Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
With Man City streets ahead at the top of the Premier League, all of the intrigue is further down the table. The fight to make the Champions League is likely to be the big focus. However, even making it across the line in fourth is no guarantee of a place at Europe’s top table.
Every season there’s a risk of the fourth-placed side being dumped into the Europa League, as Tottenham were back in 2012. However, this season that risk seems even greater given how the Premier League table stands heading into the international break.
We’re looking at a 25/1 shot which could radically change the Premier League’s race for Europe. Don’t forget to check our football tips page for the latest daily accumulator tips.
Premier League’s European race explained
Next season, seven Premier League teams will compete in Europe. The top four sides head into the Champions League group stage, with a fifth going into the Europa League. The FA Cup winners also make the Europa League, with that place going to the sixth placed league side if the cup winners have finished higher.
The Carabao Cup winners will head into the new Europa Conference League, but if they’ve qualified for the bigger competitions then that place falls to the next-highest PL side who haven’t qualified. That’s all pretty straightforward, but a combination of events could make things more complicated.
Tottenham finished fourth in 2012 but found themselves in the Europa League courtesy of Chelsea’s European success that season. That loophole was tightened by UEFA not long after, as they expanded the maximum number of qualifiers for the Champions League from one league to five. In 2017, five Premier League sides entered the group stage for the first time ever.
However, the loophole isn’t completely shut. If two sides both finished outside the top four and won the Champions League and Europa League, the fourth-placed finishers would be demoted. That’s still a possibility in the Premier League this season.
Latest top four odds
With Man City now 1/100 favourites for the title, their Champions League chances aren’t up for debate. Things are less certain for the three sides behind them, but the bookies still seem pretty confident in the current top four making the cut.
- Manchester United – 1/20
- Leicester – 2/5
- Chelsea – 2/5
- Liverpool – 2/1
- Tottenham – 4/1
- Arsenal – 40/1
Odds correct as of 6pm on Sunday 21st March 2021 on Betfair
Liverpool & Arsenal’s second chance
Earlier this week Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said his side’s chances of making the top four were, “almost impossible”. Their patchy league form has caused problems, but that didn’t impact them in a comfortable 4-0 aggregate win over RB Leipzig.
That’s left the Reds as 11/2 fourth-favourites for European glory. They’ve been handed a draw which sees them avoid Man City, Bayern Munich and PSG until the final, boosting their chances. Given how remote their top four hopes are according to Klopp, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Champions League was their priority.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are huge 40/1 outsiders to take fourth. However, they’re a much shorter 3/1 to win this season’s Europa League. They’ve got a winnable clash with Slavia Prague next, which should be their focus given their struggles in the league.
Both sides have a great chance of European glory this term, as they’re each favourites to make the next round after favourable quarter-final draws. That’s added to the nerves of the league’s top four, as a remote risk has become a real possibility. As it stands, the top four doomsday scenario is priced at 25/1.
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