Race For The Top Four: Assessing The Run-Ins Of Arsenal, Tottenham And Man Utd

Arsenal are still the favourites despite defeat to Crystal Palace
11:30, 05 Apr 2022

The race for the top four in the Premier League is just as gripping as the title race and there was another twist in the tale on Monday as Arsenal fell to a 3-0 humiliation at Selhurst Park. The Gunners are now below their bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference, but still boast a game in hand, with both sides set to meet toward the end of the season which could be a derby decider.

There is still a chance that West Ham United or Manchester United could snatch fourth, but right now it seems like a two-horse race between the North London sides. With Betfred’s odds, we take a look at who the current favourite is to qualify for the Champions League, while assessing each team’s run-in between now and the end of the season.

Arsenal - (10/11)

Fixtures:

Brighton (H)

Southampton (A)

Chelsea (A)

Manchester United (H)

West Ham (A)

Leeds United (H)

Tottenham (A)

Newcastle United (A)

Everton (H)

Mikel Arteta said his side’s performance against Crystal Palace wasn’t good enough and he was right. From the first whistle to the last they were second-best and the Eagles outfought them in every department. The Spaniard will need to have strong words with his players ahead of their next match against Brighton at the Emirates Stadium as they will need to play significantly better if they are to reach the heights of the Champions League - something which they haven’t experienced for five years.

Both Arteta and his squad are still rather inexperienced for the demands of a run-in, and while they have been a revelation this term, the lack of experience could be a stumbling block in the crucial final weeks of the campaign. They still have to face their three main rivals for the fourth Champions League spot - we have already mentioned that the derby match could be crucial with Spurs - but they could be out of the picture if they suffer more slip-ups against Manchester United and West Ham. 

ArtetaLossjpg

They are both still currently in the running to claim fourth for themselves and they will be eyeing their clash with the Gunners as a must-win which could shake things up. Arsenal certainly have talented players in their squad but in the final weeks of the season, experience tends to triumph everything and Arteta needs to help his young players hold their nerve in this dogfight.

Tottenham Hotspur - (EVS)

Fixtures:

Aston Villa (A)

Brighton (H)

Brentford (A)

Leicester City (H)

Liverpool (A)

Arsenal (H)

Burnley (H)

Norwich (A)

Antonio Conte’s side showed great character and skill in their 5-1 hammering of Newcastle at the weekend and looking at their run-in, it is considerably more favourable than their rivals’ fixtures. The key aspect of their calendar that could potentially be their achilles heel is the double header against Liverpool, who will be gunning for every point to take the title off Manchester City, and then their crunch clash with the Gunners immediately after. Talk about season defining. Conte will be happy with the other fixtures, especially with his side high on confidence - the attacking trio of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski are the best performing attack in the league in 2022 and this could be what inspires them back to the pinnacle of European football.

After they went a goal down against the Magpies on Sunday, Spurs could have easily crumbled but they didn’t. They immediately picked themselves up and it took them minutes to respond and find an equaliser. Their second-half display was one of their best of the season and the perfect lift heading into the final weeks of term, while Arsenal’s defeat to Palace will have given them further encouragement. Matt Doherty’s renaissance under Conte hasn’t gone amiss either as he is returning to the peak of his game from his Wolverhampton Wanderers days and is an excellent offensive asset. A lot has been said about how much more resilient Spurs have looked with Eric Dier at the back, and the addition of Cristian Romero is proving to be an excellent piece of business. 

Several of these players were there for the Champions League final defeat to Liverpool in 2019, and their more recent Champions League experience could give them an advantage over the Gunners in this gripping race for the top four.

Manchester United - (6/1)

Fixtures:

Everton (A)

Norwich City (H)

Liverpool (A)

Arsenal (A)

Brentford (H)

Brighton (A)

Crystal Palace (A)

TBC

Chelsea (A)

There has been a lack of positives for Manchester United to take this season and they are in desperate need of a reshuffle on the pitch and need to have a clear vision put in place for them moving forward.

Premier League Top Four Odds*

Their chances of beating Arsenal and Spurs to fourth are slim but not impossible, but after their largely flat performance against Leicester City at the weekend, it’s hard to believe they have what it takes to qualify for next year’s Champions League. Apart from the tough back-to-back clashes with Liverpool and Arsenal and the unscheduled Chelsea match, United have some good games on paper but their performances will need to significantly improve if they are serious in their quest, after all we have already seen Brentford dismantle Chelsea when they were off the pace.

West Ham United - (25/1)

Fixtures: 

Brentford (A)

Burnley (H)

Chelsea (A)

Arsenal (H)

Norwich (A)

Manchester City (H)

Brighton (A)

David Moyes’ side have been one of the most exciting stories of the Premier League this year and they have done extremely well to remain in a position to still qualify for the Champions League, while reaching the last eight of the Europa League, which could provide them another avenue into Europe’s greatest competition. The Hammers have secured some impressive victories this season but they have also suffered setbacks in games where they perhaps should have come away with more and that is what has put them behind in this race, but you can never rule them out. Their team spirit alone could be enough to get them over the line. 

*18+, terms and conditions apply.

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