Football Features

Ranking: Premier League top-four race run-ins from easiest to hardest

By Muhammad Butt

Premier League top-four finish: Ranking run-ins and betting odds | SBK

Published: 11:15, 7 July 2020 | Updated: 12:29, 10 July 2020

With the title decided and second-place secured, the only remaining interest at the top of the Premier League table is the race for top four and Champions League qualification for 2020/21.

Leicester City sit third on 58 points, with Chelsea one point behind on 57. Those two occupy the coveted third and fourth positions right now, but Manchester United are closing in with 55 points, Wolves are a further three points back on 52 points and Arsenal are just about clinging to the possibility of a Champions League spot with 49 points.

Unless fifth place comes into play, we have five main contenders vying for two spots. Leicester, Chelsea, Man Utd, Wolves and Arsenal. But which clubs stand the best chance? That, of course, all depends on the games they have remaining in the schedule.

With that in mind, we’ve had a look at each side’s run-in and ranked them from easiest to hardest. Who falls where? Read on and find out. Disagree with any of our picks? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

5. Manchester United

5th place – 55 points

vs. Aston Villa (a)
vs. Southampton (h)
vs. Crystal Palace (a)
vs. West Ham (h)
vs. Leicester (a)

The Red Devils are unbeaten in nine Premier League games, the longest active run in the competition amongst all sides. Bruno Fernandes’ arrival energised the club and Paul Pogba‘s return to fitness coming at the same time as Mason Greenwood’s emergence has left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s men looking imperious.

What’s more, United’s run-in is now chock full of winnable games. Nothing in the Premier League is just given to you but – armed with Fernandes and Pogba‘s combined creative instincts – United will expect to beat four of their remaining opponents, setting up a delicious final day showdown against Leicester City that could end up being for a guaranteed spot in next season’s Champions League.

Premier League top-four finish odds*: SBK

Man Utd: 2/5
Chelsea: 2/5
Leicester: 10/11
Southampton: 1/1
Burnley: 1/1
Everton: 2/1
Wolves: 25/2
Arsenal: 31/1
Crystal Palace: 31/1
: 33/1

*Odds correct at time of publication (11:00 07/07/2020).

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4. Wolves

6th place – 52 points

vs. Sheffield United (a)
vs. Everton (h)
vs. Burnley (a)
vs. Crystal Palace (h)
vs. Chelsea (a)

Premier League top-four finish: Ranking run-ins and betting odds | SBK

By the time the Premier League season comes to an end, Wolves will have been playing competitive football for over an entire year. Their 2019/20 began on 17th July 2019 with the Europa League qualifiers and will run into August 2020 for the Europa League knockout rounds. So the extended break has arguably helped Nuno Espirito Santo rest his squad, which should give them a boost in the run-in.

Wolves have no easy games left, but also nothing that stands out as extremely difficult. They will have to battle every single week, but they are more than capable of beating every single opponent. Chelsea are obviously formidable but Wolves love to play on the road so should be right at home at Stamford Bridge. They’re a fair way back, points-wise, but their run-in gives them a chance.

3. Chelsea

4th place – 57 points

vs. Crystal Palace (a)
vs. Sheffield United (a)
vs. Norwich (h)
vs. Liverpool (a)
vs. Wolves (h)

Premier League top-four finish: Ranking run-ins and betting odds | SBK

The Blues looked to be assured of a Champions League place early on in the season, but a wretched run of form during the winter saw them dragged down into the mire with everyone else. They’ve been lucky that their competitors have really failed to capitalise on their failures, but now they face a tricky run-in of their own to secure their place at next season’s top table.

Crystal Palace and Norwich should be wins, but Sheffield United will surely give the Blues a game. The main reason the west Londoners’ run-in is harder than the one Wolves are facing is how it ends. Their penultimate game of the season sees them go to Anfield, where Liverpool have thus far won every game. After that they close the season out at home against Wolves. The Blues have struggled at the Bridge and Wolves are the ultimate road warriors, so bringing it home is not going to be easy for Frank Lampard.

2. Leicester

3rd place – 58 points

vs. Arsenal (a)
vs. Bournemouth (a)
vs. Sheffield United (h)
vs. Spurs (a)
vs. Manchester United (h)

Premier League top-four finish: Ranking run-ins and betting odds | SBK

The Foxes were, for the first-half of the season, comfortably the third-best team in the league. Hell at times they were second only to Liverpool. But that was all predicated on Jamie Vardy scoring goals at an incredible rate, and when he went through a dry spell around the turn of the year, Leicester‘s form began to dip. And when the league returned from its hiatus, that dip became a crater.

Vardy may be back amongst the goals, but Leicester’s run-in is brutally unforgiving. They will be expected to secure a comfortable win against Bournemouth, but otherwise they have nothing but tricky ties. Arsenal away won’t be easy with the Gunners finally back in form, Sheffield United are no walkovers, either. Spurs aren’t great right now but the potential for José Mourinho to force a slip out of Brendan Rodgers with a parked bus is very real. Then they close things out at home to a buoyant United who could clinch a return to the promised land with a positive result. Leicester have a monumental task to hold onto their top-four spot.

1. Arsenal

7th place – 49 points

vs. Leicester (h)
vs. Spurs (a)
vs. Liverpool (h)
vs. Aston Villa (a)
vs. Watford (h)

Premier League top-four finish: Ranking run-ins and betting odds | SBK

The Gunners are in seventh place and with 49 points they are eight points away from fourth. With just five games left to play that is a huge margin to close, but you can’t have a top-four race without Arsenal, can you? Their recent form has given them a glimmer of a chance, and Mikel Arteta’s men will surely make a go of it, but they have to play Leicester, contest a fierce north London Derby against Mourinho‘s Spurs and then take a loss against Liverpool.

By the time they roll around to what, on paper, are two winnable games against Aston Villa and Watford they will likely encounter sides fighting for their lives at the very end of a relegation scrap. That will give them the kind of dogged determination and will-to-win which could undo Arsenal‘s own ambitions. That is why Arsenal have the hardest run-in: they have three tricky games and then the two so-called easy games will come when the Gunners will be tired, beaten up and in no position to fight against sides for whom fighting is all they have left.

However, Arsenal will take heart from the possibility that Manchester City may yet get banned from the Champions League. Should that happen, then City’s qualification spot would shift one place down in the standings and fifth place –  which Arsenal are only six points off – could yet grant access to the Champions League. Spurs, Sheffield United, Burnley and others will also take heart from such a scenario so Arsenal have a fight on their hands, but not only with the teams above them in the table.


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