The Premier League’s race for Europe
Club soccer has resumed after the international break, and now the English teams are fighting for places in the Champions, Europa, and Conference Leagues.
With the focus back on club soccer, the Premier League clubs will be looking at how they can qualify to play in UEFA competitions. This includes either the Champions League, the Europa League, or the Europa Conference League.
How do teams qualify for each league?
The top four teams in the Premier League will qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.
Two teams will qualify for the Europa League: The team in fifth place in the Premier League and the winners of the FA Cup.
*If the FA Cup winners finish in the top five, then the UEL group stage would go to the next-highest ranked Premier League team which did not qualify for UEFA competitions.
The winner of the Carabao Cup will qualify for the Europa Conference League.
*If the Carabao Cup winners finish in the top five (or top six if the above FA Cup scenario occurs), then the UECL qualifier would go to the next-highest ranked Premier League team which did not qualify for UEFA competitions.
Where do the Premier League clubs stand now?
Arsenal is sitting at number one at the table, hoping to win its first Premier League title since the 2003-04 season. They are sitting eight whole points above second-place Manchester City, though City is one game up on Arsenal. Let’s take a look at the odds of the rest of the top eleven teams in the Premier League to make it into one of these European competitions.
Manchester United - 3rd place
According to Opta, Manchester United’s chance at a top-four finish is 91.4%. With 33 wins, no other club has won more games in all competitions across Europe’s top five leagues than Manchester United.
“We have to focus on our process, and what others are doing that is not for us,” said United manager Erik Ten Hag. “We have to improve our game, and every player has to improve. And so we have to win games and do it from game to game.”
Tottenham - 4th place
Opta predicts a 25.1% chance of finishing in the top four for Tottenham Hotspur. They have yet to drop a single point from a winning position at home in the Premier League this year. Antonio Conte was sacked as head coach as the Spurs sit at 4th place and out of all cup competitions.
Newcastle United - 5th place
Newcastle United is two points away from the top four right now, and Opta predicts a 41% chance they’ll make it back up to the top four by the finish. They’ve conceded just 19 goals through the first 26 games this season.
Liverpool - 6th place
Opta gives 6th place Liverpool a 28.3% odd to finish the season in the top four. They’re currently winning a league-high 64% of tackles in the EPL, the highest of any side since Stoke in the 2017-18 season.
“I think with the home games, we are top four, if I’m right,” said Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp. “With the away games, we are not even in Europe. There is always a reason for the situation you are in.”
Brighton - 7th place
Opta predicts a 13.5% chance of Brighton finishing in the top four in the Premier League. They have the fourth-highest expected goals tally in the league this year with 43.52. They’re sitting in 7th place at the table and are five points away from the top four.
“We are happy because people are speaking about our quality of play,” said Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi. “And for us, this makes us proud, but we have to be focused on the next games.”
Brentford - 8th place
Brentford is sitting in 8th place, five points away from the top four. Opta gives them just a 0.42% chance of finishing at the top four at this point, though they have a better conversion rate than any other team in the league this year besides Manchester City, with whom they are tied at 15.09%.
Fulham - 9th place
Fulham is in 9th place, eight points away from the top four and with a 0.03% chance of jumping back up to it, according to Opta. They have scored 38 goals in 27 games, their second-best return in EPL history, behind just their 2003-04 campaign.
Chelsea - 10th place
Chelsea is in 10th place and still nine points away from the top four, with Opta giving them a 0.27% chance to jump back up. Interestingly, only the top two teams, Arsenal and Manchester City, have a higher passing accuracy rate in the opposition’s half than Chelsea does (80.6%).
“Goals and wins bring confidence - that sounds obvious, and it is,” said Chelsea boss Graham Potter. “Then, it’s how you get them. I’m not going to complain however they come, because the results have been difficult to deal with.”
Aston Villa - 11th place
Aston Villa is in 11th place, nine points away from the top four with a teeny 0.02% chance to crawl back up there, according to Opta. Since they’ve been back from the World Cup break, Aston Villa has amassed better points-per-game return (1.67) than both of the fourth-place teams, Tottenham and Newcastle.