Analysis

Chelsea’s bid for Champions League qualification

The race for a top-four finish in the Premier League, and the subsequent reward of Champions League football next season, is heading towards a tight finale. Here, we look at the contenders and their remaining fixtures…

Please note: The information below is affected by the suspension of Premier League football.


A massive 25-point lead at the top of the table has Liverpool sat comfortably as champions-in-waiting, while Manchester City (with a game in hand) are 12 points clear of fifth place.

Further down, there are just eight points separating Chelsea in fourth and Arsenal (with a game in hand) in ninth.

Plenty to play for, then, and the stakes couldn’t be higher!
 

Games in hand

Arsenal and Manchester City were due to meet at the Etihad this week prior to the game’s precautionary postponement due to coronavirus concerns so the Gunners still have a game in hand on those around them.

Sheffield United, such an unexpected contender for the European places at the start of the season, also have rearranged fixtures away at Aston Villa and Manchester United to be pencilled back in to their schedule.
 

Contender clashes

Encounters between the top-four contenders will likely play a significant part in deciding the final standings. Frank Lampard’s side have four such meetings in their final nine games, including trips to Anfield and Bramall Lane, as well as home matches against Manchester City and Wolves, the latter on the final day of the season.

Manchester United and Wolves have the fewest of these clashes (three), while Sheffield United and Arsenal have the most with five.

Remaining head-to-head fixtures:

Leicester – Arsenal (a), Sheffield United (h), Tottenham (a), Man United (h)

Chelsea – Sheffield United (a), Liverpool (a), Wolves (h), Man City (h)

Man United – Tottenham (a), Leicester (a), Sheffield United (h)

Wolves – Arsenal (h), Sheffield United (a), Chelsea (a)

Sheffield United – Tottenham (h), Wolves (h), Chelsea (h), Leicester (a), Man United (a)

Tottenham – Man United (h), Sheffield United (a), Arsenal (h), Leicester (h),

Arsenal – Wolves (a), Leicester (h), Tottenham (a), Liverpool (h), Man City (a)
 

Parallel priorities

Of the seven teams in the running for third and fourth spot in the Premier League, five are still in the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage (Chelsea, Leicester, Sheffield United, Arsenal and Man United) and at least two of those will advance to the semi-finals.

Three remain in European competition – Chelsea in the Champions League plus Man United and Wolves in the Europa League – with Tottenham exiting at the hands of RB Leipzig this week. The winners of both competitions are guaranteed a Champions League place next season.


Season standings

While Chelsea have sat in fourth since mid-October, there have been plenty of varying trajectories among the other contenders over the course of the season, as the graph below illustrates. Select and deselect teams on the right-hand side to view their standings across the course of the season.


The final straight

The remaining fixtures for each of the seven teams are listed below (* = game in hand), along with their current position in the table, points tally and goal difference. Check out the hurdles ahead for each of the contenders, analyse the permutations and vote in our poll for which team you think has the best run-in.


Currently 3rd – Leicester City – 53 points – GD +30


Currently 4th – Chelsea – 48 points – GD +12


Currently 5th – Man United – 45 points – GD +14


Currently 6th – Wolves – 43 points – GD +7


Currently 7th – Sheffield United – 43 points – GD +5 *


Currently 8th – Tottenham – 41 points – GD +7


Currently 9th – Arsenal – 40 points – GD +4 *

 

 

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