In a season hit by Coronavirus, and where Liverpool secured their first ever Premier League title in record time, followed by a perennially impressive Manchester City running away with second place, one could be forgiven for thinking there’s not much left to play for this Sunday as the Premier League comes to a close.
One would be wrong…
The Champions League positions of 3 and 4 are up for grabs by 3 clubs, and Wolves even were just yesterday mathematically eliminated from Europe’s top competition. Speaking of which, there are scenarios where Wolves are fighting against Europe’s elite next year, and where they are eliminated from Europe all together.
West Ham, with their draw against Manchester United, secured safety from relegation to the Championship, while Aston Villa and Watford seem set to hammer it out for the final spot of Premier League safety.
Here, we’re going to break down some scenarios, and what is at stake for England’s finest.
Top of the table - Who gets Europe?
As a standard, the European qualification rules for the English football are as follows:
- Top 4 places in the table qualify for the Champions League Group Stages
- 5th place qualifies for the Europa League Group Stages
- Winners of the FA Cup qualify for the Europa League Group Stages
- Winners of the League Cup (Carabao Cup) qualify for the Europa League Group Stages
- If a winner of the FA Cup or the League Cup has already finished 5th or higher and therefore qualified for UEFA football, then their place in the Europa League will go to the next placed team in the table, i.e. 6th then 7th if both cup winners are already in the Champions League places
- The winner of the Champions League automatically qualifies for next year’s group stages
- The winner of the Europa League automatically qualifies for next year’s Champions League group stages
- A maximum of 5 English teams are allowed in the Champions League group stages
- If both the winner of the Champions League and the Europa League finish do not qualify for Champions League through the league table, then 4th place will fall to Europa League Group Stages
Looking at these rules, Liverpool and Manchester City have already qualified for Champions League football, as they’ve secured 1st and 2nd place respectively
Due to Arsenal’s loss to Aston Villa, 3rd through 7th places are all completely open.
Now that that is clear, let’s get into some of the wild scenarios!
Top of the table- Possible scenarios and outcomes
Most extreme scenario:
- Chelsea drop points in both their remaining matches
- Leicester draw or defeat Man U in their final match of the season
- Wolves win the Europa League
- Chelsea win the Champions League
In this scenario, the final table would be Leicester, ManU, and Chelsea at 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively. Man U would theoretically be in the Champions League next year, however would lose their place due to Chelsea and Wolves qualifying through their success in the European tournaments, and would therefore be competing in the Europa League
More realistic scenario:
- Leicester and ManU don’t draw
- Wolves don’t win the Europa League
- ManU doesn’t win the Europa League
In this case the remaining Champions League places would go to Chelsea and whoever wins Leicester or ManU
The Leicester and ManU game is particularly interesting. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team play West Ham later today. If they win, they would then need to lose to Leicester by MORE than they beat West Ham by in order to miss out on the Champions League
If Chelsea pick up 3 points in their remaining game against Wolves, which is no easy task, or if Leicester LOSE, then they are secured to finish top 4.
Leicester can qualify for the Champions League through a win or a draw (if Chelsea lose) against ManU. Brendan Rogers team will play in the Europa League next season if they lose
Chelsea can lose their remaining game and still qualify, if United lose their match, or if Leicester loses to United. Chelsea can draw against Wolverhampton, and miss out on goal difference in United win against the Hammers, and then lose to Leicester. Lampard has an interesting finish to the season on his hands, and must be eager to pick up at least three points, thereby securing Champions League
We still have the FA Cup to play for as well. If Lampard can keep his undefeated managerial record against the enigmatic side Mikel Arteta puts out, then the final Europa League place goes to Jose Mourinho and Tottenham or Chris Wilder and Sheffield United, whoever finishes higher
If Arsenal can put together a performance more like their victories against Liverpool or Manchester City like they had last week, rather than their dreary showings against Tottenham and Aston Villa, then they will sneak into the Europa League next year. This would give them the opportunity to possibly knock their North London rivals out of a European position, or Sheffield United, if the Blades finish higher
Arsenal will finish at their lowest position in the Premier League in 25 years
What’s at stake at the bottom of the table?
The bottom of the table is slightly less fuzzy. The last 3 positions are relegated to the Championship next year, while three teams from the Championship come up to play in the Premier League next year, one of which Leeds has already secured.
The current table stands at West Ham, Aston Villa, Watford, and Bournemouth at 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th. Norwich, in 20th, have already been relegated.
Essentially, the final spot in Premier League safety comes down to Aston Villa or Watford
Villa play West Ham, while Watford play Arsenal.
In theory, the Clarets have an easier run in, but Arsenal are miserably unpredictable, beating two of the best teams in the world recently and then losing to relegation threatened Aston Villa today.
If both teams get the same result, then it comes down to goal difference, where Villa lead by 1
If one squad picks up any points, while the other does not, then the losing side is relegated
If one squad wins and the other draws, then the drawing side is relegated
What do European places and relegation mean?
There are dozens of millions of dollars at stake. Aston Villa spent 143 million euros in the transfer market last summer. They spent 17 million the summer before that, when they were in the Championship
Chelsea recently claimed that they must secure Champions League football in order to sign Kai Havertz, a once in a generation wonderkid from the Bundesliga
Champions League and Europa League each dish out monetary earnings in the form of prize money and market pool, which is essentially tv rights. This means the total a club earns from a Champions League position is anywhere from $10 million to $90 million.
It’s safe to say, there is a lot to play for on the Premier League’s final day