By Josh Powell | Premier League betting
£755,062 is the precise difference between third and fourth in terms of Premier League prize money. But there is plenty more at stake for Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal side going in to the weekend where they could dramatically set-up the league’s first ever third place play-off.
Europa League winners and top Rafa-haters Chelsea are currently sitting in third on 72 points, two clear of the Gunners. A win against Everton in their final league game guarantees them third, the £750k that comes with it and a pass straight through to the group stages of the Champions League.
It is Oliver’s golden ticket of football, or that fast-pass thing the posh kids get at Alton Towers. Forget the money, going through to the group stages automatically means you don’t have to try to navigate the minefield that is the Champions League qualifying stage.
This year the play-offs included quarter-finalists Malaga and Scottish champs Celtic, as well as tricky European sides Dynamo Kiev, Spartak Moscow and Fenerbache. The two-legged ties are no walkover and could mean some mid-week trips to Eastern Europe just as the new season gets underway.
All in all they are more hassle than trying to use the supermarket self-checkout while you’re massively hungover.
For Arsenal to avoid the qualification stages they have to beat Newcastle at St James’ Park. The Gunners will be confident having lost to Newcastle just once in their last 14 meetings. Arsene Wenger’s men will be hoping Everton do them a favour against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The Twitter hype is in overdrive at the thought of a third place play-off, although the players’ wives aren’t so keen about having to cancel their flights to the Caribbean. Luckily I doubt they’re flying with Ryanair so they won’t get that filthy huge charge for swapping flights. No wonder the country is broke.
For a third place play-off to happen the following has to take place:
Chelsea have to draw with Everton and Arsenal have to beat Newcastle by a single goal, but only score two more than Chelsea. So if Chelsea drew 0-0, Arsenal would have to win 2-1. If Chelsea drew 1-1, Arsenal would have to win 3-2 and so on.
That would leave the teams level on pints, goal difference and goals scored resulting in a bonus end of season extravaganza in the form of a third place play-off.
Of course Arsenal could cock the entire thing up and might end up finishing fifth if they have a complete meltdown and Spurs win against Sunderland. But for Arsene’s sake we won’t dwell on that.