Premier League: race for a top four finish

With Liverpool closing in on the title and Manchester City, European ban allowing, looking secure in second, we take a look at the runners and riders in the battle for Champions League qualification next season

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Leicester City 3rd on 53 points

A 4-0 win over Aston Villa on Monday has Leicester back in the driving seat for a return to Europe's elite competition. Brendan Rodgers' side have struggled for form in recent months and had only obtained 12 points from their last 12 league games before getting the better of Villa, with Premier League top scorer Jamie Vardy back in the goals with a double that took his tally for the season to 19. The Foxes' brilliant start ensured they still had a cushion over their top-four rivals, but it has closed significantly since the turn of the year. Everything remains in the hands of Leicester, though, with four of their final five matches against sides also looking to secure Champions League football.

Chelsea 4th on 48 points

Similarly to Leicester, Chelsea enjoyed a strong start to the campaign under Frank Lampard and looked on course for a top-four finish until a dip in form. Injuries have been a problem, but Olivier Giroud has produced the goods in wins over Everton and Tottenham. With other key players such as Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic set to return this month, the Blues are expected to be part of the Champions League next season, especially with games to come against strugglers Aston Villa, West Ham, Watford and Norwich.

Manchester United 5th on 45 points

After back-to-back league defeats in January, Manchester United have turned things around and are currently on a 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions. Their £47 million (Dh223m) January recruit Bruno Fernandes has been central to the surge in form and it means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men are in prime position to make the most of any slip-ups. Tottenham and Leicester are the only top-four rivals they still have to face, with the majority of their matches against teams in the bottom half. Can the Red Devils continue their momentum or will they have to rely on winning the Europa League to get back into Europe's elite competition?

Wolves 6th on 43 points

Wolves remain in the hunt for Champions League qualification, although like United they could also qualify via the Europa League. Nuno Espirito Santo's side have played a number of the teams in the race for the top-four in 2020 and achieved positive results. It leaves them on the peripheral ahead of a favourable set of fixtures with West Ham, Bournemouth and Aston Villa up next, but after that they have Sheffield United, Arsenal and then Chelsea on the final day, which may prove decisive.

Premier League weekend review

Sheffield United 7th on 43 points

Chris Wilder's newly promoted side have been one of the stories of the campaign. A steady start to 2020 and three wins from their last four games in the Premier League has Sheffield United arguably as one of the best-placed teams to finish in the top four. Dean Henderson has starred and will be important if they are to give their fans a European tour next season. With a game in hand on the clubs above them and fixtures against Tottenham, Wolves, Chelsea and Leicester left, the Blades are in control of their own destiny.

Tottenham Hotspur 8th on 41 points

Ahead of hosting Chelsea on December 22, Tottenham were looking likely for Champions League qualification, but injuries to Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and now Steven Bergwijn, have hit them hard and they now look big outsiders. Poor results have followed with defeats to Chelsea and Wolves costly. A loss on Sunday to Manchester United could be the final nail in the coffin for Jose Mourinho's side. Even with Kane closing in on a return, it seems Spurs may miss out on the top four for the first time since 2014-15.

Arsenal 9th on 40 points

When Mikel Arteta took over in December, Arsenal's main focus was to move away from the relegation zone, but with the Spaniard shoring up the Gunners defence, they can target loftier ambitions. Even though they have a big deficit to reduce, a win in their game in hand at Manchester City on Wednesday would blow open the top four battle. With goals not only coming from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal are in the mix and consecutive games against Wolves, Leicester and Tottenham in April appear crucial.