Arsenal are in the driving seat to finish in the top four but, even if they, or rivals Tottenham Hotspur, manage it, they could still miss out on next season’s Champions League.
The race for the top four has, at times, felt like a race that none of the contenders actually wanted to win, as each dropped points at crucial moments.
Arsenal’s recent run of good form has catapulted them into the driving seat, as they now lead fifth place Manchester United by a point, and have three games in hand over them.
Spurs are just three points behind their north London neighbours and, although they have played a game more than Mikel Arteta’s team, still have to face the region’s biggest club in a derby.
With both teams also out of Europe for the season, not that Arsenal were in it in the first place, they have an advantage over United and West Ham, but it’s not quite that simple.
Should the two sides win the Champions League and Europa League respectively, then it wouldn’t matter who finishes in fourth, as they wouldn’t qualify for next season’s Champions League.
England get four places for each year’s competition and that can be made up to five if anyone outside the top four wins either of UEFA’s top two competitions.
However, if two sides from outside the top four win the competitions then that can’t be upped to six sides, and that means someone has to miss out, which would be fourth place.
Of course, right now the chances of that happening seem pretty slim but both Arsenal and Spurs will have to be wary, especially Antonio Conte’s side, considering they missed out in 2012 due to similar reasons.
Back then there was no provision for a fifth team qualifying, so when they finished fourth above Chelsea but the Blues beat Bayern Munich to become European champions and Spurs missed out.
This year’s problems will only arise if Untied manage to match Chelsea’s achievements 10 years ago, something that is literally laughable according to Micah Richards.
Ralf Rangnick’s team would need to get past Atletico Madrid next week, after drawing the first leg 0-0, but after the weekend’s destruction by Manchester City it seems unlikely they could beat any of the best sides.
The Hammers seem more likely to win the Europa League at this point, although even David Moyes’ side have some very dangerous Spanish opponents to get past.
West Ham face perennial Europa League winners Sevilla in the last 16 and if they get past them, Barcelona remain in the competition and look in form, whilst other teams will also be very tough to beat.
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