PL title permutations: How goal difference could come into play


Man City go into the final day of the season with the Premier League title in their hands but Arsenal can still stop them – and you can watch it all unfold live on Sky Sports.

Pep Guardiola’s side went two points clear at the top of the table with a 2-0 win at Tottenham on Tuesday, meaning the champions are just one match from claiming a record fourth successive Premier League title.

City host West Ham on Sunday – the final day of the season – knowing a win will secure the trophy once again.

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Highlights from Tottenham’s match against Manchester City in the Premier League

However, Arsenal still have hope of pipping City on the final day, when Mikel Arteta’s side host Everton.

So what do each side need to do to get their hands on the Premier League trophy next weekend – and could the title really be decided by goal difference?

What do Man City need to win the title?

City simply need to beat West Ham at the Etihad on Sunday to guarantee becoming the first team in English football history to win four successive top-flight titles.

However, if Arsenal fail to beat Everton at home in their last game, City will win the title regardless of their result against David Moyes’ side.

And there is even the possibility of the title being decided by goal difference if both sides end the campaign level on points!

The team in control on the final day has always gone on to win the title during the Premier League era
Image:
The team in control on the final day has always gone on to win the title during the Premier League era

What do Arsenal need to win the title?

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Leandro Trossard’s strike sunk Manchester United and returned Arsenal to the top of the Premier League last weekend

Arsenal need to beat Everton on the final day and hope City do not beat West Ham.

Anything other than a win for Mikel Arteta’s side will hand the title to his former employers.

How goal difference could come into play

As discussed, this season’s epic title race could still finish with both Arsenal and City level on points.

For that scenario to unfold, Arsenal must beat Everton, while City have to draw with West Ham.

Has the Premier League title ever been decided on goal difference?

Remember Agueroooooo?! How could you forget?! Manchester City edged Manchester United to the 2011/12 Premier League crown on goal difference after Sergio Aguero’s 94th-minute winner against QPR ensured they both finished level on 89 points.

Arsenal’s goal difference is currently one better than City’s, meaning they will win the title if the sides finish level on points.

What does the supercomputer say?

City’s title chances jumped 25 per cent, up to 84 per cent, after their win at Tottenham and Arsenal’s chances tumbled by the same amount, to 16 per cent, according to Opta.

However, there remains a 25 per cent chance Guardiola’s side will drop points against West Ham on the final day.

If that happens, the Gunners would win the Premier League title for the first time in 20 years if they beat Everton – and there’s a 62 per cent chance they will do exactly that.

Could we get a Premier League title play-off decider?

In short – no.

If City and Arsenal end up level on points after 38 games, then the side with the superior goal difference will be crowned champions.

The Premier League handbook rule on play-offs

C.17.3. if two Clubs cannot be separated by operation of Rule C.17.1 or C.17.2, a
play-off on a neutral ground, the format, timing and venue of which shall be
determined by the Board.

If they are tied on goal difference, it will come down to goals scored and then results between the two.

However, City would have to draw with West Ham for the sides to finish level on goal difference. Given their goal difference is inferior to Arsenal’s and they would not be able to improve it if they drew on the final day, a play-off is not a possibility.

How teams are separated if they finish on the same points

  • Goal difference
  • Goals scored
  • Head-to-head record
  • Most away goals in head-to-head meetings
  • Play-off at a neutral venue

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