One of the oddest Premier League seasons in memory charges into its final weeks with plenty still to play for from top to bottom.
While Manchester City and Arsenal’s fight for the title and a desperate scrap to survive will draw much of the focus during the run-in, a congested contest for European places could also be decided on the last day.
Newcastle and Manchester United remain best placed for a Champions League spot next season but Liverpool are finishing fast.
Beyond them, Brighton and Tottenham’s contrasting seasons of calm and chaos could result in a duel for sixth, while Aston Villa might yet have a major say.
Here’s the standings as they sit and the fixtures that each team has left as they bid to secure their spot in continental competition.
3rd place, 65 points
It felt inevitable from the moment that the takeover of the club was completed but Newcastle have navigated this year well to leave themselves on the brink of a return to Europe. Eddie Howe has proved a shrewd appointment and got the best out of a squad still perhaps short of some of the other Champions League place challengers. There’s still work to be done, though, and Newcastle’s edges just frayed a little against Arsenal. Among their final four contesters are battles with two relegation scrappers in Leeds and Leicester that could prove troublesome, while Brighton may need a win to keep their European ambitions alive.
Leeds (away), Saturday 13 May
Brighton (home), Thursday 18 May
Leicester (home), Monday 22 May
Chelsea (away), Sunday 28 May
4th place, 63 points
It is not long since Manchester United were making up ground on our two title contenders; Erik ten Hag’s side are now throwing nervy looks back over their shoulder as they stumble into the home straight. A handful of untimely injuries and the continued mega-money machinations behind the scenes have perhaps just destabilised Manchester United a little, and Ten Hag will be keen to right the ship quickly. Pleasingly for the Dutchman, there are three home fixtures among his side’s four remaining league encounters, and none of their remaining opponents are likely to have much to play for. Nine points would be enough to keep Liverpool at bay and leave Brighton needing something extraordinary to overhaul them.
Wolves (home), Saturday 13 May
Bournemouth (away), Saturday 20 May
Chelsea (home), Thursday 25 May
Fulham (home), Sunday 28 May
5th place, 62 points
Liverpool have stirred from their slumber to make a charge for a Champions League place that seemed so unlikely midway through the season. Six wins in row mean Jurgen Klopp’s side are very much the form horse, closing quickly on those above them and threatening to salvage their campaign. The recent run has not been Liverpool in full form – their last five wins have come by a single goal – but the so-called mentality monsters appear to be back to at least some degree. Three eminently winnable games could present opportunities for a bright conclusion to end up in Europe’s top tier competition again. They will need Manchester United to slip up twice, but on current form, that’s far from unlikely.
Leicester (away), Monday 15 May
Aston Villa (home), Saturday 20 May
Southampton (away), Sunday 28 May
6th place, 57 points
Given the state of permacrisis in which Spurs have existed this year, it is somewhat extraordinary to find a side on a second interim manager right in the European mix, but this has been a very, very strange season. Ryan Mason has made a mixed start to his second stint in temporary charge, with particular problems in the first 20 minutes threatening to derail their qualification hopes, but three wins from three might just be enough to ensure participation in European competition next year. Would a Europa Conference League campaign appeal to Julian Nagelsmann?
Aston Villa (away), Saturday 13 May
Brentford (home), Saturday 20 May
Leeds (away), Sunday 28 May
7th place, 55 points
Brighton’s fate is in their hands – an end-of-season bloat means the South Coasters have plenty of games left in which they can inflate their points tally, and can make certain of at least a Europa League spot with a winning finish. It’s not a particularly kind run-in, with the two title challengers and trips to both Newcastle and Aston Villa unlikely to prove favourable fare, but Roberto De Zerbi’s men continue to impress. The manager may rue the recent defeat to Nottingham Forest: three more points would have meant a position of real strength, but a first ever European appearance is very much on the cards.
Everton (home), Monday 8 May
Arsenal (away), Sunday 14 May
Newcastle (away), Thursday 18 May
Southampton (home), Sunday 21 May
Manchester City (home), Wednesday 24 May
Aston Villa (away), Sunday 28 May
8th place, 54 points
Yes, plucky Aston Villa are still in the race for a European place, and wondering what might have been if they had started the season with Steven Gerrard at the helm. The Spaniard’s installation has proved a masterstroke, Emery taking a listless side and transforming them into a team of surprising collective strength both in attack and defence. Their manager loves a European tour, of course, and Villa will certainly have input on the final pecking order, playing the three teams above them in the table to close their season.
Tottenham (home), Saturday 13 May
Liverpool (away), Saturday 20 May
Brighton (home), Sunday 28 May