The finish line for all 20 Premier League clubs is upon us.
After nine months of drama and the unexpected, the campaign will be rubber-stamped into the history books this afternoon following what will no doubt be a final day packed with goals, entertainment, several twists and the unexpected.
Whilst Manchester City have wrapped up the Premier League title and Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United have locked out the relegation places, the race for Europe has gone down right down to the wire.
So far, only Manchester City and Manchester United are guaranteed places in the UEFA Champions League next season, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Leicester set to be involved in a final day shoot-out for third and fourth.
Beneath that battle, Tottenham Hotspur could still secure a UEFA Europa League spot ahead of West Ham United, although that would require Spurs to win at Leicester and the Hammers to lose at home to Southampton.
But the most drama could come in the battle for the UEFA Europa Conference League spot, which will be won by the side that finishes seventh. Currently, Spurs are the side poised to win that, although if they fail to win it opens the door for both Everton and Arsenal to pounce.
With plenty of drama to come, football.london has taken a close look at what needs to happen in the Europa Conference League battle on the final day and how the whole European picture for next season works.
Who will qualify for the 2021/22 Champions League?
Just as in previous years, the clubs that finish inside the top-four will qualify for next season’s Champions League, as well as the winners of this season’s tournament and the Europa League.
With Manchester City and Chelsea poised to go head-to-head in this season’s Champions League next weekend and Manchester United facing Villarreal in the Europa League final, and all three clubs poised to finish in the top-four, could it mean that clubs that finish outside of the top-four could gain entry into the Champions League for next season?
The answer to that question is no.
A maximum of five English clubs can participate in the competition, but England will not be awarded an extra place if, for instance, Chelsea win the Champions League and finish in the top-four.
Should Chelsea win the Champions League and finish outside of the top four they would gain entry to make up the five clubs involved.
City and United are already guaranteed top-four finishes, whilst Chelsea remain a pretty good bet to join them and just need to match what Liverpool and Leicester do on the final day.
Should Chelsea win against Aston Villa, the battle for fourth place will go down to the wire, with Liverpool and Leicester in contention.
Who will qualify for the 2021/22 Europa League?
This is where a big change has come into play. In previous years, three Europa League spots have always been up for grabs, but the introduction of the Europa Conference League (more information on that to come) makes the situation slightly more different.
The club that finishes fifth in the Premier League table will qualify for the Europa League alongside the winners of the FA Cup, which are Leicester.
With Leicester guaranteed to finish in the top-five, only the sixth-placed team will qualify for the Europa League.
As things stand, West Ham are in pole position to claim sixth spot following their 3-1 win at West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday evening, which saw them leapfrog Tottenham in the table after Ryan Mason’s side were beaten at home by Aston Villa.
Arsenal could take advantage of Tottenham’s slip-up and finish above their north London rivals by beating Brighton & Hove Albion and hoping Spurs lose at Leicester.
That will be enough to finish in the top seven as long as Everton fail to beat Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
However, because the Gunners’ maximum points total is 61 they can’t catch West Ham who are on 62 points so there will be no Europa League football for Arsenal next season.
However, if the Hammers lose at home to Southampton, that would open the door for Spurs to snatch sixth if they won at Leicester. Everton, although they could match West Ham’s points total, would miss out due to their goal difference being considerably lower.
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Who will qualify for the 2021/22 Europa Conference League?
This is where it starts to get slightly complicated.
The Europa Conference League is UEFA’s new third-ranked European tournament, which is a step down from the Europa League proper.
The club that finishes seventh in the Premier League will go into the final round of qualifiers for next season’s inaugural Europa Conference League, meaning it will be one of Arsenal, Everton or Tottenham.
Current Premier League top nine:
1st: Man City – 83pts
2nd: Man Utd – 71pts
3rd: Chelsea – 67pts
4th: Liverpool – 66pts
5th: Leicester – 66pts
6th: West Ham – 62pts
7th: Tottenham – 59pts
8th: Everton – 59 pts
9th: Arsenal – 58pts