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Premier League: Wasteful duo to suffer CL heartache

Arsenal and Wolves are battling for the final Champions League spot, but the pair's profligacy in front of goal could cost them dearly.

With Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea expected to fill the top three positions, just one final place is left for another team to qualify for Europe's elite competition next season.

Quintet fighting for single spot

As things stand, West Ham currently occupy fourth place on 40 points, although they have played two more games than the fifth-placed Gunners, who are just one point behind the Hammers.

You then throw sixth-placed Manchester United - who are also on 39 points and have one game in hand on David Moyes' men - into the mix and seventh-placed Tottenham, who are sitting on 36 points and have played three matches less than their London rivals.

Wolves, in eighth position, are also not out of the running on 36 points and they also have two games in hand on the Hammers, which suggests the battle for fourth will be going right down to the wire.

West Ham are available at 8/1 to secure a top-four finish, with Arsenal 7/4, Man Utd at 7/4 and Wolves priced at 50/1.

Premier League Standings

1Manchester City2460
4West Ham2440
6Manchester United2339

Goal-shy Wolves struggling

It is great to see so many teams fighting it out for that remaining Champions League place, but two of those - Arsenal and Wolves - may have to settle for a Europa League or Europa Conference League place for the 2022/23 campaign.

The reason for this, purely their inability to take their chances and find the back of the net on a regular basis.

Wolves' struggles in the final third have been clear to see this season and they have netted a mere 19 times in the Premier League, only Norwich City (14) and Burnley (17) have scored fewer.

A lack of creativity has often been the issue for Bruno Lage's men and their shot count of 228 in the league this term is the third lowest. The only two teams to have created less, you guessed it, Norwich (227) and Burnley (213).

Even when the men from Molineux have managed to create more openings in recent matches they have failed to make them count.

In the 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Norwich they had nine shots at goal with only three on target, while they had 15 attempts in the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal last time out, but only four were on target.

Raul Jimenez and Hwang Hee-Chan are the joint-top scorers for the club with four goals and this shows the need for some creative players to be brought in during the summer transfer window, something Lage is surely looking at.

Wolves have an xGF (expected goals for) of just 0.98, only Norwich boasts a worse record at 0.94, and this lack of a cutting edge in the final looks set to cost them in their top-four pursuit.

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Lack of options hurting Arsenal

Arsenal made the decision to part ways with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the January window, allowing him to leave on a free transfer and join Barcelona after falling out of favour under Mikel Arteta.

It was a brave call from the Spanish tactician to allow the Gabon international to leave, given the fact the forward finished as the club's top scorer in both the 2018/19 and 2019/20 campaigns.

Huge pressure now falls on Alexandre Lacazette, whose contract is up this summer and who could be on the move, as well as the young duo of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, who picked up a red card last time out.

The Gunners have scored 34 times in the league, less than West Ham and Man Utd, although their xGF is 1.72 and that is more than the other four teams they are battling it out with for the final Champions League place.

However, Arsenal have lacked that consistency and cutting edge in front of goal in recent weeks and this was particularly evident in the FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest in which they had 10 shots but zero on target.

Their scoring struggles were exemplified in the 0-0 draw against Burnley in the league, as Arteta's side had 20 shots, of which five were on target, but they failed to get past the Clarets in the Emirates stalemate.

Who will grab fourth spot?

It is difficult to predict who will land the final Champions League position, but I have a sneaky suspicion Spurs could claim the spoils, given the fact they have games in hand on those around them.

Antonio Conte has made a couple of good January acquisitions and if he can get Harry Kane firing on all cylinders, Spurs look a good shout at 2/1 to finish in the top four.

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