Liverpool and Arsenal could be the first teams to compete in a Premier League play-off for the fourth Champions League spot.
The Gunners’ 2-0 win at Southampton last night kept Arsene Wenger’s hopes of a 21st successive spot in Europe’s elite competition alive.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City sit in a good position, one point off third-placed Liverpool with a game in hand.
United’s chances of breaking their way in are all-but gone after Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Arsenal – although they are now in with a chance of Champions League qualification after reaching the final of the Europa League.
Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Saints on Sunday leaves Jurgen Klopp sweating when he could have been within touching distance of Champions League qualification.
Now, if Arsenal win their three remaining games and the Reds fail to clinch three points in each of their last two, the Gunners will qualify.
But the possibility of a 39th Prem fixture for both clubs remains.
The league’s rules state: “If at the end of the season either the league champions or the clubs to be relegated or the question of qualification for other competitions cannot be determined because two or more clubs are equal on points, goal difference and goals scored, the clubs concerned shall play off one or more deciding league matches on neutral grounds, the format, timing and venue of which shall be determined by the board.”
Put simply, if Arsenal and Liverpool finish on the same points, goal difference and goals scored, they play each other on a neutral ground, the winner of which will secure Champions League football.
A look at the table shows the Gunners are just THREE goals behind the Anfield club.
Should both teams win their remaining games, Liverpool will finish ONE point above Arsenal.
But if Klopp’s side pick up three points in their remaining two games, and Wenger’s team takes seven from their final three, with the Gunners making up the goals deficit, it’s game on.
The same situation can occur for clubs in the relegation zone.
For example, should Hull finish on the same points, goal difference and goals scored as Swansea, the two will go head-to-head for Prem survival.
But the chances look far slimmer on the bottom half of the table.
One thing is for sure – we could be in for the most dramatic finale yet.