As we go into the final stretch of games in the Premier League season, it’s not looking as though there is going to be any final day drama.
Chelsea have already sewn up the title, Spurs have clinched second, and Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull have already been condemned to relegation to the Championship.
The most intriguing narrative going into the final run-in is the fight for a place in the Champions League. Liverpool and Manchester City are in pole position as it stands, following on from their victories at the weekend.
Arsenal ran out 4-1 winners over Stoke City but even their rich run of form might not be enough to propel them to a spot in Europe’s premier competition next term.
However, there is a way that all three teams could be involved in a bizarre three-team playoff to decide who achieves qualification to the Champions League next season.
The chances of it happening are incredibly doubtful, but a specific set of results would see all three sides finish the season completely level.
Premier League rules state that if teams are level on points, goal difference and goals scored, the standard procedure is to arrange a playoff at a neutral ground to decide which of them takes the higher league position if the title, European qualification or relegation is on the line. A play-off between Swansea and Hull was discussed if the two sides finished dead level, but the Tigers succumbed to relegation following their 4-0 defeat against Crystal Palace.
Meanwhile, The Telegraph have come up with the following scenario that could see all sides completely level:
Arsenal beat Sunderland 3-0 on Tuesday, before drawing 0-0 against Everton on the final day.
Manchester City draw 2-2 with West Brom in their final home game of the season, before ending the season with a shock 3-1 defeat against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Liverpool lose 1-0 to already relegated Middlesbrough on the final day of the season.
If all those above results come in, all three sides would be on 73 points, a goal difference of +32 and 75 goals scored for the season.
Unlike other leagues such as La Liga which go off head-to-head, it isn’t a factor in the Premier League. If it was, and the aforementioned scenario did come true, Liverpool (W3, D1, L0) would be third, City (W1, D2, L1) in fourth, and Arsenal (W0, D1, L3) in fifth, and therefore qualifying for the Europa League.
It is unlikely, and nothing of the kind has been done – though there have been some instances, such as the Premier League preparing for a possible 39th game of the 1995/96 when both Newcastle United and Manchester United were close after the Magpies completely bottled the title.
But it would quite something if Liverpool, City and United had to square off post-season determine who takes the final spot. Maybe the best approach would be to stage a triple threat match at Wembley between Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger.
It would have to be a 2/3 falls match though, so that two teams advance to the Champions League next term.
A potential playoff would throw a real spanner in the works for Liverpool’s post-season plans as they are slated to play a friendly against Sydney FC in Australia just three days after the final game of the season.
The consensus is that Premier League chiefs will only discuss post-season plans should the possibility of all three sides on level terms still be intact following Manchester City and Arsenal’s games on Tuesday.