Premier League: Race for fourth hots up as Chelsea and United hit form

Good wins for Chelsea and Manchester United over the weekend saw their odds shorten for a top four finish but with Champions League qualification likely to be on offer for the team in fifth there's plenty still to play for, says Max Liu...

The race to finish fourth in the Premier League looks set to come down to a two-way battle between Chelsea 1.68 and Manchester United 2.66 after both teams enjoyed impressive wins at the weekend.
Three points currently separate the teams, although United have the better goal difference by two, so they could swap places at any point. On Sunday, Chelsea put in their most convincing display for a while as they won 4-0 against Everton.
United beat Manchester City 2-0 with one of their best performances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. It extended their unbeaten run to 10 games and was an eighth clean sheet in that period.

Wolves, Blades and Spurs still in the race

But Wolves 8.00 and Sheffield United 14.00 lie just two points behind the Red Devils in sixth and seventh respectively and the latter have a game in hand.
Eighth-placed Tottenham are now as big as 15.50 but cannot be ruled out just yet. They've failed to win in their last three in the League but, if they beat Manchester United in north London next weekend, they will move to within one point of Solskjaer's men.

City ban ignites race for fifth

The situation is complicated by Manchester City's two year ban from European competition which they are currently appealing.
Should the ban be upheld again City, who will almost certainly finish as runners up, then the team that finishes fifth would qualify for the Champions League.
That's why Sportsbook are offering a market on the top five, with Chelsea leading the way at 1/7 followed by United 3/10.
If City are forced to sit out two seasons of UEFA competition it would be the first time anything similar has happened since English clubs returned to European competition in 1990 after their five year ban that was due to the Heysel Stadium disaster.
The first season back (1990/91), Liverpool were still banned and Aston Villa, who'd finished as League runners up the previous season, represented England in what was then the European Cup. Manchester United played in the Cup Winners' Cup and won it.
But never mind the history lesson. What matters now is that clubs have a strong incentive to try to finish fifth and that should be a good thing for the remainder of a season that could be thrown into uncertainty due to the coronavirus. At the moment, Wolves are 11/4, Spurs 11/2 and Sheffield United 13/2.

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