What Chelsea need for European spot to ease Pochettino sack pressure

How many points Chelsea are likely to need for European spot and ease Pochettino sack pressure

When Mauricio Pochettino sat down with the Chelsea board to discuss this season’s objectives, there was said to be a lot of emphasis on qualifying for some form of European competition.

With 11 matches remaining for the Blues to play in the 2023/24 campaign, they currently sit way down in 11th-place. Usually, it is the top four in the Premier League that qualify for a place in the Champions League.

However, this time around, there is also the chance that a fifth-place finish would qualify for the Champions League, with the European competition expanding by four teams in the group phase from September. It is not a given, though, that any of these extra places will be awarded to English clubs. It is based on the record of a country’s clubs during this season in European competitions.

Things get even more complicated when it comes to the Europa League. Usually, fifth-place gets a spot in the Europa League and the same with sixth – as seen with Liverpool and Brighton in the 2022/23 season.

But if the FA Cup winners finish in the top five of the Premier League (or six if the top five clubs qualify for the Champions League), then their Europa League place will go the next highest-ranked team that have not qualified for a place in any form of European competition via the domestic league.

Seventh-place in the table usually gets a shot at the Conference League. The winner of the Carabao Cup also automatically qualifies for the Conference League. That was Liverpool this season, and it looks as if the Reds are a shoe-in to reach the Champions League for next term, so that becomes essentially redundant.

So with all of that said, Chelsea’s most likely route into European football as of now is either a seventh-place finish (or eighth if the Premier League get five Champions League places), that would see them qualify for the Conference League (most likely) or by winning the FA Cup, that would see them reach the Europa League next season. The Blues take on Leicester City in the FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday afternoon and should they progress against the Championship leaders at Stamford Bridge, they will book themselves another match at Wembley in the final four of the domestic competition.

But what about a place in the Conference League or Europa League via the Premier League? Well, last season, Aston Villa qualified for the Conference League with 61 points from their 38 matches. Chelsea, this season, have 39 points after 27 games.

That means, to reach that total, the Blues would have to pick up 22 points from their final 11 matches, averaging at two points per-match. In that 11-game period, Chelsea face some tough trips away to Arsenal, Brighton and Aston Villa, while also welcoming Manchester United and Tottenham to Stamford Bridge in the process.

Brighton, during the 2022/23 season, claimed the final Europa League spot by finishing in sixth-place. The Seagulls accumulated 62 points, just one more than Aston Villa, while Liverpool in fifth finished on 67.

As it stands, Chelsea are one point below Newcastle United (10th), two from Wolves (ninth), three off Brighton (eighth), four away from West Ham United (seventh), while being eight and 14 away from Man United and Spurs in sixth and fifth, respectively. Pochettino has not given up hope, he often reiterates there is still a lot to play for this season for the Blues.

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