The European Super League has been canceled, but the race is imminent to qualify for the Champions League, the Europa League or the new Europa Conference League.
This is how qualification works – and why the winners of the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup make a difference to those who follow qualification through the Premier League.
It gets a little complicated but remember, the maximum number of English teams in UEFA competitions is seven …
Champions League qualification
The Top four teams in the Premier League qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.
Winning the Champions League or Europe League also guarantees a place in the group stage. Up to five English teams can qualify for the Champions League using these two methods.
How fourth place now guarantees a place in the Champions League …
There was only one scenario that could mean the fourth-placed finisher would miss out on Champions League football.
It would have happened when Chelsea ended up outside the top 4 and won the Champions League and Arsenal ended up outside the top 4 and won the Europa League.
But Arsenal’s exit from the Europa League to Villarreal in the semi-finals means the top 4 now have a place in the Champions League.
Qualification for the Europa League and the Europa Conference League
There are two places in the Europa League available for English clubs. You go to the team finished fifth in the Premier League, the second goes to the side which wins the FA Cup.
In addition to the Champions League and the Europa League, the Europa Conference League starts next season.
The idea behind the Europa Conference League is to give more clubs a taste of European football, especially teams from countries that are struggling to qualify for the other two UEFA competitions. But there is also a place to be won for English clubs.
The winner of the Carabao Cup was guaranteed to qualify for the play-off round of the Europa Conference League. After Manchester City lift the trophy – having already secured a place in the Champions League qualifying – their place will be passed on to the next highest Premier League team that did not qualify for a UEFA competition.
Meanwhile, Chelsea face Leicester in the FA Cup final. Both teams are currently in the top four in the Premier League. If they stay there, they will qualify for the Champions League, which means that the Europa League qualifying spot for winning the FA Cup will be passed on to the next higher Premier League team that did not qualify for a UEFA competition .
Provided that Chelsea and Leicester stay in the top 5 – or Thomas Tuchel’s team wins the Champions League – the seventh-placed team in the Premier League will qualify for the Europa Conference League next season.
Club by club – who needs what to qualify for Europe?
Remaining matches: Newcastle (away), Brighton (away), Everton (away), Chelsea (Champions League final)
With fifth West Ham unable to catch them, Man City have already guaranteed a top 4 result and a spot in the Champions League qualifying for next season.
Remaining matches: Leicester (home), Liverpool (home), Fulham (home), Wolves (away), Villarreal (Europa League final)
Manchester United’s win at Aston Villa and West Ham’s loss on Sunday mean United are sure to finish in the top four.
They could definitely have qualified for the Champions League through the Europa League – United are in the final on May 26th.
Remaining matches: Arsenal (home), Leicester (FA Cup final), Leicester (home), Aston Villa (away), Man City (Champions League final)
After beating Manchester City and losing West Ham to Everton, Chelsea only need four points in their last three games to finish in the top four. However, given the superiority of the goal difference, three points should be enough.
And Thomas Tuchel’s team could still qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning the competition outright this season – if you haven’t heard, Chelsea will face Man City in the final on May 29th.
In the event of a breakdown in league form, they would be accepted into the Europa League by finishing fifth or an FA Cup win.
Remaining matches: Man Utd (away), Chelsea (FA Cup final), Chelsea (away), Tottenham (at home)
Leicester’s home loss to Newcastle means they need seven points in their last three games – it was eight before West Ham’s loss to Everton – to guarantee a top four result. But four teams can still overtake them: West Ham, Liverpool, Spurs and Everton.
If they failed like they did at the end of last season, they could continue to qualify for the Europa League by finishing fifth or by winning the FA Cup final.
To reiterate: The top 4 of the Premier League are guaranteed to take a place in next season’s Champions League after Arsenal’s elimination from the Europa League.
Remaining matches: Brighton (away), West Brom (away), Southampton (away)
West Ham remain five games behind Leicester, three games from losing to Everton – which means that at least two wins from those three games are required to qualify for the Champions League.
Liverpool are one point behind but with one game in hand, while Tottenham are two points behind the Hammers, who have played the same number of games, and Everton are three points behind, having also played one game less.
As above, Arsenal’s exit from the Europa League means the Hammers will avoid the nightmare scenario of finishing fourth but missing out on the Champions League – what would have happened if both Chelsea and Arsenal had ended up outside the top 4 and the Champions League or won the Europa League.
And they will continue to fight for a place in the Europa Conference League if they do best among the teams that are not qualified for the Champions League or Europa League.
Remaining matches: Man Utd (away), West Brom (away), Burnley (away), Crystal Palace (away)
Despite the win against Southampton on Saturday night, Liverpool still have six points ahead of fourth-placed Leicester in their last four games to qualify for the Champions League. “That result keeps Liverpool chasing the top four but they are still underdogs,” said Jamie Carragher after beating the Saints 2-0. But Liverpool still have one game in hand against Leicester.
Fifth place will meanwhile send them to the Europa League. Liverpool are also battling for a spot in the Europa Conference League if they do best among the teams that are not qualified for the Champions League or Europa League.
Remaining matches: Wolves (home), Aston Villa (home), Leicester (away)
A loss at Leeds means Tottenham have only three games to go, seven points behind the top four. While the odds are very high, victories in the next two home games – against Wolves and Aston Villa – at Leicester would make for a fascinating final day clash.
Tottenham is also more realistic in the competition for qualification for the Europa League – and the Europa Conference League, if they do best among the teams that are not qualified for the Champions League or the Europa League.
Remaining matches: Aston Villa (away), Sheffield United (home), Wolves (home), Man City (away)
Everton still has a mathematical chance of qualifying for the Champions League. If they won all three remaining games, they would end the season with 67 points, four more than fourth-placed Leicester currently.
Besides Tottenham, Everton’s more realistic goal will be to qualify for the Europa League. Although Carlo Ancelotti’s team are only eighth in the table after their win at West Ham, with one game in hand they are only three points behind fifth-placed Hammers.
Remaining matches: Chelsea (away), Crystal Palace (away), Brighton (away)
Arsenal are now mathematically unable to make the top 4 and their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League was wiped out when Villarreal was eliminated from the Europa League in the semi-finals.
It is still unlikely that enough points will be accumulated to reach the Europa League or even the Europa Conference League. For the first time in 25 years, the club is without European football. If they ended the season with three more wins, they would get 61 points – which could be enough.
Remaining matches: Burnley (away), Southampton (away), West Brom (away)
It is still mathematically possible for Leeds to finish the season in fifth, although that result would require an extremely unlikely set of results.
Given the league position of the remaining opponents, three wins from the last three games are far from unlikely. In that case, Leeds would end the campaign with 59 points – and with a chance to qualify for Europe.