What if Arsenal win Europa League & Liverpool win Champions League? Premier League European qualification explained

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Laurence Griffiths
Is there a price for success? Or does a rising tide lift all ships? Goal takes a look at how the Premier League's European qualification works

The 2017-18 season is drawing to a conclusion in England and continental rewards will soon be tied up for the next campaign.

With the incentive of competing on the European stage - and the financial inducements that accompany that right - teams will be desperately fighting to finish as high as they can.

UEFA rewards league finishes as well as cup success - both domestic and continental - and sometimes that can mean a change to the normal qualification procedure.

With the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and others desperately fighting to improve their fate, Goal takes a look at how things could pan out.


Premier League European qualification places


Generally speaking, there are a minimum of seven continental places up for grabs for English clubs, spread across the Champions League and Europa League.

Due to their association coefficient, England currently boasts four Champions League places and they are one of four nations - along with Spain, Germany and Italy - to do so.

Those places in the competition are awarded to the teams that finish in the top four in the Premier League.

Previously, first, second and third qualified directly for the group stage and fourth place earned a place in the play-off, but from 2018-19 all four teams will enter the group stage.

David Silva Raheem Sterling Manchester City

Three Europa League places are available for the team that finishes fifth in the Premier League as well as the winners of the FA Cup and EFL Cup.

The fifth-placed team and FA Cup winners are guaranteed a place in the group stage, while the EFL Cup winners enter the second qualifying round.

European qualification for English teams*:

League/Cup finish European qualification
Premier League winners Champions League group stage
Premier League runners-up Champions League group stage
Premier League third-place Champions League group stage
Premier League fourth-place Champions League group stage
Premier League fifth-place Europa League group stage
FA Cup winners Europa League group stage
EFL Cup winners Europa League second qualifying round

*Subject to change

So, the general rule is that the top five league positions and two domestic cup winners enter European competition the following season as England's representatives.

However, it is not always straightforward and, depending on who wins the cups, teams further down the league can benefit.


What if the FA Cup winner finishes in the European spots?


Jose Mourinho Manchester United

If the winner of the FA Cup has already qualified for continental football, the Europa League group-stage place normally reserved for the FA Cup winner goes to the highest placed team in the league that has not already qualified for Europe.

This year, both teams will qualify for European football, with Manchester United in second and Chelsea on course to finish fifth, so the place is set to go to the team that finishes sixth, which is likely to be Arsenal.


Man City won the league & EFL Cup, who benefits?


Manchester City Carabao Cup 2018

Manchester City have qualified for the Champions League by virtue of winning the Premier League, but they also won the EFL Cup, which, as mentioned, earns Europa League qualification.

As a result the Europa League second qualifying round berth goes to the highest team in the Premier League that has not already qualified for Europe.

With the FA Cup winner's berth expected to go to the team that finishes sixth, the place normally reserved for the EFL Cup winners is set to go to the team that finishes seventh, which will probably be Burnley


What if Liverpool win the Champions League?


Jurgen Klopp Liverpool Manchester City Champions League

Liverpool are on course to finish in the top four of the Premier League and they are also in with a chance of winning the Champions League.

Unlike the aforementioned scenarios, if the Reds win the Champions League and also finish third, say, the group-stage place does not go to another team from the Premier League.

Instead, the league winners of the association ranked 11th - Czech Republic for 2018-19 - will be promoted to the group stage from their original place in the play-off.

As a consequence, there would be a knock-on effect for champions of the highest ranked associations in earlier rounds, who would thus be promoted accordingly.


What if Arsenal win the Europa League?


Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal

Arsenal have endured a difficult season and a top-four finish is beyond them, but they could still qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League.

Even though they are on course of a sixth-place finish in the league, the Gunners are already set to qualify for the Europa League due to the aforementioned domestic success of other teams.

However, should they earn a place in the Champions League, that Europa League spot would subsequently move down the table.

So, if Arsenal finish sixth and win the Europa League the team that finishes eighth will enter the Europa League next season.

That could potentially be a number of different teams, but Everton or Leicester City appear best placed to benefit in that event.


What if both Liverpool & Arsenal win the UCL & UEL?


An issue could potentially arise should teams from a single country win both the Champions League and the Europa League.

UEFA's rules dictate that no more than five teams from a single country can compete in the Champions League, but, in England's case there is a chance - albeit a slim one - that six teams could be in contention.

For example, if the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League come from England, but fail to finish in the top four of the Premier League, the team that finishes fourth can be demoted, due to UEFA's five-team limit.

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While the rules were slightly different (the limit was four teams instead of five), this happened to Tottenham in 2012, who finished fourth in the Premier League, only to find themselves bumped down to the Europa League due to the fact that sixth-place Chelsea won the Champions League that season.

Both Liverpool and Arsenal are in contention to win the Champions League and Europa League respectively, but, since the Reds are likely to finish in the top four, their place - as previously mentioned - is transferred to another league.

So, on this particular occasion, if Liverpool and Arsenal both win contintental silverware, there will be no detrimental effect felt by the team that finishes fourth.

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