With eight games left in the English Premier League campaign, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea all have a realistic chance of securing Champions League football next season.
Concise News reports that just a few weeks ago, Spurs were hot on the heels of both Liverpool and Manchester City and even being talked about as potential Premier League title winners.
However, a dismal run of just one point taken from their past four games has seen them fall off the pace, with their place in the top four now under serious threat.
Arsenal now sit just one point behind their north London rivals after an impressive 2-0 victory over Manchester United on Sunday evening. The Gunners appear to be on the right track and crucially have no remaining games against the Premier League’s big six.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United cannot be discounted from securing their place in the top four. Since the Norwegian’s arrival, they have been in tremendous form, with their miraculous victory in Paris last week demonstrating that they clearly are still strong.
Sitting four points back are Chelsea, who dropped another two points on Sunday with a disappointing 1-1 draw with Wolves. But like Arsenal, Maurizio Sarri’s team also have a chance of returning to the Champions League by winning this season’s Europa League.
By calculating the average points-per-game home and away of each top-flight club, we can weigh up the difficulty of each of the four club’s run-ins and see where the race for the top four may be won and lost.
Current position: 4th
Average home/away points of opponents: 1.27
Of the four sides in focus, Arsenal have the statistically greatest chance of finishing in the top four and securing Champions League football for next season.
Unai Emery’s side have performed well in their past two league fixtures. A draw at Wembley against Tottenham and a win over Manchester United at the Emirates places them in a very strong position with eight games remaining.
Arsenal have no more games remaining against the top six. Of their next eight fixtures, the most challenging is a trip to Watford in mid-April.
Their next two away trips, against Wolves and Everton, are also tricky. Arsenal comfortably saw off Everton 2-0 at the Emirates but were held to a 1-1 draw by Wolves back in November.
Thereafter, Arsenal finish the season with absolutely winnable matches against Brighton & Hove Albion at the AMEX, who have the fourth worst away record in the league, and Burnley at Turf Moor, who have the fourth-worst home record.
Arsenal must also contend with their Europa League responsibilities. Although trailing Rennes 3-1 in their round of 16 tie, it may yet work in their favour to be knocked out at an earlier stage.
Arsenal’s remaining fixtures
01/04 Newcastle (H)
07/04 Everton (A)
15/04 Watford (A)
20/04 Crystal Palace (H)
29/04 Leicester (A)
04/05 Brighton (H)
12/05 Burnley (A)
TBC Wolves (A)
United’s remaining Premier League fixtures
United vs Watford – 30 March
Wolves vs United – 2 April
United vs West Ham – 13 April
Everton vs United – 21 April
City vs United – 24 April
United vs Chelsea – 28 April
Huddersfield vs United – 4 May
United vs Cardiff – 12 May
Chelsea’s remaining Premier League fixtures
Chelsea vs Brighton – TBD
Everton vs Chelsea – 17 March
Cardiff vs Chelsea – 31 March
Chelsea vs West Ham – 8 April
Liverpool vs Chelsea – 14 April
Chelsea vs Burnley – 22 April
United vs Chelsea – 28 April
Chelsea vs Watford – 4 May
Leicester vs Chelsea – 12 May
Tottenham’s remaining Premier League fixture
Tottenham vs Crystal Palace – TBD
Liverpool vs Tottenham – 31 March
Tottenham vs Brighton – 7 April
Tottenham Huddersfield – 13 April
City vs Tottenham – 20 April
Tottenham vs West Ham – 27 April
Bournemouth vs Tottenham – 4 May
Tottenham vs Everton – 12 May