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Premier League Scenarios: Title Chase, Race for Europe and Relegation

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With three weeks remaining in the Premier League it’s all to play for in the title chase, race to qualify for Europe, and bid to avoid relegation.

Below is your primer for the major scenarios to be aware of going into Matchweek 35.

TITLE CHASE

The Premier League title chase is down to three clubs: Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.

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Below are the scenarios for all three clubs.

I. Liverpool are the only club in control of their title opportunity

  • If Liverpool win their remaining 3 matches (including win v. Chelsea on Sunday), they win the title.
  • If Liverpool earn 7 points (2 wins, 1 draw) in their remaining 3 matches, they win the title.
  • The earliest Liverpool can clinch the title is May 5 at Crystal Palace. If Liverpool win v. Chelsea and City drop points v. Palace on Sunday, Liverpool can clinch the title with a win at Palace next Monday, regardless off City’s result at Everton next Saturday. If Liverpool win v. Chelsea and City lose v. Palace on Sunday, Liverpool can clinch the title with a win or draw at Palace next Monday, regardless off City’s result at Everton next Saturday.
  • If City continue winning, Liverpool cannot clinch the title until the final day of the season (May 11).
  • NOTE: If Liverpool lose v. Chelsea and City lose or draw v. Palace, Liverpool still control their title chances.

II. If Liverpool lose v. Chelsea and City win at Palace, no club would be in full control of their title opportunity. Both City and Liverpool could reach a maximum of 86 points, in which case the title would be decided by the goal difference tie-breaker

  • The above is the only scenario this weekend in which Liverpool lose control of winning the title outright on points.
  • City (+56) currently have a better goal difference than Liverpool (+52).

III. There is no scenario in which Chelsea can finish the weekend in control of their title chances

  • If Chelsea lose v. Liverpool on Sunday, they are mathematically eliminated from title contention.
  • If Chelsea draw or win v. Liverpool on Sunday, they would still need “help” from BOTH City and Liverpool to win the title.

EUROPEAN QUALIFICATION

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I. Thus far only Liverpool have qualified for next season’s UEFA Champions League. Chelsea and City could each qualify this weekend, under the following scenarios

  • Chelsea can guarantee a Champions League berth with: a) a win or draw v. Liverpool and Everton loss, or b) a win v. Liverpool and Everton loss or draw, or c) a win v. Liverpool and Arsenal loss or draw.
  • Manchester City can guarantee a Champions League berth with: a) a win and Arsenal loss, or, b) a win and Everton loss or draw.

II. Tottenham will be eliminated from Champions League contention under the following scenarios 

  • A loss v. Stoke City or an Arsenal win v. Newcastle.
  • NOTE: A loss or an Arsenal win also guarantees that Tottenham will finish below Arsenal for the 19th straight season.

III. Europa League Qualification

  • Both 5th and 6th place finishers will earn a Europa League spot for next season.
  • Everton are guaranteed at least a Europa League spot with a win or draw v. Southampton or a Manchester United draw or loss v. Norwich City.

RELEGATION/SAFETY

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I. No club can be guaranteed relegation this weekend

II. Mathematical safety entering Saturday is 42 points

  • If West Ham win and Norwich or Sunderland drop points then West Ham are guaranteed safety.
  • Bottom-3 clubs’ finishing points if they all win their remaining matches: Cardiff City (39 pts), Fulham (39 pts), Sunderland (41 pts).
  • NOTE: Sunderland host Cardiff on Sunday, so both cannot win remainder of their matches.

 

Frei leads Sounders to first MLS Cup title in penalty kicks

Seattle Sounders forward Nelson Valdez, left, and Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley challenge for the ball during first-half MLS Cup final soccer action in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
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TORONTO — With tackles that matched the bitter temperature, Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders had little trouble providing intensity.

Goals were another story.

In a game only its champion could love, XXXX defeated XXXX in penalty kicks at BMO Field on Saturday after 120 minutes of 0-0 play with precious few threats on goal.

After the teams traded goals to start PKs, Michael Bradley flubbed his shot right to Stefan Frei. But Clint Irwin stopped Alvaro Fernandez’s shot, Seattle’s third attempt, to keep things 2-2.

It went to bonus kicks, and Justin Morrow hit the bar to set the table for Roman Torres. Yes, the big man, and he nailed it.

The first chance belonged to Altidore, who took a classy ball from Giovinco and had his far post shot deflected off Roman Torres for a corner.

Giovinco had trouble with his service in the cold, and a fifth minute offering was returned by Joevin Jones on a long counter which finished in the hands of Clint Irwin.

Seattle gained its footing and held the ball deep in Toronto’s end, but wasn’t able to trouble Irwin. Jonathan Osorio was next to trouble a keeper, though ex-Reds backstop Frei collected his effort.

A scary moment arrived in the 27th minute, as Giovinco ripped a left-footed effort into Roman Torres’ face just inside the 18. The Sounders defender fell hard (and surely the 25 degree weather didn’t help the impact).

Justin Morrow then supplied a lofted cross from the left fringe that Altidore headed down to a sliding Frei. Still 0-0, 30′

Service left a lot to be desired on set pieces, and Giovinco earned a free kick before firing it off the wall in the 39th minute.

Giovinco teed one up right after the break, but hit it off the outside of the net with the outside of his boot and it remained scoreless.

Though the chances remained scarce, the hosts had a few. Bradley picked out Giovinco with a diagonal ball that the Italian slid square for Altidore. The striker was held from getting to the ball, but no call came and Toronto won a corner that came to nothing.

The chippy play continued, and the chances remained few. Seattle called upon Andreas Ivanschitz  and Toronto turned to Will Johnson and ECF hero Benoit Cheyrou. Extra time seemed predestined, and so it came to pass.

Cheyrou won a corner with a left-footed shot just after play resumed. Giovinco teed him up for a similar chance three minutes later, but Frei collected the low offering. That was about it for the first 15 of ET.

Toronto’s third sub was Tosaint Ricketts, and he took a ball out of the air from 15 yards only to miss wide of the right post. Kicks were looming. Ricketts then picked out Altidore in the center of the box, but Frei flew to palm the headed ball off the line.

Seattle nearly went on top via a deep throw-in, as Lodeiro spied Torres at the back post and Beitashour whiffed on his attempted clearance. Irwin grabbed the loose ball first.

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WATCH: Stefan Frei made the most amazing, unbelievable save in ET

Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei reacts as time runs out in the second half of the second leg of an MLS Western Conference soccer finals game Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Commerce City, Colo. Seattle won 1-0 to advance to the MLS championship game. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Words simply fail at at a time like this.

[ FOLLOW: Live score and updates from MLS Cup 2016 ]

Stefan Frei made the best save you’ll see for quite some time, 108 minutes into MLS Cup 2016, to deny Jozy Altidore on the doorstep. The distance covered across the face of goal, the leap, the stretch, the strong hand underneath the ball … it’s all straight out of a Hollywood film which you’d question its legitimacy.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS Cup coverage ]

MLS Cup 2016 will be decided on penalty kicks.

FT — MLS Cup 2016: TFC, Sounders headed to extra time

Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco, left, battles Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan during second-half MLS Cup final soccer action in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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After 90 minutes of knock-down-drag-out soccer, MLS Cup 2016 is headed to extra time.

[ FOLLOW: Live score and updates from MLS Cup 2016 ]

The score, just as it was when proceedings kicked off at BMO Field nearly two hours ago, is 0-0. Toronto FC have had the majority of the game’s chances, but never really threatened Stefan Frei and the Seattle Sounders’ superbly organized defense. Seattle, on the other hand, managed all of three shots in the first and second halves combined, the first of which didn’t come until the 76th minute.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS Cup coverage ]

PST’s very own Nicholas Mendola is reporting live from a frigid, frozen BMO Field (gametime temperatures in the low-20s), so make sure you follow him on Twitter, right here, and check back to PST for live updates, full-match recap, and post-game reaction from every angle.

FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup 2016 — Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders

KANSAS CITY, KS - DECEMBER 07:  The Philip F. Anschutz trophy is seen on the field before the start of the match between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City in the 2013 MLS Cup at Sporting Park on December 7, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images
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279 days after First Kick, it’s all come down to this: MLS Cup 2016, between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders, a pair of first-timers in MLS’s postseason title decider.

[ FOLLOW: Live score and updates from MLS Cup 2016 ]

Fighting out of the red corner, it’s Sebastian Giovinco (4 goals, 4 assists in five playoff games in 2016), Jozy Altidore (5 goals, 4 assists) and Michael Bradley. Fighting out of the blue (and Rave Green) corner, it’s Nicolas Lodeiro (4 goals), Jordan Morris (2 goals, 1 assist) and a suddenly stout Sounders defense (3 goals conceded).

[ MORE: TFC, Sounders present unique tactical challenges for each other ]

PST’s very own Nicholas Mendola will be reporting live from a frigid, frozen BMO Field (gametime temperatures expected to be in the low-20s), so make sure you follow him on Twitter, right here, and check back to PST for live updates, full-match recap, and post-game reaction from every angle.

Who: Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders
What: MLS Cup 2016
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
Where: BMO Field, Toronto, Canada
Why: To crown a champion