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Wednesday Hoddle of Coffee, Soccer News and Notes, May 17, 2017

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The final day drama is set.

Liverpool v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Well: The only race of consequence for Championship Sunday is set: Liverpool v Arsenal for top four.

Here are the permutations:

  • Liverpool win: Liverpool finishes in top four
  • Liverpool draw, Arsenal win: Arsenal finishes in top four
  • Liverpool loss, Arsenal win: Arsenal finishes in top four
  • Liverpool loss by two goals, Arsenal draw with any scoreline 2-2 or higher: Arsenal are top four
  • Liverpool loss by two goals, Arsenal draw 0-0: Liverpool are top four
  • Liverpool loss by two goals, Arsenal draw 1-1: Liverpool and Arsenal in Champions League playoff match

Of course, one thing to keep in mind here is that for Liverpool to lose by two goals, Middlesbrough would have to, you know, score two goals. You know how many times they’ve managed that this year? Six times out of 37 matches. You know how many times they’ve done it in the 20 matches they’ve played since Boxing Day? Twice. (Fun fact: In their last 20 matches, Boro is 1-7-12 with 11 goals scored and 31 conceded.)

In other words: Any scenario involving Liverpool losing by two seems extremely unlikely. Given that, any scenario that involves Arsenal pipping them to fourth while drawing against Everton seems equally unlikely. The only way Arsenal realistically finishes fourth is with a Liverpool draw and a win against Everton.

One more wrinkle: Man City has not technically sealed top four yet. If Liverpool and Arsenal both won with Arsenal winning by five or more and City lost at Watford, then it would be the Citizens in fifth. That said, Arsenal beating Everton by five and Watford beating City seems unlikely, so the scenario above—City join Spurs and Chelsea in the group stage with Arsenal needing a Liverpool draw and a win of their own to make fourth—seems most likely to me.