Even after a lengthy Premier League season, teams can still be tied in the standings. As Manchester City and Liverpool battle for the EPL title, there is a chance they could tie in the table. This could happen if Man. City loses to Brighton, while Liverpool tied the Wolves.
Even if the teams had the same number of points in the standings, Man. City would still get the edge based on the tiebreaker in most scenarios. The Premier League detailed how goal differential then goals scored are used as the tiebreaker.
If any clubs finish with the same number of points, their position in the Premier League table is determined by goal difference, then the number of goals scored. If the teams still cannot be separated, they will be awarded the same position in the table.
Man. City & Liverpool Are Unlikely to End in a Playoff Even If They Are Tied in the Standings
Heading into the final day of play, Man. City has a four-point lead over Liverpool in both the goal difference and goals scored. If two teams remained tied after these tiebreakers, a playoff would be forced. Soccer writer Matt Le Tissier detailed one such scenario.
“So if Liverpool draw 4-4 with wolves and Man City lose 4-0 to Brighton we’ve got ourselves a play off #exciting,” Matt Le Tissier tweeted.
The tiebreakers work the same way throughout the table as goal difference is the first tiebreaker to determine the final finishing order in the standings. If the two teams are still tied after goal differential, it moves on to goals scored. Goal.com detailed how the goal difference tiebreaker is determined.
Goal difference is counted as the number of goals scored by a team in all league matches across the season, minus the number of goals conceded – for instance, if a team were to score four goals but concede two across two matches, their goal difference would be +2. A negative goal difference occurs when a team concedes more goals than they have scored, like if they conceded three but managed to score one goal (giving them a goal difference of -2).
The usage of goal difference as a tie-breaker was first introduced at the 1970 World Cup, and then used by the English Football League in 1975. Since then, the majority of European football leagues as well as tournaments around the world use goal difference to determine ranking – though other competitions may favour the “head-to-head” record or other variations as a priority tie-breaker.
The bottom three teams in the EPL standings are relegated after each season. This year, the three relegated teams have already been determined: Cardiff City, Fulham and Huddersfield Town.