Written by: Manuel
Edited by: Justin
Visual by: Macy
The Champions League is a prestigious annual tournament that consists of top European football clubs. To qualify, a team must place fourth or higher in their respective league, which is determined by the country they play in. In this case, England’s football league—the Premier League—has arguably the most exciting top-four race this season, as three clubs are competing for the coveted fourth place. Among Arsenal, Spurs, and Manchester United, each has its own strengths. Arsenal has a promising youth academy, Spurs has one of the best coaches managing them, and Manchester United has one of the greatest players playing for them. These strengths highlight the intensity of this year’s Champions League race.
To begin with, Arsenal is coming off a 3-1 win over rivals Manchester United. Before this season started, BBC pundit Ashley Williams said, “It’s going to be tough for anyone else to crack the top four, and I don’t think Arsenal or Spurs can do it.” Coincidentally enough, Arsenal had a shaky start to the season after losing all three opening games. However, through the manager’s trust in young players like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, Arsenal achieved statement wins against rivals Chelsea and Manchester United. Now, Arsenal finds themselves in fourth place, placing them in the driver’s seat for Champions League qualification.
To motivate the fans, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta stated, “We are going to give the hunt for top-four a real good go.” Arsenal looks to continue to rally towards Champions League qualification. Their next difficult match will be against fierce rivals Spurs, and winning that derby will bolster their Champions League hopes.
Spurs are the second team in contention for the coveted fourth spot. Spurs entered this season with the ambition of returning to the Champions League. Despite manager Nuno Santo leading his team to three straight victories earlier this season, Spurs lost five games in a row, which resulted in his sacking. The former coach was replaced by Antonio Conte, a proven winner with his philosophy of having a “stable team, not up and down”.
With Conte in, Tottenham became the most prolific team this year; however, they have recently faced uncharacteristic struggles, failing to score a single goal in recent matches against mid-table teams Brighton and Brentford. With the team finding themselves in a rough patch, Spurs now find themselves in fifth and have an upcoming season-defining game against Liverpool, which will test Spurs’ resolve.
The last team chasing fourth place is Manchester United–a club that was expected to be title contenders this season, having finished second last season. United arguably had the best summer transfer window as they acquired Cristiano Ronaldo. United manager Ralf Rangnick promised to “bring more balance into the team”, but his team now sits in sixth place, four points behind Spurs. This struggle is due to proven players like Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane not performing as well as the fans expected them to.
Next season, Rangnick will be replaced by Erik Ten Hag, who led his Ajax team to the Champions League semi-finals three years ago. Due to Ten Hag’s appointment, United fans are sure to have high hopes for the future of their team.
With only five games remaining in the season, these three teams will need to train more intensely in the weeks to come if they desire to place fourth. With only five games remaining in the season, the three teams must still give it their all if they desire to place fourth. Despite each team’s undeniable winning abilities, the fourth place spot remains unpredictable which illustrates the sheer competitiveness of the Premier League. Will Arsenal maintain their head start? Will Spurs embody an Antonio Conte team? Will Ronaldo lead United to glory? There can only be one team that wins this race, and the losers will certainly pay the price.
Bevan, Chris. “Premier League predictions 2021-22: BBC Sport pundits pick their top four.” BBC, 12 August 2021, https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/58141017. Accessed 26 April 2022.
“Nuno, Saka, Xhaka… BOOM! | Arsenal 3-1 Man United | Mikel Arteta press conference” – Youtube.Com
“Antonio Conte’s first interview as Tottenham Hotspur Head Coach!” –
“Ralf Rangnick | Manager’s Press Conference | Manchester United v Crystal Palace” – Youtube.Com