The Premier League has been a rollercoaster again in 2018-19, but the battle for a place in next season’s Champions League looks set to go down to the wire.

At one point or another, one team has been in the ascendency before letting their momentum slip, but are Arsenal now in pole position to clinch a spot at the top table of European football?

Arsenal

Few would have suggested in the middle of January that the Gunners could be pushing for anything except a fifth-place finish, but an excellent run of form – including a win over Manchester United – has changed opinion.

Arsenal are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games, with their only defeat since February coming against Manchester City.

Undoubtedly it was the club’s result against United that has changed the perception of the chance that they have, but the performance against Spurs at Wembley started to enable fans to believe that the top four wasn’t unassailable.

The crucial factor that has to be taken into account is the remaining fixtures that Arsenal have. On paper, their hardest assignment looks to be their trips to Everton, Wolves and Watford.

However, their visits to the latter two of those seem to be made more comfortable since they could have their focus purely on an upcoming FA Cup semi-final.

Aside from these fixtures, the Gunners face Newcastle, Brighton and Crystal Palace at home, and face attractive away fixtures against Leicester and Burnley on the final day.

The Leicester game could be vital for the club as it falls on the same weekend as United host Chelsea and Spurs take on West Ham. This could be the weekend when the top four positions are all-but cemented.

Manchester United

Aside from recent hiccups against Arsenal and Wolves in the FA Cup, the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer regime has gone perfectly so far.

But the Norwegian’s job could hinge on a top-four finish for the club.

The Champions League could present a second chance at qualifying for the competition, but it’s unlikely that the caretaker manager will be taking a season-defining chance on his team beating Barcelona over two legs.

In the league, United have a reasonable run-in to the end the season, with the apparent standout fixtures being the back-to-back games against Manchester City and Chelsea at Old Trafford.

This week could prove pivotal in not only the race for the top four but also the final destination of the Premier League title.

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It’s challenging to predict how fixtures can appear on paper, but it seems the remaining fixtures that United have are favourable.

Trips to Wolves, Everton and Huddersfield could look tricky, but they are clubs whose focus could be elsewhere. Meanwhile, the home games against West Ham and Cardiff are must-wins. Few would bet against United to finish in the top four.

Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri has endured a turbulent start to his career at Chelsea and after going unbeaten in their first 12 league matches of the season, their campaign has quickly unravelled.

Since the beginning of this calendar year, the Blues have only won four league games, while they have also lost on four occasions.

Two of these defeats came in the same week as they fell to 4-0 and 6-0 losses away at Bournemouth and Manchester City respectively.

Sarri’s tactics have been questioned throughout the campaign, with his decision to play summer signing Jorginho in N’Golo Kante’s position often causing rage from the fans in attendance at Stamford Bridge.

Their run-in looks the hardest of all the contenders as they still need to travel to Old Trafford and Anfield before ending the season at the King Power against Leicester.

Their best chance of Champions League football next season is likely to come in the form of Europa League success. Chelsea face Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals and will be hopeful of reaching the final in Baku that could present them with a second chance of qualification.

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