Southampton, Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and West Ham in tightest battle for Champions League in nine years

The scrap for a place in the top four is fierce this season

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The Independent Online

The battle for Champions League football is the tightest it has been since the 2005/06 season, analysis shows.

With just 14 matches of the Premier League season remaining, a host of teams remain in contention for the top-four positions that with them bring access to Europe's elite competition.

League leaders Chelsea and reigning champions Manchester City appear nailed on to secure their places amongst the top four but after that the picture is less clear.

Southampton in third through Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool to West Ham in eighth all retain a genuine chance of finishing the season in the much coveted positions.

The six teams occupying 3rd to 8th in the table are separated by just eight points and as the weekend's matches showed - with Tottenham beating Arsenal and West Ham holding Manchester United - the battle between them is almost impossible to call.

Fellaini.jpg
Daley Blind rescued a point for Manchester United at the weekend

 

Not since the 2005/06 season have the six teams occupying those positions been so close at this stage of the season.

Last season there was a 16 point gap, ranging from Chelsea in third on 53 points to Newcastle in 8th with 37. Over the last 10 years, the 2011/12 season saw the largest gap between this range of sides, with Tottenham in 3rd on 50 points and Sunderland in 8th on 33 points, a gap of 17 points.

During the 2005/06 season, just seven points separated them, with Liverpool in 3rd and West Ham in 8th.

 

Over the last 10 seasons, including the current campaign, the average number of points separating the teams competing for a place in the Champions League between 3rd and 8th has been 13.1 points - a figure that highlights how fascinating this year's tussle is developing to be.

GAP BETWEEN TEAMS IN 3RD AND 8TH AFTER 24 GAMES*

2014/15 - Southampton, Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham (teams occupying 3rd to 8th)

45-37 (points for team in 3rd and team in 8th) - eight point gap

 

2013/14 - Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham, Manchester United, Newcastle

53-37 - 16 point gap

 

2012/13  - Chelsea, Tottenham, Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool, Swansea

46-34 - 12 point gap 

 

2011/12 - Tottenham, Chelsea, Newcastle, Arsenal, Liverpool, Sunderland

50-33 - 17 point gap

 

2010/11 - Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Sunderland, Liverpool, Blackburn

45-31 - 14 point gap

 

2009/10 - Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Birmingham

49-34 - 15 points gap

 

2008/09 - Chelsea, Aston Villa, Arsenal, Everton, Wigan, West Ham

48-33 - 15 points

 

2007/08 - Chelsea, Everton, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Liverpool, Blackburn

53-38 - 15 point gap

 

2006/07 - Liverpool, Arsenal, Bolton, Portsmouth, Everton, Reading

46-34  - 12 point gap

 

2005/06 - Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Wigan, Bolton, West Ham

45-38 - seven point gap

* Figure for some seasons taken when majority of teams in range had played 24 games, due to teams not having completed the same number of fixtures.

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