Football Features

Favourites, under-performers and wildcards: The state of play in the Premier League’s top-four race

By CJ Smith

Published: 17:30, 18 May 2021

The 2020/21 Premier League is in its final stages and the race for Champions League qualification couldn’t be much closer.

Manchester City have already sealed the Premier League title while Manchester United are also safe in their Champions League spot, opening up a gap on the teams below them.

However, just three points separate Leicester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, while Tottenham and West Ham aren’t mathematically out of the race just yet.

With pretty much every team involved in the Champions League qualification scrap already slipping up at some point or another, this could easily go right down to the wire.

So, who has the best chance of booking their seat at European football’s top table next season? Let’s take a look at the state of play.

(18+ only. All odds featured within this article are correct at time of publication. T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.)

The favourites


Current position: 5th

After blowing away the rest of the Premier League to win the title last season and starting this campaign with three consecutive wins, Liverpool fans must be wondering how they’ve ended up in their current predicament. The Reds have failed to put together a consistent run for most of this season, but it was their disastrous form just after New Year that caused serious concern.

Liverpool might have Golden Boot contender Mohamed Salah in their ranks, but Jurgen Klopp’s men have still been starved of goals at times. And their injury list is the stuff of nightmares, especially in defence. Virgil van Dijk tops the list, but he is joined by club captain Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez on the treatment table, while the likes of Diogo Jota and Naby Keita have suffered extended absences. Even replacement centre-backs Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies are now in the physio room.

But despite all these hardships, the Reds have put themselves in a great position to qualify for the Champions League with consecutive wins over Southampton, Manchester United and West Brom. The latter was delivered with a late goal from Alisson, so supporters must be thinking their fate is already written in the stars!

Liverpool are 2/9 favourites with Sky Bet to finish in the top four. That’s because of the fixture between Chelsea and Leicester on Tuesday. With at least one side guaranteed to drop points, Klopp’s men can seal Champions League football by winning their remaining two fixtures.

Remaining Premier League fixtures: Burnley (A), Crystal Palace (H)


Current position: 4th

Although the sacking of Frank Lampard may still seem harsh to some, the difference at Chelsea under replacement Thomas Tuchel is like night and day. After beginning to sink like a stone in a pond, the Blues have floated back to the surface of the Champions League race, sitting fourth, two points behind Leicester and four ahead of Liverpool, despite a recent 1-0 defeat to Arsenal.

Chelsea have lost just two Premier League games under Tuchel so far, while they’ve also booked their place in the Champions League final.

The Blues are 1/2 with Sky Bet to finish in the top four but it’s all going to come down to that home tie against Leicester, coming just days after their FA Cup final defeat to the Foxes. Could revenge be on the cards?

Remaining Premier League fixtures: Leicester (H), Aston Villa (A)

Leicester City

Current position: 3rd

Despite reaching the FA Cup final, Leicester City had a bit of a wobble at the start of April, losing back-to-back Premier League games to Manchester City and West Ham during a run of just two wins in six. Still, the Foxes bounced back to beat West Brom 3-0 and Crystal Palace 2-1 to remain third in the table and they demonstrated that durability again to beat Man Utd 2-1 after losing to Newcastle. But despite sitting third, the Foxes are priced at 8/13 to secure Champions League football according to Sky Bet, with Chelsea the favourites to win that all-important clash on Tuesday. Of course, they were also favourites to beat Leicester in the FA Cup final, but those odds counted for nothing.

Brendan Rodgers has considerable firepower at his disposal in Jamie Vardy alone, while Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho is enjoying a hot-streak of his own right now. In fact, Leicester have scored more goals than any other side outside the Premier League’s top two (65).

As mentioned, it’s all about that fixture with Chelsea, though ending the season against Spurs won’t be easy.

Remaining Premier League fixtures: Chelsea (A), Tottenham (H)

The under-performers

Tottenham Hotspur

Current position: 6th

Remember when the title race was between Liverpool and Tottenham? Both sides have fallen off a cliff over recent months and that early-season battle at the top of the table now feels like a lifetime ago.

A three-game winless run at the start of April was enough to see Jose Mourinho’s time in North London come to an end, and Spurs won their first two league games without the Portuguese tactician, beating Southampton and Sheffield United either side of a Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City. But the old rot crept back in with Tottenham falling 3-1 to Leeds before beating Wolves 2-0.

The Lilywhites are sixth in the table but need a mathematical miracle to jump into the top four. Even the collective firepower of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min won’t be enough to fire them to Champions League football with Spurs priced at 250/1 to do so with Sky Bet.

Remaining Premier League fixtures: Aston Villa (H), Leicester City (A)

The wildcards

West Ham United

Current position: 7th

David Moyes deserves immense credit for his work during his second stint with the Hammers, even if they have come down slightly from the relentless run they enjoyed across New Year. Moyes’ “new Fellaini” Tomas Soucek is proving a wonderful threat in the final third, scoring nine goals so far, while the likes of Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen offer West Ham dynamic and very different options. And have we mentioned the inspired January acquisition of Jesse Lingard, who already has nine goals and three assists in just 1,246 minutes?

The Hammers are priced at 500/1 to be in the top four come the end of the season. But in all honesty, that will come as a disappointment to supporters, with Moyes’ side winning just one of their last five games after putting themselves in such a great position. Then again, given their lack of squad depth, nobody expected them to be here in the first place.

Remaining Premier League fixtures: West Brom (A), Southampton (H)