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Premier League run-in: Europa League places up for grabs

The Premier League run-in is here and the business end of the season will provide plenty of drama, as always, as the countdown to the final day on May 23 is on.

[ MORE: Premier League run-in: What’s the latest in the top-four battle? ]

So, what is left to play for? Who needs what? Which teams will be scrapping away in the final seven games of the season?

Our weekly series, the run-in, keeps you fully up to date on all of the different battles going on up and down the Premier League.

Below we focus on the all-important race for the top four and UEFA Champions League qualification, which is more interesting that it has been for the last decade, and perhaps longer.

Premier League top-six (or -seven) battle: The run-in analysis

It seems increasingly likely that two of Leicester City, West Ham United, Chelsea and Liverpool will miss out on the Champions League and begrudgingly settle for the Europa League in the fall.

The Foxes looked like 2nd-place contenders for much of the season; now, they’re crippled by injuries, have just two wins from their last six Premier League games and are on the brink of blowing a top-four return for the second season running.

While West Ham would be disappointed to finish somewhere between 5th and 7th given the excitement and joy they’ve experienced this season, even Europa League qualification would have been a pipe dream before the season began.

And then there’s Chelsea and Liverpool, who currently sit 5th and 6th, respectively, but are playing the best of any of the aforementioned contenders. For any of those four sides to miss the top-six, something drastic will have to occur over the final six weeks of the season.

An important wrench to remember, lest it wind up between the gears powering the part of your brain which recalls the technical details which frequently the places for European qualification: If a club which finishes in the top-six also wins the FA Cup to effectively double-qualify (that could be any one of Manchester City, Chelsea or Leicester), England’s final Europa League place will be awarded to the 6th-place finisher.

If Tottenham win the League Cup and finish 8th or lower, they will claim European place no. 7 and represent England in the soon-to-debut (next season) Europa Conference League. If Manchester City win the League Cup final on April 25, the Europa Conference League place will go to the 7th-place finisher. Therefore, 8th-place Everton might currently be one point off the European places, or they could be four — the truth will be revealed a week from Sunday.

Leicester City
Current position: 3rd
Games played: 31
Current points: 56
Goal difference: +18
Remaining schedule: West Brom (H), Crystal Palace (H), Southampton (A), Newcastle (H), Manchester United (A), Chelsea (A), Tottenham (H)

West Ham United
Current position: 4th
Games played: 31
Current points: 55
Goal difference: +12
Remaining schedule: Newcastle (A), Chelsea (H), Burnley (A), Everton (H), Brighton (A), West Brom (A), Southampton (H)

Current position: 5th
Games played: 31
Current points: 54
Goal difference: +19
Remaining schedule: Brighton (H), West Ham (A), Fulham (H), Man City (A), Arsenal (H), Leicester (H), Aston Villa (A

Current position: 6th
Games played: 31
Current points: 52
Goal difference: +16
Remaining schedule: Leeds (A), Newcastle (H), Man United (A), Southampton (H), West Brom (A), Burnley (A), Crystal Palace (H)

Tottenham Hotspur
Current position: 7th
Games played: 31
Current points: 49
Goal difference: +17
Remaining schedule: Everton (A), Southampton (H), Sheffield United (H), Leeds (A), Wolves (H), Aston Villa (H), Leicester (A)

Current position: 8th
Games played: 30
Current points: 48
Goal difference: +3
Remaining schedule: Tottenham (H), Arsenal (A), Aston Villa (H), West Ham (A), Sheffield United (H), Wolves (H), Man City (A)

Current position: 9th
Games played: 31
Current points: 45
Goal difference: +8
Remaining schedule: Fulham (H), Everton (H), Newcastle (A), West Brom (H), Chelsea (A), Crystal Palace (A), Brighton (H)

Current position: 10th
Games played: 31
Current points: 45
Goal difference: 0
Remaining schedule: Tottenham (H), Arsenal (A), Aston Villa (H), West Ham (A), Sheffield United (H), Wolves (H), Manchester City (A)

Aston Villa
Current position: 11th
Games played: 30
Current points: 44
Goal difference: +10
Remaining schedule: Manchester City (H), West Brom (H), Everton (A), Manchester United (H), Crystal Palace (A), Tottenham (H), Chelsea (A)

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