Comparing top four chasing clubs’ run-ins & results in reverse fixtures
Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United are locked in a fascinating battle for the Champions League – and it looks set to go down to the wire.
With it looking increasingly unlikely for any team to break into the current top three in the Premier League table, the race is on to clinch the division’s coveted final Champions League spot.
To have three sides all vying for the same prize at this stage of a season is certainly exciting and the two north London sides are currently neck and neck in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
While Arsenal recovered from their April stutter with a crucial victory at Chelsea, Spurs saw their recent run of victories abruptly ended by Brighton in their last fixture.
But United arguably have deeper squad depth than either of them. While the Red Devils have endured a horrific season – by their standards – perhaps the announcement of Erik ten Hag as their new manager will motivate the current side to buck their ideas up.
But where will the battle for top four be won and lost? We’ve gone through the three sides’ remaining fixtures and noted their results in the reverse encounters to see if we can provide a greater insight on which team will finish highest in May.
Manchester United (H) – Lost, 3-2
West Ham (A) – Won, 2-0
Leeds United (H) – Won, 4-1
Spurs (A) – Won, 3-1
Newcastle United (A) – Won, 2-0
Everton (H) – Lost, 2-1
After a three-game losing run to kick-start their Premier League campaign, it looked set to be another turbulent season for Arsenal as many called for Arteta’s head.
Fast-forward a few months later, the Gunners were flying for the first time since Arsene Wenger’s hey-day. While three defeats in April saw those familiar doubts return, their 4-2 victory at Chelsea should give Arteta’s side renewed belief.
Arteta’s side lost two of the reverse games to the teams they have left to face. If they repeated their results against these clubs again, Arsenal would accumulate 12 points from their final six matches which would leave them on 69 points.
That would represent a marked improvement from last season when the Gunners racked up just 61 points to miss out on Europe entirely.
Arteta will hope that a 2.0 points per game average will secure a return to the Champions League, especially with crunch clashes against United and Spurs being on the agenda in the coming weeks.
The Gunners have been remarkably consistent against sides below them in the table, but while performances – particularly against Man City and Liverpool in recent weeks – are improving, their results against their fellow ‘big six’ opponents have left something to be desired. Could it be their undoing?
Brentford (A) – Won, 2-0
Leicester City (H) – Won, 3-2
Liverpool (A) – Draw, 2-2
Arsenal (H) – Lost, 3-1
Burnley (H) – Lost, 1-0
Norwich (A) – Won, 3-0
When Conte glances through the fixture list, he may secretly be confident of propelling his new side into the Champions League.
Notwithstanding the club’s tendency to ‘Spursy’ things up, barring a trip to Anfield to face Jurgen Klopp’s title-hunting Reds, you could argue Spurs will start all of their remaining fixtures as favourites.
But, if they repeated results from their previous meetings with these nine teams, they would pick up 10 points to leave them on 67 points – two points behind Arsenal’s projected tally.
The game against Arsenal, now scheduled for 12 May, will surely be the pivotal one.
Arsenal (A) – Won, 3-2
Brentford (H) – Won, 3-1
Brighton (A) – Won, 2-0
Chelsea (H) – Draw, 1-1
Crystal Palace (A) – Won, 1-0
It’s astounding that Manchester United are still in contention for a Champions League slot considering their bonfire of a season.
But, after their surrender at Anfield, United remain three points behind Spurs and Arsenal – and have played a game more than both.
There’s a modicum of hope though. If Ralf Rangnick can match the corresponding results from their remaining five fixtures, United will gain 13 points and finish on 67.
And, considering that Spurs and Arsenal are prone to dropping points in unexpected places, perhaps it’ll be enough to steal that fourth spot.
However, considering this season’s showings, you’d think it could get worse before it gets better at Old Trafford.