Arsenal and Chelsea could face play-off to determine Champions League entry

Arsenal and Chelsea are facing a scenario that would require the clubs to play-off for third place in the Premier League and with it, automatic entry to the Champions League group stage, according to the Daily Mirror.

If Arsenal were to beat Newcastle 2-1 on their trip to St. James’ Park on Sunday, and Chelsea’s home game with Everton ended in a 0-0 draw, the two London clubs would be level on points, goal difference and goals scored – requiring, as per Premier League rules, a play-off to decide who finishes third. The loser would end the season if fourth place and face another play-off to reach the Champions League’s group stage.

That’s despite Chelsea beating Arsenal twice this season as the league’s governing body confirmed that head-to-head records are not taken into account in the criteria to separate evenly-matched teams. Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in January and won by the same score at the Emirates Stadium in September.

The play-off would have to take place at a neutral venue – perhaps Wembley – but the staging of it is complicated by Chelsea’s pre-arranged end-of-season tour to the United States, where they are due to play Manchester City twice, on May 23 and 25, as well as England’s home fixture against the Republic of Ireland on May 29.

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