EPL’s final day is all about Europe, here’s all you need to know about who can qualify

Saturday, May 22nd, 2021 00:00 |
Liverpool’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker celebrates Liverpool’s third goal during their English Premier League match against Burnley at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on May 19, 2021. Photo/AFP

There may be nothing to play for at the very top and bottom of the Premier League on the final day of the season but the battle to secure European football is going down to the wire.

After the midweek round of fixtures, eight top-flight sides can still secure a place in continental competitions next season.

Chelsea, Liverpool and Leicester are battling for two Champions League places, West Ham, Tottenham and Everton are going for Europa League qualification while Arsenal and Leeds can still qualify for the inaugural Europa Conference League.

Race for the Champions League

With Manchester City and United both already into the group stage of next season’s Champions League, there are just two places up for grabs.

Rivals Chelsea and Leicester met on Tuesday night with Thomas Tuchel’s side getting revenge for their FA Cup final defeat with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

That result, coupled with Liverpool’s handsome 3-0 win over Burnley on Wednesday, saw Chelsea move up to third, Liverpool rise to fourth and Leicester drop out of the top four for the first time since December.

Missing out on the Champions League for a second successive season would be devastating for Brendan Rodgers and the Foxes.

Last season they lost their final two matches and dropped out, with Chelsea qualifying instead.

Liverpool’s recent wins over Southampton, Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and Burnley have catapulted the Reds back into the top four and they have their destiny in their own hands after an awful season both on and off the pitch.

Leicester could still usurp Jurgen Klopp’s side though. They are level on points with Liverpool and could go above them on goal difference even if the Reds beat Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Their goal difference and goals scored records are close but Liverpool’s thumping win at Burnley has given them a four-goal cushion over Leicester.

Were they to eventually tie in those standings on Sunday afternoon, Liverpool would take fourth on account of their head-to-head record versus Leicester (a 4-3 aggregate advantage after one win apiece). 

Were Liverpool and Chelsea to finish level on points and goal difference, the Reds have the edge with nine more goals currently scored.

While Chelsea may look comfortable in third place, Tuchel’s side could miss out on the top four altogether if Liverpool and Leicester avoid defeat and they lose at Aston Villa.

If that were to happen then Chelsea do at least have another shot at qualifying next weekend. If the Blues beat City in the Champions League final then they will squeeze in and there will be five English teams in the tournament.

Race for the Europa League

With a top-five finish now guaranteed, newly-crowned FA Cup champions Leicester will not need the Europa League spot that comes with lifting the oldest cup competition in world football.

Instead that place will be dished out lower down the table.

It means both fifth and sixth place in the Premier League will get into the Europa League group stage next season.

So who will finish sixth and join one of Chelsea, Liverpool or Leicester in the Europa League?

West Ham, Tottenham and Everton can all do it but David Moyes’ impressive Hammers are the favourites.

They only need a point at home to Southampton on Sunday to secure sixth and cap off a remarkable campaign. 

They ruthlessly dispatched West Brom on Wednesday night while Tottenham slumped to a miserable home defeat by Aston Villa in what could be Harry Kane’s final Spurs home game.

Everton, now level on points with Spurs, beat Wolves 1-0 thanks to Richarlison’s goal but the Toffees are three points behind the Hammers with a significantly worse goal difference. 

Unfortunately if Chelsea were to finish fifth but win the Champions League their place in the Europa League would not be handed down to another English side.

Similarly, if Manchester United were to beat Villarreal in the Europa League final next week their place in the Champions League through domestic performance would not be passed down. 

The total number of English teams in European competition is capped at seven. 

Race for the Europa Conference League 

From next season a third European competition will run on Thursday evenings.

It will be comprised of a six-match group stage followed by knockout rounds after Christmas.

The idea behind the Conference League is to give more teams from outside the big leagues the chance to play continental football.

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