Chelsea, Manchester United and the Premier League's race for Champions League football – Daily Mail,

Chelsea, Manchester United and the Premier League's race for Champions League football – Daily Mail,

As Liverpool streak away at the top of the Premier League with Manchester City and Leicester the only possible contenders to the crown, spare a thought for those battling it out for fourth.

It has become almost an afterthought but There is a growing battle for that last Champions League place.

While Leicester are on a run of dodgy form, they are not likely to get dragged into it. Instead, Chelsea are the only team currently in the current quartet who look like they might still be caught by the chasing pack.

Chelsea are currently in the top four and look like they might qualify for the Champions League

Manchester United are still hopeful of breaking into those places but are currently fifth

Manchester United are trying to push into the Champions League spots but are struggling to put together the required run of form.

Wolves and Sheffield United are both attempting to break up the pack, putting together impressive campaigns, while Tottenham will be hoping for a ludicrous run between now and May to sneak in.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the state of play and why each team might and might not make it into the fourth place and next season’s Champions League …



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  • Why they will hope to make the top four …

    Frank Lampard’s young Chelsea side have been very impressive at times this season and there is enough talent in the squad for them to be able to get over the line.

    They are on points, five points clear of United and Wolves, and that is the sort of gap that – at this stage – suggests they are stronger than those trying to overcome them.

    Chelsea also have one of the strongest strikers in the Premier League in Tammy Abraham, who has goals to his name . There’s more quality across the front end of the pitch from the likes of Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi while N’Golo Kante has been working his way back to full strength after a series of injuries.

    When they get going too, there are very few teams that can stop Chelsea, as evidenced by their away form this campaign.

    Chelsea will look to striker Tammy Abraham to fire them into the top four this campaign

  • Tonight – v Arsenal (H)

    February 1 – v Leicester City (A)

    February 22 – v Manchester United (H)

    (February) (v – v Tottenham (H)

    February 40 – v Bournemouth (A)

    Why they might miss out on the top four …

    It is not as simple as panning the defense, but their back-line is a real problem this season. Reece James on the right has looked good but apart from that it has been a struggle for Lampard.

    Kepa Arrizabalaga is also in bad form and tends to come up with a serious error every few games.

    Home form has been a serious problem for the Blues, who have contrived to lose to Bournemouth and Southampton – who admittedly have since picked up form – in their last three games at Stamford Bridge.

    There is also a sense that Lampard, who loves a possession-heavy style, struggles to coach his players to break down teams who sit deep against Chelsea. They need reinforcements up front and in defense as the squad is thin in those positions.

    They have not hit the heights of their six-game winning run earlier this season and the gap could close if they continue to drop points, as they have done in three of their last five games.

    Lampard’s Chelsea have a habit of dropping points, like against Newcastle at the weekend

    (Manchester United

    Why they will hope to make the top four .. .

    Manchester United have pinned their hopes for this season on a crop of young players and it is probably fair to say that those stars have been the most impressive members of the squad.

    The likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Dan James have performed from the off, while Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams have come to the fore as the season has continued.

    Add in Scott McTominay, Andreas Perreira and others and United have a youthful core that puts them within punching distance of Chelsea.

    They have lost two of their last five but tend to get results against the sides they should beat at home of late and that sort of stability is what other teams are missing.

    Manchester United have impressed at various points this season as they push for the top four


    Tomorrow – v Burnley (H)

    February 1 – v Wolves (H)

    February – v Chelsea (A)

    February – v Watford (H)

    (March 1) – Everton (A)

    Why they might miss out on the top four …

    On the other hand, there is a constant sense of two steps forward and one step back with United this season. Sure, they can muller Norwich 4-0 but either side of that will come a 2-0 loss at Arsenal and a defeat by the same scoreline at Liverpool.

    They are not very good on the road, as evidenced by their defeat against Watford last month, and they do have a habit of dropping points from winning positions.

    Rashford is a star and the third top scorer in the Premier League but he is now out injured with the double stress fracture in his back and will miss crucial matches as a result.

    And there remains a pervading sense that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is out of his depth in the job. Would you really back the man who got Cardiff relegated to sneak into the top four?

    The injury to Marcus Rashford will come as a serious blow to their hopes of making the top four


    Leicester ): 1/7

    Chelsea : 2/5

    Manchester United : 5/2

    Tottenham : / 2

    Wolves : 61 / 1

    Arsenal / 1

    Sheffield United : 63 / 1

    Odds provided by (SportNation)

    ) Wolves)

    Why they will hope to make the top four …

    Nuno Espirito Santo has managed to put together a Wolves side that have constantly progressed since he came through the door. They won promotion in his first Championship campaign and then qualified for Europe last season.

    Now they are genuinely in the mix for a Champions League berth and with the talent they have available to them They are dangerous to any team they come up against.

    Adama Traore is in an excellent run of form, which makes a huge difference, while Raul Jimenez is a very dangerous strikers. Midfielders like Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho provide creativity as Conor Coady offers stability at the back.

    They’ve also shown a capacity to fight in the last few weeks, coming back from 2 -0 down against Southampton on Saturday to win 3-2.

    Wolves’ players celebrate after another impressive performance in the Premier League


  • )

    Thursday – v Liverpool (H)

    February 1 – v Manchester United (A)

    February 21 – v Leicester City (H)


  • – v Norwich (H)

    March 1 – v Tottenham (A)

    Why they might miss out on the top four …

    Wolves have struggled to turn good individual results into a run of form recently, winning and losing two of their last five and drawing the other.

    They’ve shown a capacity to miss opportunities, like drawing against Newcastle the other week, and slumped to a loss against Spurs that they should have avoided last month.

    It might just be a result of starting the Europa League early, having come through the qualifiers, and Wolves could find themselves getting leggy as the season goes on.

    There could also be a question of whether Nuno might want to prioritise the Europa League rather than the race in the Premier League. If they dip off fourth, his side might look to succeed there to secure Champions League football another way.

    They do struggle to put together runs of form but are comfortably in the mix for the top four

    Sheffield United

    Why they will hope to make the top four …

    Chris Wilder has managed to assemble a very impressive machine at Bramall Lane over the last few seasons and they have taken to the Premier League like a duck to water.

    The Blades are a ridiculously solid unit who have conceded just 39 goals in the Premier League all season, a record that is only bettered by Liverpool.

    They Also have players who can nick a goal or two, with Oli McBurnie in particular looking more of a goal threat as the season goes on.

    And they are tactically difficult to stop, with Wilder’s famed overlapping central defenders demonstrating his vision. This is a side that has already shocked the Premier League and can continue doing so.

    John Fleck runs away to celebrate with his Sheffield United team-mates at the Emirates

  • NEXT FIVE FIXTURES (Tonight) – v Manchester City (H)

    February 1 – v Crystal Palace (A)

    February 9 – v Bournemouth (H)

    February (v

    February – v Aston Villa (A)

    Why they might miss out on the top four …

    It might be silly to look at it simply but if anyone had suggested they would be making a Champions League push a year ago, when they were challenging for promotion from the Championship, they would have been laughed at.

    Sheffield United are still growing into the Premier League and while they have been in the mix all campaign, they have not managed to solidify themselves in the top four at any stage.

    Wilder’s side are also prone to dropping silly points in draws and a run of four in five games between late October and early November shows they might not be at the level required yet.

    When it comes to this side, it might be a case of working their way into the Europa League this season and trying to build on this campaign next time around. Even that would be mightily impressive.

    The bookmakers suggest Arsenal are a better bet for the top four – but they look well out of the race.

    Dean Henderson has been part of an impressive defense for Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United


    Why they will hope to make the top four. ..

    Spurs reached the Champions League final last season and they have consistently played in Europe’s elite club competition over the previous few campaigns.

    There is talent available to Jose Mourinho and with a couple of late January additions they might be a threat. And as players return from injury it will help, given how good they looked when he first came in.

    Beyond that, though, there isn’t very much to suggest they’ll crack the top four. The cracks have showed this season.

    Tottenham do have talent available to them and have consistently made the top four recently

  • Tomorrow

    – v Norwich City (H)

    February 2 – v Manchester City (H)

    February – v Aston Villa (A)

    February – v Chelsea (A)

    (March 1) – v Wolves (H)

    Why they might miss out on the top four …

    Where to begin? They’re eight points back, which already looks like too big of a gap to overcome between now and the end of the season.

    They have lost Harry Kane to injury until April and he is, realistically, still their most important player and the most likely match-winner in the side.

    Spurs’ form has been poor in recent weeks and they have not won in the Premier League since Boxing Day, while they have also lost to Southampton and drawn against Watford.

    Christian Eriksen could also leave this month. In all seriousness, they look ready for a reset under Mourinho in the summer and it might be time to accept it will not happen this campaign.

    Also, they really cannot defend and that Might be too much to fix in January.

    But Jose Mourinho is without Harry Kane and might want to reset his side in the summer

    (Read More )