Burnley can dream of European nights if results go the Clarets way. The Clarets can go from relegation favorite to the Europa League.
Several football journalists picked Burnley as one of the clubs to be relegated prior to the 2017/2018 season. Due to the Clarets lack of success in the top flight there was no reason to expect greatness from Sean Dyche’s men. However, Burnley has defied the odds and find themselves in 7th place, dreaming of European nights at Turf Moor. Burnley have a couple of paths to European qualification and only 6 matches remaining.
Top 5 Finish
Burnley can guarantee Europa League qualification by finishing 5th in the Premier League. The Clarets need to overtake Arsenal and Chelsea to qualify for the group stage. Due to Burnley having matches remaining against both clubs the Clarets could pick up points. Furthermore, both Arsenal and Chelsea have struggled recently, particularly the Blues. Burnley only trail Arsenal by 5 points.
The Clarets cannot forget about Leicester City. The Foxes trail Burnley by 6 points and the two sides square off next Saturday. The match is crucial for both clubs and will go a long way in deciding who qualifies for the Europa League. Seems like if Burnley defeats Leicester the 9 point gap will be too much for the Foxes to overcome. Furthermore, Leicester must still face Arsenal and white-hot Tottenham Hotspur.
Southampton doesn’t win the FA Cup
Southampton lifting the FA Cup could spell trouble for Burnley. I’ll admit, it’s highly unlikely the Saints will defeat Chelsea and go on to beat United or Spurs in the Final. However, you cannot underestimate the magic of the FA Cup. Southampton are struggling to stay in the Premier League and hope to not join Wigan Athletic as the only FA Cup winners to be relegated.
The FA Cup winner will likely come from the semi-final between Manchester United and Spurs. However, if Chelsea continue their poor run of league form and yet somehow win the FA Cup the Blues would qualify for the group stage. With City winning the Carabao Cup another Europa League spot is available as the Citizens will qualify for the Champions League whenever they wrap up the Premier League title.
The Premier League typically sends three clubs to the Europa League. At this point of the season it appears that Arsenal, Chelsea, and Burnley are headed to the Europa League. Southampton and Leicester City stand in Burnley’s path to Europe. While winning the FA Cup may be a nice parting gift for the Saints it’s not a likely outcome. However, if Leicester defeat Burnley on Saturday it will be a fight until the last day of the season for the final Europa League place.
Sean Dyche has done an amazing job transforming Burnley. Gone are the days of the Clarets fighting to remain in the Premier League. Instead, this gritty Burnley side are knocking on the door of Europe. I predict Burnley’s European dreams will become reality when the Clarets are competing in the 2018/2019 Europa League.