Nobody Wants to Finish Fourth in the Premier League

Declan Rice and Michail Antonio of West Ham United (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)
Declan Rice and Michail Antonio of West Ham United (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images) /

The battle to finish fourth in the Premier League standings continuously intensifies. However, not because all contenders are winning their fixtures, but because they are drawing or losing them — keeping at least five clubs in the running for Champions League football next season.

It’s like none of them wants to play Champions League football the way results have been going. Well, actually, one team does seem as if they want to play in Europe’s elite club competition, Wolverhampton Wanderers.

While the other big horses of the Premier League continue to tumble, another round of Premier League fixtures concluded this weekend and predicting the fourth spot just got a lot harder.

Consistent Top Three

Manchester City maintained their winning run and their lead on top of the Premier League. Liverpool squeezed past a win over bottom-placed Burnley.

Chelsea were away getting their hands on the FIFA Club World Cup, and while they’re out, their cushion on fourth-placed West Ham remains as comfortable as it was when they took the plane to UAE.

The Premier League table doesn’t lie, and current standings are a true depiction of how far teams fourth to eighth are from the top three in the Premier League.

Inconsistent Contenders for Fourth

Teams fourth to eighth are separated by just 4 points. The postponement of games earlier in the season makes it harder to predict what’s going to happen next.

Tottenham are currently in eighth place. They seemed to be in the strongest position after the short winter break (having games in hand over their rivals). Instead, they have suffered back-to-back home defeats against Southampton and Wolves at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. They are now pointless in the last three Premier League fixtures having lost to Chelsea before the winter break.

Wolves find themselves in seventh, having lost one and won one since the winter break. They were defeated by 10-man Arsenal in their last game before they went on to beat Spurs on Sunday, February 13th. The victory over Spurs meant it was Wolves who had the best weekend among the contenders for that fourth spot.

Arsenal also cannot put a string of wins together. They beat Wolves in their last game, after drawing to bottom-placed Burnley at the Emirates. They find themselves in sixth and have three games in hand over fourth-placed West Ham United. A consistent run of form will strengthen their position to finish fourth, but then, that applies to everyone in the race.

Manchester United have made little improvement since the change in management. There have been signs of improvement in terms of performance, but it counts for nothing when you can’t beat Burnley away, and then draw to the Saints at Old Trafford.

They are one point behind West Ham United and find themselves in fifth place. They also have one game in hand over the Hammers, but they have squandered their opportunity to close the gap and even take a lead.

With Spurs, and Manchester United dropping points, West Ham had a fantastic opportunity to open up a three-point gap between them and United, but they too couldn’t grab the opportunity. Instead, they had to rely on a controversial late goal from Craig Dawson to rescue a point at the King Power Stadium where they drew with Leicester this past weekend.

Will the Return of European Football Impact the Race to Finish Fourth in the Premier League?

With Spurs and Arsenal having more games in hand than the rest, the teams from North London will feel strong favourites to occupy the fourth spot. However, given the form of the two clubs, nothing is a given.

The two are out of Europe as well, so don’t have that as a distraction. The same goes for Wolves. Meanwhile, West Ham United and Manchester United have European duties to fulfil, and they are not expected to treat those as a side business.

Champions League remains the only way for Manchester United to prove their mettle, and maybe, get their hands on some silverware.

David Moyes’ West Ham are having a brilliant season. They are fourth in the Premier League and in the knockout stages of the Europa League. Will they prioritize finishing fourth in the Premier League, or will they go all out to win the Europa League?

West Ham are a solid unit and should be one of the favourites to win the competition. David Moyes will have some decisions to make in terms of squad rotation, and ensuring they don’t take their foot off the pedal in either competition.

More. From The Top Flight. light

It’s all to play for in the race for the final spot for Champions League football next season and the inconsistencies of these clubs have only made the league more interesting. As if it wasn’t already.