Chelsea has all but won the race for the Premier League title, but spots in next season’s UEFA Champions League still are up for grabs with two weeks remaining in the 2016-17 season.
The Blues and second-place Tottenham already have clinched their Champions League tickets, leaving Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal in a fight for the last two spots allotted to English clubs.
The prospect of a playoff game to determine the Champions League finishers also exists. That will happen for the first time in Premier League history if two or more teams finish tied on points, goals scored and goals conceded.
The chase undoubtedly will run through the end of the season, so let’s assess where things stand as of Wednesday.
Chelsea (first place, 84 points)
Remaining games: West Brom on May 12 (away); Watford on May 15 (home); Sunderland on May 21 (home)
Chelsea is one win away from clinching the Premier League title and already has qualified for next season’s Champions League.
Tottenham (second place, 77 points)
Remaining games: Manchester United on May 14 (home); Leicester City on May 18 (away); Hull City on May 21 (away)
Tottneham can confirm a second-place finish with one more win and also can finish no lower than third.
Liverpool (third place, 70 points)
Remaining games: West Ham on May 21 (away); Middlesbrough on May 21 (home)
The Reds’ Champions League fate rests in their own hands, as they can clinch third place by winning their remaining games. However, they could fall as low as sixth if they fail to win either contest and Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City win out.
Manchester City (fourth place, 69 points)
Remaining games: Leicester City on May 13 (home); West Brom on May 16 (home); Watford on May 21 (away)
Manchester City appears destined for a top-four finish, given its form and the quality of its remaining opponents.
Manchester United (fifth place, 65 points)
Remaining games: Tottneham on May 14 (away); Southampton on May 17 (away); Crystal Palace on May 21 (away)
The Red Devils’ best chance to qualify for the Champions League appears to be via winning this season’s Europa League. They are one loss, one Manchester City win and two Liverpool wins away from a fifth- or sixth-place finish.
Manchester United carries a 1-0 lead into Thursday’s Europa League semifinal second-leg game against Celta Vigo.
If Manchester United wins the Europa League and finishes outside the top four, England will have five entrants into the Champions League. If Manchester United wins the Europa League and finishes in the top four, England will enter four clubs into the Champions League.
Arsenal (sixth place, 63 points)
Remaining games: Southampton on May 10 (away); Stoke City on May 13 (away); Sunderland on May 16 (home); Everton on May 21 (home)
The Gunners must win their last four games and hope Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United drop points in order to upset the odds and extend their Champions League qualification streak to 21 seasons.
Thumbnail photo via LiverpoolFC.com