North London rivals seeking consistency in pursuit of Champions League spots | Sport News

Michael Regan

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Heung-Min Son’s scoring form has boosted Tottenham’s top-four hopes

Michael Regan

Saturday could be a crucial day in the race for fourth spot in the Premier League as fifth-placed Arsenal host sixth-placed Manchester United before Tottenham, who start the weekend in the final Champions League place, travel to in-form Brentford.

Before the March international break, Arsenal were in pole position at 4-9 to make the top four but defeats to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton saw their odds lengthen to 9-4.

The Gunners were trimmed to 11-10 after their 4-2 win at Chelsea on Wednesday but Tottenham, at 8-11, kick off this weekend as favourites to join Manchester City, Liverpool and the Blues in the top four.

The north-London clubs were unfancied at the start of the season as Arsenal went off at 5-1 for a top-four finish and Spurs were 11-2 shots, both behind 9-2 chances Leicester, who had narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

United were no bigger than 4-11 in the ante-post market and some bookmakers had them shorter than Liverpool and Chelsea, which demonstrates the extent to which they have underperformed this season.

As recently as New Year’s Day, the Red Devils were even-money, ahead of Arsenal at 9-4 and Spurs at 3-1, but Ralf Rangnick’s side are now out to 20-1 to make the top four.

Tottenham and Arsenal are level on 57 points from 32 matches, with United three points back having played a game more, and Rangnick’s men take on third-placed Chelsea at Old Trafford on Thursday.

The Gunners’ run-in includes tricky away fixtures at West Ham and Newcastle as well as a high-stakes derby trip to Tottenham on May 12.

Both clubs have experienced hot streaks – Arsenal had won six out of seven in the league before their three-match losing run while Spurs have won seven of their last ten, scoring 28 goals – as well as some shock defeats so there may well be more twists and turns in the race for fourth.

How the top-four betting has changed

Pre-season 1-16 Man City, 3-10 Chelsea, 3-10 Liverpool, 4-11 Man Utd, 9-2 Leicester, 5 Arsenal, 11-2 Tottenham

January 1, 2022 Evs Man Utd, 9-4 Arsenal, 3 Tottenham

March 19 4-9 Arsenal, 10-3 Tottenham, 5 Man Utd
Arsenal win 1-0 v Aston Villa

April 4 10-11 Arsenal, Evs Tottenham, 10 Man Utd
Arsenal lose 3-0 v Crystal Palace

April 9 2-5 Tottenham, 11-5 Arsenal, 22 Man Utd
Man Utd lose 1-0 v Everton, Arsenal lose 2-1 v Brighton & Tottenham win 4-0 v Aston Villa

April 16 1-2 Tottenham, 9-4 Arsenal, 15-2 Man Utd
Arsenal lose 1-0 v Southampton, Tottenham lose 1-0 v Brighton & Man Utd win 3-2 v Norwich

April 20 8-11 Tottenham, 11-10 Arsenal, 20 Man Utd
Man Utd lose 4-0 v Liverpool & Arsenal win 4-2 v Chelsea

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