Premier League final-day permutations: Relegation, Europa Conference, and 13 other bits that *really* matter
Unlike last season, not all the prizes are up for grabs on the final day of this Premier League season, with the identity of the Europa Conference qualifier the only business left to attend to at the top end of the table and three teams trying to avoid the two remaining relegation spots.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t loads more stuff to be settled or records to be broken. Here’s our rundown of everything at stake on the final day, starting with the most obvious/important (Relegation) and rapidly going downhill from there…
The biggest and certainly least trivial thing on this list: the final two relegation places alongside Southampton. Two of Everton, Leicester and Leeds will also be in the Championship next season. If it’s Everton, that means losing one of the six remaining Premier League ever-presents. If it’s Leicester, they become only the second Premier League champions to get relegated (after Blackburn). If it’s Leeds, well, some people will miss Leeds.
All three are at home on the final day, and the pertinent fixtures are Everton v Bournemouth, Leeds v Spurs and Leicester v West Ham.
Everton are the likeliest survivors, going into the final round of games with a two-point advantage over both their rivals, so the permutations are…
If Everton win: They are safe, Leeds and Leicester are down and can’t do a thing about it.
If Everton lose: A win for either Leicester or Leeds sends the other down along with the Toffees. A win for both Leicester and Leeds relegates Everton and Leeds, unless Leeds somehow win by nine goals more than Leicester do; they are playing Spurs, so it can’t be entirely ruled out. If neither Leicester nor Leeds win, they both go down and Everton survive.
If Everton draw: Here’s where it gets murky and thus most fun. Most straightforwardly, it still requires Leeds or Leicester or both to win to make anything happen. Draws are no good for either of them. So again: if neither Leicester nor Leeds win, then Everton survive.
But… if Everton draw and both Leeds and Leicester win, Leicester survive on goal difference (again, if we rule out any 10-0 shenanigans at Elland Road). If Everton draw, Leeds win and Leicester don’t then Leicester are down and Leeds would need to win by three goals to survive and send Everton down on goals scored.
So in summary:
What Everton need: to win; or both Leicester and Leeds not to win
What Leicester need: to win, and Everton not to win
What Leeds need: to win, Leicester not to win, and Everton lose; or to win by three or more goals, Leicester not to win, and Everton draw.
2) Europa Conference qualification
Last season, the title, Champions League places, Europa League places and Conference League place were all settled on the final day of the season. This year, only the Conference spot is up for grabs with Manchester City sure of the title, Arsenal, Newcastle and Manchester United in the Champions League, and Liverpool and Brighton in the Europa League.
But the coveted Conference League spot on offer for finishing seventh remains there for the taking thanks to Spurs’ dramatic late collapse. They’ve lost to both other contenders – Aston Villa and Brentford – in recent weeks to open the door. Villa are now favourites, with a one-point lead over Spurs and Brentford a point further back.
The relevant games here are Aston Villa v Brighton, Brentford v Manchester City, and Leeds v Tottenham.
Villa win: They finish seventh and take the Conference spot. Nobody else can do nothing.
Villa lose: Spurs finish seventh if they beat Leeds at Elland Road, or draw and Brentford don’t win. Brentford finish seventh if they win and Spurs don’t. If Spurs lose and Brentford don’t win, Villa still finish seventh.
Villa draw: Spurs finish seventh if they beat Leeds at Elland Road. Brentford finish seventh if they win and Spurs don’t. If neither Spurs nor Brentford win, Villa still finish seventh.
Brentford are already assured of their best top-flight league finish since 1938 even if it does end up being ninth, while ninth would be Spurs’ lowest finishing position since 2008. Seventh or eighth would be Villa’s highest Premier League finish since 2010.
3) Fulham Double
If Fulham beat Manchester United on the final day they will have amassed more points this season (55) than in their last two Premier League seasons combined (54), as well as a club-record top-flight points total. They are already assured of 10th spot, their best Premier League finish since 2011/12.
4) Chelsea Woes
Chelsea can only at best match their worst ever finish in a 20-team Premier League season of 11th, where they finished in 1995/96, the first year after the reduction from 22 teams. They could still, though, match their worst ever Premier League finish of 14th if they lose to Newcastle, Wolves beat Arsenal and West Ham beat Leicester while overturning a three-goal deficit on GD.
Chelsea are already guaranteed their lowest ever Premier League season points total and first ever sub-50 total.
Joint Lowest Points Tally
Fewest Goals Scored
Joint Amount of Games Without Scoring
Chelsea are one game away from breaking many unwanted records.
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 25, 2023
5) London Calling
If Brentford better Spurs’ result on the final day, they will be London’s second-best team this season. If Chelsea lose to Newcastle and West Ham beat Leicester while effecting that three-goal swing in GD then Chelsea will finish lowest of the seven top-flight London clubs.
6) Lucky Everton?
If Everton survive despite losing on the final day they will become officially the ‘worst’ team ever to avoid Premier League relegation, staying up with 33 points and breaking the previous record of 34 set by West Brom’s Great Escapists in 2004/05. Maths fans will already have noted that staying up with a draw would match West Brom’s achievement but rather pleasingly Everton’s goal difference of -24 is (and would thus remain) one better than the Baggies’ 2005 effort.
7) Toon Target
Victory over Chelsea on the final day would give Newcastle their second-highest ever 38-game Premier League season points total, and best since the inaugural 38-game season in 1995/96. Less importantly, if Newcastle beat Chelsea and Manchester United don’t beat Fulham then Newcastle will finish third.
8) Golden Boot
Erling Haaland probably just about has this one in the bag with an eight-goal lead over Harry Kane, but are you really willing to entirely rule out Kane scoring nine goals for Spurs in a 10-9 defeat at Leeds? Of course you aren’t.
Clearly, the chance remains for Haaland to extend his already record-breaking number of goals in a single Premier League season beyond its current 36 while a hat-trick against Brentford would be his fifth of the season, matching Alan Shearer’s single-season Premier League record.
But the more interesting numbers are really with some of the strikers trailing in Haaland’s wake, starting with that man and his remarkable, wasted season…
9) Harry Kane Records
Worra trophy etc. etc. but Kane needs two goals at Leeds to match his best ever Premier League scoring season of 30 goals in 2017/18. Remarkably, he also failed to win the Golden Boot that year as Mohamed Salah scored 32. Kane is already the only player to score 30 goals in a 38-game Premier League season and not win the Golden Boot; to do so twice would seem very Harry Kane and enormously Tottenham.
If Kane scores a hat-trick at Leeds and moves to 31 goals it will be his best ever Premier League goalscoring season and break his own record for most goals scored in a single 38-game Premier League season by a player not to win the Golden Boot. And it would also match Alan Shearer’s 31 goals when runner-up to Andy Cole (34) in the 42-game 1993/94 season.
Any Kane goal would also make it the 26th Premier League game he has scored in this season, extending his own record for a 38-game season set when scoring in a 25th game against Brentford last week.
10) Mohamed Salah Records
Salah needs a single goal in Liverpool’s final game of the season at Southampton to reach 20 goals for the fifth time in his six Premier League seasons at Anfield and avoid the ignominy of finishing on 19 and matching his ‘worst’ league season for the club.
11) Twenty-goal strikers
Callum Wilson needs two goals and Marcus Rashford three to reach 20 goals in a Premier League season for the first time in their respective careers.
James Maddison needs one assist to reach double figures for both Premier League goals and assists this season. Erling Haaland needs two assists and Martin Odegaard three assists to do likewise. Leandro Trossard would need two goals and Kevin De Bruyne three to bring up their own double-doubles. Among players currently short of double figures in both categories, Bryan Mbeumo and Pascal Gross are closest, both needing three assists and a goal on the final day.
13) Defence Case
Spurs can finish no lower than ninth despite conceding 62 goals going into the final day. They are already therefore assured of being the first Premier League team to secure a top-half finish despite conceding 60+ goals since Leicester finished ninth with exactly 60 conceded in 2017/18 (nobody else this season is in danger of emulating them). Spurs would have to concede five at Leeds to match 2016/17’s Bournemouth side who also finished ninth, but with 67 goals conceded (and also with only 46 points).
Spurs themselves finished 10th despite conceding 62 goals in 2002/03 but those are the only teams to achieve this feat we’ve pretty much just invented since the Premier League was reduced to 20 teams in 1995.
Talking of feats we’ve pretty much just invented, if Spurs avoid defeat by four or more goals at Leeds on Sunday they will break their own record for most goals ever conceded in a Premier League season by a team with a positive goal difference. Spurs ended the 2007/08 season at plus five after conceding 61 goals. (QPR and Norwich both had positive goal differences with 61 goals conceded in the 42-game 1993/94 season.)
14) Yellow Warning
Leeds are on track to repeat last year’s achievement of collecting the most yellow cards during the season but will have to go some on the final day to match their record-breaking 2021/22 tally of 101. They currently have 86 yellow cards, one more than Wolves, four more than Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest, and five more than Chelsea.
Wolves would need to pick up an unlikely but not entirely impossible three red cards on the final day to match the nine achieved by Sunderland in 2009/10 and QPR two years later.
15) Pass Masters
Manchester City’s 563rd pass of Sunday’s game against Brentford will be their 25,000th of the season. They should get there with a bit to spare – their current average is a tick over 660 passes per game.
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