Unlucky Leicester, Liverpool looking likely, Leeds' late surge - Who is set for last European Premier League spots?
As the Premier League enters its final round of fixtures, all that is left to be decided is who will be playing in Europe next season and crucially, which competition. Two Champions League places are up for grabs with a scramble for two Europa League spots and a place in the Europa Conference League at stake. Ibrahim Mustapha looks at the runners and riders.
Chelsea and Leicester are both chasing a Champions League place
And just like that, an eventful Premier League season comes to an end.
Despite the title race long-since done and dusted and the relegation ‘battle’ barely resembling a minor skirmish, all that is left to be decided in the final round of fixtures is who will be playing in Europe next season and crucially, which competition.
Champions Manchester City will of course be playing in the Champions League where they will be joined by rivals Manchester United with two further places yet to be decided.
So who can finish where based on their final fixture? And which competition will they feature in? Who will be testing themselves against sides from the continent and who will miss out?
Top Four and Champions League qualification
After Leicester’s second late-season stumble in a row, it looks very much like the top four will line up with the same teams as last term with Chelsea and Liverpool finding form at the right time to finish behind the two Manchester clubs. Going into the final day, all three teams remain in contention, however.
Chelsea - Currently 3rd, 67 points, Goal Difference +23, Face Aston Villa (a)
Thomas Tuchel’s side picked up a huge three points after beating the Foxes 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, leapfrogging their FA Cup final conquerors in the process. The Blues go to Villa Park knowing that they just need to match or better the results of Liverpool and Leicester on Sunday to confirm a return to the Champions League, in the event they aren’t successful in the final of the competition against Manchester City the following weekend.
Liverpool – 4th, 66 pts, GD +24, Crystal Palace (h)
Jurgen Klopp’s side have turned around what has been a miserable defence of their Premier League crown and will salvage some pride from the season. Victory over Palace and former manager Roy Hodgson at Anfield will all but seal a return to the competition they most recently won in 2019.
'Back on track' - Klopp on Champions League chances
Leicester – 5th, 66 pts, GD +20, Tottenham (h)
A first FA Cup for the Foxes will mean this season will forever go down in history for the Midlands club, however should they miss out on Champions League qualification having been in the box-seat for so long, there will be understandable disappointment at the King Power – especially given they suffered the same fate last season.
Relying on slip-ups from one or both of the two teams above them, even a win over Spurs might not be enough for Brendan Rodgers’ team. With an inferior goal difference to Liverpool, a big but ultimately unlikely win by at least five goals may be needed, and that’s if the Reds only manage to win by one against Palace.
Europa League/Europa Conference
With one of that trio set to finish fifth and claim one of the Europa League places, Leicester’s cup triumph means their prize for winning that competition will go to whoever finishes sixth with West Ham, Tottenham and Everton all vying for that spot.
Manchester City’s Carabao Cup victory means that the reward of a place in the inaugural Europa Conference League will now go to the team who finishes seventh.
West Ham – 6th, 62 pts, GD +12, Southampton (h)
At one stage, David Moyes’ side were on course for a shock top-four finish. However, they have been unable to maintain the form that would have seen the Hammers in the Champions League for the first time.
A draw at home to Southampton will be enough to nail down sixth place and their highest top-flight finish since 1986.
Tottenham – 7th, 59 pts, GD +21, Leicester (a)
From sitting pretty atop the table in December to scrambling for European qualification, Spurs’ disappointing season can potentially end on something of a high if they can win at Leicester and West Ham lose to Southampton.
Victory would put them level on points with their London rivals, but a vastly superior goal difference would send them back into the Europa League at the Hammers’ expense, otherwise the Conference League awaits.
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Everton – 8th, 59 pts, GD +4, Manchester City (a)
Another team that have fallen away after much early season promise, the Toffees can finish above Spurs for a Europa Conference League place, as long as they better the Londoners’ result. An unlikely eight-goal swing could even see them finish above West Ham for a Europa League place should Southampton come away from the London Stadium with all three points and Spurs stutter.
However, this seems highly improbable given Everton face a daunting trip to the Etihad to face the runaway champions if they are to realise their ambitions.
Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping City have an eye on their upcoming Champions League final.
Arsenal – 9th, 58 pts, GD +14, Brighton (h)
Despite everything, a top-seven finish is still a slim possibility for Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta’s side are at home to Brighton and a win, coupled with defeats or draws for both Everton and north London rivals Spurs, would see the Gunners sneak into the Europa Conference League and continue a run of 25 unbroken years playing European football.
Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal celebrates with team mates Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Elneny and Kieran Tierney after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park
Image credit: Getty Images
Leeds - 10th, 56 pts, GD +6, West Brom (h)
Technically, last year’s promoted Championship winners can also snatch that Europa Conference League spot, however, they would need Arsenal to lose or draw as well as defeats for Everton and Spurs with a remarkable 15-goal swing as far as the latter are concerned. However, given many of the unusual results we've seen this season, few would rule it out completely.
Besides team success, the Premier League golden boot is still also up for grabs with Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah currently both on 22 goals apiece for the campaign going into the final round of fixtures.
Both players are eyeing the accolade for a third time with the Spurs man having won it in 2016 and 2017, while Salah took the honour in 2018 and 2019, although the latter was shared with team-mate Sadio Mane and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Aside from the fact both players will be motivated to help their teams reach their last-day objectives, Kane in particular, will be wanting to end the season and potentially his Spurs career on a high.