Top-four race: We evaluate the pros and cons of each team
Quick maths. Four doesn’t go into two. That means two of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal will miss out on Champions League qualification.
Who’ll come up short when push comes to shove in May? We don’t know. But we’ve established the pros and cons of each of the sides bidding for a top-four spot as the season draws to a close.
Tottenham – 1/3
Pros: You’d rather have points on the board than be chasing. Spurs are already sitting pretty in third with a handy four-point advantage over Arsenal in fifth and Chelsea in sixth.
They have five of the division’s bottom-half yet to play. Dele Alli and Eric Dier are also yet to return to first-team action, while Harry Kane is getting back into his stride after an injury layoff.
Cons: Things are starting to get a bit Spursy in North London. Mauricio Pochettino’s men are winless in three in the Premier League and still have to face Liverpool and Manchester City away from home.
They finished third in a two-horse race three years ago. Could they now finish fifth in a four-horse race? An extended run in the Champions League could also put pressure on a small squad.
Chelsea – 5/6
Pros: Their run-in is kind. The Blues only have Liverpool and Man United left to play of the top-six, while their Carabao Cup involvement means they have a game in hand on their rivals.
Gonzalo Higuain looks like he’s finally finding his feet up-front, while there are signs that the players are finally beginning to buy into Maurizio Sarri’s style of play.
Cons: This is Chelsea. They’re only one loose cannon away from destruction. A rebellion has been quelled for now, but Kepa Arrizabalaga’s antics at Wembley were not a good look for club or player.
An overreliance on Eden Hazard could also be a problem going forward. As could be their recent habit of poor results away from home – the West Londoners have lost three from four on the road.
Man United – Evens
Pros: Ole’s at the wheel. And as it turns out he’s quite a good driver. The interim boss is unbeaten in the league and has returned the good times to Old Trafford with an exciting brand of football.
Romelu Lukaku’s recent form has eased the pressure on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, while an improvement defensively has seen just seven league goals conceded since Ole’s arrival.
Paul Pogba has also stepped up to the plate in a big way.
Cons: Injuries – and lots of them. The Red Devils have up to 10 players missing from first-team action as they continue to fight on in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.
Their run-in is also tough. Solskjaer and co. still have Arsenal, Wolves, Man City and Chelsea yet to come. Can their good form hold out until the end of the season?
Arsenal – 15/8
Pros: You won’t find many better forward combinations than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Plus, Arsenal’s home record is also among the best in the division.
Their final run of matches is also kind. Sunday’s clash with Man United is their last against the top-six. Given they’ve lost just twice to those outside the sextet, that could prove crucial.
Cons: It’s still hard to trust the Gunners defensively. They have the PL’s joint-fifth worst away record on the road and face another five matches away from North London before season’s end.
They’ve made heavy weather of beating Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City in recent weeks, so it’s difficult to have total belief that Unai Emery’s men will be able to see out the task.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing