The race for the top four in the Premier League is getting incredibly interesting.
Wins for West Ham and Chelsea on Monday evening has added further spice with no less than five teams trying to take that elusive fourth Champions League spot. Seven points separate fourth down to eighth.
We assess the state of play ahead of what is set to be an enthralling run-in for a place in Europe’s most prestigious club competition.
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Chelsea

  • Position: 4th
  • Games played: 28
  • Points: 50
  • Other Competitions: Champions League, FA Cup
  • Remaining PL fixtures: Leeds (A), West Brom (H), Crystal Palace (A), Brighton (H), West Ham (A), Fulham (H), Man City (A), Arsenal (H), Leicester (H), Aston Villa (A)
In the 11 games Thomas Tuchel has overseen, Chelsea have won eight and drawn three. The German’s brand of football has not been pretty but he has launched the south-west London club right into the top-four race.
However, despite Chelsea’s defensive solidity they have not scored more than two goals in a game since he’s been in charge. It is a problem that could prove troublesome against West Brom and Crystal Palace in early April who will look to sit deep.
Their FA Cup and Champions League commitments should not prove too much of a distraction to Chelsea given Tuchel has a mostly fit squad with plenty of depth.

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West Ham

  • Position: 5th
  • Games played: 27
  • Points: 48
  • Other Competitions: None
  • Remaining PL fixtures: Man Utd (A), Arsenal (H), Wolves (A), Leicester (H), Newcastle (A), Chelsea (H), Burnley (A), Everton (H), Brighton (A), West Brom (A), Southampton (H)
Retrospectively West Ham have enjoyed the best recent transfer windows out of any Premier League side. The arrivals of Said Benrahma, Tomas Soucek, Vladimir Coufal, Jesse Lingard – and surprisingly Watford cast-off Craig Dawson – has transformed their starting XI and their player spend is paying off handsomely.
The Hammers are not in any other cup competitions and currently rank third in the Premier League form table behind Manchester City and Chelsea. David Moyes and Declan Rice were not happy with West Ham’s 2-0 win over Leeds on Monday which shows the expectation level has risen significantly at the club in recent months.
With no other cup fixtures to worry about momentum is with them, but tough matches against Manchester United and Arsenal next will be a fresh benchmark to test themselves against.

West Ham

Image credit: Getty Images

Everton

  • Position: 6th
  • Games played: 27
  • Points: 46
  • Other competitions: FA Cup
  • Remaining PL fixtures: Burnley (H), Crystal Palace (H), Brighton (A), Tottenham (H), Arsenal (H), Aston Villa (H), West Ham (A), Sheffield United (H), Wolves (H), Man City (A)
Everton are doing well but their 2-0 defeat to Chelsea will have been an almighty sucker punch having registered three league wins in a row prior to it, including a confidence-boosting victory over fierce rivals Liverpool.
Richarlison has been in the goals recently with four in his last five matches, but talisman Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been goalless in four while Everton have suffered the blow of losing mainstay Abdoulaye Doucoure to injury. He is out until at least after the international break.
An absent key midfielder and a goal-dry number nine does not bode well for Everton. They will have to pick up wins quickly against Burnley, Crystal Palace and strugglers Brighton before life gets a lot tougher for the Toffees.

Tottenham

  • Position: 7th
  • Games played: 27
  • Points: 45
  • Other competitions: Europa League, League Cup
  • Remaining PL fixtures: Arsenal (A), Aston Villa (A), Newcastle (A), Man Utd (H), Everton (A), Sheffield United (H), Leeds (A), Wolves (H), Aston Villa (H), Leicester (A)
Three Premier League wins in a row for Tottenham and life is looking good again for Jose Mourinho and Tottenham. Gareth Bale’s remarkable resurgence could not have come at a better time and Spurs were simply lethal against Crystal Palace in their 4-1 win on Sunday.
Defensively, question marks remain but their world-class attack, if they remain injury-free, could well fire them into the top four. However, Mourinho’s priority this season to win trophies could see their surge halted by their involvement in the Europa League and cameos for the likes of Joe Hart, Carlos Vinicius and Dele Alli ended in the latter rounds.
The League Cup final against Manchester City on April 25 also has the potential to jettison or shatter morale heading into the final five league games.

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Liverpool

  • Position: 8th
  • Games played: 28
  • Points: 43
  • Competitions: Champions League
  • Remaining PL fixtures: Wolves (A), Arsenal (A), Aston Villa (H), Leeds United (A), Newcastle (H), Man Utd (A), Southampton (H), West Brom (A), Burnley (A), Crystal Palace (H)
Liverpool are in freefall. Six straight defeats at Anfield, an injury crisis and a seven-point gap between the champions and fourth-placed Chelsea appears impossible to claw back.
It could be of greater benefit to them to put all their eggs into the Champions League basket and forget this Premier League season ever happened.
Just getting into the top-six should be the aim for the Merseyside club right now.

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