We’ve reached that stage of the season when football can be seen through the eyes of mathematics, permutations and logic.
Arsenal and Chelsea will travel to Birmingham for a potential third- place play- off, and Villa Park has been billed as the venue- should one be required.
“Villa Park has been selected as the venue for a third- place play- off between Chelsea and Arsenal, should Sunday’s results leave the two clubs level on points, goal difference and goals scored in the Barclays Premier League standings,” a Premier League statement on third- place play- off stated.
If, Chelsea should draw against Everton and Arsenal wins by a one goal margin with the condition that they concede against Newcastle (say 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 etc,) the uncertainty will be solved and there will be a third- place play- off match on Sunday May 26.
Chelsea are currently two points ahead of Arsenal going into the final day on Sunday, with a goal difference of 35 and goals scored at 73.
Arsenal’s goal difference is 34, having scored 71 and conceded 37.
The kick- off time is still to be confirmed, although it will be an early afternoon start, and tickets will go for £20 and £30.
The possibility of an end of the season play- off has been planned for in the past, back in the 1995/96 season when Manchester United and Newcastle United were fighting it out for the title. Despite been neck and neck for much of the run- in, United won the league without the need for a play- off.
Preparation for the possible play- off in 1996 went as far as printing tickets for the game. The proposal was to stage the game at the Old Wembley with two post season dates, May 16 and May 21, identified and ticket prices set at £20.
Worst Case Scenario: If Tottenham draw 6-6 against Sunderland and Arsenal lose 15-0 to Newcastle, there would be a play- off to determine the final automatic Champions League and the fourth slots. What if?