Race for top four?

There's still plenty to play for and not much time to go

BBC

We don’t want our season to ‘fizzle out’ - Wilder on Man Utd loss

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder says his team are performing "well below" the standards they've set in the Premier League this season after The Blades lost 3-0 to Man Utd, their second 3-0 defeat in a row.

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How is the battle for the Premier League's top four going?

By Joe Harker

While there isn't much left to play for at the very top of the Premier League, Liverpool has basically got their first league title in 30 years wrapped up at this point, there are still lots of other teams with something to play for.

The relegation scrap is still ongoing. Norwich City look done and dusted on 21 points while Aston Villa, Bournemouth and West Ham are just above them and all tied on 27 points.

Further up the table a battle to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League is still close. Leicester City and Chelsea are third and fourth respectively, while Manchester United, Wolves, Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United are all chasing them.

An extra spanner has been thrown in the works by Manchester City's potential Champions League ban. They are currently in second place and a ban would mean the fifth placed side would qualify in their stead.

Most teams have just seven games to go, so there's not much time to recover from a bad result. A handful of games will decide much about the way the league table looks once all 38 rounds have been completed.

Leicester City:

Third in the table, Leicester should be secure enough to see out the campaign and make it into the Champions League, but their form in the second half of the season has been poor.

They have won just four of their last 15 league games, going from a team which was keeping pace with Liverpool and Man City to one looking nervously below them at the chasing pack.

Their run-in continues with a game against Chelsea, followed by fixtures with Everton, Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Spurs and one final game against Man United.

They are playing several of their top four rivals, meaning their fate is very much in their hands with some good results, whereas defeats would be particularly costly. They need to find better form if they want to be sure they're not overtaken.

Chelsea:

Just behind them is Chelsea, who came from a goal down to beat Aston Villa at the weekend. Frank Lampard is building an impressive side but their chances of staying in the top four are by no means certain.

Their run in has a couple of tough fixtures but it's full of games the Blues should be winning. Even if they do miss out on the Champions League it shouldn't affect their transfer business too badly, deals for Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner have already been sorted and Chelsea should look much stronger next season.

Manchester United:

United have been on a great run of form since the arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January, while the break has allowed star players Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba to return from injury.

Much seems to be falling into place at the right moment for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, potentially making up for a poor first half of the season.

Their final run of games is very favourable. They play pretty much all of the teams battling relegation as well as Southampton and Crystal Palace before a final clash against Leicester, which might be decisive if there is still something to play for.

They'll be expected to rack up a lot of points over the last few games and take advantage of any opportunities their top four rivals might miss.

Wolverhampton Wanderers:

Nuno Espirito Santo's side are one of the most likable in the league, combining excellent players and good coaching to impressive effect.

Level on points with Man United, their favourable fixture list means they also stand a very good chance of breaking into the top four if Leicester or Chelsea struggle.

The form of striker Raul Jimenez will be crucial for Wolves and they have every reason to be optimistic of hunting down the teams above them.

Tottenham Hotspur:

Jose Mourinho's Spurs side sits four points below Man United and Wolves and six points below fourth placed Chelsea. They have work to do and will need to hope teams above them slip up, while an upcoming game against Leicester could be a great chance to gain ground on a rival.

The manager has insisted their games are "must win" if they want to keep any chances of a top four finish alive and he is likely to be correct.

Their form before the break was not good but the delay has allowed star striker Harry Kane to come back from injury, his goal against West Ham in a 2-0 win will have done much for his confidence.

Sheffield United:

Chris Wilder's men are on 44 points, just one below Spurs, but their performances since returning have suggested that their momentum is gone and with it their chances of an amazing top four finish.

A 0-0 draw against a struggling Aston Villa side was followed by 3-0 defeats to Newcastle United and Man United, leaving their season at risk of fizzling out.

They still have to play Spurs, Wolves, Chelsea and Leicester before the end of the season, games which could represent a chance to claw their way back up the table at the expense of their rivals but on current form looks like a series of opportunities for them to be forced out of the race. Their chances aren't gone, but they're going.

The Chasing Pack:

Just below Sheffield United are Crystal Palace, Everton and Arsenal. Their chances of the Champions League are very slim but a good final run could see them make it to the Europa League, while there's still the outside bet of them clinching a fifth placed finish and Man City getting banned.

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