Liverpool, Brighton and Newcastle are amongst the Premier League teams that could be denied a Champions League place even if they finish fourth.
The race to finish inside the top four is intense, with a clutch of teams battling for two positions as Arsenal and Manchester City have all but guaranteed their place in the competition next season.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are one side with Champions League ambitions and hope to put together a run of results to push their way into the top four between now and the end of the campaign.
As well as the Reds; Newcastle, Brentford and Brighton all harbour serious ambitions of making their way into the top four ahead of Manchester United or Tottenham, who currently occupy those two spots.
However, even if Liverpool do secure a top-four finish, there is a chance – albeit a slim one – that they could still see miss out on qualification for next season’s Champions League.
That would take Man Utd dropping out of the top four but still winning the Europa League, with a place in the 2023/24 Champions League also awarded. Chelsea, meanwhile, would also secure a berth if they can win this season’s edition.
Should both Man Utd and Chelsea win Europe’s leading two cup competitions but fail to finish in the top four – and one of the other teams including Liverpool finish fourth behind Arsenal, City and someone else, then they would miss out on Champions League football. Instead that team would have to settle for a spot in the Europa League.
Back in 2011/12, fourth-placed Tottenham missed out on qualification for the Champions League after Chelsea, who finished sixth, won Europe’s top club prize. The Blues will be gunning to win the competition for the third time in 11 years and face Real Madrid in the quarter-finals next month, with their Premier League rivals likely supporting their Spanish opponents.
Newcastle can leapfrog Tottenham and Man Utd if they win their game in hand, or beat Erik ten Hag’s side straight after the international break, while Liverpool and Brighton are five points behind in sixth and seventh.
Speaking about his side’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League, Klopp said last week: “It’s THE competition and we want to be a part of it every year. That’s now a massive task for us. We know that. When we come back from the international break we have a proper football week ahead of us I would say with three games. City, Chelsea and Arsenal and that would define whether we’ll get out of it.”