May 15, 2013, 8:40 AM EDT
Just when we thought everything had been settled, the Premier League hit us with this beauty this morning.
The EPL confirmed that there will be a third-place play-off match between Chelsea and Arsenal, if the two sides finish with an identical record.
That could likely happen with one game left to play in the season. If Chelsea draw 0-0 with Everton and Arsenal win 2-1 at Newcastle on Sunday, the clubs will finish level on points, goals scored and goal differential.
Such a tie has never occurred in EPL history.
The reason why this is such a big deal, is that the club who finish in third-place get an automatic spot in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League. While the side that finish in fourth have to qualify for the group stages.
Of course, Chelsea have the advantage going into the final weekend of EPL action. The Blues are at home against Everton and could be on a high, depending on the result of this afternoon’s Europa League final against Benfica in Amsterdam. However, Arsenal travel to struggling Newcastle United, knowing that a win would secure their place in the top four ahead of bitter North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
So, what are the odds of this incredibly unlikely scenario happening?
Well I predict that Chelsea will beat Everton and the whole factor will be a non-issue. However, the Toffees will be playing their final game under David Moyes and won’t want to go out with a whimper. It is conceivable that Everton will be hard to break down and after a grueling European Cup final just days before, Chelsea’s players may be jaded and put in a below par performance.
Arsenal have not lost in nine games. Winning seven and drawing the other two. You would think a win against Newcastle is a certainty.
Either way, it is great to have one matter unresolved on the final day of the EPL season. A straight play-off for third after the season has finished would be a delightful bonus, before the long EPL-less summer ensues.
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