With plenty to play for in England's top tier, WhoScored.com are on hand to preview the remaining action...
The Premier League returns this week after a three-month hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The last of the action was Aston Villa's 4-0 loss at Leicester back in early March and the Villans kick off the league's resumption with their welcome of Sheffield United on Wednesday evening. Arsenal's trip to Manchester City follows up that clash to bring every team level on 29 matches.
The Premier League is Liverpool's to lose ahead of the final games of the season and, if results go their way, they could win their first top-flight title since 1990 in their trip to Everton on Sunday night. It's hardly a race now given their 25-point lead at the top of the table and, as one might expect, the Reds are 1/1000 to win the title. Rather, there is better value to be found in the race to finish in the top three.
While Liverpool are streaks ahead, the positions below the Reds are anything but set. Manchester City are effectively guaranteed a top-four finish given they sit 12 points clear of fifth-placed rivals Manchester United, and nine ahead of Chelsea in fourth. Four points behind them, Leicester are the side that occupies the final podium spot. However, with 27 points to play for, the Foxes are at biggest risk of dropping out of the top three.
At the time of writing, a top three of Liverpool, City and Leicester is available at a best price of 4/9, but given the Foxes' run of just two wins in their last last eight league outings, Brenden Rodgers' side are desperately out of form, or at least they were before the break. A testing end to the campaign awaits Leicester, though according to WhoScored.com's rating system, their run in average comes in at 6.74, that the fourth easiest in the league.
Conversely, Chelsea are in the best position to leapfrog Leicester into third and, ahead of the league's return this week, they are currently five points behind the Foxes. Like Leicester, though, their form is far from convincing. A run of three wins in their last nine prior to lockdown leaves little to the imagination and, unlike Leicester, they have one of the more difficult run ins to see out the season with a WhoScored.com run in of 6.78. And while a best price of a top three of Liverpool, City and Chelsea is a more tempting 7/2, you're best off playing it safe and backing the top three to finish as is.
The race to finish in the top four is one that may yet go to the wire. As mentioned above, Chelsea's pre-lockdown form is hardly inspiring and their difficult run-in means there is the chance to leapfrog the Blues into fourth. Outside of the top three, Chelsea are the 4/6 favourites to secure fourth in the Premier League this season, but it's impossible to rule out those hot on the heels of the west London side.
Manchester United sit just three points off Chelsea in fifth and while a top five finish could be enough to secure Champions League football this season depending on the outcome of Cty's appeal against European ban, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unlikely to be willing to take that risk. Inspired by the arrival of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting, United were impressive before lockdown, securing wins over Chelsea and City to move them to within a victory of the top four.
The average WhoScored.com rating of United's opponents is 6.75, so they have a slightly easier run in than Chelsea, and aside from Friday's trip to Tottenham, where United will be eager to get one over former boss Jose Mourinho, they should be confident of overhauling Chelsea into fourth.
Going by the average rating of opponents, though, then it is Wolves who will fancy their chances of finishing in the top four. Only City (6.67) have an easier run in than Wolves (6.72) according to WhoScored.com's unique rating system and they are currently at a best price of 8/1 to finish in the top four. Dark horses Sheffield United aren't to be ruled out either, particularly as they hold a game in hand over United and Wolves.
Win at Villa on Wednesday, and the Blades move up to fifth with just a two-point gap between themselves and Chelsea. Sheffield United have been the surprise package of the season, and then some, and a top-four finish would be a tremendous testament to Chris Wilder's managerial ability. Their difficulty rating of their run in is 6.78 and over the next 10 matches, they are still to face United, Tottenham, Wolves, Chelsea and Leicester, so it's not plain sailing for Wilder's men between now and July, and it's perhaps for that reason why they are at 17/1 to finish in the top four.
Finally, the north London duo Arsenal and Spurs will be looking to secure a Champions League finish this term, but they currently sit eight and seven points, respectively, outside the top four. The Gunners, though, do have a game in hand over their north London counterparts, albeit at City on Wednesday night, but victory at the Etihad will see them move above Spurs in the table.
Currently on an eight-game unbeaten run, the longest current streak of its kind in the Premier League, Mikel Arteta will look to build on a solid start to his time as Gunners boss over the next 10 matches. Arsenal are currently at a best price of 20/1 to finish in the top four, those longer than Spurs (14/1). Jose Mourinho is recovering key players in Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min in time for the run in, which in itself is the third easiest (6.72) in the Premier League.
The first North London Derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is set to be decisive next month, yet the pair haven't shown enough that they can make up the ground to secure a top-four finish. Rather, with Fernandes hitting the ground running and Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford recovering in time for the next nine league matches, United to finish in the top four is the one to back.
At the other end of the table, there is all to play for in the battle to stave off the drop. Eight points seperates 15th-placed Brighton and basement boys Norwich, who gave themselves a shot in the arm with a surprise 1-0 win over Leicester in the penultimate round of games prior to lockdown. Currently six points off safety, the Canaries are the 1/9 favourites to be relegated this season and better value can be found in backing Daniel Farke's side to finish bottom at a best price of 4/9, with Norwich currently four points behind Aston Villa.
The Villans will look to use their game in hand to move above Bournemouth, Watford and West Ham this week and the return of John McGinn is a huge boost for Dean Smith's side. Villa's second best rated player, with a WhoScored.com rating of 7.26, the Villans' duracell bunny in midfield is a key man for Smith's side, which is vital given the difficulty of their run in. Indeed, an average WhoScored.com rating of 6.79 of their remaining opponents is the fourth highest and it sees Villa come in at 4/9 to be relegated.
With three teams above them on 27 points, Bournemouth, Watford and West Ham need to get their act together in order to secure a Premier League spot next season. It's the Cherries who should be most concerned with their run in. WhoScored.com's rating system has determined they have the hardest run of games to end the season with an average rating of 6.81. Given the games on the horizon, it's easy to see why. Bournemouth take on United, Tottenham, Leicester and Manchester City in a four-game spell next month, and have a south coast derby to navigate before the season comes to a head.
Back-to-back home wins over relegation rivals Brighton and Villa earlier in the year will have given them confidence to consolidate a top-flight spot, yet it's worth backing Bournemouth to be relegated at 5/6. Watford, too, have a tough run in with a WhoScored.com average of 6.78. The Hornets enjoyed a decent run on the back of Nigel Pearson's appointment, but a run of one win in seven means they sit outside the bottom three on goal difference alone. They're still to face Leicester, Chelsea, City and Arsenal, not to mention relegation six-pointers against West Ham and Norwich.
Pearson has experience of guiding teams to safety, but Watford to be relegated at 5/2 is a tempting one to back. At a mariginally shorter price but one place above them in the Premier League table, West Ham are a best price of 12/5 to drop into the Championship. An improvement in their home form has come at just the right time, with eight points from the last 15 available a boost for the Hammers, who have been dire on the road of late. Bar welcomes of Wolves and Chelsea, they have a comfortable run in in east London, where they'll be up against Burnley, Watford and Aston Villa. Maximise home advantage and they should be safe.
Two points above the drop zone, Brighton aren't quite out of the woods just yet, but of the bottom six, they are the outside bet to be relegated at 3/1. With an average WhoScored.com rating of their remaining fixtures coming in at 6.74, Brighton have one of the easier run ins this season. They have testing welcomes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool, but have the best home record of those looking to secure top-flight safety, so they should have just enough to beat the drop this season. However, if push comes to shove, then Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth to be relegated is good value at 6/1.
Last season's Golden Boot was shared between Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who each scored 22 goals, and this season's edition is set to be equally tight. Jamie Vardy leads the way with 19 league goals and the break will have done the Leicester forward the world of good. The 2/1 favourite to win the Golden Boot and, as previously mentioned, the Foxes have one of the easiest run ins, so he is an appealing one to back.
Aubameyang sits two goals behind Vardy in the race for the individual award and has an extra game to make up the ground of the Leicester star and the Arsenal star is at a best price of 4/1 to win the Golden Boot, a tempting price indeed. Mohamed Salah and Sergio Aguero are both sat on 16 league goals and can't be ruled out at this stage. The latter, like Aubameyang, has an extra game to close the gap on Vardy and, if City are to put sides to the sword, the Argentine is likely to be the man tucking the ball into the net.
City have the easiest Premier League run in with a WhoScored.com average of 6.67 of their upcoming opponents and if he can stay injury free, then Aguero to win the Golden Boot at 11/2 is perhaps the striker to put your money on.