EPL Arsenal, Chelsea Could Face Each Other In Possible Playoff To Determine 3rd Place
Should "the football gods so desire, two results on the last weekend of the Premier League season could force Arsenal and Chelsea into an historic playoff for the third automatic Champions League qualification spot," according to White & Edgar of the LONDON TIMES. If Arsenal win 2-1 away to Newcastle United and Chelsea’s match with Everton at Stamford Bridge ends in a goalless draw, the London sides "will finish the campaign in joint third place, level on points, goal difference and goals scored." There are six cases of teams finishing dead level in English league history, but "it would be the first time that a playoff is used to separate them" (LONDON TIMES, 5/15). In London, Cross & McLeman reported the losers "would finish fourth and have to negotiate a two-leg playoff in August to reach the Champions League proper." The situation is complicated by the fact that Chelsea heads straight off to the U.S. after Sunday's matches to play Man City in two friendlies on May 23 and 25 (MIRROR, 5/14). The IRISH INDEPENDENT wrote Premier League chiefs "will draw up contingency plans" for a possible playoff between Arsenal and Chelsea but Wembley Stadium "is unlikely to be pencilled in as the venue." The league "carried out similar contingency planning back in 1996" when ManU and Newcastle "had very similar points and goals totals going into the last few matches of the season, and even booked Wembley and printed some tickets for a possible title playoff." In the event, ManU "went on to win the title by four points" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 5/15).