With less than a month to go in the Premier League season, the top four race is beginning to heat up. Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have all but locked up automatic qualification for the 2022-23 edition of the UEFA Champions League, but who will get the last spot? TWSN soccer analyst Christian De Block discusses the four teams who could finish in fourth, and who he has there at the end of the campaign.
Current League Table:
4: Arsenal 60 Points (33 Games Played)
5: Tottenham Hotspur 58 Points (33 Games Played)
6: Manchester United 54 Points (34 Games Played)
7: West Ham United 52 Points (34 Games Played)
For the last couple of weeks, the race for fourth in the Premier League has been between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. With the clubs separated by just two points, the margin for error at this stage of the season is as small as it gets.
Over the course of the whole season, Arsenal have played in a way that is deserving of the fourth position in the league, but just because they deserve that slot does not mean they will necessarily obtain it. The Gunners need to go out and earn Champions League qualification over the next five matches. It will not be handed to them.
Tottenham Hotspur are not in the greatest run of form at the moment. After winning four consecutive league matches from mid-March to mid-April, Spurs have only gained one point from the last two games. That will need to change if they want to jump ahead of Arsenal during this run in.
Manchester United and West Ham would need a lot to go their way in order for either side to truly get back into the race for top four. Both clubs have just four league games remaining, one less than Arsenal and Tottenham. Manchester United and West Ham would likely need to remain perfect to put any pressure on Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
To say Manchester United has been one of the more disappointing teams in Europe this season would be an understatement. In pre-season, the Red Devils were considered to be a team that could challenge for a league title with the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphaël Varane. That never materialized, as United has been inconsistent from start to finish. Still, the club has an opportunity to secure European football for next season with a good close to this campaign. With Erik ten Hag replacing Ralf Rangnick as manager of the club at the end of this season, building some confidence and momentum going into the summer is crucial.
West Ham is the only one of these four teams that is currently competing in another competition alongside the league. The Hammers have advanced all the way to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals, in which they will be facing German side Eintracht Frankfurt. Considering they are eight back of fourth place at the time of writing, most of their focus will likely be on the Europa League.
Arsenal have steadied the ship after three straight league defeats earlier this month. Victories over Chelsea and Manchester United put the Gunners in prime position to return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2016-17 season. With that being said, I believe the one team who has a chance to overtake them is Tottenham Hotspur. The two rivals face off in a few weeks, and if Spurs can take all three points at home, this race becomes that much more interesting.
Tottenham Hotspur can put some pressure on Arsenal by getting a positive result against their rivals on May 12. Spurs should pick up wins against Burnley and Norwich City to end the season, but it will not be enough. Arsenal will finally make their return to the Champions League, with Tottenham Hotspur heading to the Europa League next season.
Remaining League Fixtures for Arsenal:
May 1st: West Ham United (A)
May 8th: Leeds United (H)
May 12th: Tottenham Hotspur (A)
May 16th: Newcastle United (A)
May 22nd: Everton (H)
Remaining League Fixtures for Tottenham Hotspur:
May 1st: Leicester City (H)
May 7th: Liverpool (A)
May 12th: Arsenal (H)
May 15th: Burnley (H)
May 22nd: Norwich City (A)
Remaining League Fixtures for Manchester United:
Apr. 28th: Chelsea (H)
May 2nd: Brentford (H)
May 7th: Brighton & Hove Albion (A)
May 22nd: Crystal Palace (A)
Remaining League Fixtures for West Ham United:
May 1st: Arsenal (H)
May 8th: Norwich City (A)
May 15th: Manchester City (H)
May 22nd: Brighton & Hove Albion (A)