Who grabs the coveted Premier League seventh spot?
Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Everton, Watford and West Ham United would each consider the 2018/19 season successful if they can finish seventh in the Premier League. Javi Gracia's Hornets won't mind upsetting Manchester City in the FA Cup final either. For all five, however, best of the rest honours deliver a ticket into Europa League qualifying
While the average Premier League fan fixates on the top-six trials and tribulations, the truly dedicated reserve time for the fierce tussle waging just below the surface.
There are now four distinctive battles that take place in the Premier League:
- The battle for who wins the league usually winnows down to a one or two-horse race in April. This season it's City and Liverpool separated by two points and a game played.
- The battle for a top-four finish ensues between three or four of the remaining top six clubs. At the moment, three points separate Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea [with an extra game played] and Manchester United in that order. Unless the Blues or Gunners win the Europa League while finishing fifth or sixth, two from the quartet will miss out on Champions League football in 2019/20.
- The relegation battle excludes three clubs from partaking in the annual feast at the broadcast revenue table, sending them to sit like children at the Championship table. Unless Brighton doesn't pull out of their freefall, Cardiff will find making up the five-point deficit too taxing not to join Fulham and Huddersfield in the second tier.
- The 'best of the rest' sounds demeaning but the title comes with a shot at a Europa League if Manchester City can do the cup double at Wembley. If Watford pulls the upset, they will steal the thunder from their four rivals.
So, this may all be for nought, but operating on the assumption that City will defeat Watford in the FA Cup final, here's a look at the five rivals vying for a continental consolation prize.