With just five games remaining in the 2011-12 Premier League season, and the title to be decided by the two Manchester clubs, all eyes are on the race for the remaining Champions League places with four clubs contesting two spots that will earn them entry into Europe's top tier competition.
Qualification is widely regarded as one of the biggest prizes in football, with the opportunity to test yourself against the finest clubs that Europe has to offer, given to each of the top four sides in the division.
Arsenal's recent resurgence has put them in pole position to claim third spot, while Newcastle have been the league's surprise package, and are in with a genuine chance of breaking into the country's elite.
Tottenham's slump has given renewed hope to Chelsea, who have shown much more promise in recent weeks under the interim management of Roberto Di Matteo.
As the crucial end of season run-in fast approaches, GMF assesses the credentials of this year's leading contenders for Champions League qualification via a top four finish.
3rd. ARSENAL - Played 33 PTS 64 G.D +25
Form guide: WWLWW
With nine wins from their last 10 Premier League games, Arsene Wenger's side are the form team. After a sequence of seven consecutive victories was ended by a surprise defeat to QPR at Loftus Road, the Gunners responded by dispensing with Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.
Another convincing 3-0 victory away at Wolves in midweek sets them up nicely going into back-to-back home games against Wigan and Chelsea, with Stoke away seemingly the most menacing of the remaining fixtures.
Without major silverware for seven consecutive seasons now, Arsenal's only unblemished record of consistent Champions League qualification looks set to continue - an achievement that will be imperative to keep current captain Robin van Persie in north London.
Wigan Athletic (H), Chelsea (H), Stoke City (A), Norwich City (H), West Bromwich Albion (A)
4th. TOTTENHAM - Played 33 PTS 59 G.D +19
Form guide: DDWDL
For all their early promise and a title challenge that seemed genuine until February, Tottenham seem to have run out of steam at the final hurdle this year.
Much has been said about Harry Redknapp's England distraction, but the Spurs boss is adamant his focus is fully on returning the north London club to the Champions League.
The White Hart Lane outfit have played some of the most exciting football in the Premier League this season, and with a fairly kind end of season run-in, will be hoping to amass enough points to finish in the top four - something that will be pivotal if Spurs are to attract the calibre of player they are hoping for during the summer transfer window.
Queens Park Rangers (A), Blackburn Rovers (H), Bolton Wanderers (A), Aston Villa (A), Fulham (H)
5th. NEWCASTLE UNITED - Played 33 PTS 59 G.D +8
Form guide: WWWWW
Impressive dealings in last summer's transfer window has established Alan Pardew's squad as a force to be reckoned with in the higher echelons of the Premier League table.
Newcastle can seemingly do no wrong, and with the weight of expectation not harming them this season, the pressure is off for a team who have over-performed all campaign.
Nobody expected the Magpies to qualify for Europe, let alone a place in the prestigious Champions League. But, doing so should mean the feel-good factor on Tyneside isn't just a fleeting thought, and help the club to attract even better players next year.
A trip to Stamford Bridge on May 2 could prove pivotal in Newcastle's final standing.
Stoke City (H), Wigan Athletic (A), Chelsea (A), Manchester City (H), Everton (A)
6th. CHELSEA - Played 33 PTS 57 G.D +18
Form guide: LDWWD
With FA Cup and Champions League semi-finals to look forward to, what was being portrayed as an abysmal season by Chelsea's high standards still has plenty to play for.
With an outside chance of Champions League qualification, Blues owner Roman Abramovich will ensure Roberto Di Matteo knows that league form remains the number one priority - otherwise the club might have to earn their place in next season's competition by winning it this year.
However, Chelsea have far from an easy run-in, with trips to Arsenal, and Liverpool still to come. They also host high-flying Newcastle at home on May 2, which could prove decisive in each club's final standing.
The Russian may have to settle for a season of Europa League football, which will unlikely be enough to earn Di Matteo the Blues job full-time.
Arsenal (A), Queens Park Rangers (H), Newcastle United (H), Liverpool (A), Blackburn Rovers (H)
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