Sunday 4 December 2016

Here is how Liverpool and West Ham could end up playing off against each other for Europa League spot

Charlie Eccleshare

Published 13/05/2016 | 13:22

Christian Benteke scores the equaliser for Liverpool against Chelsea
Christian Benteke scores the equaliser for Liverpool against Chelsea

Eagle-eyed mathematicians have spotted that Liverpool and West Ham could finish in a dead heat in the Premier League and therefore be forced into a Europa League qualification play-off.

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As things stand, West Ham are sixth in the Premier League, while Liverpool are eighth - with the Hammers three points clear and with a two superior goal difference.

Both teams have conceded 49 goals, with West Ham having scored 64 and Liverpool 62, so there is a scenario where the teams could end up with identical points, goals scored, goals conceded and goal difference.

What would need to happen

On the final day of the season, if West Ham lose to Stoke 1-0 at the Britannia and Liverpool beat West Brom 2-1 at the Hawthorns, then there could be the scenario as described as above. The situation will be the same if Liverpool were to win 3-2 and West Ham were to lose 2-1 etc.

The two teams finishing in joint sixth is also contingent on seventh-placed Southampton failing to win at home against Crystal Palace.

In addition the Europa League qualification play-off match would only be necessary if Liverpool fail to win the Europa League final against Sevilla next Wednesday.

If Liverpool win in Basel however, West Ham will take the Europa League place by default as Liverpool will have qualified for the Champions League.

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Incidentally a play-off like this would only be required if, as would be the case with Liverpool and West Ham, winning the title, relegation or European qualification was at stake.

A Premier League spokesperson confirmed an extra game could take place. League rules state: "If at the end of the season either the league champions or the clubs to be relegated or the question of qualification for other competitions cannot be determined because two or more clubs are equal on points, goal difference and goals scored, the clubs concerned shall play off one or more deciding league matches on neutral grounds, the format, venue and timing of which shall be determined by the board."

A decision on date and ground would not be made until after the Europa League final.

A play-off of this sort has never been required before, but there was a similar situation in 2013 when Arsenal and Chelsea went in the final day with the potential for a completely even finish.

As it was, Chelsea beat Everton 2-1 to ensure they finished two points clear of their London rivals.

Telegraph.co.uk

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