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Chelsea are certain of place in Europe next season… but will it be the Champions League or the Europa League?

Ordinarily, the top four teams in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League, while the FA Cup winners, the Carabao Cup winners and the fifth-placed side in the top flight go into the Europa League.

However, a fifth English team will receive a Champions League lifeline if Chelsea or Arsenal win this year’s Europa League or Tottenham Hotspur win the Champions League while finishing outside the top four.

Since Manchester City lifted the Carabao Cup but are already assured of reaching the Champions League given their domestic position, the remainder of the top six will taste continental football in the Europa League.

Watford will also be fast-tracked to the Europa League if they can pip Man City to the FA Cup at Wembley next month – otherwise the final spot will go to whichever team finishes seventh in the Premier League.

If Chelsea are to qualify for the Champions League via the usual method, the simplest way would be to win our last three domestic fixtures to hold onto at least fourth place. That means beating Man United at Old Trafford today, Watford at Stamford Bridge the week after and Leicester City away on the final weekend.

The Blues can also stay in the top four so long as we outperform Arsenal and Manchester United over the rest of the run-in. We are a point above Arsenal who lost to Leicester earlier today. They have Brighton and Burnley still to play. As for Man United, if we win today, we will be almost certain to finish above them thanks to our higher goal difference, but if we lose, we would be left level on points with everything to play for over the last two rounds of matches, in which the Red Devils face Huddersfield and Cardiff City.

The Blues can also stay in the top four so long as we outperform Arsenal and Manchester United over the rest of the run-in. We are a point above Arsenal who lost to Leicester earlier today. They have Brighton and Burnley still to play. As for Man United, if we win today, we will be almost certain to finish above them thanks to our higher goal difference, but if we lose, we would be left level on points with everything to play for over the last two rounds of matches, in which the Red Devils face Huddersfield and Cardiff City.

There’s also a chance Chelsea could qualify by finishing ahead of only one of our two closest rivals in the league – if third-placed Spurs collapse at the end of the domestic campaign, dropping more in their remaining games against Bournemouth and Everton having lost to West Ham yesterday.

(A warning, though: if Spurs finish fifth but clinch the Champions League, and Arsenal finish sixth but triumph in the Europa League, the remarkable quirk would leave only the domestic top three with a place in Europe’s elite, so Chelsea or Man United could come fourth but miss out.)

If Chelsea fail to qualify through our league position, our only other route into the Champions League would be by winning this year’s Europa League. First things first, we have a semi-final tie with Eintracht Frankfurt starting on Thursday, followed by a showdown with Arsenal or Valencia in the final in Azerbaijan on 29 May.

The key thing to remember is that as far as qualification for next season’s Champions League is concerned, there are no runners-up prizes in the European cups – and unlike the domestic cups, only the team that actually wins the trophy can ever benefit from an additional European slot.

If Chelsea miss out on the Champions League altogether, we would be guaranteed a return to the Europa League. Unlike for the Champions League, where any English team that qualifies goes straight into the group stage, we would have to finish fifth to avoid the second qualifying round.

That said, provided that Man City win the FA Cup, sixth-place in the league would also be sufficient to escape having to begin our European campaign at the end of July.

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