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This craziest of football seasons is finally drawing to a close, with the FA Cup final being played on Saturday evening as one of the last fixtures of the campaign.
And it’s an all-London affair at Wembley as Arsenal and Chelsea have traversed through all the previous rounds to book their place in the showpiece encounter.
The semi-finals were played only a couple of weeks ago with the Gunners overcoming Manchester City 2-0 before Chelsea made light work of Manchester United to triumph 3-1.
The 2020 final will be Chelsea’s first appearance in two years – when they won their eighth FA Cup by beating Man United – and Arsenal are back at Wembley three years after their most recent showing, with that 2017 clash just happening to be against the Blues.
But there is much more on the line in this FA Cup final than just the iconic silverware.
In fact, two other Premier League teams will be watching with a keen interest as the outcome directly affects them heading into the 2020/21 season.
Those two clubs are Tottenham and Wolves, who are relying on Chelsea to win at Wembley to improve their European fortunes for the upcoming campaign.
Spurs have already booked their place in next season’s Europa League by finishing sixth in the Premier League, but a Chelsea victory in the FA Cup final guarantees they go straight into the group stage, rather than entering at the second qualifying round.
Wolves, on the other hand, will only qualify for the Europa League if Chelsea win, as the Blues are already assured of Champions League football by finishing fourth in the Premier League, which means the European qualifier spot reserved for the FA Cup winners instead passes to the team who finished sixth in the top-flight.
This means Spurs would get the FA Cup winners’ qualifying place (Europa League group stage) as they finished sixth, while Wolves would enter the Europa League at the second qualifying round due to finishing seventh in the Premier League.
Arsenal finished three points behind Wolves in eighth, which means they are – at this moment in time – not qualified for European football next season.
But reaching the FA Cup final has given the Gunners of a Europa League lifeline, as beating Chelsea in Saturday’s Wembley showpiece means they will claim the European qualifier spot reserved for the FA Cup winners.
This would result in them entering next season’s Europa League directly at the group stage, and condemn Spurs to playing in the second qualifying round which is due to begin in mid-September.
Wolves would be the big losers, however, as an Arsenal victory would deny them European football altogether – although they are still playing in this season’s Europa League and triumphing in that competition would see them qualify for next term’s Champions League as Europa League victors.
Should Arsenal win the FA Cup and Wolves win the Europa League, there will be as many as eight Premier League teams in European competition next term.
talkSPORT will bring you full commentary of Saturday’s FA Cup final, with coverage starting at 2pm as we broadcast LIVE from Wembley Way with a host of big-name guests to preview the showpiece fixture!
Arsenal vs Chelsea
World news – ZA – Arsenal vs Chelsea: Gunners must claim FA Cup glory to make Europa League, but Wolves and Tottenham are hoping for Blues victory