The three-way battle in the Premier League for the final Europa League spot
As another Premier League season draws to a close, the tussle between teams for getting their desired position in the league standings is at its peak. The title race is a foregone conclusion, with Manchester City champions-in-waiting.
The likes of Liverpool and Manchester United have all but sealed their Champions League spots with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur battle for a right to make Europe’s premier tournament.
However, there is another race brewing just below the top six positions, a race to get into the Europa League.
As per UEFA rules, there can be three representatives from England in the Europa League. While the fifth-place team gets automatic passage to the group stage of the tournament, the remaining two spots are reserved for the winners of the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup.
Manchester City took home the Carabao Cup and in all probability, the FA Cup will be won by a team in the top five on the league table. This potentially leaves two spots open for teams finishing sixth and seventh. Arsenal is the odds-on favourite to finish sixth, so there is just one more spot up for grabs.
At the moment there are as many as three teams who are in the race for finishing seventh namely Leicester City, Burnley, and Everton.
While the Foxes and the Toffees have seen continental football in the recent past, if Burnley makes it, this would mark their return to Europe for the first time in over half a century.
Sean Dyche’s boys have been one of the surprises of the season. Their recent form has been fantastic, it has seen them lose only once in their last six fixtures. Burnley’s remaining matches contain an even spread of home and away games.
With the form they are in right now, the club would fancy themselves to get results when they play away to Watford and Stoke City. Their final away fixture of the season is against the Gunners and it seems unlikely that they will get anything out of it.
In comparison, their home fixtures seem to be a much sterner challenge on paper with Turf Moor hosting the likes of Chelsea and Leicester City this month.
Next week’s encounter against the Foxes would be a pivotal game for both teams and a home win might very well give Burnley a six-point lead which could be the clincher in the race for that final spot.
Strikers Ashley Barnes & Chris Wood have been in good form of late and will be crucial to the Clarets' hopes of appearing in Europe next season.
In May, the club will host Bournemouth in their final game of the season and one assumes that Burnley would be able to secure three points in that game as well.
Expected results from the remaining fixtures: 11 points from 7 games (3 Wins,2 draws, 2 losses).