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Relegation drama and the battle for Europe: How the Premier League’s final day could pan out

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Relegation drama and the battle for Europe: How the Premier League’s final day could pan out


Relegation drama and the battle for Europe: How the Premier League’s final day could pan out

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Siddhant Lazar


A year’s worth of Premier League football and still nothing is certain beyond the fact that Liverpool are Champions and Norwich City are relegated. Everything else is still in contention with the battle for Champions League, Europa League and Premier League football going down to the final day.

Twenty teams, ten games, and everything takes place at the same time. It’s shaping up to be the greatest Sunday of the 2019/20 Premier League season and after the coronavirus put a halt to things, it’s shaping up to be a great end. Thanks to Manchester City beating Watford heavily over the week and Aston Villa beating Arsenal, it means that there are still two relegation spots to be fought over. They’re currently occupied by Watford and Bournemouth although just three points separate the duo with only goal difference separating 18th place Watford and 17th placed Aston Villa.

But if you think that is great, then the battle for Europe is even better. Sheffield United and Arsenal’s losses in Gameweek 37+ means that they’re mathematically out of the contention for Europa League football via the league. The Gunners can make it by winning the FA Cup with Chelsea their opponents for the night. The Blues, however, are also still in the Champions League and can go through by winning that with the same applying to Manchester United and Wolves via the Europa League. Tough math but we took time out of our day to do it for you. 

The Relegation Scenarios:

With only one team capable of surviving, it means that two of Aston Villa, Watford and Bournemouth will be playing Championship football next term. Here’s how.

For Aston Villa (17th) to survive

Dean Smith and his men will need to beat West Ham and hope that Watford doesn't beat Arsenal. But Villa could also stay up should they beat West Ham and Watford win but only if the Hornets, in that scenario, don’t win by a two-goal margin. Or, and this is an improbable scenario, Villa could go down if the 17th and 18th placed teams match each other’s goals difference and goals scored record because Watford scored an away goal against Aston Villa.

According to the Premier League's rules, in case the points between two sides are level then the tiebreaker will be goal difference, then goals scored and then the points won in head-to-head games. But if Villa win by a 1-0 margin and Watford win by a 7-5 margin, then the goal difference and goals scored would be the same. And since the points won in head-to-head games are also the same, it would mean that Watford's away goal that they scored in the head-to-head game will keep them up.

The Villains could also draw against the Hammers and still stay up if Watford loses but if Aston Villa loses, the only way they could stay up is if Bournemouth and Watford lose on the final day. Again, goal difference comes into play which means that Villa could stay up if they don’t lose by a margin of atleast two goals compared to the Hornets.

For Watford (18th) to survive

The simplest way for the Hornets to survive is if Watford beat Arsenal and Villa either lose or draw to West Ham. The more complicated method is if the Hornets lose, they could survive should Bournemouth simply lose and should Villa lose by a two-goal greater margin than the Hornets. That would mean that a 1-0 Watford loss could see them survive if Villa loses 3-0 and so on.

However, if the Villains do win, then Watford will need to win by a two-goal greater margin as compared to Villa's win which means a 2-0 Villa win, will force a 4-0 Watford win, a 3-0 Villa win will force the Hornets to win 5-0 and so on. Also, again the improbable margins mentioned above also applies. That’s if Villa win by a 1-0 margin and Watford win by a 7-5 margin, then the Hornets will survive based on the away goal they scored vs Villa.

For Bournemouth (19th) to survive

There’s nothing complicated about this. That loss to Southampton in Gameweek 37+ will mean that Bournemouth needs to win at Everton and hope that both Aston Villa and Watford lose. It would see the Cherries surge into safety thanks to their better goal-difference as all three sides would then be on 34 points. Anything but a win, sees Bournemouth play Championship football next term.

The Champions League Scenarios:

Leicester City’s lacklustre form since the restart has meant that their once rumoured to be confirmed place in the top four has now gone to a mere possibility. However, with only a point separating them and Chelsea and Manchester United, they’ve got a chance. Goal difference will also play a key part with both Manchester United and the Foxes level on that regard with Chelsea well behind the duo. Here's how that could play out.

Also, England will get five Champions League places only if either Chelsea or Manchester United win either the Champions League or the Europa League and finish outside the top four. IF they win their respective tournaments and finish inside the top four, there will be no extra spot and since one out of the two sides are guaranteed a place inside the top four, any other permutation doesn't matter.

For Manchester United (3rd) to finish in the top four

The Red Devils enter the final day of the 2019/20 Premier League in third place thanks to a better goal-difference over Chelsea and them being one point clear of Leicester City. And since Manchester United play Leicester on the final day, a win or a draw will ensure them a top four finish. They can also qualify if the Foxes beat them and if Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Chelsea but only if the difference in goal-difference between the Red Devils and the Blues is maintained.

However, it’s not the end of the world if they do lose and Chelsea beats Wolves, which will see Manchester United finish outside the top four, because winning the Europa League will see Manchester United play Champions League football next season.

For Chelsea (4th) to finish in the top four

Chelsea, like Manchester United, have three ways to finish in the top four. Their first, and their easiest way, would be to either beat or draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers. That would give the 66 or 64 points respectively and ensure their place in the top four. Their second way will turn them into Manchester United fans because even if Wolves beat the Blues, then should Manchester United beat Leicester City it would ensure that Chelsea finishes in the top four.

Their third and final, and hardest way, is to qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning this season’s Champions League. But given that they face Bayern Munich and have three away goals against them going into their Round of 16 second-leg, the odds are against them.

For Leicester City (5rd) to finish in the top four

Much like Bournemouth, a defeat earns Leicester nothing more than Europa League football. But should they beat Manchester United then their top-four spot is sealed, while a draw will force them to root for Wolverhampton Wanderers. That effectively means that should Chelsea lose to Wolves, then the Foxes’ better goal difference will see them clamber into the top four.

The Europa League Scenarios:

Thanks to their form since the restart, at least one of Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City will finish in fifth place. Also, Sheffield United’s 1-0 loss to Everton in Gameweek 37+ means that they can no longer qualify for Europa League football with Arsenal also unable to do the same, at least through their league position. Their loss to Aston Villa in the same gameweek means that they can no longer finish above 8th place but the Gunners do have a chance via the FA Cup final. Here's how that could end.

For Wolverhampton Wanderers (6th) to finish in the top six;

A win over Chelsea will ensure that Wolverhampton Wanderers finish in a Europa League spot but a loss to the Blues on the final day will see them finish seventh. However, if the latter does happen then Wolves could qualify if Chelsea beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final. Because if the FA Cup winners finish amongst the top six, then seventh place in the Premier League qualifies for the Europa League.

Wolves, however, are also still in this season’s Europa League which means that they could make Champions League football by winning that tournament. However, the only way that may not happen is if Chelsea finishes outside the top four and they win this season’s Champions League crown. IF that does happen, then only the top three sides in the English top tier qualify for next season’s Champions League but anything beyond that and Wolves winning the Europa League guarantees them Champions League football.

For Tottenham Hotspur (7th) to finish in the top six;

Tottenham are guaranteed at least a seventh-place finish but to ensure their future, the North London side will need Wolves to drop points to finish above them. IF the Molineux side does lose, then a point against Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace would be enough for Spurs. However, if they do finish in seventh then Tottenham will need Chelsea to win the FA Cup and not Arsenal for them to get Europa League football.

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