Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Go Fourth and Multiply Who Will Win the Race for a Champions League Place and the Riches Europe's Premier Competition Brings with It?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Go Fourth and Multiply Who Will Win the Race for a Champions League Place and the Riches Europe's Premier Competition Brings with It?

Article excerpt

THE scramble for a top-four place is developing into one of the most competitive and exciting battles since the Champions League was expanded in 2001-02. With Chelsea and Manchester City odds-on to finish first and second, there are just five points separating third-placed Arsenal and this season's surprise package, Southampton, in Premier League P WD L F APTS Chelsea 27 19 6 2 57 22 63 ManCity 28177 4592758 Arsenal 28 16 6 6 53 30 54 ManUtd 28158 5472653 Liverpool 28 15 6 7 42 30 51 Tottenham 28 15 5 8 46 39 50 So'ton 28154 9392049 seventh. Will Arsenal secure an 18th consecutive season in Europe's No1 competition? Will United justify their huge summer spending? Can Liverpool complete a remarkable recovery after a poor start? Can Spurs or Southampton gatecrash the big boys' party? Here, Standard Sport's JAMES OLLEY gives his verdict on the five contenders.

Arsenal Top-four finishes (since 2001-02) .. 13 Top scorer -- Alexis Sanchez.. 13 Form L-W-W-W-W Clean sheets .9 Odds to finish in top four 1-5 Remaining fixtures Tomorrow West Ham (H) Mar 21 Newcastle (A) Apr 4 Liverpool (H) Apr11 Burnley (A) Apr 26 CHELSEA (H) May2 Hull (A) May9 Swansea (H) May16 Man United (A) May24 West Brom (H) TBA Sunderland (? Momentum is with Arsenal in addition to their pedigree in finding away to scramble into the top four each year. Seven of their final 10 games are against teams placed ninth or lower, while two of the other three games (v Liverpool and Chelsea) are at home. Should have enough.

OLLEY'S VERDICT: Third Man United Top-four finishes (since 2001-02) .. 12 Top scorer -- Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie .10 Form D-W-L-W-W Clean sheets .9 Odds to finish in top four.. 5-6 Remaining fixtures Sunday Tottenham (H) Mar 22 Liverpool (A) Apr 4 Aston Villa (H) Apr 12 ManCity (H) Apr18 Chelsea (A) Apr 26 Everton (A) May2 West Brom (H) May9 Crystal Palace (A) May16 Arsenal (H) May24 Hull (? Failure to reach the top four is unthinkable for Louis van Gaal but their fixture list will pose serious questions. Tottenham, Liverpool, ManCity and Chelsea oppose them in four of the next five games. Current form suggests they will come unstuck against the best. …

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