The race for the Champions League in the Premier League will become very interesting in the next few weeks. Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton all play on Saturday.
Manchester United and Manchester City look to have clinched two of the spots in the Champions League next season. Who will claim the other two spot?
Chelsea are currently in third position and look to be favourites for that third spot. Rafa Benitez’s side are visiting relegation-threatened Southampton on Saturday and will be looking to cement their position.
Tottenham have for most of the season looked nailed on favourites to finish in the top four for the majority of the season, but in recent weeks Spurs have suffered a slight wobble.
Spurs have lost the last three games in all competitions and will be looking to get back to winning ways as they visit Wales to face Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.
The game won’t be an easy one for the visitors though, as Swansea have a good home record are no pushovers at the Liberty Stadium.
Arsenal and Everton have to be considered outsiders for the places in the top four. Arsenal have what looks like a pretty simple home game against struggling Reading. However, the Royals have appointed Nigel Adkins as their new boss and maybe the new manager effect will kick-in.
Arsenal should still win the game, but it may be slightly harder with the former-Southampton boss now installed in the Royals hot seat. The Gunners are currently four points behind their arch-rivals, but have a game in-hand.
Arsenal always seems to be in danger of slipping out of the Champions League spots. Every season they flirt with not finishing in the top four and then somehow make it. It’s going to be difficult this season, but they do have the quality to finish in the top four.
Everton also have a quite favourable game as well against midtable Stoke at Goodison Park. The Potters have only claimed one victory away from the Britannia Stadium this season and are looking over their shoulders slightly.
Tony Pulis’ side are seven points clear of the relegation zone and one victory should ensure the Potters Premier League. It looks very doubtful that the win they require will come this weekend on Merseyside though.
The key to game could however be the absence of Everton’s midfielder pair Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar, who both miss out due to suspension.
The Toffee’s could hold the key to who finishes in the top four this season, as David Moyes’ side have to visit Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal in the remaining games of the season. Unfortunately they will be still be without the services of Fellaini and Pienaar for next weekend’s crucial trip to Tottenham.
This game could be a key game in the race for the top four places. If Everton had their strongest team available I wouldn’t back against them getting a result, but with two key players such as Pienaar and Fellaini out it’s hard to see the Toffee’s claiming a victory.
Everton also have a game in-hand on Tottenham, which is next week when they face a trip to Arsenal, yet another key game. Everton have a terrible record at Arsenal in recent years and haven’t claimed a victory their under Moyes.
It’s ironic that Everton’s Champions League hopes are now in their own hands. If they win both the games in north London then they could be on level points with Spurs, or even better above them.
That’s unlikely to happen as Everton currently don’t quite look good enough to beat their nearest challengers. A draw in both games however would still probably keep them in contention with easier games to come this season.
As much as I’d like to say that I think that Everton will clinch a top four place I just can’t. For me Chelsea and Tottenham look the most likely teams to claim third and fourth spots.
Tottenham may be in a slightly sticky patch at the moment, but I feel they will regain their form and finish the season strongly. I also think that Chelsea have too much quality in their squad to let a top four finish slip out of their grasp.
Who will win the race for the Champions League spots?