With most teams having played around 26 games thus far, we are truly entering the ‘business end’ of the season. For teams, it is now or never- ego, mentality and personality are all evident here. Teams can be having a great season, but ultimately fall at the death because they simply don’t have the experience or mentality to persevere. This ultimately gives the bigger clubs, like Manchester United, the advantage; despite poor form in an underwhelming season. We are going to investigate the candidates who are battling it out for that fourth placed spot (and Champions League football) and see who we believe has the ability to secure it. It will certainly be a tough, long, battle and we certainly cannot wait to see how it ends.
The side currently occupying 4th spot; United have a fantastic chance of securing that position. United are currently our favorites to succeed in the race, but not by a large margin. The club have had a pretty poor year all things considered. Hopes were high at the beginning of the year when three high-profile signings in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo were brought in, with many even tipping them to be title contenders. However, things have not exactly gone to plan. Having won only 13 games out of a possible 26, United are 17 points behind league leaders (and noisy neighbors) Manchester City. Fortunately, seeing two successive victories against Brighton and Leeds, United look to have turned a corner. Sancho is looking like the bright spark he was brought in to be, Bruno Fernandes is back among the goals, and Cristiano is a certified legend of the game. Expect some good form to come this team’s way.
Our second favorite, and extremely not far off United is Arsenal. Arsenal have struggled throughout this decade, dumping previous manager (the longest-serving Premier League manager) Arsene Wenger in favor of results higher than 4th place. However, since then things have only taken a turn for the worst. Arsenal haven’t played Champions League football in five years. Additionally, off-field issues have become apparent. Arrogant stars have been ejected from the club, having been given huge contracts prior. Mistakes were certainly made. This season however, Arsenal look entirely different. Young stars like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe are playing integral roles in the upturn of results, keeper Aaron Ramsdale has been fantastic while Arteta’s tactics seem to finally be working. The club are currently 6th, but have three games in hand on fourth placed United. If they can somehow win all those games, they will leapfrog the Manchester club.
You may be confused at this one, seeing as how Tottenham are currently occupying 8th spot. However, it is a similar story to Arsenal. Not only do the club have three games in hand on United, but they have a world-class manager in Antonio Conte. Conte is a known winner and if he can get Harry Kane scoring consistently, Spurs will only keep winning and rising up the table. Even on the weekend, Spurs went to Manchester City and came home with 3 points. If the club can find consistency in their results, they will be contenders for sure.
West Ham United
Having performed extraordinarily last year, achieving a Europa League spot, many wondered whether West Ham could do it again, sitting up top with the big boys. Thus far, they’ve played very well. Currently sat in 5th place, West Ham perhaps sit as outsiders to achieve a top 4 place, but rightfully deserve to be in the conversation. Jarrod Bowen has been in fantastic form this year, alongside striker Michail Antonio. Moyes really knows how to get the best out of these players. Perhaps West Ham are more focused on their current Europa League run, and maybe have their eyes fixed on entering the competition again next year. Nevertheless, their form must be acknowledged.
It’s a tricky one, putting Chelsea in this list. However, it cannot be ignored that results have stalled recently. United are currently 4 points behind them and if the side doesn’t start getting consistent wins, they may find themselves in the battle for a top 4 spot. Mega-signing Romelu Lukaku has looked a shadow of his former self recently, sparingly find the goal. Other big signings in Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have also been disappointing. Tuchel is clearly a top manager, having won the Champions League last year. However, if they start to drop off now, the repercussions will be massive.