London rivals may play one extra game to decide automatic Champions League qualification.
Arsenal and Chelsea could face a dramatic playoff for third place in the Premier League if results on the final day leave the rivals inseparable.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal moved two points points behind Chelsea with a 4-1 win over Wigan at the Emirates on Tuesday and if the Gunners beat Newcastle 2-1 at St James and Chelsea draw 0-0 with Everton, the pair will finish with the same number of points (73), the same goal difference (+35) and the same number of goals scored (73).
The Premier League has confirmed that Chelsea’s home and way wins over Arsenal will not count as a tie-breaker, reports the Daily Mirror.
The play-off would be the first of its kind in Premier League history and would be played at a neutral venue, presumably Wembley – with automatic entry to the Champions League at stake.
The losers would finish fourth and face a two-legged play-off in August to reach the Champions League proper.
The issue is complicated because Chelsea jet off for the United States after Sunday’s match and face Manchester City in two friendlies on May 23 and 25, before England play two friendlies against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley and Brazil in Rio on June 2.
This season, both Arsenal and Chelsea went straight into the Champions League proper after the Gunners finished third and the Blues qualified as winners, despite finishing sixth in the league,
Arsenal can still finish outside the top four, if they fail to beat Newcastle and fifth-placed Tottenham beat Sunderland at White Hart Lane.
Below are all the possible scenarios for Champions League qualification:
– If Chelsea lose, Arsenal will finish third by beating Newcastle. If they draw, Arsenal must win by two or more goals to finish third.
– If Arsenal beat Newcastle, they will qualify for the Champions League. If Chelsea beat Everton, Arsenal can only finish fourth.
– If Arsenal don’t beat Newcastle and Tottenham win, Tottenham will, barring a huge swing in goal difference, finish fourth.
– If Tottenham don’t beat Sunderland, Arsenal will qualify for the Champions League.