The Battle For Fourth Place in the Premier League
The battle for fourth in the Premier League is a heated competition between four different clubs: Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Newcastle United and — the club that will probably finish third — Arsenal. The hotly contested fourth position will result in Champions League soccer next season with all of the lucrative TV money, media exposure and bragging rights that come along with it.
It’s the time of the year when the beauty of playing a 38-week season comes to fruition. Sure, the Premier League could set up a play-off season to determine the fourth place team, but why reward a club who may win the spot based on a lucky break or a brief run of form? Fourth place should go to the fourth best team in the league over the course of the entire season, where every game matters.
But which of the four clubs is going to finish in fourth place? Let’s take a look.
With the Gunners five points ahead in third place, it doesn’t look likely that any team is going to catch up with Arsenal unless Arsene Wenger’s team stumble and one of the fourth place contenders below them goes on a run of form to close the five point gap. In Arsenal’s favor is the fact that the club doesn’t have anything else to play for, other than finishing the league as well as they can. With Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott on song right now, it would take a bad run of form to undo Arsenal. That being said, the Gunners do face some of their bogey teams soon including Chelsea and Stoke.
Points: Third place, 64 points.
Stats: Arsenal has an 86% chance of finishing third, and an 11% chance of ending up in fourth.
Remaining fixtures: Wigan (h), Chelsea (h), Stoke (a), Norwich (h), West Brom (a).
Who knows which Tottenham will show up in their upcoming games? Will it be the one who masterminded their victory over Swansea, or will it be the Redknapp side that wilted against Norwich City, or looked tactically inept versus Sunderland?
Take it for what it is, but the next four sides that Tottenham faces are battling to avoid relegation. Tottenham certainly has a fight on its hands if the team wants to finish well this season.
Points: Fourth place, 59 points.
Stats: Tottenham Hotspur has a 56% chance of finishing in fourth.
Remaining fixtures: QPR (a), Blackburn (h), Bolton (a), Aston Villa (a), Fulham (h).
Manager of the season candidate Alan Pardew has a chance to disrupt the establishment by continuing their brilliant run of form in their remaining five matches. It won’t be an easy task, though, with three of the matches being away. But if Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Demba Cisse can continue their scintillating form, buoyed by the vociferous Geordie support, then Newcastle could be playing in Europe next season. Their match against Chelsea could be the decider.
Points: Fifth place, 59 points.
Stats: Newcastle has a 16% chance of finishing in fourth place.
Remaining fixtures: Stoke (h), Wigan (a), Chelsea (a), Man City (h), Everton (a).
Chelsea faces a critical two weeks as they have a FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham on Sunday, followed by a two-legged Champions League semi-final against Barcelona over the next two weeks, and then several Premier League matches squeezed in between and afterwards. Their form in the FA Cup and Champions League could have a detrimental impact on their league form. Or it could end up being the only thing they have left to play for. All depends on what happens between Sunday and Wednesday.
Points: Sixth place, 57 points.
Stats: Chelsea’s chances of finishing in fourth place is 17%.
Remaining fixtures: Arsenal (a), QPR (h), Newcastle (h), Liverpool (a), Blackburn (h).
Stats courtesy of A Beautiful Numbers Game.