All the possible ups and downs ahead of a decisive weekend

Man City can seal the Premier League title if fallen champions Liverpool do them a favour and beat rivals United, Sheffield Wednesday could be doomed and Bolton are seeking to bounce back… all the possible ups and downs ahead of a decisive weekend

  • Manchester City can secure the Premier League title this weekend if they beat Crystal Palace and Liverpool win at challengers Manchester United
  • The shake-up for the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League remains uncertain with many different permutations
  • Fulham and West Brom have it all to do to avoid relegation from the top-flight 
  • The promotion and play-off picture in the Championship is already sewn up
  • Wycombe and Sheffield Wednesday could be relegated into League One 
  • Hull and Cheltenham are already promoted and others could join this weekend 

An extraordinary football season is fast reaching its finale with the time now pressing to decide matters such as titles, promotion, play-offs and relegation.

This weekend sees another packed schedule in England’s top five divisions and there promises to be plenty of joy and despair, ups and downs.

Sportsmail does all the calculations and permutations so you don’t have to.

PREMIER LEAGUE

The title

Manchester City have a 10-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the table with just five rounds of fixtures left to complete.

Pep Guardiola’s team can secure what would be a third league title in four seasons this weekend.

City will need to win their match at Crystal Palace on Saturday lunchtime and then hope United lose at home to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.

That would leave City 13 points ahead with just 12 more available and see them over the line.

But they only need six points from here to wrap things up anyway and if it doesn’t happen this weekend, City can win it at home to Chelsea next Saturday.

Manchester City could be crowned Premier League champions this weekend if they beat Crystal Palace and closest challengers Manchester United lose to Liverpool

Rivals Manchester United and Liverpool are set to play each other at Old Trafford on Sunday

The situation in the race for the European places at the top end of the Premier League

Champions League places

The Premier League’s top four teams will qualify for next season’s Champions League as it stands.

At the moment, Manchester City, Manchester United and Leicester City are the top three and on course to make Europe’s elite competition.

Chelsea currently occupy fourth spot but West Ham, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton are all in eager pursuit with six points splitting fourth from eighth.

However, there is a scenario where finishing fourth isn’t enough to make the Champions League.

Chelsea could yet win this season’s Champions League and also finish in the top four

The winners of this season’s Champions League and Europa League automatically qualify for the group stages of next season’s Champions League.

But England is only allowed a maximum of five teams in Europe’s top competition.

So if Chelsea win the Champions League and Arsenal win the Europa League – and both finish outside the top four in the Premier League – then only the top three will join them in next season’s Champions League.

Europa League places

There are fewer Europa League qualification places in the Premier League this time because of the new Europa Conference League competition that is starting next season.

So the winner of the FA Cup (either Chelsea or Leicester) and the team that comes fifth in the Premier League will go into the Europa League.

Leicester City will be desperate to finish third and make absolutely sure of a Champions League place given the scenario in which fourth may not be enough

But the FA Cup place will pass on to the sixth-placed finisher if Chelsea and Leicester qualify for Europe by virtue of their league finish.

In the scenario described above that Chelsea win the Champions League and Arsenal the Europa League – but both finish fifth or lower – then the side that finishes fourth will also be in the Europa.

Europa Conference League places

This will be UEFA’s new third-tier competition, ranking below the Europa League.

The place was meant to go to the winners of the Carabao Cup. But since Man City are set for the Champions League, it will instead go to the highest-ranked Premier League team that hasn’t already qualified for Europe.

As things stand, seventh-placed Tottenham would be starting off in the Conference League’s play-off round.

Tottenham could face the prospect of playing in the Europa Conference League next season

Relegation

Sheffield United’s relegation from the Premier League was confirmed with six games left to play when they lost 1-0 at Wolves on April 17.

Fulham and West Bromwich Albion occupy the other two relegation places and though they won’t go down this weekend, they realistically do need to pick up three points.

Fulham make the short trip to Chelsea on Saturday evening and will be watching the 3pm game eagerly as they seek to close the current seven-point deficit to Brighton in 17th. The Seagulls host Leeds United at the Amex Stadium.

The Baggies, who must make up nine points on Brighton, have a local derby with Wolves on Monday night.

Newcastle, Southampton and Burnley are not yet mathematically safe.

Fulham desperately need to get something from their game at Chelsea on Saturday

Sheffield United are already down with Fulham and West Brom likely to join them

CHAMPIONSHIP

Promotion race

Unlike the drama of last season, the race to the Premier League from the Championship has become a bit of an anti-climax as we reach the penultimate round of games.

Norwich City and Watford are assured of automatic promotion. Norwich were promoted before they’d even played on April 17 after both Swansea and Brentford dropped points and Daniel Farke’s side need just two points from their last two games to seal the title.

Watford joined them last weekend after a 1-0 home win over Millwall, ensuring they also returned to the top-flight at the first time of asking.

Norwich’s Teemu Pukki (left) and Todd Cantwell celebrate their Premier League promotion

Watford manager Xisco Munoz is lifted in the air following their return to the top-flight

Play-off positions

This has also been settled, with Brentford, Bournemouth, Swansea City and Barnsley set to fight it out for the third ticket to the Premier League.

The final two rounds of games will decide who plays who in the semi-finals with third facing sixth and fourth facing fifth with the higher ranked team at home in the second leg.

Norwich can secure the Championship title this weekend with the play-offs already confirmed

Relegation

The bottom three go down to League One and both Wycombe and Sheffield Wednesday could be doomed this weekend.

24th-placed Wycombe are six points adrift of Derby County in 21st with two games left and must make up a 13-goal swing in goal difference to survive. They host Bournemouth on Saturday.

Wednesday, a place above them, have four points to bridge and will be down if they lose at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday lunchtime.

Sheffield Wednesday could see their relegation to League One confirmed this weekend

Rotherham fill the final relegation place but had their destiny removed from their own hands after losing 1-0 at Brentford on Tuesday.

The Millers are four points behind Derby and still have a game in hand, at Luton on Tuesday next week, but they’re in terrible form having lost five on the spin.

However, if Rotherham get something at home to Blackburn on Saturday and Wayne Rooney’s Rams lose at Swansea, then we’ll be in for an interesting finale.

Wayne Rooney’s Derby side aren’t clear of relegation danger yet in the Championship

Wycombe and Sheffield Wednesday could see their relegation fate sealed on Saturday

LEAGUE ONE

Promotion race

Hull City are returning to the Championship in one of the two automatic promotion places. They secured it with a 2-1 win at Lincoln City last weekend and will clinch the title if they better Peterborough’s result on Saturday.

Second-placed Posh will join them if they avoid defeat at home to third-placed Lincoln on Saturday.

It’s a tall order for the Imps to catch them – they’re eight points behind with only nine left to play for (Lincoln have a game in hand at Charlton in midweek) – and so can’t put a foot wrong.

Hull City secured their promotion to the Championship with a win over Lincoln last weekend

Peterborough United can wrap up their elevation into the second tier this weekend

Play-offs

Lincoln, Sunderland, Blackpool and Portsmouth currently occupy the four play-off positions but Oxford and Charlton haven’t yet given up on sneaking in.

Portsmouth in sixth are only a point ahead of Oxford and two ahead of Charlton, who have that game in hand, so it’s far from settled.

Hull City have secured promotion but otherwise it’s all to play for at the top of League One

Relegation

The bottom four teams drop into League Two. Bristol Rovers went down following a 1-0 loss at Portsmouth on April 24 and Swindon joined them later the same day after a 5-0 thrashing by MK Dons.

The fate of Rochdale and Northampton Town could be sealed on Saturday with both needing to make up four points to Wigan Athletic outside the drop zone.

Bristol Rovers and Swindon’s relegation has already been confirmed from League One

LEAGUE TWO

Promotion race

Cheltenham Town secured automatic promotion to League One following their 1-1 draw against Carlisle United in midweek.

They will clinch the title if they win at Newport County on Saturday and other results go in their favour.

Cambridge United and Bolton will be promoted with them if they beat Harrogate Town and Exeter City respectively over the weekend.

Morecambe in fourth and Tranmere in fifth are both four points behind Bolton and can still mathematically pip them to promotion.

Cheltenham Town secured promotion from League Two to League One in midweek

Bolton Wanderers can join them in winning promotion with the right result against Exeter

Play-offs

More likely, that pair will be part of the play-offs, with Newport and Salford City currently the other two extending their season.

However, Forest Green Rovers and Exeter could still break into the top seven. Forest Green, who host Tranmere on Saturday, have a point to make up on Salford, who head to Colchester United.

Cheltenham Town are up to League One with other slots set to be decided this weekend

Relegation

Grimsby Town were relegated to the National League after a 3-2 defeat at Exeter City on Tuesday night.

It looks like Southend United will be joining them unless they benefit from an improbable combination of results.

The Shrimpers need to beat Barrow and Newport in their two remaining games, hope one of either Colchester or Scunthorpe lose both of theirs and overcome a goal difference deficit of eight into the bargain.

Grimsby Town suffered relegation to the National League on Tuesday evening

Grimsby Town’s relegation has been confirmed and Southend are likely to join them

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Promotion

The National League ends on May 29 so has some way to run yet but we’re set for a thrilling promotion race.

As it stands, Torquay United lead the way by a point from Sutton United with Hartlepool United a further two points back.

One team goes up automatically with the next six in the play-offs.




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