The battle to get into Europe next season could include the whole top half of the Premier League but could get complicated.
Manchester City and Chelsea are both two ties away from Champions League glory, while Manchester United and Arsenal are at the same stage in the Europa League. Both competitions earns a place in Uefa’s elite competition next season.
Chelsea are just outside the top four in the Premier League and Arsenal find themselves 10 points off heading into the weekend. Currently Leicester City and West ham United would join the two Manchester clubs as England’s Champions League qualifiers next season, but the race goes down to seventh-placed Tottenham and Everton in eighth as the campaign reaches its final stretch of fixtures.
Here are the scenarios should England’s teams win in Europe this season:
What if Manchester City win the Champions League?
Pep Guardiola’s team have mathematically guaranteed their place in the top four already and are on the brink of the title. It means if they add the Champions League to their trophy haul it will be business as usual for Premier League teams next season: the top four will be at the top table even if United or Arsenal win the Europa League.
Qualifiers: First, second, third and fourth, plus English Europa League winner
What if Chelsea win the Champions League?
Should Thomas Tuchel’s side beat Real Madrid and then emerge victorious in the final, they will play in the Champions League next season. Even if they finish outside of the top four, they earn a place in the competition as a result of Uefa’s ringfenced spot for the European champions to defend their title. This happened with Liverpool when they won in 2005, which also had the final held in Istanbul.
“Should a Premier League club win the Uefa Champions League they will automatically qualify for the group stage of next season’s competition regardless of their league finishing position,” said the Premier League.
Due to Uefa’s regulations, this would not impact the top-four qualifiers.
Qualifiers: First, second, third, fourth and Champions League winners
What if Arsenal win the Europa League?
Lifting the Europa League also brings a place in the Champions League next season. This looks like Mikel Arteta’s most likely route to Europe’s elite in 2021/22, as his team are currently ninth in the table and off the pace in the battle for the top four.
They face Villarreal and former Gunners manager Unai Emery in the semis and could face Manchester United in the final. There are no such worries at Old Trafford though, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team should secure a top-four place from their current position.
Qualifiers: First, second, third, fourth and Europa League winner
The nightmare scenario: What if Chelsea win the Champions League and Arsenal win the Europa League?
The bad news for those chasing a top-four place is that it may not be good enough. Should Chelsea and Arsenal win their Uefa competitions and finish fifth or below in the Premier League, they will seal places in the Champions League next season.
Although the Champions League winners are awarded an additional space in next season’s competition without impacting the original qualifiers, the same is not applicable when the Europa League winner also comes from the same nation. Therefore, it would be fourth place dropping into the Europa League, meaning that one of Leicester, West Ham Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton could miss out on the Champions League even if they finish fourth.
“In the event that a Premier League club win the Uefa Champions League and another win the Uefa Europa League and neither of these clubs finish in the top four of the Premier League, the club lying fourth in the table will drop into the Uefa Europa League group stage,” confirmed the Premier League.
Qualifiers: First, second, third, Champions League winners and Europa League winners