Soccer Power Rankings: Manchester United moves up, closes in on top-four spot in Premier League

Things are heating up in the Premier League's top-four race. All season long it's been a battle between Chelsea and Arsenal, but the emergence of Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has thrown the Red Devils right into contention. 

With Liverpool and Manchester City the main title contenders and Tottenham looking likely to finish in third, who could land that final Champions League spot in fourth place? Let's rank the teams, while also remembering the clubs can also qualify by winning their continental cup. Manchester United is in the Champions League, while Arsenal and Chelsea are playing the Europa League. Here's how things stand and here's how I think they'll finish.

Current standings
4. Chelsea, 50 points
5. Manchester United, 48 points
6. Arsenal, 47 points

Projected finish

4. Manchester United

I think the Red Devils lock onto that fourth spot or maybe even go as high as third. You don't mess with momentum. Since Solksjaer took over, nobody has beaten them in nine games, and that includes matches against Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea. I love the confidence this team is playing with, Paul Pogba looks like a new man and Marcus Rashford is delivering. 

5. Chelsea

Gonzalo Higuain is the key. After two games, he's got two goals and brings a much-needed finishing ability in front of goal. I think this club will pull away from Arsenal before long, leaving a neck-and-neck race against United. 

6. Arsenal 

Too many injuries at the back. They are so weak down the right side, there is a struggle to connect with the midfield even when there are spots open to make a pass. Arsenal has such a fantastic scoring ability, but you can't expect them to be winning 3-2 or 4-3 all the time. Because the defense has been weak and injured, they miss out on the top four.

Now, to the rankings...


How the rankings work

We list the top 25 teams in the world based on recent form. The teams playing the best soccer -- in their respective leagues and in international competitions -- will be considered. Quality of the opponents will also be taken into an account, but above all, the most important factors are recent results and overall standings in competitions.

World Club Soccer Power Rankings

Previous rankings: Jan. 28 | Jan. 21 | Jan. 14 | Jan. 7 | Jan. 1 | Dec. 24 | Dec. 18 | Dec 10 | Dec 3 | Nov. 26 | Nov. 12 | Nov. 5 Oct. 30 Oct. 23 | Oct. 10 | Oct. 3 | Sept. 26 | Sept. 17 | Sept. 4 | Aug. 28 Aug. 23 | Aug. 15 | Preseason rankings  

RKTEAMCHGANALYSIS

1.

Barcelona (ESP)

--

A 2-2 draw Saturday was not a bad result considering Valencia led 2-0. Nice fight in coming back, but if Lionel Messi's injury keeps him out of the Clasico (Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET, streaming on fuboTV)., it won't have been worth playing him at all. 
2.

Liverpool (ENG)

+1 Still in first place in the league, but that wasn't a sharp display at West Ham. The Reds benefited from a clear offside call and almost got a winner off another blown call. Fortunate to have drawn.
3. 

Manchester City (ENG)

+1 Massive win against Arsenal to put the pressure on Liverpool. Would be foolish to have counted this team out after that loss to Newcastle. These guys have done it before, and the Reds haven't. 

4.

Juventus (ITA)

-2 Poor draw against Parma. The defense has been super strong, but the lack of discipline late was evident. Still running away with the league though. 

5.

PSG (FRA)

-- Without Neymar, this team can still win any game but is a bit more predictable in the final third, just like in the loss to Lyon on Sunday. Still a hot start to the season and not enough to move down.

6.

Borussia Dortmund (GER)

--

A win against Frankfurt would have been massive, but Chrisitan Pulisic and company managed to increase their lead in the Bundesliga by a point. They'll take that any weekend.

7.

Manchester United (ENG)

+1

Marcus Rashford is on fire and this team still hasn't lost under Solskjaer. It's been like night and day at Old Trafford. 

8.

Atletico Madrid (ENG)

-1

They sign Alvaro Morata, they start him, and they lose for the first time in 19 games. He hasn't been a good luck charm for anyone.

9.

Chelsea (ENG)

+1

That's the Higuain I expected to see for the Blues. He can be the difference in getting them into the top four. He's off to a hot start and working so well with N'Golo Kante. 

10.

Bayern Munich (GER)

-1

After a great run of form, it came to a halt at Leverkusen. Just out hustled on the night and too many mistakes. Time to turn the page. 

11.

Tottenham (ENG)

+1

Son was the hero this past weekend with his fine strike late. Getting him back from the Asian Cup has been huge, and he'll have to keep it up with Harry Kane still injured.

12.

Arsenal (ENG)

-1

The backline is so bad it is painful. It's like they are playing without a right back at times. Not sure this team is good enough to finish in the top four. 

13.

Real Madrid (ESP)

--

Playing with confidence ahead of El Clasico. But can this team really get by a Messi-led Barcelona?

14.

Lille (FRA)

--

Six wins in a row in all competitions and firmly in second in Ligue 1. The surprise of the season in France.

15.

Porto (POR)

--

A three-point lead in the league with just 11 goals conceded in 20 games. Dominant so far, and a dark horse in the Champions League. 

16.

Napoli (ITA)

--

This team continues to roll in Italy, but will they really let Marek Hamsik go to China? That's throwing in the towel in Serie A. He's not what he once was, but he can still help.

17.

Borussia Monchengladbach (GER)

+2

Three wins in a row and an impressive victory at Schalke. There is no doubt that leader Borussia Dortmund sees Bayern in its rear-view mirror, but Gladbach is right there. 

18.

PSV (NED)

--

A healthy five-point lead over Ajax after the 5-0 win this weekend against Fortuna Sittard. With no European cup at the moment, that may be the big edge over Ajax. 

19.

Benfica (POR)

+4

To go on the road to Sporting Lisbon and win like they did, that will provide the confidence needed to challenge Porto come season's end. Haris Seferovic (13 goals) has been key.

20.

Wolverhampton (ENG)

+5

The best team in England outside of the big six. In half a season this team looks to have cemented its spot in the league for years to come. 
21.

Ajax (NED)

+1

How do you bounce back from conceding six goals? By scoring six goals, of course. And that's just what they did and are back on track.

22.

Watford (ENG)

-1

After finishing in 14th place last season, Watford looks headed for a top 10 finish at the worst. Huge improvement and a stability found to stay in the top flight.

23.

Strasbourg (FRA)

--

The club needs just three more points to match last season's point total. And it has 16 league matches remaining. What a turnaround. 
24.    

Roma (ITA)

-4

In a span of a week, the capital club blew a 3-0 lead in one game, lost 7-1 in a cup match and then couldn't put away Milan on Sunday despite the chances. 

25.

RB Leipzig (GER)

NR

In fourth place in the Bundesliga and just five points out of second. No team has surrendered less goals in the league this season than Leipzig. 

 
Biggest movers:
Wolves and Roma
Out of top 25:  Inter Milan (ITA)
Honorable mentions: Lyon (FRA), Valencia (ESP) and Real Betis (ESP)

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CBS Sports Writer

Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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