Could Burnley really qualify for Europe?

Could Burnley really qualify for Europe?

The Clarets currently sit seventh with just eight Premier League games to play.

Chris Lincoln

With the international break complete and the Premier League entering the home straight, all eyes return to the domestic game with plenty of situations still waiting to be resolved in the final eight gameweeks...and one of those could result in Burnley heading for Europe.

Cup competitions favour the Clarets

Much like Claudio Ranieri when Leicester City won the Premier League, Sean Dyche has echoed the same message to the media throughout the season...Premier League safety is the main priority.

The Clarets still aren't mathematically safe but with a 15 point cushion and ten teams separating the Lancashire club from the drop zone, it would take a remarkable set of results to send Burnley tumbling back to the Championship.

In fact, results this season in other competitions have actually helped put the former relegation favourites into Europa League contention. The top four places in the Premier League are reserved for Champions League places, whilst Europa League qualifiers come from fifth place, the FA Cup winners and the Carabao Cup champions.

Yet Burnley are 13 points behind Chelsea in fifth - surely they can't overturn that deficit and leapfrog the title holders and Arsenal to finish in the top five? The beauty is, they don't have to.

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Cheering on Chelsea

With Pep Guardiola's rampant Man City side winning the Carabao Cup and already guaranteed a top five position, an extra Europa League place drops down to the team that finishes sixth in the Premier League. However, that still looks a tall order with Arsenal five points above Burnley and looking at a relatively straightforward run-in...although the two sides clash on the penultimate weekend of the season.

However, the FA Cup also looks set to do Burnley a favour despite losing in the Third Round against City back in January. With three of the four sides left in the competition looking set to finish in the top five of the league, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, success in the competition for one of those teams will open the door for the Premier League's seventh best side to qualify for the Europa League.

Southampton are the only side left in the FA Cup who can prevent that from happening but face a tough semi-final against Chelsea in three weeks time.

Leicester and Everton lead the chase

So, Burnley will now be looking over their shoulders as they attempt to maintain a position they have held for much of the season. Leicester City and Everton look their most realistic rivals with both sides three points behind, although Everton have played a game for.

The Clarets have eight fixtures remaining and half of those are against sides in the bottom half. However, they do face two tough fixtures against Chelsea and Arsenal during that period. A key date will be 14th April when Burnley host Leicester at Turf Moor.

Leicester face a quartet of sides desperately battling against relegation. Looking at the table, the Foxes will be hoping for at least ten points from those fixtures but playing teams scrapping for their lives at this stage of the season could spell danger. A trip to Wembley away to Spurs on the final day of the campaign will also be a challenge, particularly if the North London club are still looking to nail down their Champions League place.

Everton are the outsiders to sneak into the top seven but with three away games remaining after a dismal season on the road and fixtures against Man City and Liverpool still to come, they look unlikely to overhaul any of the teams above them.

Thus, Europa League qualification looks a real possibility for Burnley. Victory against Leicester on April 14th and defeat for Southampton against Chelsea in the FA Cup the weekend after won't guarantee anything but will certainly put the Clarets one step closer to the airport.