The destiny of the Premier League title may have been decided and all three relegation spots have now been confirmed; but when it comes to European qualification, things are far from settled.
Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League places are still up for grabs going into the final round of fixtures of the season on Sunday with Leicester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Everton, Arsenal and Leeds United still very much in the hunt.
Title winners Manchester City and Manchester United, who can finish no lower than fourth, are already assured a place in European club football’s top competition.
But the top-four battle is going down to the wire, after Chelsea and Liverpool leapfrogged Leicester during midweek.
That means one of those sides will be in the Europa League, and West Ham, Tottenham, and Everton are battling to grab the other spot available in that competition.
And let’s not forget the new Europa Conference League, with Arsenal also in the running for that competition.
After their midweek win at Burnley, Liverpool know that their destiny is in their own hands and a win over Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday will see them qualify for the Champions League.
Chelsea also know a win would see them qualify for the tournament they will be battling Manchester City for in Portugal at the end of the month.
As for FA Cup winners Leicester, they must win at home to Tottenham on the final day and hope Liverpool or Chelsea fail to win. If not, they will be in the Europa League again.
Two Europa League spots are available to English clubs with one going to the team which finishes fifth in the Premier League – currently Leicester – while the other goes to the side which wins the FA Cup.
Leicester lifted that trophy but will qualify for either the Champions League or Europa League through their Premier League position.
That means their Europa League spot for winning the FA Cup will be passed on to the next highest-ranked Premier League side which has not qualified for a UEFA competition – currently, sixth-placed West Ham with Everton and Spurs waiting to pounce should the Hammers slip-up on Sunday.
Europa Conference League
As well as the Champions League and the Europa League, teams can also qualify for Europe via the Europa Conference League, which launches next season.
The Carabao Cup winners were guaranteed to qualify for the Europa Conference League play-off round. But after Manchester City lifted the trophy – having already secured a place in the Champions League qualifying spot – their place will be passed on to the next highest-ranked Premier League side which has not qualified for a UEFA competition.
That means the Premier League’s seventh-placed team will qualify for the Europa Conference League next season – currently Tottenham – though Everton Arsenal and Leeds are still very much in the mix.
Who must do what?
We’ve set the scene in terms of what is at stake for the teams still in the hunt going into the final day, but let’s take a look at what each side must do in order to qualify for Europe next season and who they might need to rely on for a favour or two come Sunday afternoon.
Pep Guardiola’s side have guaranteed their place in the Champions League next season courtesy of winning the Premier League and could still win the trophy this year by beating Chelsea in the final of this year’s tournament in Porto on May 29.
Despite a poor run of form in recent weeks, United can’t finish any lower than second in the Premier League, assuring the Red Devils Champions League football next season. They could have, in any case, qualified for the Champions League via the Europa League – United are in the final on May 26.
Chelsea still require a victory at Aston Villa on the final day to be certain of qualifying for the Champions League next season while wins for Liverpool and Leicester on the final day and even a draw for Chelsea would send them into the Europa League instead.
After a dramatic win at West Brom, Leicester’s defeat at Chelsea, and victory at Burnley, the Reds have moved above Leicester into fourth place on goal difference and know that beating Crystal Palace at home on Sunday will see them be back in the Champions League next season.
Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Burnley on Wednesday moved them into fourth and above Leicester on goal difference, so Foxes must win at home to Tottenham on the final day and hope Liverpool or Chelsea fail to win – otherwise they will be in the Europa League again.
The Hammers can clinch the second Europa League spot by finishing sixth and just need to avoid defeat against Southampton on the final day. However, a loss could see Tottenham or Everton leapfrog them, and leave West Ham in the Europa Conference League.
Spurs must beat Leicester on the final day and hope West Ham lose at home to Southampton in order to qualify for the Europa League, but would go into the Europa Conference League if they stay seventh. However, they could miss out on Europe altogether if they fail to win and Everton better their result or Arsenal win.
If the Toffees are to qualify for the Europa League they would need to beat Man City at the Etihad and West Ham to lose on the final day, not to mention Tottenham failing to win against Aston Villa. The Europa Conference League is also a possibility and they would have to pip Spurs to seventh by bettering their result and that of Arsenal.
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