The Premier League’s final day is shaping up to be one with little on the line (unlike this unforgettable one five years ago).
With Chelsea having wrapped up the Premier League title and Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sunderland already relegated, only the remaining places in Europe have yet to be decided. Manchester United is out of the running to qualify through league play, but it could reach the Champions League by winning this season’s Europa League final. The Red Devils will take on Ajax for that prize next week.
The two remaining Champions League places up for grabs–Tottenham has clinched second place–are down to three clubs: Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal. For all three, the place on Europe’s grand stage brings with it stature, financial clout and a greater ability to lure top talent in the transfer market.
After Tuesday’s results, in which Manchester City beat West Brom 3-1 and Arsenal beat Sunderland 2-0, here are the remaining scenarios for all three clubs with a game to play in the 2016-17 campaign.
MANCHESTER CITY (3rd; 75 points, plus-36 goal differential)
Season finale opponent: at Watford
Pep Guardiola’s side has appeared to survive an up-and-down campaign after its win over West Brom gives a likely floor of a fourth-place finish. With fifth-place Arsenal trailing by five on goal differential, Man City is most likely playing for an automatic place into the group stage, while leaving Liverpool and Arsenal to duke it out over a place in the play-in round. If the Watford that scored three on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge shows up on Sunday, though, it would make things mildly more interesting.
CLINCHES THIRD: A win; A draw (as long as Liverpool doesn’t win and make up the goal-differential edge).
CLINCHES FOURTH: A draw.
MISSES OUT: A loss PLUS Liverpool wins PLUS Arsenal wins and makes up goal differential.
LIVERPOOL (4th; 73 points, plus-33 goal differential)
Season finale opponent: vs. Middlesbrough
The Reds are in good position to return to the Champions League stage, but the door is open for a disappointment with a horrific last-day showing at Anfield against already-relegated Boro. Liverpool won the reverse fixture earlier this season 3-0.
CLINCHES THIRD: A win PLUS Manchester City loss; A win PLUS Manchester City draw
CLINCHES FOURTH: A win PLUS Manchester City win. A draw or loss PLUS Arsenal draw or loss.
MISSES OUT: A draw or loss PLUS Arsenal win and makes up goal differential.
ARSENAL (5th; 72 points, plus-31 goal differential)
Season finale opponent: vs. Everton
The Gunners have their work cut out for them if they are to continue their Champions League qualification streak. Not only must they beat Everton at the Emirates, they need help from some lowly clubs with little motivation, as they trail both Man City and Liverpool on points and goal differential. There is hope, though.
CLINCHES THIRD: A win PLUS Man City loss PLUS Liverpool draw or loss PLUS make up goal differential on City.
CLINCHES FOURTH: A win PLUS Liverpool loss or draw (regardless of Manchester City result); A draw PLUS Liverpool loss by two or more goals, save for one specific scenario.
MISSES OUT: A loss; Man City draw or win PLUS Liverpool win.