There are just 12 game left in the 2016/17 Premier League season and the battle for the top four intensifies with each passing week. Just five points separate Tottenham in second and Manchester United in sixth.

Baring a capitulation of the highest order, Chelsea have already secured one of the top four places and almost certainly won the league. So three spots remain. Who will manage to secure a coveted spot in the top four when the final day of the season arrives?

Tottenham Hotspur – 2nd (53 points)

Key Players

Harry Kane is without a doubt Tottenham’s most important player. The Englishman is in fine goalscoring form with 17 goals from 21 Premier League appearances. Kane has scored three hat-tricks in 2017 with his latest one coming in the 4-0 win against Stoke. Dele Alli is an extremely talented midfielder in the early stages of what should become an successful career. He is sometimes rash and hot-headed but this is something that he must learn to control as his career continues to go from strength to strength. Alli’s goalscoring has improved this season. He has scored 12 goals this season, two more than last term.

Mousa Dembele may not score many goals, but his superb play allows the players in front of him to score at will. Dembele is such a vital member of Tottenham’s squad and he will have a huge part to play in any future success. Hugo Lloris has rescued Spurs on several occasions this season with some formidable saves. The club captain leads by example, is a calming presence at the back and fills the team with confidence.

Next five fixtures

Everton (H), Southampton (H), Burnley (A), Swansea City (A) and Watford (H)

Chances of finishing in the top four

For the first time since 1995, Tottenham Hotspur could finish above North London rivals Arsenal. They do not face any of the current top four until the 30th of April when they meet, yes you guessed it, Arsenal. Spurs will have the home advantage in what could be a top four decider.

Manchester City – 3rd (52 points)

Key Players

After scoring three goals in his first two Premier League starts, it seemed Gabriel Jesus arrived just in time. However, the young Brazilian went off injured in Man City’s game against Bournemouth and will be out until the end of April at least. Sergio Aguero is back in the starting lineup and scoring goals for fun in both the Champions League and the FA Cup. The Argentinian striker continues to prove why he is one of the best strikers in the Premier League.

While Man City’s defence is still shaky and uncertain, their attacking options are in top form. Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane are young and exciting forwards who are being managed by one of the best managers in the world. Along with Gabriel Jesus, they could be Man City’s future.

Next five fixtures

Sunderland (A), Stoke City (H), Liverpool (H), Arsenal (A) and Chelsea (A)

Chances of finishing in the top four

Pep Guardiola’s side have not lost since the 15th of January when they were thrashed 4-0 by Everton at Goodison Park. They have three consecutive fixtures against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea who are all top four rivals. Any slip up, no matter how small will be punished by the teams around them but with Aguero back in the team, Man City are more than capable of finishing in the top four.

Arsenal – 4th (50 points)

Key Players

Alexis Sanchez is the main man at Arsenal. He is always determined to influence every game he plays in and makes tireless runs in and around the box. He has scored 17 Premier League goals this season, his best tally in his three seasons at the North London outfit. There are constant rumours that Sanchez wants to leave Arsenal. If he did, nobody could blame him. The Chilean international wants to win trophies and since that doesn’t look likely at Arsenal, why should he stay?

French defender Laurent Koscielny is a rock at the back. His partnership with Mustafi was part of the reason that Arsenal had a 14 game unbeaten run after their opening day defeat against Liverpool. When Koscielny went off injured against Bayern in the Champions League, the team completely capitulated and conceded another four goals. He is Arsenal’s best defender and a great centre-back partner for Mustafi while he adapts to the Premier League.

Next five fixtures

Liverpool (A), West Bromwich Albion (A), Manchester City (H), West Ham United (H) and Crystal Palace (A)

Chances of finishing in the top four

Arsenal always finish in the top four. No matter how bad their season is, they just about manage to scrape through. This year could be different. With Man United continually improving and winning matches, Arsenal might be in trouble if they lose or draw a few matches. Finishing outside the top four could be just what Arsenal require in order to make some much needed changes.

Liverpool – 5th (49 points)

Key Players

There were no stand out players for the majority of Liverpool’s January and February Premier League matches, they were all just as substandard as each other. Liverpool’s solitary win in the last two months was against Spurs. They won 2-0 thanks to a first-half brace from Sadio Mane. The Senegalese striker was greatly missed when he was at the Africa Cup of Nations in January and Liverpool struggled without him. Mane has been involved in 15 league goals for Liverpool this season (11 goals, four assists). This is more than any of his team-mates. England Player of the Year Adam Lallana has faltered during the turn of the year, just like his team, but he was a key part of their promising title winning form in the first few months of the season. Lallana has scored seven goals this season and created seven assists – both of which are his best tallies for Liverpool.

Next five fixtures

Arsenal (H), Burnley (H), Manchester City (A), Everton (H) and Bournemouth (H)

Chances of finishing in the top four

Liverpool are their own worst enemy. They are either amazing and play some of the most exciting football in the league or they are very poor and dominate possession while they opponents score goals on the counter attack. Their record against the top six is excellent but not against the teams in the bottom half of the table. Defeats against Hull and Swansea City have derailed Liverpool’s title challenge. They failed to win any of their four Premier League games in January which also didn’t help. Liverpool are out of all competitions so there is no excuse in the battle for the top four. At the moment, it seems that Liverpool might just miss out. However, after their excellent start, serious questions would be asked if Jurgen Klopp’s side were not playing in Europe next season.

Manchester United – 6th (48 points)

Key Players

Who else but Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He is a proven winner and exudes an aura of confidence that has a positive impact on his team-mates. The Reds would not have won the EFL Cup without him. His importance to the team is indisputable. Man United’s over dependence on Ibrahimovic is a slight concern but as long as he keeps scoring goals and remains injury free, everyone’s a winner. Just like Spurs, Man United have a fantastic goalkeeper. In 2016 David De Gea become the first player to be crowned Manchester United’s Player of the Year for a third successive season highlighting his importance to the squad. Thank goodness Real Madrid have a dodgy fax machine.

Antonio Valencia has been one of Man United’s stand out performers this season. The Ecuadorian right-back has been given plenty of game time and put in some excellent performances as a result, making the position his own. Following their EFL Cup triumph, Valencia believes that Man United can also win the Europa League and the FA Cup.

Next five fixtures

Bournemouth (H), Middlesbrough (A), West Bromwich Albion (H), Everton (H) and Sunderland (A)

Chances of finishing in the top four

Manchester United have been in the same league position since the 6th of November. They have grown stronger during that time and put in some excellent team performances but five 1-1 draws have cost them vital points. A place in the top four is crucial for a club of Man United’s stature and there is no doubt that Ibrahimovic will want to be back in the Champions League next season. Unlike the other teams, Manchester United have the advantage of being in the Europa League. The winner of this European competition is awarded a Champions League place, regardless of where they finish in the league. Man United have a huge amount of games between now and the end of the season as they are still in two cup competitions. Despite the heavy workload, Jose Mourinho’s men should be back in Europe next season.

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