What Liverpool and Chelsea’s European results mean for West Ham’s Champions League challenge – Football.London

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West Ham are in pole position for a top-four finish with just seven league games remaining, however, fourth place in the Premier League might not be enough for Champions League qualification next season.

Since 2002, the Premier League have had four Champions League qualification spots and on all bar one occasion, all four sides have entered at the minimum of the Champions League qualification rounds.

Tottenham were the one team to miss out in 2012 when Chelsea finished sixth in the Premier League but as Champions League winners automatically qualified for the next season’s competition.

On that occasion, Spurs dropped to the Europa League, but after an alteration to the rules that would no longer happen.

The fourth-placed side and the Champions League winners would both qualify for Europe’s elite competition with five English teams competing in the following season’s tournament.

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However, five is the maximum allowed from any one country and there is a scenario where the fourth-placed team in the Premier League misses out and drops into the Europa League.

Nightmare scenario

If Arsenal win the Europa League they will gain entry into the Champions League as a reward for this triumph and if Chelsea win their second European Cup they will also automatically be in the competition to defend it next season.

Were that scenario to play out and the league standings to remain as they are with neither side in the top four then both would be admitted to the Champions League next season at the expense of the fourth-placed side who would enter the Europa League.

One crumb of comfort for West Ham fans was the elimination of Liverpool at the quarter-final stage at the hands of Real Madrid. Were Liverpool still in the competition then another team could potentially have ousted fourth place from the Champions League next season.

Champions League dream could be saved by English failure in Europe

If one of either Arsenal or Chelsea are defeated in Europe then finishing fourth in the Premier League will be enough to qualify for Europe’s elite competition next season.

Finish fifth, sixth or seventh and which European competition West Ham find themselves in would depend on the outcome of both domestic cup competitions.

As the league table stands a Spurs triumph over Manchester City would see Jose Mourinho’s team enter the Europa Conference League.

If Tottenham can move up the table and qualify for either the Champions League or Europa League by merit of their league placing then the Europa Conference League spot would be awarded to either fifth, sixth or seventh depending on the outcome of Arsenal and Chelsea in their respective European tournaments.

Things get further complicated by the possibility that Leicester or Southampton win the FA Cup and do not finish in the European spots in the league table.

If, for example, Southampton win the FA Cup and finish in the bottom half of the table they would qualify for the Europa League meaning only five European spots are allocated to league placings, six if Manchester City win the League Cup.

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Dream scenario

One way to avoid all confusion and nail-biting is for West Ham to finish third and then they can happily ignore all other domestic and European competitions safe in the knowledge they have secured Champions League football for the first time in their history.

Finish fourth then the Hammers’ dream scenario would be for Manchester City to win the quadruple. This would see the top four qualify for the Champions League, fifth and sixth for the Europa League, and seventh for the Europa Conference League.

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