Race to the Champions League

April, 20, 2012

With four games left in the Premier League season, four teams are vying to finish in the top four and earn a Champions League berth, worth an estimated $40 million. Two of those teams collide at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with third-place Arsenal hosting sixth-place Chelsea (7:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2 & ESPN3).

Here are the numbers you need to know for Saturday's showdown.

• Despite losing to Wigan on Monday, Arsenal remains safely in third place, a 93.8 percent favorite to finish in the top four and qualify for Champions League for a 15th straight season. That's the third-longest active streak, trailing only Manchester United (17, including next season) and Real Madrid (16).

• Chelsea is far less secure, currently in sixth place with a 1-in-6 shot at a Champions League berth (ignoring the possibility of winning UCL this season). At the end of January, Chelsea's odds stood at more than 70 percent, before the Blues won only four of their next 10 games. Chelsea's 57 points are its fewest through 33 games since Roman Abramovich bought the team in July 2003.

• Home-field advantage hasn't meant much recently in the Arsenal-Chelsea series. The away team has won four of the last eight league meetings, including Arsenal's 5-3 road win in October.Robin Van Persie scored three times in that game, joining Nwankwo Kanu as the only visiting players to tally hat tricks at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League era.

• Van Persie leads the league with a career-high 27 goals, three shy of Arsenal's Premier League record, set by Thierry Henry in 2003-04. Van Persie needs five more goals to break the Premier League mark of 31, jointly held by Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer. But Van Persie has cooled lately, with only one goal in his last six league games.

• Not only does Van Persie score, he also conjures opportunities for his teammates. The Dutchman leads the league with 64 chances created this season, five more than the next player, Chelsea's Juan Mata. No other player has more than 49, held by Leighton Baines.



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