What Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea need in Champions League race amid Liverpool conundrum
Tottenham Hotspur host rivals Arsenal on Thursday night in what is arguably North London’s biggest derby in years. A win for Antonio Conte’s side will reduce the gap between the two clubs to just one point, but the Gunners can seal a top four finish if they win away at Spurs for the first time since 2014.
The Lilywhites head into this highly anticipated contest in listless form having won just once in their last four Premier League games. However, they produced a disciplined performance against title-chasing Liverpool at the weekend, earning a valuable 1-1 draw with the Merseyside side.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have turned things around after losing three consecutive games to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton early last month. Four rebound wins mean they have closed the gap on West Londoners Chelsea, although the Blues took a four-point lead over Mikel Arteta’s side on Wednesday night with a win over Leeds United . Goals from Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku secured a comfortable 3-0 win over Leeds United as the Blues tightened their grip on a Champions League place next season.
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However, there is still a long way to go in the race for the top four, and with that in mind, football.london looked at what the three clubs need to qualify for next season’s competition.
What Arsenal need
Arteta’s team conference for Thursday night looks simple on paper. Indeed, three points in the North London derby will mean it is mathematically impossible for Tottenham to catch them.
A draw would also be a decent result, as they would still be four points clear of Spurs and could then secure fourth place before they even play Newcastle next Monday if Tottenham lose at home to Burnley. If that match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium were to end in a draw on Sunday, the Gunners would need just one point from their trip to St. James’ Park.
But if Spurs were to win on Thursday, the gap would be reduced to one point, meaning Arteta’s side would have to beat the Toon and the battle would continue until the final day. If that were to happen, Spurs would be one point behind the Gunners, and by the time they play Newcastle, Arteta’s side could be two points behind Spurs after the Burnley game.
What Tottenham need
Realistically, Spurs need to win all of their remaining games. A loss to Arsenal means they will be playing Europa League football next season, while a draw won’t help much either.
If they manage to muster a single point on Thursday night, they will have to win their last two games and hope the Gunners draw against Newcastle and Everton. Or they could win one and draw one as long as Arsenal lose to both the Toon and the Toffees – a tough question.
What Chelsea need
It would take a miracle for Chelsea to drop out of the top four now. As they are eight points clear of Spurs with just nine points left for the Lilywhites, Tottenham need to win all three games for there to be any chance of the Blues finishing fifth.
Even then, given the vastly superior goal difference of Thomas Tuchel’s side, Chelsea would likely have to lose their two remaining games to risk a major meltdown.
An Arsenal victory at Spurs would see the Blues qualify for next season’s Champions League on Thursday, although it would mean Arteta’s side would be just a point behind Chelsea in third.
What happens if Liverpool win the Champions League?
Liverpool will face Real Madrid on May 28 in this season’s Champions League final, but if the Reds win the competition there will be no extra place in the first competition for whoever finishes fifth in the Premier League. League – most likely Arsenal or Spurs.
The place is instead passed to the highest-ranked nation in UEFA with no guaranteed place in the group stage. This year it’s Ukraine, and as champions Shakhtar Donetsk will take the extra spot.