Premier League: What’s Still at Stake in the 2020-21 Season
The 2020-21 Premier League season is winding down, with just a few weeks left in another memorable campaign. Much has already been decided with time to spare, most notably Manchester City all but securing another league title.
However, there are still some loose ends to sort out – namely the precious European places – before the end of the season.
SBOTOP is here to lay out exactly what is left to play for ahead of the last few weeks of the Premier League campaign.
Similar to Liverpool’s amazing run last year, the Premier League has not had much of a title race this season. After some early-season struggles, Manchester City figured it all out and went on an incredible run from December onwards — at one point winning 15 league games in a row — to effectively reclaim their Premier League crown.
City’s resurgence, coupled with Liverpool’s decline amid numerous injuries and Manchester United’s inability to turn more draws into wins, has seen the Citizens build up a double-digit lead atop the table and will clinch the title with their next win or a United defeat – whichever comes first.
Champions League Qualification
While the title race is all but over, the fight for the Champions League qualification places is not done quite yet.
United are in pole position to secure second as they currently have a four-point lead on Leicester in third with a game still in hand. Meanwhile, the Foxes are two points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea.
The Blues have a five-point buffer over Tottenham in fifth, but West Ham (sixth) and/or Liverpool (seventh) can overtake Spurs if they win their games still in hand.
Leicester and Chelsea may be in the final two Champions League spots at the moment, but they still have work to do to hold onto them, especially with tricky run-ins.
Chelsea still have to face City away, Arsenal at home, Leicester at home, and Aston Villa away. Meanwhile, the Foxes have Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham as their final three matches of the season, with their FA Cup final against Chelsea also sandwiched in between.
As for West Ham and Liverpool, they both have relatively easy run-ins. Aside from their matchup against Manchester United, which made Premier League 2021 news after it was postponed due to fan protests at Old Trafford, four of Liverpool’s last five matches will all be against bottom-half sides.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side have dropped crucial points against Leeds and Newcastle after surrendering late equalisers, so they will have a tough time clawing back their seven-point deficit on Chelsea.
Golden Boot Race
Tottenham Hotspur star Harry Kane celebrates after scoring a goal during their Premier League clash against Burnley in February 28, 2021
The Champions League race may be tight, but the Golden Boot race is even tighter. Tottenham’s Harry Kane currently leads Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah by a single goal (21 goals to 20), although Salah still has to play one more game.
Both men are gunning for their third Golden Boot, which would put them in a tie with Alan Shearer for the second-most in Premier League history.
Europa League Qualification
While Spurs, West Ham, and Liverpool are on the outside looking in for the Champions League, they are all in a good spot to take fifth place and reach the Europa League group stage.
The winners of the FA Cup get the second automatic Europa League group stage place. Although, Chelsea and Leicester will face off in this year’s final, so if both of them finish in the top five in the league, then the sixth-placed team will reach the Europa League group stage.
As things stand at the moment, West Ham would get into the Europa League, which would be a terrific achievement for David Moyes’ side. The last time the Hammers reached any European competition was in the 2016-17 Europa League, where they lost in the third qualifying round to Romanian side Astra Giurgiu.
Conference League Qualification
There will be a new UEFA club competition introduced next season — the UEFA Europa Conference League. England’s only place in the competition’s playoff stage is reserved for the EFL Cup winners.
However, since Man City once again won this year’s EFL Cup, the qualifying spot will now go to sixth- or seventh-placed team in the league.
Eighth-placed Everton are currently two points behind Liverpool and appear to be the most realistic competitor for that seventh spot. Arsenal in ninth are five points back of Liverpool and have played one game more.
The Gunners will obviously be more interested in qualifying for the Champions League by winning the Europa League. Although, they must overturn a 2-1 deficit against Villarreal in the semi-finals.
Should Arsenal go on to win the Europa League and finish in the Conference League place, then England would have no representative for the inaugural tournament.
The relegation race is not quite done and dusted, but it’s getting close. Sheffield United are already going down, and the Premier League 2021 odds have Fulham and West Bromwich Albion as heavy favourites to join them in the Championship.
Fulham, 18th, are not yet mathematically out; they are nine points back of 17th Newcastle with 12 points left to play for. Meanwhile, West Brom could still overtake Fulham if they win their game in hand.
Fulham and West Brom both need to win out to stand any chance of survival, but the likelihood of either team achieving that feat is highly unlikely. Since their shock 1-0 win over Liverpool, Fulham’s form has dipped yet again, with five defeats in their last six games.
Still, expect them and the rest of the Premier League teams to go all out as they look to end the season strong!
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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 13-May-2021 at 1:58 PM