Race for Europe set for dramatic final day

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May 21, 2021
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    Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel (left), Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp (right)One point separates third-placed Chelsea and fifth-placed Leicester City with one game to go

    It's two from three for Champions League places as the Premier League reaches its conclusion on Sunday.

    Champions Manchester City have already secured a spot in the 2021-22 group stage along with Manchester United, who can finish no lower than second.

    But just one point separates third-placed Chelsea and fifth-placed Leicester, who are below Liverpool on goal difference.

    So what are the permutations? Which teams can still end up in the Europa League? And who will be playing in the Europa Conference League, Uefa's new third-ranked competition?

    • Man Utd to lose 7-0 at Wolves? Noel Gallagher's Premier League final-day predictions
    • Who qualifies for Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference League?
    • Race for the Champions League: Chelsea take control as Leicester lose grip
    • Sunday's final fixtures in full

    Passports at the ready – who will make Champions League?

    The top four in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League group stage, as well as the winners of the Champions League and Europa League – should they finish outside the first four places.

    A maximum of five English teams can play in the Champions League.

    One point separates third place and fifth place in the Premier League table with one game to go

    With Champions League finalists City and Europa League finalists United already secure, only Chelsea beating City in the Champions League final and finishing fifth would see England's five-team quota fulfilled.

    However, Chelsea will be guaranteed third place and a Champions League spot if they beat Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday (16:00 BST).

    Liverpool and Leicester go into the final day level on 66 points and separated by goal difference, with the Reds having the edge.

    Race for the top four – last-day fixtures
    Aston Villa (away) Crystal Palace (home) Tottenham (home)

    If Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Anfield, Leicester would have to beat Tottenham by a five-goal margin to finish fourth.

    With 10 games remaining, Liverpool were eighth, 10 points behind Leicester.

    "In the last eight or 10 games, I don't know how many, we are back on track," said Reds boss Jurgen Klopp after Wednesday's 3-0 win at Burnley.

    "If we win on Sunday then we are probably qualified for the Champions League. It's insane that we came this close but we are not through yet.

    "When you win the semi-final you go to a final and that's where we are. We will give our absolute everything."

    Who is assured of what?
    Manchester City Champions League group stage
    Manchester United Champions League group stage
    Chelsea Europa League group stage, but may still qualify for Champions League group stage
    Leicester City Europa League group stage, but may still qualify for Champions League group stage
    Liverpool Europa League group stage, but may still qualify for Champions League group stage

    Who's in the Europa League mix?

    Only 32 teams are in the Europa League group stage from now on, down from 48 in previous years.

    The fifth-placed Premier League team will qualify – as will the sixth-placed team, as FA Cup winners Leicester can finish no lower than fifth.

    Going into the final day of the season, Leicester are fifth with West Ham, who are four points behind, sixth. Tottenham and Everton are also in contention.

    Europa League contenders – last-day fixtures
    Southampton (h) Leicester (away) Man City (away)

    "We have equalled a club record for points in the Premier League, one more point would beat that and get us into Europe as well," said West Ham boss David Moyes, who took charge of the Hammers for a second time in December 2019 with the club one point above the relegation zone.

    Why seventh place gets into Europe

    The Europa Conference League is effectively a step down from the Europa League.

    The team that finishes seventh in the Premier League will qualify for the play-off round, which takes place over two legs on 19 and 26 August.

    Three points separate seventh place from 10th spot in the Premier League with one game to go

    One of West Ham, Tottenham, Everton or Arsenal, who are at home to Brighton on the final day, are in contention.

    Leeds, in 10th, can still mathematically finish in a European spot but it would require a set of highly improbable results – including a huge swing in terms of goal difference – to make it.

    Arsenal will keep fighting for Europe – Arteta

    Kane or Salah to win Golden Boot?

    England captain Harry Kane will hope to wrap up a hat-trick of Golden Boot awards in what could be his final game for Tottenham.

    Kane is level with Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah on 22 goals – four ahead of nearest rival Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United.

    Kane's previous wins came in 2015-16 and 2016-17, but Salah too has won it twice – outright in 2017-18, and shared with team-mate Sadio Mane and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the following season.

    Both Kane and Salah have scored three times in their past five appearances.

    MOTD analysis: Spurs' performances are giving Kane an excuse to leave – Shearer

    It has been widely reported this week that Kane wants to leave Tottenham.

    He is known to be frustrated after another trophy-less campaign, which included the sacking of manager Jose Mourinho in April just before they lost the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City.

    Kane said he hopes to have "a good, honest conversation" with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy about his future.

    Tottenham's Harry Kane and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah are level on 22 goals going into the final game of the 2020-21 Premier League season

    The Spurs frontman has scored seven goals on the final day of the Premier League season – only Andrew Cole (9), Les Ferdinand (9) and Matthew le Tissier (8) have scored more.

    Clean sheet king crowned

    While the race for the Golden Boot is heading for an exciting conclusion, the same cannot be said about the Golden Glove – the award for the goalkeeper who keeps the most clean sheets in a Premier League season.

    That contest is over, with Ederson winning it for the second successive season.

    The Manchester City stopper has helped his side win the title by keeping 18 clean sheets in 35 appearances. His nearest rival going into the final day is Chelsea's Edouard Mendy on 16.

    With Liverpool's Alisson having secured the award in 2018-19 with 21 clean sheets, it means the Golden Glove has remained in Brazilian hands for three successive seasons.

    Thanks for the memories

    Sergio Aguero will be hoping to feature against Everton – his final Premier League game as a Manchester City player.

    The Argentine, who has been struggling with an adductor problem, is the highest scoring non-English player in the competition's history (182), and averages a goal every 109 minutes in the competition.

    Aguero made his Premier League debut in a 4-0 win over Swansea in August 2011 and will leave as a five-time Premier League winner, a six-time League Cup winner and an FA Cup winner.

    If City beat Chelsea in the Champions League final, Aguero will also depart as a European champion.

    "Maybe we are going to find a new player to replace him but in terms of numbers? Impossible. In terms of what he means? Impossible," said City boss Pep Guardiola.

    • 5 Live Sport looks back at Sergio Aguero's impact on the Premier League

    On a day of farewells, Roy Hodgson will manage Crystal Palace for the final time. The 73-year-old has taken charge of more Premier League games for the Eagles than any other manager (148, including Sunday).

    Sunday will be Hodgson's 364th Premier League game as a manager, overtaking Jose Mourinho to move eighth in the all-time list.

    Elsewhere, Sam Allardyce is leaving his role as West Brom's manager following relegation, while Wolves have announced Nuno Espirito Santo is to leave by mutual agreement.

    Leicester City's Premier League-winning captain Wes Morgan will retire at the end of season after nine years at the club and a career spanning over 750 professional games.

    Most PL fixtures managed (as of 20 May)
    Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) 828
    Sir Alex Ferguson (Man Utd) 810
    Harry Redknapp (West Ham, Portsmouth, Spurs, QPR, Southampton) 641
    David Moyes (Everton, West Ham, Sunderland, Man Utd) 582
    Sam Allardyce (Bolton, West Ham, Blackburn, Sunderland, Everton, WBA, Newcastle, Crystal Palace) 536
    Steve Bruce (Birmingham, Sunderland, Hull, Newcastle, Wigan) 467
    Mark Hughes (Stoke, Blackburn, Man City, Fulham, QPR, Southampton) 466
    Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace, Fulham, Blackburn, WBA, Liverpool) 363
    Jose Mourinho (Chelsea, Man Utd, Spurs) 363

    Other things to look out for

    There will be fans at all 10 fixtures, including 10,000 at Etihad Stadium, where champions Manchester City will celebrate winning the Premier League in front of their supporters.

    Guardiola, who has masterminded three title triumphs in four seasons, said it would be a special day.

    "This business without the people is not the same. I cannot wait to celebrate with our fans," he added.

    Manchester City have won a third Premier League title in four seasons under Pep GuardiolaManchester City have won a third Premier League title in four seasons under Pep Guardiola

    Kane could finish the season with the Golden Boot and most assists.

    As well as scoring 22 times, the Spurs forward has assisted 13 goals – one more than Fernandes and two more than Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne.

    If Manchester United avoid defeat at Wolves, they will become just the fourth side to remain unbeaten away from home across an entire English top-flight campaign, after Preston (1888-89) and Arsenal (2001-02 and 2003-04).

    If he scores against Fulham, Joe Willock will become the first player to find the net in seven straight Premier League appearances for Newcastle since Alan Shearer between September and November 1996.

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