Top four fight – Wolves and Sheffield United staying in the mix
With the run-in looming in the Premier League, there remains plenty to play for, especially in what's turning out to be a fascinating fight for the top four.
With Liverpool on the verge of wrapping up the title in the next few games, attention will turn to the clubs below them in the table as several eye the carrot of earning a place in next season’s Champions League.
There are currently only eight points separating fourth down to ninth in the table and – with plenty of big clubs in the mix – how it plays out over the next few months will be an interesting watch.
The likes of Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and even Arsenal will all still hope for fourth, alongside possible Champions League debutants Wolves and Sheffield United – who are daring to dream.
It’s not as straightforward as previous years, however, as we await the outcome of Manchester City’s appeal following their two-year European ban. If it’s upheld, it could mean fifth is good enough for Champions League football and that gives more clubs the chance to stake a claim during the run-in.
Assuming Manchester City and Leicester are going to end up second and third, it looks to be a fight between Chelsea, Manchester United, Sheffield United and Wolves for fourth.
The Foxes have opened up a five-point gap on Chelsea, who are improving significantly under Frank Lampard. Sunday’s demolition of Everton showcased their impressive blend of youth and experience, while United were equally on top form when deservedly claiming the derby spoils over City.
A quick glance at the two sides’ remaining games suggests United may have the slightly easier run-in with matches to come against Brighton, Bournemouth, West Ham, Norwich and Aston Villa – among others. Chelsea’s run-in is mixed as they take on Manchester City, Wolves, Sheffield United and Liverpool, and that could just hand Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the advantage with the Red Devils, inspired by January signing Bruno Fernandes, tipped to claim fourth.
— Bruno Fernandes (@B_Fernandes8) March 8, 2020
Wolves and the Blades have both had tremendous campaigns with the latter’s return to the top flight for the first time in a decade going like a dream. The South Yorkshire outfit are sitting in seventh, five points behind fourth with a game in hand. It’s in the realms of fantasy that Chris Wilder has guided his unfancied side this high and they continue to defy the odds week-in, week-out. Getting fourth, or fifth, may still be beyond them but what a season it’s been for the Blades.
Nuno Espirito Santo has also had a fantastic campaign in charge of Wolves as the Black Country outfit have, unlike others in previous years, been able to successfully mix competing in the Europa League with pushing for another top-six finish.
Nuno’s squad has no shortage of talent with Raul Jimemez, Diogo Jota, Conor Coady and Adama Traore among their star performers and there’s no reason to suggest they cannot push Chelsea and United all the way for fourth and fifth in the final weeks but they may have to settle for sixth with Wilder’s side then tipped to end seventh.
That could mean disappointment for Arsenal and Spurs, though, as the jostling for positions in the top half of the table intensifies.