Can Sheffield United and Wolves enter Europe’s elite competition ahead of the Premier League return this week?

Sheffield United to achieve the unthinkable? – Premier League Preview

Excitement, tension, fear, and celebration will be the feelings among Premier League fans once it returns this week.

Aston Villa was the last side in Premier League action back on March 9th. Now, they will welcome the return of football in England on Wednesday against Sheffield United.

Whilst the Premier League title looks set to be heading to Liverpool, we still have some entertaining battles in the final nine games. Here at ETT, we look at the six teams battling for the final spot in the top four.

Manchester United to leapfrog Chelsea

The top four race is definitely going to be exciting for any neutral fan, but tense and anxious if you one of the six clubs fighting for the final Champions League spot.

Chelsea currently leads the way in 4th and three points ahead of Manchester United in 5th place. However, Frank Lampard’s side has tougher remaining fixtures as they have to travel to Liverpool, Sheffield United and Leicester City, whilst welcoming Man City and Wolves to Stamford Bridge. Manchester United could be the team to leapfrog into 4th but face two tough games once the Premier League returns. Solksajer’s side will travel to fellow top-four hopeful, Tottenham Hotspur, on Friday then welcome another hopeful side in Sheffield United just five days later. Their remaining fixtures are against sides in the bottom 10, so the run-in is definitely easier than Chelsea.

Sheffield United in the Champions League?

Then, you have the underdogs. Wolves did remarkably well last season by achieving Europa League in their first season back in the Premier League. Now, they could go one step further and book a place in next year’s Champions League. Wolves sit five points away from Chelsea and only have to face Arsenal, Sheffield United and Chelsea before the season ends.

Sheffield United are a newly promoted side and currently sit in 7th place, five points behind Chelsea with one game in-hand. If Chris Wilder’s side beat Aston Villa on Wednesday, then Sheffield will be two points behind Chelsea with Champions League definitely on the cards. It would be some miracle to see Sheffield United in Europe’s elite competition but still have to play seven of the top 10 teams in their final nine games.

Finally, Arsenal and Spurs are the last two teams in the hunt for 4th. However, that could quickly end depending on their result in their first game back. Spurs will welcome Manchester United and anything less than a win would signal the end of a sixth consecutive season in Europe’s elite. Mourinho does have the luxury of Kane, Son and Bergwijn all back from lengthy injuries, but would need to win eight of their nine games to have any chance. (BBC)

After the season Arsenal has had, it seems impossible they could be in a fighting chance of rentering the Champions League this season. With one game in hand, Arsenal are eight points behind Chelsea but a win against Man City on Wednesday could rejuvenate them. However, the remaining fixtures would see them face Wolves, Sheffield United, Liverpool, and Spurs – it would be a miracle for Arsenal to beat all of them.

Another twist in the race…

At this moment in time, the current top four would achieve qualification to Champions League next season. However, Man City are currently set to be banned from European competitions for the next two years unless their appeals win in July. (Sky Sports) So, whoever finishes 5th could actually enter the Champions League next season.

Man Utd currently occupies 5th place, but the likes of Arsenal or Spurs could be licking their lips at another chance of achieving qualification. Or Sheffield United and Wolves could both do the unthinkable and qualify.

This is all ifs, but at the moment, but the top four race is definitely one to keep your eye on once the Premier League returns.

Predictions

Even though we would love to see Sheffield United and Wolves represent England in next year’s Champions League competition it seems highly unlikely. I feel like both clubs would struggle to make an impact once the Premier League returns. Both sides thrive off their home advantage and noisy atmosphere which are all set to disappear in the next nine games.

Chelsea has one of the toughest run-ins remaining, alongside Arsenal, which could see them drop out of 4th place. I believe Man Utd will cement their place into the top four with Rashford and Pogba both returning.

If City’s ban is upheld and 5th place gains club’s entry to Champions League, then I believe Spurs will achieve that. Mourinho’s side would need to beat Man Utd in their first game back, but the return of Harry Kane would be a major boost for the North London side.

4th – Man Utd
5th – Spurs
6th – Chelsea
7th – Sheffield United
8th – Wolves
9th – Arsenal

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