Because less players equal more space to pass and move

Who Will Make up the Numbers in the Top Four Race?

In the aftermath of Liverpool's dramatic 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the weekend, Brendan Rodgers claimed that his side were capable of making the Premier League top four by the end of the season.

Whilst this may sound farfetched, and betfair punters could expect to get long odds on the reds rising up from 10th position into the Champions League places, a quick look at the Premier League table shows that all is to play for.

Manchester City and Chelsea look certain to be battling it out for the title but, beneath them, a number of teams will be eyeing up the remaining Champions League places. In this article we take a look at all those teams in the top half of the table and assess their chances of breaking into the top four before making a prediction as to where they can expect to finish this season.

Manchester United
Currently third in the Premier League table, the smart money is on Manchester United to maintain their position. When Louis van Gaal arrived at the club it was always unlikely that the Red Devils would mount an immediate title challenge and, in hindsight, their slow start to the season should have been expected.

With all the money that the Dutchman spent in the summer, however, it was inevitable that his side would come good eventually. The likes of Angel Di Maria and Daley Blind have shown positive glimpses, despite both suffering injuries this term, and Radamel Falcao looks to be finding his feet after scoring his second goal for the club at the weekend.

With Van Gaal also getting the best out of Robin van Persie, things are really looking up at Old Trafford and, if they can continue their unbeaten run over the Christmas period, then it is very difficult to see them being overtaken in the race for the Champions League Prediction: 3rd

West Ham United
This season's surprise package are West Ham United. Having come under severe pressure from his own fans, Sam Allardyce has held firm and has moulded the Hammers into a very effective side. Allardyce has managed to get the best out of the likes of Stewart Downing, and has rekindled the former Liverpool man's England hopes.

With Downing providing the ammunition, another forgotten England man, Andy Carroll, has come into his own. Carroll has bagged three goals so far this season after battling back from an ankle injury picked up in pre-season. The key to West Ham finishing in the top four could well prove to be Carroll's form and fitness. If he stays fit and firing then the Hammers might just defy the odds but, if, as history suggests, he is struck down by injury again, then their season could end in disappointment.Prediction: 6th

Ronald Koeman's men have been another surprise package this season, challenging Chelsea for top spot in the early weeks and embarking on an incredible unbeaten run.

Unfortunately for Saints fans that run came to an abrupt end when the fixture list conspired to pit them against Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United in consecutive games. That run of defeats combined with a dip in form for top scorer Graziano Pelle had made it look as though Southampton's top-four run may be coming to an end but their emphatic 3-0 win over Everton re-emphasised their credentials. Koeman's Southampton can mix it with the big boys.

Whilst the fall out of title contention will have knocked Southampton's confidence, the defeats will have forced them to focus and will have reminded them just how tough the Premier League really is. Having come back to winning ways in such dramatic fashion against the Toffees, Southampton will be hoping to rebuild their season but, with games against Chelsea and Arsenal to come over Christmas, they may have fallen out of Champions League contention by the New Year. Prediction: 8th

Perennial Champions League qualifiers Arsenal may have seen off Everton's challenge to finish in the top four last season and make it into the group stages for the 17th successive year, but it was not an easy ride, and this season looks to be no different.

Despite his record of success at the Emirates, Arsene Wenger has come under increasing pressure from the Gunners fans this season after disappointing defeats to the likes of Stoke City and Swansea City, and Arsenal have slipped off the title pace.

Now down in sixth place, four points off West Ham United in fourth position, Arsenal are out of the title race for another year, but they are well placed to secure fourth position. In terms of personnel, summer signing Alexis Sanchez who arrived from Barcelona for £35million has been one of the Premier League's outstanding talents so far this season, scoring nine goals in 16 Premier League appearances and giving Arsenal a new dimension in attack.

Danny Welbeck, who was brought in from Manchester United in a desperate attempt to fill the void left by Olivier Giroud's injury, has fitted in to the system well and has endeared himself to the fans with his constant hard work and endeavour. Now that Giroud is coming back to his best and Theo Walcott is nearing a return to full fitness, Arsenal could cause some real problems for opposition defences in the New Year. With the quality and Champions League qualification experience that Wenger has within his squad, it is hard to see them not making another run to the top four. Prediction: 4th

Tottenham Hotspur have been there or thereabouts for a number of seasons, last playing in the Champions League in 2010-11 and qualifying for the Europa League for the last four seasons. Now under Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs fans would have been hoping to kick on this season and return to the big time but they have endured a slow and inconsistent start to the season.

Impressive wins over the likes of Everton and Southampton, and a draw in the North London derby, have been tempered by hugely disappointing turnarounds against Manchester City and Chelsea, who both beat Spurs by a three-goal margin. Further disappointing defeats have also been suffered against West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool.

Unlike previous seasons, Spurs were fairly quiet in the summer transfer window, investing most heavily in defender Ben Davies from Swansea. With the likes of Erik Lamela, Paulinho and Roberto Soldado having arrived for big money at the start of the previous season, and failed to live up to expectations, it is perhaps to be expected that the Spurs board would have been a little more cautious this time round.

If Spurs have disappointed their fans this season then at least they haven't spent a heap of money in doing so. One new-ish talent that has taken Spurs by storm has been youth team product Harry Kane, who has been given his chance in the first team whilst Emmanuel Adebayor has been back at home in Togo for personal reasons. Kane has taken his chance with both hands and has acted to make up for the shortfall left by Adebayor's absence and Soldado's lack of goals. The 21-year-old has scored 13 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions this season and, with Adebayor's future uncertain, he will be central to any Tottenham push for the Champions League. Spurs have a squad full of quality and, in Pochettino, they have a manager that can bring the best out of his men.

Unfortunately for their fans, however, too much could be resting on Kane's shoulders and Spurs could be set to come up short again. Prediction: 5th

Swansea City
Having taken over from Michael Laudrup on a caretaker basis last season, Garry Monk has moulded his Swansea City side into an impressive outfit. Continuing the tradition of expansive free-flowing football begun by Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers, Monk's Swansea side have raised a few eyebrows this season.

The departure of Michu, sent on loan to Napoli, after enduring a tough season last year, potentially left a hole in the Swans attack but powerful striker Wilfried Bony has more than filled that, scoring eight times already this season. The Ivory Coast international looks set to attract some interest in the January transfer window, with both Liverpool and Arsenal being regularly linked with a bid, and Monk's resolve will certainly be tested. But if they are to make the most of their impressive start to the season, then they will desperately want to keep hold of him.

In terms of results, Swansea have struggled to pick up points against those teams around them, recording impressive wins over Manchester United and Arsenal but losing to the likes of West Ham and Tottenham. If Monk's men are to make a genuine push towards the European places, then it is these games that they must focus on. Pegging their rivals back and taking points from them directly is Swansea's best hope. On the evidence of what we have seen so far, Monk's team are worthy of a top-half finish but they do not quite have the cutting edge or the quality to maintain a European push. Prediction: 9th

Newcastle United
Another team whose manager has survived against all odds in the face of extreme pressure are Newcastle United. For much of the last two seasons, Pardew and Sam Allardyce have fought a running battle to secure the title of 'least popular manager in the Premier League' but both men have flourished under the pressure.

The Magpies started this season in disappointing form, failing to record a win until the 18th October when they beat lowly Leicester City 1-0. That win sparked a remarkable five-game winning streak which has catapulted the Toon into their current top-half berth. Since then Pardew's men have also become the only team this season to defeat Chelsea but, in the game that really matters to Toon fans, they lost out 1-0 to Sunderland.

Newcastle United have a history of going 'off the boil' in the latter stages of the season, putting together a terrible run of form after Christmas last season which saw them slide perilously close to the relegation zone.

Whilst, of all the teams in the top half of the table, Newcastle United look the most likely to slide down the league again this season, the one difference this time round could be the form of Papiss Cisse. The Senegal international has scored seven goals in 11 appearances already this season after scoring just four all campaign in 2013/14. If he is coming back to his best, then Newcastle United could hold firm in the top half of the table. If Mike Ashley is happy to cash in on his best asset in January, however, it could be a very different story on Tyneside. Prediction: 10th

The Reds may have made up for last weekend's drubbing at Manchester United with a hard-earned draw at home to Arsenal but there are severe cracks in Brendan Rodgers' team. With Daniel Sturridge having missed most of the season through injury, Liverpool have lacked any real presence in front of goal. Lazar Markovic has shown glimpses of what he is capable of but the likes of Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert have flattered to deceive and have never really shown enough threat to worry opposition defences.

Currently nine points off West Ham in fourth place, it is not impossible to imagine Liverpool challenging for a Champions League return but they would need to go on a run reminiscent of that which almost brought the title to Anfield last season.

If they are to have a hope of doing that, Rodgers must strengthen in January; a proven striker, a quality central defender and a reliable goalkeeper will be top of his list. Regardless of who Liverpool can bring in, however, they look likely to have too much ground to make up. Prediction: 7th