EPL : The Race Is On For European Football Next Season

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EPL : The Race Is On For European Football Next Season
Michael Steele/Getty Images

This week see the re-commencement of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League competitions. Midweek European club football is back!

The riches and lucrative returns that both these competitions bring, but more so, for the Champions League is what all Premier League clubs aspire to. But there are some that can realistically challenge for the finishing spots that bring European football to their clubs, and there are those that can only dream of it.

As we all know by know, a top four finish brings with it Champions League football; automatically for the top three places and the fourth going through the qualifiers.

The fifth placed team qualifies for the Europa League automatically. And if the both the FA Cup and Carling Cup are won by a team that has automatically qualified for a European competition due to its league finish, then the sixth and seventh teams qualify for the competition too.

It is most likely, as has been the case in most years, that the FA Cup will be won this season by a team that will secure its place in Europe by its league table finish; the exception was Portsmouth in 2008.

The Carling Cup has an interesting twist this season, as the final will be contested between Arsenal and Birmingham City. If Birmingham win, then they will take one of the places in the Europa League, as it is unlikely they will qualify for Europe by their league finish.

So those teams challenging for a Europa League spot will more than likely be rooting for a Gunners, victory which would leave a seventh place finish enough to secure a Europa League place.

This season has seen, probably, one of the most openly contested Premier League title races in many a season. With the exception of Manchester United, all the other title chasers have dropped points along the way.

So with potentially seven European places up for grabs, who are the main contenders come the end of the season to be looking forward to European football next season?

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