The Race for Champions League Football: Premier League Edition

The Race for Champions League Football: Premier League Edition

The race to secure a place in the Champions League is on and things are heating up at the top of the table. Who will clinch that fourth spot?

As the pinnacle of European football, the UEFA Champions League draws the very best clubs from across the continent. For teams in the Premier League, a spot in the tournament not only means competing against Europe’s elite for the biggest trophy in club football, but also substantial financial rewards and global exposure. Let’s dive into exactly how clubs can qualify for the Champions League, and the favourites to take the final spot. 

How Does Champions League Qualification Work?

As you may know, the Champions League allocates a specific number of places to each European football league based on the performance of their teams in European competitions over a five-year period. With the Premier League being one of the top-performing leagues in Europe, they are typically granted four spots in the tournament. However, there are certain circumstances which occasionally mean more spots are up for grabs. The main one is, if a Premier League club win either the Champions League or Europa League (securing them automatic qualification to the Champions League), then an extra spot becomes available. With Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City all crashing out of their respective tournaments, the opportunity to receive the extra spot has been stripped from the Premier League.

How Does the Table Currently Look?

With just 6 games left to play in the current campaign, the last few weeks of the season are shaping up to be as entertaining as ever. Whilst Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool look to have solidified their place in the top four as they battle it out for the title, there’s a few teams eyeing up the last Champions League spot, with Villa currently in pole position

Premier League Top 4 Race
Race For The Premier League Top 4 Spot

Aston Villa

The midlands club would have certainly been considered an outsider at the start of the campaign, but Aston Villa are flying. Unai Emery’s men currently find themselves leading the pack in 4th position with just six games to go.

The foundations of the side were laid by Steven Gerrard with some fantastic recruitment, but the tactical experience of Emery has taken the team to new levels. The winning mentality of the Spaniard is illustrated by his impressive CV of guiding Villarreal to multiple Europa League titles and a Champions League semi-final in 2022. Will this be enough to get Villa over the line?

If Emery’s men can defy the odds and get the job done, it will be the first time since 1981 that Aston Villa have secured Champions League football. However, with a couple of tricky fixtures ahead of them, including Arsenal, there’s still plenty of work to be done.

Tottenham Hotspur

In the early stages of the season, it looked like Spurs were a side capable of challenging for the title, but in a typical Spurs fashion, some inconsistent results and a campaign plagued by injury left them waiting another year for silverware. 

Ange Postecoglou has done a remarkable job in his first year in north London and has brought plenty of fresh ideas, entertaining fans with a gung-ho approach to football that’s meant they’ve scored a lot of goals – even with Harry Kane leaving over the summer.

Spurs will also have a massive say in who wins the Premier League this season. They will play Arsenal, City and Liverpool in the space of two weeks in a period that will surely dictate which direction the pendulum swings. If the Lilywhites can secure their own European ambitions, at the expense of the Gunners winning the league, the Australian will surely emerge as a cult hero for the club. However, after a disappointing 4-0 loss against Newcastle in their most recent fixture, it’s important that Postecoglou’s men bounce back and find some good form.

Manchester United

Manchester United, who sit in 7th place at the time of writing, are more than capable of stealing a place in the top four given their final run of fixtures. Following the international break, the Red Devils have been lukewarm in terms of form, and capitulation late on against Chelsea followed by a draw against top-of-the-league perfectly encapsulates the struggles and frustrations of Ten Hag in his second year at the club.

Comparatively, this term has been a disappointment to the League Cup win and fourth spot secured in the 22/23 campaign, but the summer transfer window provides a chance to move on some of the dead wood that is costing United points. 

Ten Hag will be well aware of how ruthless the board have been in terms of sacking managers, and with Gareth Southgate rumoured to be a potential successor, it will be interesting to see if fans keep the faith ahead of the final few games. With a trip to Wembley also on the horizon as they face Coventry City in the semi-final of the FA Cup, it’s certainly going to be an interesting end to the season for United fans.

Newcastle United

After securing Champions League qualification last season, for the first time since 2004, Newcastle United now face an uphill battle if they want to repeat this success as far as new online bookmakers are concerned. Also many pundits believed Newcastle could have bitten off more than they could chew, playing both Premier League and Champions League football with a squad that lacked any serious depth. They have been proven correct in some ways, as the team’s campaign has been plagued with injuries and inconsistency.

The start of the season saw some impressive results, including the 8-0 thrashing of Southampton and cup wins against Manchester City and PSG, but since then, Newcastle have struggled at times. However, after a recent 4-0 victory over close competitor Tottenham, Howe’s men will be full of confidence as they head into the business end of the campaign. Could this, combined with the electric form of Antony Gordon, catapult them into next year’s Champions League?

Eddie Howe’s men currently sit in 6th position on 50 points, alongside Manchester United, but the magpies will be hoping for a last-minute push into the top 4 based on their current form.

The Premier League is reaching its climax and there is still so much to play for. Aston Villa could still win the Conference League, opening the door for the likes of West Ham and Brighton to finish in European positions. However, with Manchester City and Arsenal being knocked out of the Champions League, leaving just four spots for English clubs, the race to secure a place in next year’s tournament is as competitive as ever. One thing is for sure, we’re in for an exciting end to the season with many twists and turns still to come.