Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur have run away from the rest of the teams and are fighting it out at the top of the table, however just below, seven teams are in the fight for 4th.
3rd Arsenal – Played 30 – 55 points
Arsenal are currently 3rd and 5 points above West Ham in 5th. Given how this season has played out, Arsenal fans would have been thinking this was their best chance to win the title for the first time since the 2003/04 season. Once again, Arsenal’s season has been blighted with injuries with eleven players currently injured including; Cech, Ozil, Ramsey, Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsenal had a decent start and you couldn’t blame Arsenal fans for thinking it was finally their year, however recent losses to Manchester United and Swansea and a draw with North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur have put a big dent in their title hunt and they can now only hope for finishing in 3rd.
They still have some tough fixtures remaining. Watford visit the Emirates in their next game having recently knocked Arsenal out in the FA Cup Quarter Finals which is followed by an away trip to 5th place West Ham and later on visit Manchester City.
4th Manchester City – Played 30 – 51 points
Manchester City sit in the coveted final Champions League place. Like Arsenal fans, the Man City fans would have hoped that Guardiola would be taking over the Premier League Champions but now they are struggling just to keep hold of 4th.
After a good start, Man City have now only won 1 Premier League game in the last six, losing to their title rivals, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur and then to Liverpool a week after beating them in the League Cup Final. A loss last week in the Manchester Derby have allowed their Manchester rivals to catch them up and are now only 1 point ahead of them and West Ham.
With the Champions League Quarter-Final against PSG still to play, Pellegrini may focus on that tournament at the cost of the Premier League now that their title hopes are all but over. With trips to Chelsea and Southampton and the visits of Stoke and Arsenal, Manchester City’s task to stay in 4th will not be easy.
5th West Ham – Played 30 – 50 points
West Ham fans will be feeling frustrated that their team are not sitting in 4th after drawing with Chelsea after a dubious penalty decision at the weekend and Manchester City losing in the derby. Being the in-form team in the league, the unexpected candidates for 4th will be hoping to take the positives from the game and push on to win Champions League football for the Olympic Stadium next season.
After beating Arsenal away on the first day of the season, West Ham fans were thinking this season could be something special under their manager, Slaven Bilic. However, successive home defeats to Leicester City and Bournemouth had fans wondering if they would be battling at the bottom of the table rather than the top. The additions of Payet and Lanzini have helped West Ham play in a way fans have not seen in many a season. Victories against Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool have helped West Ham in their fight for 4th and their dream for Champions League football next season.
West Ham are still in for a chance to win the FA Cup and the club have stated they would love to win the Cup in their final season at the Boleyn Ground, however that could come at a cost of 4th place. They still have to play Leicester City, Arsenal and Manchester United which will surely determine where they finish come the final day, and Stoke away is not the best game if you need a win.
6th Manchester United – Played 30 – 50 points
The victory against Manchester City at the weekend was massive for the red side of Manchester and they now sit only 1 point behind their Manchester rivals. With fans wanting Louis Van Gaal sacked and complaints of boring football, their fans should be happy if they are able to make a late charge for 4th and they are also still in with a chance to win silverware with the FA Cup.
Like Arsenal, Manchester United have not been too lucky on the injury front. With Rooney, Shaw, Young, Herrera and Schweinsteiger to name a few, Manchester United have been forced to look to their youth players to fill in. With disappointing defeats to Sunderland, Norwich and Bournemouth to name a few, you can’t blame people for being surprised that Manchester United are even in the hunt for 4th place.
It won’t be easy for Manchester United to finish 4th with fixtures against Tottenham, Leicester and West Ham still to come. After only getting back in the Champions League, fans will be very disappointed if they lose out once again.
7th Southampton – Played 31 – 47 points, 8th Stoke – Played 31 – 46 points, 9th Liverpool – Played 29 – 44 points
Southampton have had a fairly quiet season compared to last year when they narrowly lost on 4th place. They have suffered periods of bad form which has greatly damaged their fight for 4th, however they will be hoping that with the return of Fraser Forster in goal, they can make a late charge up the table.
Mark Hughes is slowly creating a very good side at Stoke. Long are the days of the route one tactics and they are now attracting top players in Arnautović, Shaqiri and Bojan. They have some tough fixtures against Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in April which could end their hopes for the top 4.
Liverpool have a game in hand on Manchester City, West Ham and Manchester United yet after losing to Southampton at the weekend after leading 2-0, their hopes for the top 4 seem to have faded. Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that Liverpool can at least finish in a Europa League spot but with their Europa League fixture against Borussia Dortmund and league games against Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Stoke and Chelsea, they may even struggle with that.
With Southampton, Stoke and Liverpool more likely to finish in a Europa League spot and Arsenal four points ahead of Manchester City, it looks like it will be a three horse race in the fight for 4th. With injuries to key players for the two Manchester clubs, it will not be an easy task. West Ham haven’t lost at home since August and with 5 out of their remaining 8 games, they will be feeling confident that they can take the final spot in the fight for 4th.