Is this the worst ever top-four battle? What has made Virgil van Dijk the player of the season? And could Jamie Vardy be in with a late shout for the Golden Boot?

BBC Sport delves into the stats behind the biggest talking points from another dramatic weekend in the Premier League.

Top four struggles

Does anyone actually want to finish in the top four? The battle for a coveted Champions League place has been one of the most erratic ever, and with two games remaining, we do not know who will get the final two places.

Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United just can’t string a run of results together.

Spurs, currently in third on 70 points, lost 1-0 to West Ham on Saturday. It was their sixth defeat in 10 and Mauricio Pochettino’s side have taken just 10 points in that run – the worst record in the top six.

It led Spanish side Sevilla, who are fifth in La Liga, to tweet: “Yo Premier League, if none of your teams want fourth place could you just give it to us? Would make life easier.”

Arsenal, in fifth on 66 points, suffered their third straight defeat and conceded three goals for the third consecutive league game when they lost 3-0 to Leicester.

Chelsea and Manchester United played out a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, which leaves the Blues in fourth spot on 68 points, while United’s top four ambitions look slim in sixth on 65 points.

Form in last 10 league games
Tottenham: LLDLLWWLWL (10 points)Arsenal: WWDWWLWLLL (16 points)
Manchester United: DWWLWLWLLD (14 points)Chelsea: WWDLWWWLDD (18 points)

In the last 10 games, the quartet have squandered 62 Premier League points between them – although some of the matches have been against each other.

By comparison, league leaders Manchester City have won 30 points from a possible 30 in the same period, while Liverpool have taken 26 points from their last 10 matches.

Simon Stone

Mind the gap

Premier League table

City beat Burnley 1-0 on Sunday to move back to the top of the Premier League with 92 points from their 36 games, just one point ahead of Liverpool.

It is only the second season in English top-flight history in which two sides have earned 90+ points, after Arsenal (94) and Leeds (91) in the 1970-71 campaign (with record adjusted to three points for a win).

If they win their two remaining games, Liverpool could finish the season with 97 points and not win the title. That tally would have been good enough to win the league title in every Premier League season apart from Manchester City’s record-breaking 100-point season last year.

The growing gulf in the league means this season is also likely to end with the biggest points gap between the top team and the bottom side.

The record is currently 76 points in 2005-06 (Chelsea 91 points, Sunderland 15 points) and 2007-08 (United 87 points and Derby County 11 points).

Basement side Huddersfield have 14 points and are currently 78 points behind leaders City, with two games to go.

Van Dijk’s defensive masterclass

Van Dijk was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year on Sunday, winning the award ahead of Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling.

It is reward for a superb debut full season for the Dutch international at Anfield. Most agree he is one of the main reasons behind his club’s challenge for a first league title in 29 years.

The centre-back has proven himself a shrewd addition by Jurgen Klopp, even at a hefty cost of £75m, and the stats illustrate why his peers voted him the best player of 2018-19.

Van Dijk has won 28 of the 36 league matches in which he has featured for the Reds – the most by any defender.

One of only 29 ever-present players this campaign, Van Dijk’s win percentage of 77.78% is matched only by team-mates Alisson and Mohamed Salah and bettered by just one player – Alisson’s counterpart at Manchester City, Ederson, with 83.3%.

Van Dijk has helped the Reds keep 20 clean sheets, the most in the league this season, and he has also won the most duels in the league, winning 77.03%. Incredibly, he has never been dribbled past.

Dribbled past by opponent (defenders in Premier League 2018-19, at least 2,000 mins)
PlayerDribbled past
Van Dijk0

Vardy having another party

Jamie Vardy has made a late run for the Golden Boot with his 17th and 18th league goals of the season against Arsenal, putting him three behind Mohamed Salah, who leads the scoring charts with 21.

The former England international is the most in-form striker in the league since Brendan Rodgers became Leicester boss, with nine goals in eight games under the ex-Celtic manager. Newcastle striker Ayoze Perez is his nearest challenger, with seven goals in the same period.

Leicester’s final two games are against Manchester City and Chelsea, and Vardy will be licking his lips.

Since his Premier League debut in August 2014, the 32-year-old has scored 30 goals against the ‘big six’ sides – more than any other player.

Another striker eyeing the Golden Boot is Sergio Aguero, who has only won the award once in his eight seasons at City, despite scoring 163 league goals.

His winner against Burnley was his 20th league goal of the season and he is only the second player in Premier League history to score at least 20 goals in five consecutive campaigns, after ex-Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, who achieved the feat between 2001-02 and 2005-06.


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