Manchester City and Liverpool’s Premier League title race is set to go down to the wire – but just how close are we to seeing a playoff for the title?

It has never happened before, but with just two games to go and three points separating City and Liverpool, it remains possible this season’s title race could be decided by a one-off match following the conclusion of the league season. What a prospect.

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There is also a scenario which could see Arsenal and Tottenham having their own playoff to decide who qualifies for next season’s Champions League.

West Ham United
Manchester City

Sunday 15th May 1:00pm

Kick off 2:00pm

Before we get into the specific results needed for this to happen, here are the Premier League rules for determining table position:

  • If two teams are level on points, goal difference would be the deciding factor.
  • If the goal difference was equal, goals scored would determine which side finishes higher.
  • If the clubs still cannot be separated, the team with the least points in head-to-head matches in the Premier League season would finish lower.
  • If the record is the same, the club scoring the higher number of goals as the away team in head-to-head matches would finish higher.
  • If none of these criteria can separate the teams, there would be a playoff at a neutral ground – the format, the timing and venue of which would be determined by the Premier League Board.

What would have to happen for a PL title playoff?

As City and Liverpool drew both of their head-to-head encounters 2-2 this season – in perhaps two of the most enthralling contests of the Premier League campaign – they cannot be separated in that regard, which leaves us with the almost inconceivable possibility of a playoff for the title.

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A final, as it were, to decide the champions of England. Heady stuff.

It would, of course, take a rather precise string of results to reach such an end goal.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool’s win against Aston Villa in the Premier League

But, with Liverpool facing a Southampton side that has shipped four goals or more on three occasions since the start of March, and City’s centre-back injuries piling up ahead of Sunday’s trip to West Ham, you never know.

Southampton
Liverpool

Tuesday 17th May 7:00pm

Kick off 7:45pm

Here is a scenario which would see the teams finish completely level:

  • City are beaten 2-0 at West Ham on Sunday, with Liverpool thrashing Southampton 4-0 on the following Tuesday.
  • Before on the final day, City edge past Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa with a 2-1 win, while Liverpool beat Wolves 2-0.

Where would it be held?

Image:
Liverpool came out on top at Wembley last month in the FA Cup semi-final

One would assume such a game would take place at Wembley, the home of football. But the Premier League handbook fails to go into that detail. Perhaps because no one anticipated we would ever get to the point whereby, after 38 league games across a whole season, two teams could not be separated.

The decision over neutral location, as stipulated by the rulebook, would be determined by the Premier League Board.

That leaves the possibility – a frightening one for Manchester United fans – that a Premier League title playoff between City and Liverpool could take place at Old Trafford, with both teams based in the North West.

When would it happen?

The first available weekend following the Premier League’s conclusion is May 28/29, but Liverpool are unavailable on those days as they are playing Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

That would leave the first weekend of June as the ideal option for the clubs, but it would also depend on the available dates of the desired neutral venue.

What about a fourth-place playoff?

Thursday’s north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal – live on Sky Sports – is already being billed as a decider for who earns the right to play Champions League football next season.

But there is a remote possibility we could see another one-off decider for fourth before the campaign is over.

Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal

Thursday 12th May 7:00pm

Kick off 7:45pm

It does, however, rely entirely on the outcome of Thursday’s derby.

As the head-to-head record of the two teams is one of the deciding factors, Thursday’s match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would have to end in a 3-1 home win. Just as it did at the Emirates in September.

That result, though, would leave Tottenham still a point behind Arsenal, but with a goal difference superior to that of their rivals by 10, having scored six more goals – making it almost an impossibility for the two teams to finish equal on points, goal difference and goals scored.

For instance, if Spurs were to win 3-1 on Thursday, this is an example of the results it would take to reach a playoff scenario:

  • Arsenal lose 4-3 to Newcastle, while Spurs are held to a stalemate by Burnley.
  • And on the final day, Arsenal would need to thrash Everton 5-0, with Tottenham losing 8-2 to relegated Norwich.

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Sourse: skysports.com

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