Jose Mourinho’s arrival as Tottenham manager has been the headline story in the Premier League this week, the return of the ‘Special One’ likely to have huge implications at the top end of the division.
The North London side have been struggling so far but hopes will now be raised that they can secure Champions League football, and we’ve decided to look at how the bookies rate the contenders for the top four places.
League leaders Liverpool and champions Manchester City hugely are unlikely to miss out at odds of 1/1000 on, but who is battling for the other two spots?
Here is how the bookies see the race for the top four…
Chelsea – 2/9
Frank Lampard’s impressive start at Stamford Bridge means Chelsea are the shortest odds outside last season’s top two to secure a top four finish, having bounced back from an opening day thrashing at Manchester United to comfortably guide the club into the Champions League places.
Aside from that defeat at Old Trafford, only league leaders Liverpool have beaten Lampard’s side so far who are currently on a run of six successive league victories ahead of this weekend’s huge clash at Manchester City.
Emerging talents such as Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount have starred alongside the rejuvenated Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, and Chelsea look well placed to retain their position amongst Europe’s elite next season.
Leicester – 4/7
The story of the season so far?
Brendan Rodgers’ side have emerged as the most improved team in the Premier League, having raced to second in the division to put themselves amongst the chief contenders for Champions League qualification.
Forward Jamie Vardy is partying like it’s 2016 all over again, leading the race for the Golden Boot having scored 11 goals in just 12 league appearances so far.
Young midfielders James Maddison and Youri Tielemans have impressed, whilst the imposing Caglar Sonyuncu has ensured the club have easily adapted to life without Harry Maguire.
There is a feel-good factor around the King Power Stadium at present, and it could take them all the way to a top-four finish.
Tottenham – 11/4
Mourinho’s arrival has Tottenham placed at the shortest odds of any side currently outside of the top four, despite the club currently sitting a huge 11 points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City.
Spurs have endured a torrid start to the new campaign and will hope Mourinho can galvanise the squad, which is still comfortably amongst the most talented in the Premier League despite uncertainty surrounding the future of several stars.
Mourinho’s proven track-record will appeal to the Spurs fanbase, though results must improve and quickly if they are to avoid missing out on Champions League football.
The gap may already be too large to bridge, though the North London side are perhaps the most capable of putting together a winning run.
Arsenal – 9/2
Hopes were high that this would be the season Arsenal returned to the top four after significant investment during the summer, however, a stuttering run of recent form has seen the club lose ground in the race to secure Champions League qualification.
Unai Emery’s side are currently on a run of four games without a win and defeat at Leicester prior to the international break saw the club slip eight points adrift of the top four.
Arsenal remain frustratingly inconsistent and defensively vulnerable, whilst the club have failed to win away from home since the opening day at Newcastle.
It would be a brave man to back the Gunners to put together a run of form which would close the growing gap to the division’s elite.
Manchester United – 5/1
Having endured their worst start to a season in 30 years at Old Trafford, Manchester United have shown a slight upturn in form in recent weeks to raise optimism the club’s season can be recovered.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have won five of their past six fixtures in all competitions, with Marcus Rashford having been in fine form since the return of Anthony Martial from injury.
Currently sitting in seventh ahead of this weekend’s trip to fifth-placed Sheffield United (top four odds 150-1), United sit nine points adrift of local rivals Manchester City in the final Champions League spot and face a difficult task to secure a top-four finish.
United are believed to be ready to invest in their unbalanced squad in January, so should Solskjaer be able to stay in touch with the top four, they may have an outside chance of securing an unlikely Champions League place.