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Premier League | Analysing the top-four race

The top four race is heating up.

With Liverpool securing the title last week, and Manchester City holding an 11-point lead over the chasing pack, there are two places up for grabs in the traditional 'top four'.

It is worth noting, however, that pending the outcome of an ongoing appeal, City are banned from European football for the next two seasons.

This means that as it stands, the team that finishes in fifth will also likely qualify for Europe's elite competition next season.

Chris Coady analyses the race for the remaining coveted qualifying spots.

 

Leicester (58 pts)

The Foxes currently occupy third place in the table but are in rapid free-fall. The loss at Everton should be no surprise because they’ve been awful since the restart. Their FA Cup journey also ended at the weekend at the hands of Chelsea, who are breathing down their necks for third.

Leicester have bounced back this weekend with an impressive 3-0 win over Crystal Palace, but with Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United all still to be played, a top-four finish is a no go for Brendan Rodgers’ men in my opinion.

Must-win game: Bournemouth (A)

Toughest game: Man United (H)

Chelsea (57 pts)

Having missed the chance to leapfrog Leicester on Wednesday night at West Ham, Frank Lampard's men still have a favourable run in as well as an appearance at Wembley to look forward to.

They’ll hope to have the Champions League spot boiled before their final two games against Liverpool and Wolves.

They’ve pulled the results out of the bag since the restart and have bounced back with a comfortable 3-0 win against Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

I expect them to go on and claim a Champions League position as I don’t see any hope of them claiming the position through this season's European competition.

Must-win game: Sheffield (A)

Toughest game: Liverpool (A)

Man United (55 pts)

In my opinion, The Red Devils are favourites to grab the third Champions League spot.

They’re wiping the floor with teams that they’d normally struggled to beat and are coming up the table like a steam train at full pelt.

The visit of Bournemouth to Old Trafford on Saturday resulted in a 5-2 rout for the Red Devils, and the last five games for United don’t even feature a team from the top six.

However, Leicester could be a tricky trip on the final day of the season. While the FA Cup and Europa League may cause distraction, I fully believe we will see Ole steering the wheel to Champions League football in the 2020/2021 season.

Must-win game: Southampton (H)

Toughest game: Leicester (A)

https://twitter.com/ManUtd/status/1279520359356731399

Wolves (52pts)

Wolves have given themselves a great chance of Champions League football next season as they sit pretty in the top six and still have a Europa League adventure to finish before the season is out.

Arsenal have just come away from Wolves with a 2-0 victory, and Chelsea will prove another tricky test for the Molineaux men, and any slip-ups against Sheffield or Everton and they could be missing out on the top four places in the Premier League. However, I do fancy Wolves against a lot of teams in a two-legged affair so qualification through the Europa League wouldn’t be a shock in my eyes.

I do think they’ll miss out on the top four, but should City’s ban from European competitions be upheld then I can see Wolves profiting from that.

Must-win game: Palace (H)

Toughest game: Chelsea (A)

Sheffield United (47pts)

It’s crazy to think I’m even mentioning them in the top-four battle. You’d expect them to be in my next piece about the battle to beat the drop!

The disastrous return after the coronavirus break saw them pick up one meagre point from a possible nine. A great midweek victory over Spurs keeps them in with a shout of the top four, but I think their fixtures are just too tough on the home straight.

With both North London clubs hot on their heels, I think Sheffield will have to make do with being happy they survived their first season back in the English top flight. But a top half finish is seriously impressive!

Must-win game: Burnley (A)

Toughest games: Chelsea (H) Wolves (H)

https://twitter.com/SheffieldUnited/status/1278992468474834945

Chris Coady

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