It’s not just the title race and relegation that’s going to the wire in the Premier League – the battle for Uefa Champions League qualification is also hotly contested with just three matches remaining in the 2021-2022 season.
With the top five teams having played 35 games each, as things stand defending champions Manchester City are favourites to retain their crown with Pep Guardiola’s side currently on 86 points, three clear of title rivals Liverpool.
The race to finish in the top four is equally a closely-fought affair, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur all still in with a chance of finishing third or fourth. Chelsea currently sit in third place with 67 points from 35 games, while Arsenal are on 66 and Tottenham are on 62.
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Third-placed Chelsea, who are five points clear of Spurs in fifth, “should have enough to secure their current position”, said Jack Cunningham on talkSPORT. Therefore, it appears to be “a straight shootout” between bitter rivals Arsenal and Spurs. However, there could still be “some twists and turns to come”.
‘Biggest meeting for years’
Arsenal travel to Spurs on Thursday night for a Premier League encounter that has been described as “seismic” by Henry Winter in The Times. “At last”, this is a north London derby that “really matters”.
Last weekend’s results saw Arsenal beat Leeds United 2-1 at home while Spurs drew 1-1 against Liverpool at Anfield. Going into Thursday’s derby, the Gunners have a four-point advantage and they travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium knowing that a victory would take them back into the Champions League for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
This “massive” clash is the “biggest meeting between these two rivals for years”, said Jonathan Gorrie in the London Evening Standard. And “barring a late Chelsea collapse”, Europe’s elite competition will “only likely be big enough for one of them”.
Thursday’s north London derby kicks-off at 7.45pm and is live on Sky Sports.
North London derby predictions
Tottenham “simply have to win” and certainly “boast the kind of attacking talent” to damage their rivals, said Gorrie in the London Evening Standard. Still, as strong as Spurs are at home under Antonio Conte, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have “learned how to grind results out” and Gorrie is predicting a 1-1 draw.
Michael Owen is also “leaning towards” a 1-1 draw. Speaking on BetVictor, the former England striker said that although Conte is building a good side at Spurs, even a draw “would be a good result” for Arsenal. “I think that’s what we will see.”
This derby is “set to be a thriller” with both teams “finding form” towards the end of the season, said Sarah Rendell in The Independent. However, Spurs have “more consistency in their ranks” and so “should be able to pull off the victory” which would see their hopes of Champions League football rise. “Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal.”
Conte’s side will be “buoyed by their stellar showing” against Liverpool and should expose the Gunners’ recent “defensive lapses” to keep the race for fourth place alive that little bit longer, said Ben Knapton on SportsMole. He has predicted a 2-1 victory for Spurs.
Following their impressive performance at Anfield, Gary Neville is also backing Spurs to beat Arsenal. The match was postponed in January at Arsenal’s request – due to the Gunners having “many players unavailable” as a result of Covid, injuries and players away with their countries at the Africa Cup of Nations – and Neville believes there will be added “needle” for the clash. “I think it will be a really tasty game – not just because of the fact it’s a north London derby and they’re playing for Champions League places,” he said on his podcast. “But the way in which this game was called off earlier in the year – even I wasn’t too happy with that! I fancy Tottenham on Thursday night. I thought they were brilliant at Anfield.”
While Neville is tipping Spurs to win, former England international Micah Richards is saying the Gunners. “I think Arsenal, yes,” he said last week on The Monday Night Club on BBC Radio 5 Live. “I just think with their form and winning the last three, I’m going Arsenal.”
According to win probability statistics from StatsPerform, Tottenham have a 41.2% chance of winning on Thursday, while Arsenal have a 30.5% chance, Squawka.com reported. There’s a 28.3% chance of the match ending in a draw.
Top four betting odds
The bookies make Arsenal second favourites behind Chelsea to complete the Premier League’s top four and qualify for the Champions League. Chelsea’s odds of 1/200 are “a fair reflection of their prospects given their remaining fixtures”, said The Daily Telegraph. Arsenal are 3/10 and Tottenham 5/2. As implied by the latest odds, Chelsea have a 99% chance of finishing in the top four, while Arsenal have a 77% chance and Tottenham 29%.
Premier League top five: the remaining fixtures
- 11 May: Wolves (away)
- 15 May: West Ham (away)
- 22 May: Aston Villa (home)
- 10 May: Aston Villa (away)
- 17 May: Southampton (away)
- 22 May: Wolves (home)
- 11 May: Leeds (away)
- 19 May: Leicester City (home)
- 22 May: Watford (home)
- 12 May: Tottenham (away)
- 16 May: Newcastle (away)
- 22 May: Everton (home)
- 12 May: Arsenal (home)
- 15 May: Burnley (home)
- 22 May: Norwich City (away)
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