Saturday 18 May 2013

What Chance A Premiership Playoff Game At Villa Park?

Arsenal and Chelsea go into the final Sunday of the Premiership season with the prize of automatic qualification for the next year's Champions League still to be decided. Chelsea hold their fate in their own hands and victory at home to Everton will render Arsenal's result away at already safe Newcastle an irrelevance.

However, with final placings decided firstly on points gained, then on goal difference and finally on goals scored, there is a possibility that Chelsea and Arsenal could end up stalemated for third place.

Chelsea Result. Arsenal Result. Chance Of Both Occurring.
0-0 2-1 1 in 120
1-1 3-2 1 in 450
2-2 4-3 1 in 14,000
3-3 5-4 1 in 1,600,000
4-4 6-5 1 in 500,000,000

The Premier League have taken the possibility of Arsenal and Chelsea ending up level under all three tiebreakers so seriously that they have provisionally scheduled a playoff game to be played at Villa Park on May the 26th. Above I've listed the combinations of results that will trigger Villa Park to prepare for their biggest game of the season. Of the relevant scores, Arsenal winning 2-1 is their most likely outcome and Chelsea being held to a 1-1 draw has the highest probability of occurring for them.

Fortunately for the fate of Chelsea's American tour, which straddles the chosen date for the playoff, these two most likely individual outcomes don't pair up. A goalless game at Stamford Bridge and a 2-1 win for Arsenal away at Newcastle is the most likely combination and the cumulative chances of a 39th game for both sides comes in at around 1 chance in 90.

Stranger things have happened on the final day of the Premiership season. But for those contemplating a much more outlandish finale to the campaign, a 6-6 draw for Spurs coupled with a 15-0 defeat of Arsenal by Newcastle would result in a playoff between those two sides for the final Champions League spot. The 6-6 draw alone carries around a once in 18,000,000 chance.

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