Tottenham and Arsenal will play in the biggest North London Derby in years on Thursday evening with a place in next season’s Champions League up for grabs. As things stands, the Gunners are in the driving seat for a top-four finish and can in fact clinch their spot in Europe’s premier competition at the home of their great rivals.
Having seen Arsenal win the Premier League title at White Hart Lane in April 2004, Antonio Conte and his Spurs team will be intent on making sure their opponents don’t taste any more success in N17. Arsenal’s four-point lead heading into the final three games of the campaign simply means that it really is a must-win game for the Lilywhites in their quest to reach the Champions League for the first time since 2019/20.
A draw would only strengthen the Gunners’ position with two fixtures remaining, meaning Spurs would require huge favours off Newcastle United and Everton against Mikel Arteta’s side if they are to nudge ahead of them come the full-time whistle on the final day.
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With one of the two set to miss out on the top four unless Chelsea completely collapse in their final three games, supporters of both clubs have been wondering what exactly happens if Liverpool win the Champions League at the end of the month. So would the Reds beating Real Madrid in the final see the Premier League get an extra place in Europe’s top competition in 2022/23?
In normal circumstances, Champions League places are awarded to the top four teams in the Premier League standings come the end of the season. However, a maximum of five Premier League clubs are actually eligible for Champions League qualification.
The extra place would only occur if a Premier League club wins the Champions League or Europa League but finishes outside the top four. Winning either trophy results in automatic qualification for the group stage of next season’s competition regardless of their final league finishing position.
If a club wins one of the two European competitions and finishes in the top four, their qualification for the Champions League through their league position is not transferred to another team, however. As Liverpool are already assured of a top-four finish due to their 21-point advantage over Tottenham heading into the final three games, whoever finishes fifth would not be awarded a Champions League place and would instead qualify for next season’s Europa League.
So, it really is all to play for in north London on Thursday evening as both sides eye up a top-four finish. Yet to play a North London Derby in front of a full crowd at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since it opened due to the coronavirus pandemic, it promises to be some atmosphere as both sets of fans roar their team on to victory.