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The race for fourth is heating up

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 6 Getty

With Liverpool running away with the league title this season, there is little to talk about when it comes to who will be crowned champions of the Premier League in May. The real talking points now lie in which three sides will be relegated from the top-flight, and who will qualify for next season’s Champions League by finishing in the top-four.

The top-flight table is exceptionally tight as things stand, with just seven points separating Chelsea in fourth and Tottenham in eighth. Realistically, as many as six teams are still in with a shot of making Europe’s premier knockout competition next term, with ninth-placed Arsenal having the luxury of a game in hand over the rest of the top-eight. 

So, who will break into the top-four when the season draws to its conclusion in two months time? Bettingodds.com takes a look at each individual side in contention and assesses their chances...

Chelsea - 4/6

Chelsea currently find themselves in the ascendency for a fourth-placed finish this term. The Blues sit on 48 points following their impressive 4-0 win over Everton on Sunday, but have Manchester United following closely behind on 45 points after their derby day win over Manchester City at Old Trafford. 

The main issue that has followed Chelsea around this term has been their consistency - Frank Lampard’s young side have lost nine and drawn six of their 29 matches, so will need to rectify that in the remaining months of the campaign if they’re to achieve a top-four finish. The west Londoners’ run-in is favourable, however, with Aston Villa, West Ham, Watford, Crystal Palace and Norwich all left to play from now until mid-May.  

Run-in: Aston Villa, Man City, West Ham, Watford, Crystal Palace, Sheffield Utd, Norwich, Liverpool, Wolves.

Manchester United - 7/4

Manchester United are currently one of the most in-form sides in the top-flight. The Red Devils have not lost in the league since the end of January - winning three and drawing two of their previous five games - and on Sunday put in a stellar performance against rivals Manchester City to claim their third win over Pep Guardiola’s men this season. United also beat Chelsea away from home last month and still find themselves in with a real chance of winning two pieces of silverware this season (the FA Cup and Europa League). 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are currently on the up and, if they can continue with this positive form, they’ll have every chance of breaking into the top-four come the end of the campaign. Like Chelsea, United also have a favourable run-in ahead, with Brighton, Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Ham all left to play in the upcoming two months.

Run-in: Tottenham, Man Utd, Brighton, Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Southampton, Crystal Palace, West Ham, Leicester.

Wolves - 7/1

Many believed that Wolves’ commitments in Europe may have damaged their season this time around, much like it does with most sides, but they have surprised us all. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side may have played their 47th game of the campaign against Brighton on Saturday - drawing 0-0 - but they are showing no signs of faltering even at this late stage. 

Wolves have just made it through to the last-16 in the Europa League and currently sit sixth in the Premier League table; their season is going brilliantly but they will certainly not rest on their laurels and will feel as though they are capable of breaking into the top-four in the remaining months of the campaign. With nine games still left to play in the Premier League, though, they could (understandably) burn out in the next two months, especially if their journey in Europe continues; time will tell.

Run-in: West Ham, Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Arsenal, Sheffield Utd, Everton, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Chelsea.

Sheffield United - 13/1

Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United have undoubtedly been the Premier League’s biggest surprise package this season. Most people expected the Blades to struggle in the top-flight with a limited budget to work with and a crop of players who were mainly unproven at this level. Indeed, they have taken the division by storm - working together so well as a unit to execute Wilder’s methods to perfection. 

Playing with a more dynamic 3-5-2 formation, Sheffield United’s shape has caught sides on the back foot on numerous occasions this season. They have taken points off of the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham so far, and currently have the second-best defensive record in the division having conceded just 25 goals - only Liverpool have let in fewer (21). The Blades have a pretty tricky run of games approaching, though, and have a five-point deficit to make up on the current top-four which does leave their chances a little slim.

Run-in: Newcastle, Man Utd, Tottenham, Burnley, Wolves, Chelsea, Leicester, Everton, Southampton.

Tottenham - 17/1

Things are not looking great for Tottenham at the minute, but they do currently still find themselves in the race for the top-four, just. Injuries have effectively killed off Spurs’ chances of success this term, with long-term absentees Harry Kane and Son Heung-min being hugely missed in recent months. 

Jose Mourinho’s men are seven points adrift of Chelsea after 29 games, which is a sizable gap, but with plenty of games remaining and Kane’s return on the horizon, a late run of form could see them surge back into contention. At odds of 17/1, they could be worth an outside punt.  

Run-in: Man Utd, West Ham, Sheffield Utd, Everton, Bournemouth, Arsenal, Newcastle, Leicester, Crystal Palace.

Arsenal have looked a side transformed under Mikel Arteta. Since the Spaniard took charge of the north London outfit, the Gunners have lost just one league game - a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in late-December - but they still need to work on their consistency with regards to drawing games if they’re to stake a genuine claim for a top-four finish.

Currently, Arsenal are ninth and eight points behind Chelsea in fourth. However, they do have a game in hand over the Blues, which will be played against Manchester City this Wednesday. It’s a big ask, but if they can defeat Pep Guardiola’s underperforming Sky Blues they will shorten the gap to just five points, making Champions League football much more obtainable.  

Arsenal - 16/1

Run-in: Man City, Brighton, Southampton, Norwich, Wolves, Leicester, Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Watford.

Betting Odds’ verdict

We think that United may just win the race for the top-four when the season is completed. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had a difficult start but really look as though they have turned a corner, alongside drafting in a top quality player in Bruno Fernandes. With a favourable run on the cards and momentum on their side, the Reds get our vote, for all it’s worth.

*Odds in this article correct as of 10/03/2020 - 10:30

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