With a Champions League berth on the line, it's time for a few of the Premier League's top teams to secure their places on the table with wins in future weeks.
A trip to Europe's elite competition is within the grasp of several of the leading clubs—only four will get the opportunity, however. The top of the field hasn't really changed much from week to week. Shuffling has occurred frequently, but for the most part, the teams at the top have remained the same from the beginning.
There are a few on the cusp of that No. 4 spot. With No. 4 arguably being the most coveted position right now, the competition will be fierce in the coming weeks. Here are the three teams most in need of a win to keep pace with that ranking.
|Premier League Table Week 31|
After a strong start to the season, Everton have slowed down recently. They picked up a 3-2 win over Swansea in Week 31 on the strength of two great saves by Tim Howard.
Everton are in good position to pick up points in Week 32 when they take on Fulham, the last-placed team on the table. With just seven wins and 21 losses on the year, Fulham should be relatively easy opponents.
The Toffees trail Arsenal by eight points in the chase for the No. 4 spot. The Gunners are fresh off a drubbing at the hands of Chelsea, and it will be interesting to see if they can bounce back. Everton need to focus on their own play, however, as racking up wins is obviously the best way to keep a team in the race.
Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley, two of the scorers from the match against Swansea, need to remain hard on the attack and perform well from here on out. Maintaining possession will also be important for the offense. BBC Sport points out that Everton controlled the ball just 41 percent of the time against Swansea.
The Toffees have a fighter's chance at finishing fourth. All they have to do is string together some wins.
Arsenal currently lead the chase for fourth position, but the Gunners were pummeled 6-0 by Chelsea in Week 31. There was a four-point gap between the two teams entering the match, but the Blues made it seven by the time the final whistle blew.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger put all the blame on himself for the loss, via BBC Sport: "This is my fault. We got a good hiding. You don't prepare all week to experience that."
On the sidelines for his 1,000th game against Chelsea, Wenger clearly didn't get the expected result. You can be sure that he'll have his team prepared and focused for his 1,001st game, however.
With their sights set on climbing back into the top three, the Gunners will face Manchester City in Week 32. City are just one point ahead of Arsenal on the table. Defeating them and moving up into third place would help to restore the confidence that Arsenal presumably lost at the hands of Chelsea.
Manchester United took care of West Ham, 2-0, in Week 31. Wayne Rooney was the star, as he executed a beautiful strike in the eighth minute to give United the lead. It was a lead they wouldn't vanquish, as Rooney struck yet again in the 33rd minute.
For United, the threat of attack was strong each possession, writes Neil Johnston of BBC Sport:
United, who had Michael Carrick as a makeshift centre-back in the absence of the injured Rio Ferdinand and suspended Nemanja Vidic, carried a threat each time they went forward.
Just three points behind Everton, United need to play better at home and continue their relative success on the road. Five defeats in 14 games at home is not what United would like to see. Upping their success at home while maintaining their play on the road is what will keep them in the race for a Champions League berth.
It won't be easy for United to make up the 11-point difference between themselves and Arsenal in fourth position, but it's not impossible.