Who will finish in top four? Predicted final table and key meetings for Premier League’s race to reach Champions League

Arsenal have emerged as the leading contenders to secure fourth in the Premier League behind Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, but face a tricky remaining set of fixtures in their bid to secure a Champions League return.

With Manchester City and Liverpool fighting it out for the title, and Chelsea in a strong position in finish third, it appears there is one Champions League spot to fight for with five teams in contention.

West Ham (48pts) and Wolves (46pts) sit below United in sixth and seventh respectively, having also played 29 games, while Tottenham (45pts) are eighth but have two games in hand on the trio of teams above them.

That arguably makes Spurs the biggest threat to Arsenal, who are aiming to play Champions League football for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

With some key meetings to come, the race could yet take a few twists, and our predicted table at the bottom of this article shows it could turn out to be very close…

Key Arsenal matches: Liverpool (H) March 16, Chelsea (A) April 20, Man Utd (H) April 23, West Ham (A) April 30, Tottenham (A) TBC

Key Spurs matches: West Ham (H) March 20, Liverpool (A) May 7, Arsenal (H) TBC

The maths looks simple enough. If Arsenal can win their three games in hand over the three teams below them, they would be 10 points clear of United, but Spurs can emerge as their closest rivals if they do likewise with their two games in hand.

Bukayo Saka of Arsenal is challenged by Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on September 26, 2021

Image credit: Getty Images

The major factor in play is that Arsenal’s match at Spurs is still TBC in terms of date, while the Gunners recently had their fixture at Chelsea confirmed for April 20.

These are two tricky encounters for Arsenal, while the fact they are hosting Liverpool on Wednesday and face trips to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Southampton, West Ham and Newcastle outline that fourth is no guarantee despite their recent upturn in form.

Spurs arguably have an easier run-in, with their trickiest away encounter at Liverpool, meaning the north London derby could prove decisive – so too overall goal difference.

Key Man Utd fixtures: Liverpool (A) April 19, Arsenal (A) April 23, Chelsea (H) May 15

Manchester United are like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, and so matches look simpler on paper than they do in real life. With Cristiano Ronaldo, anything is possible, but in the same sense that can be applied negatively regarding their defensive frailties, and while their remaining home games against Leicester, Norwich, Brentford and Chelsea are all very much winnable, the prospect of them taking 10 or 12 points is far from certain.

Away trips to Arsenal and Liverpool will likely define whether United are playing Champions League or Europa League football next season, a factor which could be huge for them come the summer transfer window and search for a permanent manager.

Of course, they could always win the Champions League this season in order to qualify for next season’s edition…

Key West Ham fixtures: Tottenham (A) March 20, Chelsea (A) April 23, Arsenal (H) April 30, Man City (H) May 15

Key Wolves fixtures: Man City (H) April 16, Chelsea (A) May 7, Liverpool (A) May 22

With Arsenal holding a healthy advantage over West Ham and Wolves, and with Spurs likely to leapfrog the pair in the table, it would take some run for either team to finish fourth overall.

West Ham will certainly have a say, given they are still to face Spurs and Arsenal, but they would likely need to win both of those encounters to end up having a chance of coming fourth themselves.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 22: Declan Rice of West Ham United reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on January 22, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Image credit: Eurosport

The Hammers also remain in Europa League contention, which has the prize of reaching the Champions League at the end of it – they only trail Sevilla 1-0 heading into the last-16 return leg at London Stadium on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Wolves have winnable fixtures at home to Leeds and Aston Villa coming up, and they could also derail Manchester City’s title bid when Pep Guardiola’s side travel to Molineux in mid-April.

The biggest stumbling block for Wolves is the two away fixtures at Chelsea and Liverpool among their final three games, meaning a push for the Champions League could be a step too far.

Tin helmet time, but we ran through the remaining fixtures and predicted the remaining results for the teams in title and top-four contention. Emphasis on predicted, as this will certainly not end up being entirely – if at all – accurate.

Here goes…

Arsenal finish fourth! By one goal… We predicted scorelines for the remaining matches and had Arsenal finishing on 73 points along with Spurs, but they pipped their rivals by one on goal difference. That sounds made up, fixed, tampered with, purposely tinkered, but you have our assurance it was not.

This included a draw for Arsenal against Liverpool, at West Ham and Southampton too, and wins over Manchester United, Leeds and Everton among others.

Spurs closed the gap by virtue of predicting them to win a narrow derby at home against Arsenal, while we had Manchester United two points adrift on 71 points, and Wolves and West Ham slipping away from contention.

For what it’s worth, we have City winning the league by six points and winning their remaining nine games – that may sound far-fetched, particularly after a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace, but they won 14 straight to seal the 2018-19 title and are capable of doing it again. The key meeting being that match at home to Liverpool on April 10.

Save this for May, feel free to DM me. It’ll be wrong, but imagine if it was right…