Come 13th May, we will finally know which teams will pop the champagne. I say teams as one would be winning the league while another will survive the drop to the Championship. Another reason to celebrate could be clinching a UEFA Champions’ league spot, but the team finishing 4th would have to wait another week to know whether they have qualified or not. Let’s take a look at the various permutations and combinations. This is a simple and heartlessly cold math, the occasional sigh notwithstanding.

Equation I – Winning the English Premier League

 Manchester City 37 Games 86 Pts 63 GD Manchester United 37 Games 86 Pts 55 GD

With only two contenders, this is probably an easy one. That, however, changes completely when these two teams are separated by mere goal difference. Manchester United blew their lead when they lost to Manchester City in the April derby. Neck to neck after 37 games, the final day will decide the champion. With City’s superior goal difference, United will need to score a minimum of 8 goals to equal City, then add one more to the number of goals by which City win the final match. This is, of course, considering that City and United both win their last game. If both teams draw or lose, Manchester will be blue once again. The last time a team won the league by just goal difference was in 1989, when the Gunners pipped the Scousers on the last day of the season.

Equation II – The Romance of the Champions League

 Arsenal 37 Games 67 Pts 24 GD Tottenham Hotspurs 37 Games 66 Pts 23 GD Newcastle United 37 Games 65 Pts 7 GD Chelsea 36 Games 61 Pts 21 GD

Manchester is safe as far is qualifying for the UEFA Champions League is concerned, but London is a completely different story. Add Newcastle to the mix, and we are bound to have some nail-biting action. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have had a roller coaster of a season. The Gunners have turned up the heat on the rest and could have secured third place. Their draw against Norwich left the door wide open for Newcastle and Spurs, but neither could capitalize. Arsenal currently stands at 67 points, followed by Tottenham and Newcastle at 66 and 65 respectively. So essentially, the prerogative lies with Tottenham, and if they fail to bring home the three points on 13th May, they may lose the upper hand to Newcastle, who travel to Goodison Park to play Everton. If both Tottenham and Arsenal lose, and Newcastle win, the magpies will be able to secure the 3rd automatic qualifying spot.

Currently fifth placed Chelsea are at 61 points, but have a couple of games in hand, including Liverpool in mid-week. That could be a dangerous affair, with Liverpool looking for revenge after the FA Cup defeat. Chelsea could also easily upset the equation even after the season culminates, but for that they would need to beat Bayern Munich at home in the UEFA Champions League, which isn’t the easiest of propositions. But mathematically, winning the Champions League is the easiest way to qualification, which would also mean ruling out the team that finishes fourth in the league. In that case, more than a few hearts will be broken, accompanied by quite a few tears.

Equation III – The Relegation Battle

 Wigan Athletic 37 Games 40 Pts -21 GD Aston Villa 37 Games 38 Pts -14 GD Queens Park Rangers 37 Games 37 Pts -22 GD Bolton Wanderers 37 Games 35 Pts -31 GD Blackburn Rovers 37 Games 31 Pts -29 GD Wolverhampton Wanderers 37 Games 25 Pts -41 GD

A total of five teams, Queens Park Rangers, Wigan Athletic, Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton, were fighting to avoid the drop and that is a fantastic number considering it is a quarter of all the teams in the league. Wolves have resigned to their fate though, as they are mathematically out of contention to stay up, with just 25 points and one game to go.

Aston Villa too are technically out of danger with 38 points to their name. The third team from the bottom, Bolton, are on 35 points with one game left, and they would need to score at least 18 goals to hoodwink Villa. On Bolton’s radar are QPR,  who have a 2 point and 9 goal advantage.

Blackburn Rovers are facing the same fate as Wolves, having lost out to Wigan in last night’s game. They play just for pride on D-day, but Chelsea away is a task and a half.

QPR have everything to play for and a win or even a draw should be enough to see them through. The only hurdle in that plan is Manchester City, who will probably not leave this one to chance.  In the event of a loss, a win by Bolton may seal their fate, but QPR can take heart from the fact that a physical Stoke stand in between Bolton and maximum points.

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