Following some wonderfully unpredictable action in the opening exchanges of the 2020/21 Premier League season, England’s top flight has been creaking towards normality more recently as the division begins to take on a more familiar look.
With defending champions Liverpool finding form and fancied Man City, Tottenham, Chelsea and Wolves teams stringing positive results together, the cream is rising to the top, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of how the rest of the campaign is likely to develop.
Wanderers battled their way to a 2-0 triumph at home to Crystal Palace on Friday evening, before Man City, Chelsea and Jurgen Klopp’s Reds gathered maximum points through successful skirmishes on Saturday.
24 hours later, Gareth Bale’s first Tottenham goal since his homecoming proved decisive against Brighton, while a well-organised Arsenal team signalled their intent by digging out a 1-0 win over a troubled Man Utd team at Old Trafford.
In a business end swollen with quality, the race to secure Champions League football through a top four finish this season promises to be the most intense chase in a decade, and below we’ve taken a look at some of the early favourites to secure one of those lucrative berths.
Keep up to date with all of our latest betting tips and match previews as the season progresses on our Premier League predictions page.
Premier League top 4 odds and predictions
While talk of a title challenge from the outside has started to surface following Spurs’ improved run of form, Jose Mourinho’s primary target this season is to secure a top four finish.
A surge of three victories from four matches, powered by some scintillating combination play from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, has launched Tottenham up to second place in the standings behind defending champions Liverpool, and with so much stardust in their frontline, Spurs have the quality to maintain their good form.
Gareth Bale’s first goal since returning to club from Real Madrid felt like a pivotal moment too, and if Spurs can get the Welshman fully back up to speed, the goal-scoring potential in their team will be frightening.
With four clean sheets on the bounce in all competitions and five shutouts in their last six games overall, Chelsea have been answering their critics with some vastly improved defensive displays over the past month.
Further up the pitch, the Blues’ quality has never been in question, and two goal each in a week from new signings Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech suggest plenty of excitement and more good results are on the horizon.
Frank Lampard’s side were always going to need time to gel following an aggressive recruitment drive, and after some early teething problems, performances are starting to become more fluid.
Chelsea are now unbeaten in five games in the Premier League, and though their return of three draws from that run will frustrate, expect them to take their points in threes more regularly from here on in.
The Gunners’ odds on making a successful top four dash were slashed on Sunday evening after their 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Arsenal have developed in a defensively robust, tactically cohesive unit under Mikel Arteta’s direction, and Arsenal leaned on both of those attributes to force a victory at the Theatre of Dreams.
To mount a genuine challenge for a Champions League qualification place, Arsenal’s output in the final third needs to improve however, and while the Gunners look solid out of possession, their play on the ball still lacks tempo and imagination.
Their return of just four goals from their last five games is a meagre haul for a team wielding the talents of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Willian, though Arsenal have shown little signs that they are ready to play more expansively under Arteta.
Manchester United have drifted to as long as 13/5 to match follow up last season’s top four finish with another one this term, and with good reason.
With the pressure starting to intensify on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United’s Premier League form has been dreadful since the summer, and the Red Devils’ 1-0 reverse at home to Arsenal on Sunday pushed their search for a first home win of the new campaign to four matches.
United failed to score at Old Trafford for the second game running on Sunday, and in total this season, Solskjaer’s side have plundered just one effort from open play on their own patch.
With the season still in its infancy, United have time to turn things around, though there has been no evidence to suggest a lengthy winning streak is imminent.
The Paul Pogba conundrum remains a major problem that Solskjaer seems unable to address. The French midfielder gave away a game-deciding penalty on Sunday – the second spot-kick he he has conceded already this term – and United continue to look unbalanced and disjointed whenever the World Cup winner is shoehorned into the XI.