Five clubs. Eight points. Is this one of the best battles for the highly coveted fourth spot the Premier League has ever seen?
It looks like the top three of Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea – in no particular order – is well and truly set. Although with everything that has happened this season, it would be foolish to rule out a few final twists and turns, even within that top three.
But one spot that will most certainly see plenty of chopping and changing over the coming months is the coveted fourth place. Again, in no particular order, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United, West Ham, and Wolves are all in with a chance of securing fourth.
Which club has the best chance of clinching that all-important fourth spot?
Mikel Arteta has done an extraordinary job at Arsenal. The Gunners – albeit under the Spaniard – were once struggling in the bottom three. They now occupy fourth spot, having enjoyed a phenomenal run of results in the league.
There are plenty of reasons behind the club’s success, with the current youthful squad being one of them. It is full of exciting youngsters, many of whom have taken matters into their own hands this season and helped turn the club’s fortunes around. The north London side are in the driving seat, sitting in fourth on 54 points.
Another reason behind their upturn in form is also the lack of distractions. Former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, of course, caused much distraction off the pitch, but on the pitch, Arsenal only need to focus on the league campaign. They have no European football to worry about and are out of both domestic cups.
Both the young squad and the lack of other competitions will most certainly play in the club’s favour in the coming months. Notably, however, it won’t be plain seeing from here on out. They still have to play Chelsea and West Ham away, and those fixtures sandwich a home meeting with Manchester United.
It’s been a hugely frustrating season for Man Utd supporters. The club’s presence in the Champions League was the last bit of hope that fans could cling on to, but the journey recently came to an end at the hands of Atletico Madrid. It confirms another trophyless season for the Manchester outfit.
That said, it will free up some space in what has been a very busy campaign. Like Arteta, Ralf Rangnick can now focus solely on the league. But also like Arteta, Ragnick must oversee some tricky fixtures before the season comes to an end. The Red Devils must take on the Gunners, Liverpool and Chelsea.
However, if one club can produce a heroic moment to salvage their season, it’s Man Utd. They’ve certainly done the impossible before, and now they have a certain Cristiano Ronaldo back among their ranks to be the hero. The Portugal attacker is more than capable of driving his side into the top four.
After the latest round of fixtures, United find themselves in sixth on 50 points. It looks set to be another nervy run-in for the once Premier League giants. Europa League football will most certainly want to be avoided.
Again, many Spurs fans simply won’t know where to start when describing their season so far. Fortunately, they have Antonio Conte at the helm. The Italian has done a superb job in north London, and they now almost look like a club worth mounting a serious challenge for that fourth spot.
Harry Kane is backfiring again, supported very well by Son Heung-min and new signing Dejan Kulusevski. Rodrigo Bentancur has also slotted in expertly, with Conte’s system being taken in well by the players currently at his disposal.
Spurs occupy fifth spot at this moment in time, with 51 points to their name. But consistency has been a huge issue. The club are winning and in high spirits one week, but come crashing back down to earth with a loss the following week.
On the contrary to Man Utd and Spurs, West Ham have enjoyed a phenomenal season. Supporters of the East London outfit are in high spirits and quite frankly, have been for some time. All seems to be going swimmingly for David Moyes and his loyal followers.
Moreover, the Hammers are also flying high in Europe. They recently sealed a spot in the Europa League quarter-finals after overcoming Spanish side Sevilla. Their wonderful European adventure may, however, be their downfall when it comes to domestic competition. Whether or not they have the squad to fight so strongly on two fronts remains to be seen.
At the minute, though, they are proving they have what it takes to do just that. They sit seventh in the Premier League table on 48 points. The mixture of youth and experience has been a joy to watch for many football fans, and it would be quite the story if the Hammers managed to secure that fourth spot this season.
Another high-flying side, Wolves continue to upset the odds this season under Bruno Lage. The manager’s intricate system has worked very well in his debut campaign in England, and his side undoubtedly could have been frontrunners for fourth spot had they not been undergoing a current rough patch.
Nonetheless, the team is well drilled, and every player knows their specific role. It’s all overseen by Lage and his captain fantastic Conor Coady. The skipper has been a true leader once again this season, with his fellow defenders helping keep things very tight at the back.
Wolves, currently sitting eighth in the standings on 46 points, are now definite outsiders. Moreover, they must still face Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool between now and the end of May. Scoring goals has also been a major issue, and that is a problem that looks set to keep them well behind the other clubs in the pursuit for fourth.