Remaining fixtures in top four race as Liverpool and Arsenal among hopefuls
Premier League football returns this weekend – with the race for the top four set to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the remaining nine rounds of games.
Manchester City appear to have the title sewn up barring a dramatic collapse, as they go into their clash against Leicester City with a 14-point lead over second-placed Manchester City.
United and the Foxes are set to wrangle for second spot, but it’s the battle behind those top three teams that looks to be the most intriguing.
Fourth-placed Chelsea are bang in form, having not lost in 14 games since Thomas Tuchel took charge. But West Ham and Tottenham are chasing them down, while Liverpool, Everton and even Arsenal are still in with a shout.
Here, Mirror Sport looks at the remaining fixtures for the clubs battling it out for the final Champions League qualifying place.
Chelsea are currently five points behind third-placed Leicester, but will set their sights on finishing higher than their current fourth place.
The visit of Brendan Rodgers’ side on May 15 could prove crucial in determining where both clubs finish, while Chelsea also have the chance to inflict a blow on West Ham’s top-four hopes on April 24.
Tuchel’s side face a tough trip to the Etihad on May 8, while in addition to the fixtures below they also have a rearranged home game against Brighton to play, plus matches in the Champions League and FA Cup.
Apr 3: West Brom (H)
Apr 10: C Palace (A)
Apr 24: West Ham (A)
May 1: Fulham (H)
May 8: Man City (A)
May 12: Arsenal (H)
May 15: Leicester (H)
May 23: A Villa (A)
West Ham are just two points behind fourth spot but have a tough-looking run-in, including potentially decisive clashes against fellow top-four hopefuls Leicester, Chelsea and Everton.
David Moyes’ side will also have to be wary in games against Newcastle, Burnley, Brighton, West Brom and Southampton – all of whom are desperate for points to escape the drop.
Securing Europa League football would represent a huge success for West Ham after they finished five points clear of the drop zone last term – but to qualify for the Champions League would be massive for the club.
Apr 5: Wolves (A)
Apr 11: Leicester (H)
Apr 17: Newcastle (A)
Apr 24: Chelsea (H)
May 1: Burnley (A)
May 8: Everton (H)
May 11: Brighton (A)
May 15: West Brom (A)
May 23: Southampton (H)
Jose Mourinho’s side are mounting a late surge for the Champions League places, having won four of their last five league games.
They are just three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, but their fate is out of their hands having already played their London rivals twice.
Spurs play Man City in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday, April 25, and as a result have a home game against Southampton to play in addition to the fixtures below.
Apr 4: Newcastle (A)
Apr 11: Man Utd (H)
Apr 17: Everton (A)
May 1: Sheff Utd (H)
May 8: Leeds (A)
May 12: Wolves (H)
May 15: A Villa (H)
May 23: Leicester (A)
Liverpool’s title defence has gone disastrously wrong thanks in part to a crippling injury crisis, and they are five points behind Chelsea going into a huge clash against Arsenal on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side undoubtedly have the quality to win the majority of their remaining games – but whether that will be enough to qualify for next season’s Champions League will depend very much on other teams’ results.
They may have the chance to inflict a blow on the top-four hopes of fierce rivals United, depending on how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fare between now and May 1.
Liverpool also face a Champions League quarter-final clash away to Real Madrid on April 6, ahead of the return leg eight days later.
Apr 3: Arsenal (A)
Apr 10: A Villa (H)
Apr 17: Leeds (A)
Apr 24: Newcastle (H)
May 1: Man Utd (A)
May 8: Southampton (H)
May 11: West Brom (A)
May 15: Burnley (A)
May 23: C Palace (H)
Everton look to be outsiders in the race after losing their last two fixtures – although have a game in hand over all the teams above them.
That game, which is in addition to the fixtures below, is a trip to Villa Park – and a win for Carlo Ancelotti’s side would theoretically put them level on points with fifth-placed West Ham.
Everton face their old boss David Moyes when they visit the Hammers on May 8, in a game that could yet have an influence on the top-four shake-up.
Apr 5: C Palace (H)
Apr 12: Brighton (A)
Apr 17: Tottenham (H)
Apr 24: Arsenal (A)
May 1: A Villa (H)
May 8: West Ham (A)
May 11: Sheff Utd (H)
May 15: Wolves (H)
May 23: Man City (A)
Arsenal’s best chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League is by winning the Europa League, with quarter-final clashes against Slavia Prague to come on April 8 and 15.
The Gunners are nine points behind Chelsea, and while that’s not an insurmountable gap, Mikel Arteta’s side have not put consecutive wins together in the league since the end of January – leaving them facing an uphill struggle to secure even a Europa League place.
That said, Arsenal will still have a say in the race for European qualification, with clashes to come against Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea, along with some potential banana-skin fixtures against Sheffield United, Fulham, Newcastle, West Brom and Brighton.
Every Monday we deliver our verdict on the weekend’s fights and, more importantly, what’s next for the winners and losers.
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Apr 3: Liverpool (H)
Apr 11: Sheff Utd (A)
Apr 17: Fulham (H)
Apr 24: Everton (H)
May 1: Newcastle (A)
May 8: West Brom (H)
May 12: Chelsea (A)
May 15: C Palace (A)
May 23: Brighton (H)