from Manchester United but instead, the Reds flew away to a 4-0 win. That trend continued against Arsenal as the Londoners walked away with a 3-1 win. Combine that with a lack of creativity, a lack of confidence, a lot of defensive issues and just a lack of hope across the field, and it doesn’t give United a great chance of finishing inside the top four.
But still, with 54 points and four games left, they’re not completely out of the race although to leapfrog both Arsenal (six points ahead) and Tottenham (four points ahead), they’ll need something bordering a minor miracle. Winning all four games will give them 12 points for a 66-point finish which may be enough only if Arsenal and Tottenham lose their heads and don’t manage to win any of their last five games.
However, should either side earn eight (in Arsenal’s case) or nine (in Tottenham’s case) points, then Manchester United will have to settle for a fifth or sixth place finish. Unless their situation goes to hell and, somehow, they manage to lose all four of their remaining games, then things could get even worse for the Red Devils.
Games left: Chelsea (H), Brentford (H), Brighton and Hove Albion (A), Crystal Palace (A)
Chances of finishing in the top four: Less than 1%
For West Ham United (7th) to finish in a Champions League place:
Even with that loss to Chelsea on Sunday, West Ham are still shockingly in this race and that alone has stunned more than a few fans. But the Hammers will most definitely need something between a minor and major miracle to get there because they’ve got four games left and 52 points. It means that David Moyes will need his side to win every game left for a 64-point season and hope that everyone else disappears from the race.
Or you know, that they lose all their remaining games left but should Arsenal and Tottenham get anywhere close to 64 points, then that’s game over. At least as far as a direct position via the league goes because as it stands, Moyes and West Ham are in the Europa League semi-final. That means a win, over two legs, to Eintracht Frankfurt and they’re only one more win away, in their first European final, from a Champions League spot.
It remains their best route to Europe’s top club competition but sometimes you never know, miracles do happen.
Games left: Arsenal (H), Norwich (A), Manchester City (H), Brighton and Hove Albion (A)
Chances of finishing in the top four: Even less than Manchester United’s less than 1%
For Wolverhampton Wanderers (8th) to finish in a Champions League place:
That loss to Burnley, on Sunday, has all but put Wolverhampton Wanderers out of the Champions League race and yet with five games left, they’re still, somehow, mathematically in the race. However, even then with only 49 points to their name after 33 games, Bruno Lage will need his side to win all five of their remaining games for a 64-point season. Then, much like West Ham, they’ll need everyone else to disappear off the face of the earth.
Or you know, lose multiple games of football which might be the easier wish to grant. But while Lage’s team have been a defensive behemoth this season with only Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool conceding fewer, they’ve struggled to score goals. Just 33 goals, in as many games, makes them the fourth-lowest scoring team this season and their run-in doesn’t make their task any easier. Games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, at a still to be decided date, are arguably about as tough as it gets.
It’s also why they have the lowest chance of finishing fourth but, and this is a big one, they’re in with a great shout of making a Europa League or Europa Conference League place. To do that, they’ll have to win more and better West Ham’s results and/or win two games more and then better Manchester United’s results. That might be a tough task but it’s within their grasp and it would make for a lovely debut season prize for Lage.
Games left: Brighton and Hove Albion (H), Chelsea (A), Norwich City (H), Liverpool (A). Date TBD: Manchester City (H).
Chances of finishing in the top four: Even less than West Ham’s even less than Manchester United’s less than 1% aka the least.