Aston Villa’s Villa Park has been selected as the venue for the Premier League third-place playoff match, if the game will be necessary after Sunday to determine which team will finish third in the league this season.
If after Sunday’s Premier League matches Chelsea and Arsenal find themselves level on points, goal difference and goals scored in the Premier League table, a third-place playoff match – the first time in the history of the Premier League – will be necessary. The game would be played on Sunday, May 26 and, for viewers in the United States, would presumably be shown live on FOX Soccer.
Chelsea currently sit two points ahead of Arsenal in the league table. In order to necessitate a third-place playoff, Chelsea would have to draw against Everton on Sunday and Arsenal would have to defeat Newcastle United by a single goal while scoring two more than Chelsea.
For example, if Chelsea draw Everton nil-nil, Arsenal must win 2-1. If Chelsea draw 1-1, Arsenal must win 3-2, and so on.
The reason that there’s such an emphasis placed on third place versus third place in the Premier League is because, while both teams qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the fourth place team has to play in the qualification round in the summer, while the top three teams in the Premier League enter at the group stage, typically in September.
“The Premier League has consulted with the two clubs throughout the process of planning for this potential match with all parties in agreement that, should it be required, it should take place as soon as possible after the end of the season,” said a statement on the league website. “Discussions with London-based stadia did take place as part of that process but limited availability and calendar restrictions, combined with the desire to use a large capacity ground that has experience in organizing and delivering neutral matches, rendered Villa Park the most suitable choice.”
The question of a third-place playoff match could be rendered meaningless if Tottenham Hotspur pip Arsenal to fourth place. That would happen if Arsenal draws or loses against Newcastle United, and Tottenham beats Sunderland at White Hart Lane.