With the English Premier League title race already decided this season, eyes are now turning to the two remaining slots for next season’s Champions League.
Finishing third means a guaranteed shot at the world’s greatest club prize next season, while a fourth placed club will have to cut short its summer holiday and head off to qualify via a play off. Finishing fifth leads to banishment in the much maligned Europa League or what Franz Beckenbauer cruelly dubbed, the ‘losers’ cup’!
The wounded blue half of Manchester seems set to stake its claim for a guaranteed Premier League runner up spot and thus a definite spot in the world’s most elite tournament next season.
The big three London clubs: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, however, are jockeying for the coveted third and fourth place positions. This sets the stage for some fabulous premier league betting as the odds narrow and the stakes rise. This is more than a battle for Premier League bragging rights in the Capital. At stake is the king’s ransom in TV money and sponsorship rights that Champions League qualification brings. Any team entering Europe’s top competition will also have an advantage over its rivals when trying to lure the best players for the forthcoming campaign.
It’s hard to imagine Europe’s elite tournament devoid of Arsenal next season. They have qualified for the competition for the past fifteen consecutive seasons. Loyal Gunners’ fans have become accustomed to some great nights of European football at the Emirates’ Stadium. While Arsene Wenger is synonymous with the Arsenal brand, failure to qualify for a sixteenth time in succession would place manager Arsene Wenger’s position under greater scrutiny and inevitably heighten speculation about his tenure.
Arsenal’s season seems to have been limping along all season but amazingly they have their nose in front for the automatic Champions League qualification that a coveted third place position will bring. However their place is under threat from their great North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Tottenham seem to have survived their mid-winter blip. Crucially they are starting to add pace to the team just at the right time as Gareth Bale, Jermaine Defoe and Aaron Lennon all return from injuries. These returnees could be crucial over the final few games. They just might help Spurs clinch a precious Champions League berth. This is reflected in William Hill’s UK weekend football coupon, where Spurs are 21/20 for an away win at Wigan.
Chelsea can bring to the table what their London rivals cannot: a Champions League trophy. Whilst it may have slipped out of their grasp this season, embattled caretaker manager Rafael Benitez has a proven track record of getting less talented teams than the current Chelsea on to the greatest European stage.