With the FA Cup being played this weekend, it’s a great time to check the scenarios regarding the available Europa League spots in the Premier League.
The 5th place in England assures direct qualification to Europa League’s group stage. That spot is currently held by Tottenham, although it can flip and flop between many teams until the end of the campaign, considering The Spurs and the 2nd placed Manchester United are separated by only 4 points. Regardless of how the rest of the season develops, one of those four teams (United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Tottenham) is likely going to take that spot.
Arsenal is 6th at the moment, and is also set to play the Carabao Cup (former English Cup) final on Ferbuary 25 against Manchester City. If Wenger’s men win, they are assured a qualification spot. If they lose, it’s still reasonable to think that spot is theirs. The rule states that If the English Cup winners finish in the top five of the Premier League, their UEL group stage place will go to the next-highest ranked team not qualified for UEFA competitions in the Premier League. It is possible that The Gunners go on an amazing run and get to the 5th position on the table. However, the odds aren’t high on that scenario. Therefore, basically, a City victory in the cup final will result in an Arsenal’s qualification for the Europa League group stage. If Arsenal finishes 6th, that is.
The FA Cup is in its 1/8-finals. Predicting what will happen there is an ungrateful task at this point. If a team other than the top 6 wins the tournament, it automatically becomes England’s third representative in the Europa League. I’m highly skeptical that’s going to occur, though. Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea are still in play, and they don’t face each other in this round. If one of them wins, then the same rule from above applies, meaning EPL’s 7th place will ensure UEL qualification. That’s where things get more complicated.
With 10 points separating that spot and the relegation zone, there are multiple squads who can take it. Leicester would seem to have a small advantage at the moment, as it is the highest ranked team in the league to still be participating in the FA Cup (faces Sheffield United next). The rest of the EPL clubs in the FA Cup find themselves in the lower part of the table (Swansea, Southampton, Huddersfield, Brighton).
Burnley is currently at №.7, but if it continues its dreadfull form of late, it won’t take long for somebody else to take over its spot. After Burnley’s ten winning-less matches, Leicester is now just a point behind, whereas Everton trails by two. All three have two games against the top 6 left. Bournemouth’s recent run of good form has seen it catch up with those three, as it’s now a mere three points behind Everton. Watford and West Ham are the two teams that follow, and I would say the last two squads that have a realistic shot at that lucky number seven. Even though England’s champion has long been determined, it’ll be enjoyable to watch the thrilling battles for the rest of the spots leading to Europe.