Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool face possible play-off for Champions League qualification
Two of these three teams might play 39 games this season.
What’s the story?
Arsenal, Manchester City, and Liverpool face a possible playoff to determine who qualifies for the Champions League next season. All three clubs are separated by three points, and there is a possibility of two clubs finishing on the same spot in the League.
If two clubs are equal on points and have similar goal difference and the same number of goals scored, then we might see a play-off match which will determine the fourth team to qualify for the Champions League.
In case you didn’t know…
According to a Premier League rule: "If at the end of the season either the league champions or the clubs to be relegated or the question of qualification for other competitions cannot be determined because two or more clubs are equal on points, goal difference and goals scored, the clubs concerned shall play off one or more deciding league matches on neutral grounds, the format, venue and timing of which shall be determined by the board."
The standings as of now:
The heart of the matter
Following are the scenarios possible:
Scenario 1 - Manchester City v Liverpool
The above scenario is possible if Liverpool win 3-0 against Middlesbrough and Manchester City play out a 3-3 draw against Watford. This is also possible if City play out a 4-4 draw, and Liverpool win with a 4-1 scoreline and so on.
In this situation, Arsenal will finish 5th as the losing team will get the 4th place.
Scenario 2 - Manchester City v Arsenal
If City lose 4-0 against Watford and Arsenal win 1-0 against Everton then the above scenario is possible. This is also possible if City lose 5-1 and Arsenal win 2-1.
It is the most complicated scenario because if Liverpool lose then they will move down to fifth and this playoff will be played for the third/fourth position. Also, if the Reds win at Anfield, then there will be a playoff for the fourth position between the Sky Blues and the Gunners.
Scenario 3 - Arsenal v Liverpool
If Arsenal draw 1-1 with Everton and the Reds lose 2-0 against Middlesbrough, then this scenario is possible for the fourth position. Other scores which might make this scenario possible are: Arsenal draw 2-2 and Liverpool lose 3-1, a 3-3 Gunners draw and Middlesbrough win 4-2 against the Reds.
In this scenario, Manchester City will end on 3rd position and will qualify for the Champions League group stage place.
All three teams will play their last match on 21st May. Liverpool will play against Middlesbrough at Anfield, Manchester City will play against Watford at Vicarage Road, and Arsenal will play against Everton at the Emirates.
The chances of the 39th match happening this season are slightly less as both Liverpool and Manchester City are up against teams which are at the bottom of the table. Therefore, most probably, City and Liverpool will be sharing the third and fourth place while Arsenal will have to do without Champions League football next season.