How Chelsea can still make next season’s Champions League

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After the putrid display of football at Stamford Bridge yesterday in the 1-1 draw against Huddersfield, it is time to assess how Chelsea can still make it to the Champions League. It is a fate that is not in our hands, though this has been the case for some time now. The fact that we still have a tiny bit of chance despite our myriad screw-ups throughout the season is somewhat of a miracle already.

One thing is certain, three of the four spots are knows. Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have secured their spots in next season’s Champions League.

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Spurs, who gutted out a slim 1-0 win over Newcastle United last night, are also guaranteed to finish the highest of all London sides for the first time in 23 years. There is no trophy for this, though in the immortal words of Frank Lampard, they might still make a DVD of it (especially as it includes a long-awaited win at Stamford Bridge).

In any case, Chelsea’s slim chances need two things to happen:

  1. Chelsea have to beat Newcastle at St James’, where the Blues have not won since 2011, losing three and drawing one in our four trips to the North. Newcastle may be on a four-match losing streak and may have already lost twice to Chelsea, but the longest away trip of the Premier League season is never easy.
  2. Liverpool have to lose to Brighton at home. This has not happened since 1982, though the two teams have only met five times altogether since. Liverpool have a massive goal-differential advantage (+42 vs. +27), so a draw is only useful for us if we beat Newcastle by 16 goals. We can probably safely ignore that possibility.

It is an unlikely scenario, to say the least, with Chelsea’s chances dropping from 15-20% to just 2% in the latest simulations.

If this 2% does come to pass and Liverpool finish fifth, they themselves could still qualify for the Champions League by beating Real Madrid in the final on May 26. Unlike in 2012, if a team outside the top four wins the tournament, they do not bump the fourth place team from next year’s competition. In that case, England would have five (5) representatives.

So, chances are slim, but they are not nil. If we make it, it will be the stuff of legends. Otherwise, Europa League beckons.

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