Champions League Race: Still “win and We're In” for Chelsea & Spurs

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Nothing has changed in the race for Champions League spots that features three Premier League clubs. That won't be the case after Wednesday evening.

Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea all earned victories during the first weekend of May. Spurs beat Southampton 1-0 thanks to a Gareth Bale smash that came four minutes from time. Theo Walcott needed just 20 seconds to find the back of the net in Arsenal's match at Queens Park Rangers, and that single tally was enough to earn the Gunners the win. Chelsea picked up the most noteworthy result of the weekend, a 1-0 win at Manchester United.

Chelsea remain in third place in the league table. The Blues are on 68 points. Arsenal are on 67 points, and Spurs are on 65 points. Tottenham will be away to Chelsea on May 8. That game is technically not "must-win" for Spurs, who could still qualify for next season's Champions League competition even if they were to lose on Wednesday night.

Anything but a win would, however, make things very, very difficult for Tottenham over the final two weeks of the season. Chelsea would all-but guarantee themselves Champions League with a win over Spurs, as Tottenham would need a miracle to catch up via goal difference. The Blues currently have a GD advantage of 16 over Spurs. Tottenham would, if they lose or draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, have to finish the season undefeated AND need Arsenal to drop points against either Wigan Athletic or Newcastle United in order to avoid being relegated to Europa League for the third straight year.

Things would get very interesting, though, if Spurs were to leave Wednesday night with all three points in hand. That result would put both Chelsea and Tottenham on 68 points, meaning Arsenal would need one of those two clubs to drop points in order to earn Champions League.

None of the three teams looking to finish in the top four have a particularly easy run-in following Wednesday evening. Spurs will be away to Stoke City on May 12. While Stoke are on 40 points, they could still be in danger of relegation if they drop points AND several other teams earn positive results. Tottenham close the season out at home against Sunderland. Sunderland, on 37 points, could be safe if they beat Southampton at home on May 12.

Arsenal host Wigan on May 14, and that contest could be vital for both sides. Wigan are currently in the drop zone and on 35 points, and they will host Swansea City on May 7. They will then face off against Manchester City in the FA Cup Final on May 11. Wigan may have zero choice but to play a reserve team in that Final if they are to remain in the Premier League for at least one more year. The Gunners end their 2012-13 campaign on the road at Newcastle, who could still be fighting for their BPL lives if they can't win at QPR, who are already relegated, on May 12.

Of the three, no team will be busier between now and May 19 than Chelsea. Last year's European champions host Spurs on May 8, and they are then away to Aston Villa on May 11. Villa are on 40 points and they have won two straight, but they still may need at least one more point to guarantee their safety. Chelsea then have to travel to Amsterdam for the Europa League Final against Benfica that takes place on May 15. The May 19 Chelsea vs. Everton match could be massive if both clubs are still in the hunt for European football.

It could also be meaningless depending on what occurs leading up to that date.

The story remains the same for Spurs following the latest heroics from their Welsh wonder: Win three straight, and they're back in the Champions League regardless of what Chelsea and Arsenal do in their final two games. It's certainly not going to be easy for Spurs.

It never is.

For more: Bale saves Spurs (again)

Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, RBNY, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.

View Comments