These English Premier League battles will go down to the last whistle
With only the last round of matches remaining in the English Premier League (EPL), three things are certain. First and foremost, Liverpool have won the title. Secondly Norwich will not be in the top flight next season. And thirdly, Manchester City will join the Reds in the Champions League (CL) next season.
That leaves two relegation spots and two UEFA Champions League (CL) spots are wide open. On Sunday, when Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City will fight for the two CL spots, only one among Bournemouth, Watford and Aston Villa will remain in the English top tier in the coming season. Then there is the UEFA Europa League qualification spot which is also up for grabs.
3 way battle for 2 CL spots
After 37 games, Manchester United and Chelsea have 63 points each with the Red Devils taking third spot courtesy of better goal difference. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side have scored 15 goals more than that of Frank Lampard’s Blues. Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers’s Leicester are in 5th spot with 62 points.
Now comes the tricky part. In the last round, Manchester United will travel to Leicester City while Chelsea will welcome Europa League contenders Wolverhampton Wanderers to Stamford Bridge. A draw will be enough for both Manchester United and Chelsea to secure the two remaining Champions League spots. But a draw will not be ideal for Leicester.
There might be some hope for the Foxes even if they share the spoils with Manchester United. If Chelsea fail to take any points against the Wolves on Sunday, Leicester could leapfrog Chelsea for the 4th spot thanks to better goal difference.
If Leicester and Chelsea win, Manchester United will have to content with Europa League for yet another season. The Foxes have the same goal difference as the Red Devils. If Leicester win and Chelsea and Wolves share points, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side will play Europa League next season as well.
If all three secure one point each from their last fixture, both Manchester and Chelsea will finish in 3rd and 4th spots respectively.
Europa League title will ensure CL spot
Both Manchester United and Wolves remain in contention for the Europa League title. Should either of them win it and finish outside the top four in Premier League, next season’s Champions League will feature 5 English clubs.
Europa League qualification
The 6th place team qualifies for Europa League qualifier round. Wolves, who are 6th in the table, are looking over their shoulders at Tottenham Hotspur who are only one point behind and one spot below. Jose Mourinho’s side will travel to 14th placed Crystal Palace for their last match. Nuno Espírito Santo must be worried about Spurs defeating Crystal Palace. Roy Hodgson’s side have ensured Premier League status for another season and have nothing else to play for.
Chelsea will be a tough nut for Wolves to crack than Palace for Spurs. Tottenham Hotspur can play Europa League next season if they better Wolves’ result on the last matchday. But if Wolves secure a better result than Spurs, they will enjoy European football next season.
The FA Cup route to Eurpoa League
Chelsea will face rivals Arsenal in the FA cup final, which is most likely the only piece of silverware that either team can win this season. If the Blues win it, then the 7th place team in the Premier League will enter Europa League qualification round.
If Arsenal lift the FA cup, they would qualify for the Europa league at the expense of the 7th place team in the league, which at the moment is their bitter rivals Spurs. The Gunners would love such a scenario and it is their only hope of European football next season. Mikel Arteta’s side is in 10th spot and can only finish 8th at best this season.
Battle at the bottom
The battle for survival is between Aston Villa (17th on 34 points), Watford (18th on 34 points) and Bournemouth (19th on 31 points). Villa are ahead of Watford on a goal difference of just one. Only one will remain in the Premier League next season. All three teams have away fixtures. Villa will face West Ham United. Watford will go to Arsenal while Bournemouth will visit Everton.
It’s a must win game for all three. As things stand, Aston Villa has the better chance of survival while Bournemouth is most likely to join Norwich in the championship next season.
If Aston Villa and Watford win, Villa will need the same or better goal difference than Hornets in the last match of their season. If Aston Villa and West Ham share points, Watford will have a chance to play in the Premier League next season by defeating Arsenal. A draw will be enough for the Hornets to retain their Premier League status if the Hammers defeat Villa.
Only a victory against Everton, coupled with both Villa and Watford losing their last matches, would ensure survival for Bournemouth. It will go down to the last whistle.