Skip to content

What’s left in England’s race to finish in the top four?

May 11, 2013, 10:28 AM EDT

Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale reacts during their Premier League soccer match against Manchester United at White Hart Lane in London Reuters

Technically, Chelsea didn’t sew up a top four finish with today’s win at Villa Park. But if it wasn’t for the most outlying scenarios demanding attention for the sake of accuracy, the possibilities of Chelsea finishing fifth wouldn’t even deserve our attention. Up six points on fifth with a huge goal difference edge, Rafa Benítez would give his first team an early vacation and the Blues would still be playing in Champions League next fall.

But for the sake of discussion (and to see what’s left to decide fourth place), let’s take a look at what remains for England’s third-through-fifth place teams – the three clubs competing for the league’s two final UEFA Champions League.

Current Standings

  • 3. Chelsea – 37 games played, 72 points, +35 goal difference.
  • 4. Arsenal – 36 games played, 67 points, +31 goal difference.
  • 5. Tottenham Hotspur – 36 games played, 66 points, +18 goal difference.

(Manchester United and Manchester City have already secured Champions League spots.)

What’s Left

Chelsea

It almost doesn’t matter. There’s no way Tottenham Hotspur are outscoring their opponents by the 17 goals they’d need to have a chance to take advantage of a Chelsea slip. And if they do, they’ll surely start with a barrage tomorrow at Stoke City, one which will give the Blues a chance to pause and reconsider. ‘Maybe we should take our finale against Everton seriously?’

It’s not going to happen. No way is it even on André Villas-Boas’s radar. The last Champions League spot is all about Spurs and Arsenal.

That will give Chelsea a chance to concentrate on silverware. Wednesday in Amsterdam, the Blues meet Benfica in the Europa League final, a chance to a fourth different European trophy to their selves. It ma not be the honor Blues fans would have wanted (one that required Champions League failure to qualify for it), but years from now, supporters may look back fondly if the honor helps round out the club’s European resume.

Should they do that, expect a second choice team to take the pitch against Everton. The regulars and veterans? They’ll be given a chance to enjoy their title. They may be dealing with some lingering dehydration come kickoff in West London.

Arsenal

The Gunners need win in their last two games to see their way back into Champions League – a competition they’ve been in each of the last 14 years. The only thing standing between them and a 15th straight appearance are a wins against Wigan and Newcastle (or a slip by Spurs).

It’s a fortunate run-in. True, both the Latics and Magpie will be fueled by relegation concerns, but ultimately, you’d rather play bad teams than good. And right now, neither Wigan nor Newcastle are good.

Arsenal host Wigan on Tuesday, three days after the Latics try for their first major trophy in the FA Cup final. Expect Roberto Martínez to start a full team on short rest. Given Wigan’s style and Arsenal’s talents, the Gunners should be able to pass the Latics into submission. Even if things go awry, Arsène Wenger’s men should be able to wait out a late win.

Their final game is at St. James Park, visiting a Newcastle team that’s been one of the league’s worst since spring. The Magpies have only won once since March 10, a 1-0 home win over equally inept Fulham. Amid speculation of a divided locker room and galling performances like the recent 6-0 home loss to Liverpool, Newcastle carry many of the pox of a relegation disaster. Fortunately for them, Wigan may have run out of time.

Tottenham Hotspur

Like Arsenal’s, Spurs’ run-in is relatively easy – a visit to Stoke followed by a finale against Sunderland at White Hart Lane. Their destiny may be out of their control, but with two fixtures against struggling sides, Tottenham can force Arsenal to get full points to take fourth place.

If Arsenal doesn’t get two wins, Spurs can snag a top four spot with two wins. And if the Gunners win out? Spurs are done.

But let’s stop and consider the Spurs season if they do claim two wins. That would put them on 72 points one season after 69 secured a fourth place finish. Last season, 72 points would have claimed third place and pushed Arsenal into Champions League. This year, after losing Luka Modric in August, André Villa-Boas could better Harry Redknapp’s mark.

There’s still a chance 72 will be enough to get Spurs into Champions League. Though Arsenal has been in Champions League every year since 2001, it’s been a long time since they’ve been pushed for a spot, and since the Invincibles started leaving North London, Arsenal hasn’t been above an unexpected stumble.

The odds aren’t short, but for Spurs,  it’s not mission impossible. Unfortunately, their Champions League future remains in their rivals’ hands.

Latest Posts
  1. VIDEO: Internacional player flips off his own fans, gets sent off

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:14 PM EDT

    Fabricio, Sport Club Internacional Fabricio, Sport Club Internacional

    Not one, but two middle fingers to your own fans earns you a red card, sir.

  2. AC Milan, Hello Kitty announce partnership, exclusive clothing collection

    Apr 1, 2015, 9:43 PM EDT

    AC Milan, Hello Kitty AC Milan, Hello Kitty

    AC Milan + Hello Kitty = the strangest soccer story of the week, right?

  3. Andros Townsend was “desperate” to tweet his biggest critic after goal vs. Italy

    Apr 1, 2015, 7:47 PM EDT

    Andros Townsend, England Getty Images

    This is a strange one: footballer admits to thinking about tweet to critic while still game in which he scored.

  4. Bayern Munich’s David Alaba has torn MCL, hopes to return for Champions League, German Cup

    Apr 1, 2015, 6:22 PM EDT

    David Alaba, Bayern Munich & Austria David Alaba, Bayern Munich & Austria

    A serious knee injury at the business end of the season? Terrible news, though Alaba hopes to return for a pair of cup finals.

  5. CONCACAF World Cup qualifying: Patrick Kluivert leads Curacao to second round

    Apr 1, 2015, 5:58 PM EDT

    Patrick Kluivert, Curacao Patrick Kluivert, Curacao

    The first of CONCACAF’s five WCQ rounds is complete, and there’s a world-famous name leading one Caribbean minnow into the next round.

  6. What will Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT roster look like for 2015 Gold Cup?

    Apr 1, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    USMNT, 2013 Gold Cup champions USMNT, 2013 Gold Cup champions

    The USMNT kicks off its 2015 Gold Cup campaign in 97 days. What’s the roster going to look like? Who’s the surprising “ins” and “outs”?

  7. April Fools! The top gags that actually fooled soccer fans on this day

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Sepp Blatter, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, FIFA president

    April Fools’ Day jokes — everybody’s got them, and while most aren’t funny, a few people came through with good ones today.

  8. PST’s Premier League award predictions: Here’s our Player of the Season

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    One little magician has been sublime all season. He’s our consensus pick, but who do you choose?

  9. Should Eden Hazard sign for Bayern Munich? Franck Ribery thinks so…

    Apr 1, 2015, 2:28 PM EDT

    Belgium v France - International Friendly Belgium v France - International Friendly

    Ribery is a big fan of Hazard. Should the Chelsea wing-wizard replace the Frenchman at Bayern?

  10. PST’s Premier League award predictions: Here’s our Coach of the Season

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:58 PM EDT

    Southampton v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s writers select their coach of the year candidate with the end of season awards coming up fast.

  11. PST’s Premier League award predictions: Here’s our Young Player of the Season

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:58 PM EDT

    We select our Young Player of the season. Do you agree with the consensus selection?

  12. Raheem Sterling turns down Liverpool deal, says he’s not “money-grabbing 20-year-old”

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:25 PM EDT

    Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    Sterling has spoken out about his current contract situation. It’s fascinating stuff.

  13. PST’s Premier League award predictions: Here’s our Team of the Season

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s writers pick their team of the season, so far… Agree? Disagree?

  14. Who were biggest winners, losers from USMNT’s March friendlies?

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT

    Which players did themselves the world of good in March for the U.S.? Here’s a gander.

  15. FIFA president Sepp Blatter is “ready to change.” Do we believe this?

    Apr 1, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    Blatter Getty Images

    Chairman of Bayern Munich, ECA, believes Blatter is ready to change his ways.

  16. Andros Townsend silences critics after superb goal for England. Can he kick on?

    Apr 1, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    Spurs winger scores stunner to silence doubters. Now, can he keep it up?

  17. Transfer gossip: De Bruyne to Manchester City, Walcott to Chelsea

    Apr 1, 2015, 8:01 AM EDT

    Arsenal v Leicester City - Premier League Getty Images

    Here are the latest rumors involving Premier League clubs.

  18. Euro qualifying at its midpoint: Predicting the 19 automatic qualifiers

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:05 PM EDT

    David Alaba AP

    The top two teams in each group will advance, while the best third-place side will also advance.

  19. On Jurgen Klinsmann and Michael Bradley and “playing out of position”

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:26 PM EDT

    Switzerland v USA - International Friendly Getty Images

    As bizarre as this is to read, Michael Bradley didn’t register a single helper for the States until 2011. In the Klinsmann era, he has 12.

Featured video

Week 30: Headline PL moment