Premier League race for Europe: what each team must do to qualify

With the final Premier League matchday set for Sunday (May 23), we look at what teams must do to ensure they play in Europe next season.

Chelsea beat Leicester 2-1 at home on Tuesday; Credit: Twitter/@tsilva3
By Shayne Dias | May 22, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

The race to qualify for European competitions next season will go down to the wire on the final Premier League matchday. As of now, only champions Manchester City and runners-up Manchester United are guaranteed Champions League qualification next season. Chelsea, Liverpool and Leicester City are vying for the final two spots in the Champions League up for grabs. Elsewhere West Ham United, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are vying for the three remaining European spots up for grabs: two in the Europa League, one in the Europa Conference League. Amazingly, Leeds United are also in with an outside chance of making the top 7.

With the final Premier League matchday set for Sunday (May 23), we look at what teams must do to ensure they play in Europe next season.


The Blues currently sit in third place in the league table and have their destiny in their own hands. A win against Aston Villa will be enough to secure them Champions League football for next season.

A loss or a draw, however, means they would need both Leicester and Liverpool to lose their last fixtures. Of course, they also have another way of qualifying should they finish outside the top 4 – beat Manchester City in the Champions League final at the end of the month.


Liverpool, like Chelsea, have their destiny in their own hands. A win against Crystal Palace ensures they retain their fourth spot. It’s a remarkable turnaround given they seemed destined for the Europa League at one point.

However, a loss will also leave them hoping Leicester and Chelsea do them a few favours by dropping points. And unlike Chelsea, they don’t have an alternative route; a top 4 finish is a must.

Leicester City

It’s deja vu all over again for Leicester City. They looked assured of a top 4 finish last season before losing their final two games. Their loss to Chelsea in the penultimate fixture leaves them in fifth currently.

If they are to finish in the top 4, they will need to beat Tottenham Hotspur in their last game and hope that at least one of Liverpool or Chelsea drop points. Should both Chelsea and Liverpool win, Leicester are set for another season in the Europa League.

West Ham United

West Ham looked set for an unlikely top four finish before results plateaued. Nevertheless, David Moyes can look back on a season that by any means is successful for the Hammers.

They are guaranteed Europa League football next season should they beat or draw with Southampton in their final game. A loss, however, will see them hope for Everton, Spurs and even Arsenal to also drop points.

Tottenham Hotspur

West Ham’s London rivals will take on fellow Londoners Leicester in their final Premier League match. For Spurs, getting into the Europa League is tricky. They need to beat Leicester while also hoping West Ham lose against Southampton.

Spurs are currently guaranteed a spot in the Europa Conference League but would prefer being in Europe’s second-tier competition instead.


Everton are staring at the prospect of no European football as things stand. However, should Spurs drop points against Leicester and the Toffees beat Manchester City, they will leapfrog the Londoners into seventh place and get into the Conference League.

It is easier said than done, however, given City will want to end the season on a high. There’s also the fact that City are tough to beat on their worst day.


The Gunners have had a poor season on all fronts. They are also, as things stand, missing out on European football next season. But amazingly, they still have a slight chance of playing continental football next season.

However, they need a glut of results to go their way too. Arsenal must beat Brighton, then hope that both Everton and Spurs drop points. Only then will they qualify for the Conference League.

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