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Arteta to Arsenal too much of a leap

Arsenal
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ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Premier League: What is still at stake in the 2017-18 season?

Manchester City have wrapped up the Premier League title with a month to spare. It's the first thing to be decided this season, but there's still lots to play for in the remaining weeks. Here, we take a look at the outstanding issues.

*Denotes has played one game more

Champions League places

Who qualifies: Positions 1-4 (group stage)
Who's in already: Manchester City
Who's still in contention: Manchester United (74), Liverpool* (71), Tottenham Hotspur (68), Chelsea (63)

A change to the Champions League access rules next season means the top four teams in the Premier League will go straight into the group stage. No longer does the fourth-placed team have to negotiate a qualifying playoff.

United and Liverpool have a huge advantage over Chelsea, who can get a maximum of 75 points from their remaining four games.

But after Tottenham and Liverpool dropped points over the past week, coupled with Chelsea's win at Burnley, Antonio Conte's men can't be ruled out. Maybe, just maybe, the Blues have a sniff of overtaking one of their rivals. Chelsea have to face Liverpool, too, so the Reds better not get too complacent in the league with their Champions League semifinal against Roma.

United need just two points from their remaining games to be assured of Champions League football after their win at Bournemouth.

Arsenal (57) are still mathematically in contention, but it's no more than that. However, the Gunners could slip in through the backdoor if they win the Europa League, although they must get past favourites Atletico Madrid in the semifinals first. If Arsenal do win the Europa League, then England would have five teams in the Champions League and two in the Europa, just as with this season after Manchester United's success last year.

If Arsenal and Liverpool win the European titles, and finish 5th and 6th, then fourth in the Premier League would only qualify for the Europa League as an association can have a maxiumum of five teams in the Champions League (1-3 plus European title holders).

Europa League places

Who qualifies: 5th and 6th place, group stage; 7th place, second qualifying round
Who's still in contention: Chelsea (63), Arsenal (57), Burnley* (53), Leicester (44)

With Man City winning the Carabao Cup and the winners of the FA Cup (Chelsea or Manchester United) guaranteed to finish top six, it means that fifth and sixth place will enter in the group stage and seventh in the second qualifying round.

Chelsea are odds-on to take an automatic place in the group stage (if they do not catch the top four) by finishing fifth, and with Burnley failing to win either of their last two games it looks certain they will now finish seventh.

Arsenal have four-point lead, a game in hand and a big goal difference advantage too, but they are the only club not to pick up a single point away from home in 2018. The two teams meet at the Emirates on the penultimate weekend.

Remaining games:
Arsenal: Man United, Burnley, Leicester, Huddersfield
Burnley: Brighton, Arsenal, Bournemouth

No one will want to be thrown in at the qualifying stage, however, as a change in rules for next season means a Premier League team will start out a round earlier. And that means a European campaign beginning on July 26 -- 11 days after the World Cup final. That seems to be, though, where Burnley will start only their second-ever European campaign. They reached the quarterfinals of the European Cup in 1960-61 (although did also compete in the 1966-67 Fairs Cup).

Leicester are the only team with any kind of outside chance of snatching seventh with an amazing run of form, but their failure to beat Southampton makes it very unlikely -- although they do have a game in hand (against Arsenal).

Relegation

Who goes down: Positions 18-20
Who's still in contention: West Brom* (25), Stoke* (29), Southampton (29), Swansea (33), Huddersfield (35), West Ham (35), Crystal Palace* (35), Brighton (36)
Just about safe: Watford* (38), Bournemouth* (38)

West Brom continue to cling on but need a miracle, eight points behind fourth-bottom Swansea with only nine to play for. And it's starting to look like two from three now to join them in the Championship.

Stoke's failure to hold on to their 1-0 lead at West Ham on Monday and Burnley on Sunday, drawing both games 1-1, means they are now four points adrift with three games left and by far the worst goal difference in the division, plus they have not won since Paul Lambert's first game in charge on Jan. 20. The Potters go to Liverpool in their next game, but will cling to the fact they finish up against relegation rivals Crystal Palace and Swansea.

Southampton are only marginally better off after failing to make their most of their game in hand by drawing 0-0 with Leicester on Thursday, so are now four points adrift with only four games to go. Upcoming fixtures against Bournemouth, Everton and Swansea should be viewed as winnable, but they won't want to be needing points on the final day when they host champions Manchester City.

The five teams directly outside the drop zone will probably feel 38 points will see them safe. Swansea have Chelsea up next before facing Bournemouth. But they have two absolutely titanic home games to finish against the teams direct below them: Southampton (home) and Stoke (away). Their fate is very much in their own hands against the teams in 18th and 19th -- be that for a positive outcome or negative.

Palace have a very favourable run-in, with Watford, Leicester, Stoke and West Brom to play.

The same cannot be said of the remaining three teams, who have very difficult run-ins -- but with 35/36 points they might already be safe.

Stoke: Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Swansea.
Southampton: Bournemouth, Everton, Swansea, Man City.
Swansea: Chelsea, Bournemouth, Southampton, Stoke.
Huddersfield: Everton, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal.
West Ham: Man City, Leicester, Man United, Everton.
Crystal Palace: Watford, Leicester, Stoke, West Brom.
Brighton: Burnley, Man United, Man City, Liverpool 

Championship promotion

Who goes up: Position 1-2, plus one of 3-6 via playoffs
Who's already up: Wolverhampton Wanderers (98)
Who's battling for second: Cardiff (86), Fulham (85), Aston Villa (82)
Who else can make the playoffs: Middlesbrough (72), Millwall (69), Derby (68), Brentford (68), Preston (67), Bristol City (66), Sheffield United (66)

Wolves have won promotion back to the Premier League at a canter, while Cardiff are in pole position for second having a one-point advantage over Fulham with a game in hand. Villa only have an outside chance of automatic promotion.

Middlesbrough look set to take one of the playoff places, and it's then an almighty scramble for the one remaining playoff place, with just three points separating six teams -- though Derby do have a game in hand, and that's at home to Cardiff.

Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 18 years. You can follow him on Twitter @dalejohnsonESPN.

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