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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Premier play-off a possibility

Arsenal's heavy defeat of Wigan on Tuesday night has opened up the possibility of a play-off for third place in the Premier League.

Last Updated: 16/05/13 at 14:55 Post Comment

Chelsea and Arsenal: London rivals could meet in Premier League play-off

Chelsea and Arsenal: London rivals could meet in Premier League play-off

The 4-1 win over the FA Cup winners moved the Gunners back into fourth place, ahead of fierce rivals Spurs, and it means a win at Newcastle on the final day of the season will guarantee them UEFA Champions League football.

It also meant they closed the gap on third-placed Chelsea to two points and left the chance that a not inconceivable set of results on Sunday would see them end the season level on points, goal difference and goals scored.

Under Premier League rules, if qualification for a competition cannot be determined by any of those criteria, the sides involved must play one another at a neutral venue either once or twice.

Third place in the Premier League gains automatic qualification for the Champions League group stage with the team finishing fourth going into the play-off round.

Going into the final set of games, which Chelsea host Everton, the Blues are two points ahead, have a goal difference advantage of one over their London rivals and have scored two more goals.

But that would only mean a combination of a 0-0 draw for Chelsea and a 2-1 win for Arsenal putting them level on all three criteria, the same applying for a 1-1 Chelsea draw and a 3-2 Arsenal win, and so on.

As well as the possible battle for third place, Tottenham are waiting in the wings for Arsenal to slip up on the final day, when a Gunners defeat and Spurs victory at home to Sunderland would see them steal fourth and leave Arsenal playing in the Europa League next season.

The potential play-off could pose scheduling problems for the Premier League with Chelsea due to jet off for a post-season tour next week while England are playing friendlies against the Republic of Ireland on May 29 and Brazil on June 2.

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