Manchester City’s relentless form has effectively ended the Premier League title battle before the halfway mark in the season, leaving a handful of clubs sweating over the remaining qualifying places for the Champions League.
With Manchester United and Chelsea looking good bets to finish second and third this term, four other sides will fight it out for the fourth and final spot.
Just three points separate Liverpool, Arsenal, Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur heading into the Christmas and New Year fixtures, and the next couple of weeks could turn out to be pivotal come the end of the season.
We take a look at what’s on the horizon for the sides chasing fourth place in the league.
Jurgen Klopp’s are currently fourth in the table, one point ahead of Arsenal going into Friday’s meeting between the two sides at the Emirates Stadium.
The Reds then face home games against Swansea City and Leicester City, before visiting Burnley on New Years’ Day to kick-off top sport events 2018.
A 10-point return from that run of games should be the minimum target if Liverpool are to mount a serious challenge for a Champions League place.
Arsenal are marginal favourites to win Friday’s game against Liverpool, but they follow up with two potentially tricky looking away fixtures during Christmas and New Year.
Both Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion desperately need points as they fight to stay in the Premier League and both sides can be expected to make things difficult for the Gunners.
Things don’t get any easier for Arsenal on January 3 when Chelsea visit the Emirates, but if Arsene Wenger’s side can emerge from that run of fixtures unscathed they’ll be in good shape for the second half of the season.
The Clarets are this season’s surprise package in the Premier League and are currently just one point behind Arsenal in sixth place.
Burnley start the holiday period with a home game against Spurs, before tackling away trips to face United and Huddersfield Town.
The New Years’ Day clash with Liverpool at Turf Moor rounds off four difficult looking games and Burnley’s brief flirtation with the top four could soon be over.
Spurs have struggled for form in recent weeks, but are only one point behind Burnley heading into Saturday’s meeting between the two sides.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side face Southampton at home on Boxing Day, before travelling to meet Swansea City on January 2.
A home clash with West Ham United completes what looks to be a favourable run of fixtures and 12 points would put a completely different complexion on Spurs’ season.
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