Who will finish fourth in the Premier League?

Man United West Ham
(Image credit: Getty)

It was a difficult weekend for the Premier League's top-four hopefuls. Well, apart from for two sides.

While Manchester United, West Ham and Tottenham all dropped points and Arsenal sat at home, Wolves' win over Spurs pulled them into contention for the final Champions League berth, turning what was already a thrilling four-way tilt into a five-horse race.

But who will take the coveted fourth spot and make it into Europe's elite competition?

Who is winning the race for fourth?

West Ham are in pole position. Well, just about. The Hammers went into Sunday holding the all-important fourth spot and Craig Dawson's 91st-minute header against Leicester salvaged a 2-2 draw to put them on 41 points, one ahead of Manchester United after 25 games.

However, United, who drew 1-1 at home to Southampton on Saturday, have a game in hand at home to Brighton on Tuesday, giving them the chance to climb above David Moyes' boys.

So Man United should be fourth next week then? 

Not so fast! Ralf Rangnick's side are in stuttering form and have drawn their last three games in all competitions 1-1. And Brighton would join the race for fourth if they leave Old Trafford with a victory so they will be extra motivated.

Speaking of games in hand, what about Arsenal?

Indeed. The Gunners sat out this weekend's action as their game with Chelsea was postponed due to the Blues contesting the Club World Cup final. And they must have been pleased in their north London living rooms watching all their rivals slipping and sliding.

Mikel Arteta's side are sixth on 39 points but have two more games than United and three more than West Ham due to earlier matches being postponed by Covid.

Win all three and they will be well in control of the race for fourth. They could even take a victory and two draws and still be three points ahead of West Ham.

But they won't be easy matches. Their games in hand are away trips to London rivals Tottenham and Chelsea plus a home game against fellow top-four pretenders Wolves.

Wolves? Where did they come from?!

Bruno Lage's side had a disastrous start to the season with four defeats in their opening five games but since then they have been quietly going about their business.

They have steadily climbed into seventh place on 37 points thanks to their remarkable defensive record, which is second only to leaders Manchester City.

And not withstanding Thursday's defeat to Arsenal, they have won the games that matter recently, pulling off away victories at Tottenham and Man United in 2022.

Wolves are very much the form team of all the contenders and with two games in hand on West Ham, they have a real chance of gate-crashing the top four for the first time.

And what's happened to Tottenham?

Antonio Conte's arrival kickstarted a terrible campaign under Nuno Espirito Santo but ever since their dramatic 3-2 win at Leicester with two goals in added time, Spurs have gone stale, losing their last three matches to Chelsea, Southampton and Wolves.

They have slid to eighth place on 36 points although like Arsenal, they have three games in hand on West Ham.

But on current form, you wouldn't bet on them making the most of the points available.

So who's going to be playing Champions League football next season then?

Here's the best bit - we have no idea!

Manchester United probably have the best squad on paper but still haven't got going under Rangnick and Cristiano Ronaldo is in one of the worst scoring droughts of his entire career.

West Ham look like the most unified team but the Kurt Zouma cat-kicking debacle has the potential to unsettle them. And beyond the sizzling form of Jarrod Bowen, they don't necessarily have a true talisman to help them over the line.

Arsenal (remember when they would always finish in the top four?) are perhaps in the best shape. They have a fantastic young side and are playing scintillating football under Arteta, who has shown everyone who is boss by getting rid of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for disciplinary lapses.

But it's their own disciplinary lapses that could prove Arsenal's undoing. The Gunners have had six red cards in 2022, more than goals scored.

Tottenham probably have the best coach in Conte but the Italian is currently in a rut.

Wolves have the best defence, but are not used to being in this position and might lack creativity in the crucial run in.

Stay strapped in, with five teams involved now, it's going to be one hell of a ride.

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Richard Martin is an experienced football writer, editor and social media producer. Before returning to London, he spent 10 years in Spain as a football correspondent and has attended over 600 games across 16 countries, his favourite being Argentina. He has also worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Times and AS.