Arsenal’s form in April looks like costing them dearly again this season after they exited the Champions League and fell behind in the title race.

After costly defeats to Aston Villa and Bayern Munich, the PA news agency looks at the Gunners’ recurring failings at this time of year.

Same old story

Manager Mikel Arteta backed his side to “write our story very differently” against Bayern and had previously called on them to recreate the aura of the 2003-04 “Invincibles”, who won the league without losing a game.

They may instead be following the pattern of Arsenal teams since then who have narrowly missed out on success, particularly last season when they began April eight points clear.

They maintained that margin by beating Leeds on April 1 but drew their next three games and then lost to eventual champions Manchester City as they finished five points behind.

Consecutive league defeats to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton in April 2022 contributed to Arsenal missing out on the Champions League.

This season, they were top after beating the Seagulls but defeat to Villa left them two points behind City. That was sandwiched between the two legs of the Bayern tie, a 2-2 draw at home and Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat in Germany, leaving them needing to end a three-game winless run when they face Wolves on Saturday.

It is not a new phenomenon either – as far back as 2007-08, Arsenal finished four points off the top after winning only one of eight games from February 23 to April 13.

They took one point from four games in the run-in to end their 2009-10 title challenge and five from the final six games in 2010-11 to finish down in fourth, and winning their final five games in 2013-14 was not enough after they took two points from the previous four. They were top of the league for more days that season than any other team, as was the case last year with a record 248.

Same old faces

The PA news agency understands there are some concerns within Arsenal over tiredness and fatigue taking their toll on the players, and their playing time paints a stark picture.

Eight of Wednesday night’s starting XI – David Raya, Ben White, Gabriel, William Saliba, Declan Rice, captain Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Kai Havertz – have played over 3,000 minutes in all competitions this season.

Those figures exclude stoppage-time and are already more than for either of the previous two campaigns, with six league games still to play.

White, Gabriel, Odegaard and Saka have all hit that threshold in each of the last three seasons for totals in excess of 10,000, with Gabriel leading the way at 11,220. His emergence with Brazil means all bar White are now also regulars for their respective countries.

Gabriel Martinelli could yet add a ninth name to this season’s list and Arteta must work out a way to keep his star men fresh and avoid their now traditional springtime slump.

A lower-league club boss has called for protests over the decision to scrap all FA Cup replays and warned the Premier League will “strangle” the pyramid without a strong independent regulator.

Replays have been abolished from the first round onwards from next season as part of a minimum six-year agreement between the Football Association and the Premier League.

The matches have long been a part of FA Cup tradition – with the first replayed final taking place in 1875 – and have in some cases been highly lucrative for lower-league clubs.

It has long been expected that the expansion of UEFA club competitions would lead to their abolition at least from the third-round stage, but Tranmere vice-chair Nicola Palios fears this move could be the thin end of the wedge.

“The FA and the Premier League have reached an agreement to suit themselves further at the expense of the rest of the football pyramid,” Palios posted on X.

“Bring on the regulator and make sure it has some teeth before the Premier League strangle the pyramid.

“Seven hundred and twenty-nine teams compete in the FA Cup. Why is its format being dictated by the Premier League who represent circa three per cent of them? Why were EFL clubs not given a say? Why is the EPL even dictating whether replays are allowed in rounds they don’t participate in? Protest is needed!”

Next season’s domestic calendar – including the changes to the FA Cup – have been approved by the FA’s Professional Game Board, which includes EFL representation.

The EFL has not yet commented on the matter.

The agreement also includes fifth-round ties reverting to a weekend slot, having been played in midweek for the last five seasons. The FA Cup final will also now be played on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham insists the move, which will mean up to an extra £33million for the pyramid, strengthens the FA Cup.

Andy Holt, the chairman of Accrington, wrote on X: “Why would the hapless FA scrap early-round replays that can be lucrative to minnows? A chance to change their financial fortunes? Against EFL clubs? I expect nothing less of Masters and co Premier League buying the game into a format that suits their needs.”

Niall Couper, the chief executive of the Fair Game football reform group, described the move as “short-sighted” and as “another nail in the coffin for the already crumbling football pyramid”.

FA sources have challenged the notion that replays are major revenue earners for lower-league clubs. Of the 19 third and fourth-round replays in the last 10 years where an EFL side was away, 12 had an attendance of over 25,000. Only a very small percentage of first and second-round replays over the same period achieved attendances of over 7,000.

Nevertheless they remained popular among fans, with 69.5 per cent of those taking part in a Football Supporters’ Association survey last summer believing they are an important part of the FA Cup. The FSA, which had been involved in talks with the FA over the FA Cup’s format, has not yet commented.

Freeing up first and second-round replay dates would help to create room for any expansion of the EFL Trophy, which has been under discussion between the Premier League and the EFL. The former is keen to give top-flight clubs’ young stars more opportunities to play in competitive matches.

However, with talks over a new financial settlement between the EFL and the Premier League stalled, it is unclear when – or even if – such an expansion would take place.

The Professional Footballers’ Association said the move highlighted the knock-on impact to domestic football of changes agreed at the international level.

“What football needs is a collective approach to a properly thought-out global fixture calendar – not a fight for available dates,” PFA chief executive Maheta Molango said.

“(The agreement) shows how decisions that are made at an international level have a knock-on impact which affects clubs, and players, throughout the pyramid.

“The current unsustainable approach to the calendar needs to be seen as an issue for every club at every level if we want to continue to protect our domestic competitions.”

FA Cup replays have been abolished as part of a new agreement between the Football Association and the Premier League on the competition’s format and funding.

Here the PA news agency looks at the issue in closer detail.

What has happened?

The FA has agreed to scrap all replays from the first round proper onwards. Replays had already been phased out from the fifth-round stage but will now be ditched completely. The format change will see all fifth-round ties, which have been played in midweek for the last five seasons, revert to weekends while ties in the fourth round, fifth round and quarter-finals will be played exclusively of Premier League ties.

The FA Cup final will be played on the penultimate weekend of Premier League games, but no top-flight matches will be played on the Saturday of that weekend.

The Premier League will provide up to an extra £33million per season to support the pyramid as a result of the agreement, the FA said.

Why has this happened?

The primary driver has been the pressure placed on the domestic calendar by the expansion of UEFA’s club competitions from next season. The new format for the Champions League, for example, features an extra 64 matches next season compared to the current campaign, and spills into January for the first time, a month which had previously been the reserve of domestic football.

But why scrap replays in the first and second rounds, where Premier League teams aren’t involved?

FA sources say that decision has been taken for the sake of consistency in the competition, and to help EFL clubs and those lower down the pyramid resolve their own congestion issues. It is understood the EFL Trophy is another candidate for expansion as Premier League clubs look for further playing opportunities for their young stars, although with talks on a new financial settlement between the Premier League and the EFL having stalled, it is not clear when – or even if – that change will come to pass.

FA sources have also challenged the idea that replays are major revenue earners for lower-league clubs. Of the 19 third and fourth-round replays in the last 10 years where an EFL side was away, 12 had an attendance of over 25,000. Only a very small percentage of first and second-round replays over the same period achieved attendances of over 7,000.

What else has happened?

The mid-season break has been scrapped to allow a mid-August start date for the new Premier League season, which should enable top-flight clubs to ensure all players can get a consecutive three-week break in the summer. The new schedule also allows for the late May Bank Holiday weekend to be ringfenced for the EFL play-offs.

What has the reaction been?

The Football Supporters’ Association has not yet issued any comment on the move, but its survey from last year showed continued strong support for replays, with 69.5 per cent of respondents believing they are an important part of the FA Cup.

Nicola Palios, the vice-chair of League Two side Tranmere, said the FA and the Premier League had reached an agreement “to suit themselves at the expense of the rest of the football pyramid”, and said the new independent regulator would need the power to stop the Premier League “strangling” the lower leagues.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said the changes would strengthen the FA Cup while his Premier League counterpart Richard Masters said the changes had been agreed “without compromising the excitement of knockout football”.

The Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango said the move showed how decisions taken at FIFA and UEFA level had “a knock-on impact which affects clubs, and players, throughout the pyramid”.

“What football needs is a collective approach to a properly thought-out global fixture calendar – not a fight for available dates,” Molango said.

Roma have confirmed that head coach Daniele De Rossi will remain in charge of the club for “the foreseeable future”.

De Rossi, 40, who spent 18 years as a player with the Giallorossi, was appointed in January after the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

Roma have climbed from ninth to fifth in Serie A under the 40-year-old, who initially signed a short-term deal until June.

In a statement on the club’s website, Roma owners Dan and Ryan Friedkin said: “After meeting yesterday afternoon with Daniele De Rossi, we are delighted to announce he will continue as head coach of AS Roma after this season and for the foreseeable future.

“In his short tenure as head coach, the positive impact that his leadership has brought to the entire club has told its own story.

“Daniele leads with respect and courage, while his strength and deep-rooted belief in the club are truly aligned with Roma’s values, city and unparalleled fans.

“We will continue to work together as hard as we possibly can to deliver a future that AS Roma’s fans deserve.

“We couldn’t be happier to build a long-term project with Daniele.

“Further details to follow in the coming days.”

Charlie Hills’ highly-regarded Cicero’s Gift is back in training with his handler confident he can make his mark at the highest level.

A winner of his first three starts, the son of Muhaarar impressed when bringing up his hat-trick in a Goodwood conditions event – a performance which earned the colt a shot at the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

A finishing position of seventh belies the true tale of that outing, with Cicero’s Gift catching the eye when having his passage repeatedly blocked in the closing stages of the Group One contest.

That was the final time he was seen last season with a setback curtailing his progress, but his trainer now has high hopes as he prepares to recommence his career at four.

Hills said: “He will have his first canter back this week and he’s a horse who had a problem last year so we threw him into a paddock for five months and gave him some time off. Hopefully, fingers crossed, we can get him back on track.

“We’ll go nice and gentle and keep him off fast ground.

“He ran a really nice race in the St James’s Palace last year, he was a bit unlucky in running and I think he can be a Group One horse. It will probably be over a mile, but the stallion is getting them to stay.”

Barcelona have been fined 25,000 euros (£21,400) by UEFA for racist behaviour by their fans during the Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie at Paris St Germain.

Three charges were brought against Barca following the fixture at Parc des Princes on April 10, which included acts of damage and lighting of fireworks.

UEFA’s Appeals Body announced on Thursday Barcelona will be fined for the racist behaviour of their fans and will be banned from selling tickets to their away supporters for the Spanish club’s next UEFA competition match.

That ticket ban has been suspended for a probationary period of one year, which started from the date of the present decision.

Barcelona must also pay a 2,000 euro fine for lighting fireworks and a further 5,000 euro fine for acts of damage.

After Barca won the first leg 3-2 in Paris, they lost 4-1 in the second leg at home this week to exit the Champions League 6-4 on aggregate.

Harry Kane is ready to go into battle against Jude Bellingham for a spot in the Champions League final before the pair aim to lead England to Euro 2024 glory.

England captain Kane moved to Bayern Munich from Tottenham last year while Bellingham left Borussia Dortmund to join Real Madrid.

Both helped their respective clubs to Champions League quarter-final wins over Premier League sides on Wednesday night as Bayern beat Arsenal and Real saw off Manchester City on penalties. Bellingham scored in that shoot-out while Kane netted a first-leg spot-kick at the Emirates Stadium.

Those wins tee up a mouth-watering semi-final clash between two clubs who have won 20 European Cups between them.

Despite Arsenal and City being eliminated, meaning the first semi-final line-up since 2020 with no Premier League clubs, Kane believes there will still be plenty of English interest in how he and Bellingham fare.

“Jude has had a fantastic season, he’s a top player,” he said.

“I’m really happy for him but it will be another war against his team – but that’s the experiences that we both went abroad to try to achieve, to play in these big nights in the Champions League, to play in these big semi-finals.

“It will be one to enjoy and I’m sure there will be a lot of English fans watching both of us. We have to focus on ourselves. Of course, I’ll say hello but once we’re on the pitch, it’s business.”

Kane is still yet to win a major trophy in his career and also has the added incentive of the Champions League final taking place at Wembley on June 1, with either Dortmund or Paris St Germain awaiting the winner of Real and Bayern.

“For both of us, for sure,” Kane replied when asked if Wembley is the dream for him and Bellingham.

“With Wembley being our national stadium, it’s extra motivation there for us but there are two games ahead of us before that, which are going to be really tough so we have to focus on that.

“Real Madrid are a big club with amazing history in the Champions League so it’s going to be a really difficult game for us.

“But that’s what the semi-finals of the Champions League are all about, the biggest teams, so we enjoy this tonight and then prepare for that game in a couple of weeks.”

Ashton Golding has vowed to put thoughts of overdue silverware aside as he prepares for a match that means more to him than any other when Huddersfield face Leeds in the Betfred Super League at Headingley on Friday.

For Leeds-born Golding it does not get any bigger than a return to face the Rhinos, his boyhood idols and the club for whom he made more than 50 appearances before making the difficult decision to leave to further his career in 2019.

“This is my personal Grand Final,” Golding told the PA news agency. “There’s no other game in the calendar that beats it. I live two minutes away from Headingley and I love Leeds, it’s my city, I was born there and I will probably die there.

“I’ll follow anyone that plays for any Leeds team. I’m fond of the Rhinos any day I’m not playing them, but as soon as it’s game day against the Rhinos, they’re my enemy and I’m a Giant.”

Having played at full-back for Leeds, Golding has proved a versatile interchange under Ian Watson as he looks to re-establish himself after two years battling a series of minor injuries.

The Giants too have shown signs of rebounding from a disappointing 2023 campaign and go to Headingley on the back of two straight Super League wins plus a stunning 34-6 success over Catalans Dragons in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

It was a result that raised plenty of eyebrows outside the Giants’ dressing room, but Golding added: “We know our own ability and we don’t need everyone else telling us how good or how bad we are.

“We understood that last year was not reflective of us and the work we had put in. We’ve got a group of good honest players who know they can all depend on each other, and we are excited to find out how far we are able to go.”

Huddersfield will face Warrington in the semi-finals next month as they look to book a second Wembley trip in two years. And victory would finally snag some silverware for Golding, who admits his experience at Leeds, when he was often benched for the biggest games, instilled him with plenty of hunger for more.

“I have absolutely fond memories of playing for the Rhinos, but it is also the experiences when I didn’t play that helped me overcome adversity in certain situations,” Golding said.

“Missing out on the Grand Final in 2017, 18th man in the World Club Challenge, it either makes you or breaks you and I felt like it gave me more. I think it was the best thing that I took away from Leeds and I can’t wait to go back there and play in that brilliant stadium again on Friday night.”

FA Cup replays have been scrapped from next season, the Football Association has announced.

The move to abolish all replays from the first round proper onwards is part of a new agreement between the FA and the Premier League which will see an extra £33million going to grassroots football from the top flight each season.

The FA had already scrapped replays from the fifth round onwards and said the move to ditch them altogether had been agreed “in light of changes to the calendar driven by the expanded UEFA competitions”.

The FA said all rounds would now be played at the weekend, with the fifth phase having moved to midweek for the last five seasons.

The FA said the final will now be played on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season, on a Saturday with no top-flight matches taking place on the same day.

Rodri claims he “saw only one team” trying to win as he bemoaned Real Madrid’s tactics following Manchester City’s heartbreaking Champions League quarter-final loss.

City’s European title defence ended in agonising fashion at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday as the Spanish giants prevailed 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw on the night meant the tie ended 4-4 on aggregate.

It was a clash the holders completely dominated, racking up 33 attempts on goal to the visitors’ eight, but Real defended deep to frustrate them and ultimately ended their hopes of a second successive treble.

City midfielder Rodri said: “To be honest, I saw only one team. In terms of defending, they defended (well). They knew how to suffer and we know how tough Real Madrid are.

“But in my opinion we should go through with that amount of chances but this is the trick of this competition. They know how to play it. We congratulate them.

“We gave everything, there is nothing to regret. This is football sometimes. This shows how difficult it is to win it, as we did last season. It was very frustrating and sometimes it is difficult to explain.”

City’s exit from the competition they won with a Rodri goal in Istanbul last year, coupled with Arsenal’s loss to Bayern Munich, means there are no English semi-finalists for the first time since 2020.

City had to chase the tie after Rodrgyo pounced to put Real ahead after 12 minutes.

They created a plethora of chances in a storming response, with Erling Haaland going the closest in the first half when he headed against the bar.

Further opportunities came and went after the break and it was not until the 76th minute that Kevin De Bruyne finally broke through to net a deserved equaliser.

But De Bruyne spurned a good chance to win it when he fired over soon after and, with extra-time failing to separate the sides, it came down to spot-kicks.

Ederson saved from Luka Modric but Bernardo Silva’s attempted Panenka was too easy for Andriy Lunin, who also denied Mateo Kovavic as Real went through.

The Premier League leaders now have little time to pick themselves up before heading to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea on Saturday.

Rodri said: “We will have to digest the loss but we will have to wake up, stand up. We still have two more competitions to play for.

“We need the mentality (to be) positive, to find any ambition that right now is difficult to find. Tomorrow we will find it and go against Chelsea, try to be in another final and fight for the Premier League.”

City will need to assess key pair Haaland and De Bruyne who, along with Manuel Akanji, were substituted before the penalty shoot-out.

Haaland was removed at the end of the regulation 90 minutes with the influential De Bruyne leaving the action in the second period of extra-time.

Manager Pep Guardiola said: “Erling and Kevin asked me to go out – they could not continue, like Manu. The game we were playing, they were amazing, but they could not continue.”

Yorkshire have been left “surprised and disappointed” after being overlooked by the England and Wales Cricket Board in the initial ‘tier one’ revamp of the women’s game.

The governing body has awarded new professional teams to eight first-class counties, replacing the regional structure from next summer, but Yorkshire were edged out in what was effectively a head-to-head with Durham.

Both Yorkshire and Glamorgan have been invited to join an expanded top flight in 2027, with funding to help prepare their coaching pathways, but the news has been met with an unhappy response from Headingley on the eve of the new women’s domestic campaign.

The Northern Diamonds won the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy in 2022 and finished as runners-up in the previous two seasons.

A statement from the club’s board read: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club are surprised and disappointed not to be awarded one of the initial Tier 1 women’s teams as part of the first allocations from the ECB.

“The news is especially frustrating and upsetting for the players and staff at the Northern Diamonds. They have been trying to deal with it whilst preparing for their first game of the season in two days. Our focus is on supporting them through this difficult period and gaining as much clarity on what the future looks like.

“Yorkshire has the largest active playing base of women and girls in the country, has produced many players that have gone on to represent England in the women’s game, winning the County Championship 16 times and Headingley has been successfully hosting the Northern Diamonds since 2020, so naturally the news has been tough to take.”

The White Rose has endured a turbulent time in recent years, embattled by the Azeem Rafiq racism crisis and fighting major financial troubles leading to the controversial return of Colin Graves as chair.

But there has been a renewed commitment to equality of opportunity at the club against that troubled backdrop, work which the board were keen to highlight.

“Yorkshire has a rich ethnicity mix and as part of our ongoing work to be the most welcoming and inclusive cricket club in the country, we use women’s and girl’s cricket as the cornerstone to creating real, tangible value in those communities that need it the most,” it said.

“We believe we hit all of the criteria set out as part of the tender, so we will be taking time to investigate and understand the detail behind the decision, assessing the best next steps for the club and most importantly ensuring we support the players and staff that are impacted.”

Willie Mullins will saddle six runners in the the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday as he looks to extend his lead in the race to be crowned champion trainer in Britain.

The Grand National success of I Am Maximus at Aintree saw Mullins sweep past perennial champion Paul Nicholls and his former pupil Dan Skelton and he is now a hot favourite to become the first Irish-based trainer to claim the British title since Vincent O’Brien did so in successive seasons in the 1950s.

The Closutton handler is represented in each of the eight races on Saturday’s Ayr card and is responsible for six of the 26 declared for the £200,000 feature.

The trainer’s two leading contenders appear to be recent Fairyhouse scorer Macdermott and Mr Incredible, who turns out just seven days after unseating his rider at The Chair. Ontheropes, Spanish Harlem, Klarc Kent and We’llhavewan complete the sextet.

Mullins is unlikely to have things all his own way, however, with Nicholls represented by the high-class top-weight Stay Away Fay and Broken Halo, while Skelton will be hoping Ballygrifincottage can put him back on top of the table.

Brian Ellison’s Eider Chase winner Anglers Crag and the Jamie Snowden-trained Git Maker also feature.

The title-chasing trio all fire major bullets at the £100,000 Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle, with Mullins running Westport Cove, Bialystok and Alvaniy, Nicholls saddling last year’s winner Rubaud and his stablemate and Afadil with Skelton relying upon County Hurdle runner-up L’Eau du Sud.

Also among a total of 18 runners on the afternoon for Mullins are Uncle Phil in the opening Scotty Brand Handicap Chase, popular veteran Sharjah in the CPMS Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase and impressive Punchestown winner Billericay Dickie in the Tennent’s Novices’ Hurdle.

Lewis Hamilton said “people continue to talk s***” about him amid his worst start to a Formula One season.

The 39-year-old has scored just 10 points from the opening four rounds following his Mercedes team’s misfiring campaign.

Hamilton has failed to finish in the top six so far, and crossed the line a distant ninth at the last round in Japan a fortnight ago.

Hamilton, who is moving to Ferrari next year, was asked if Mercedes’ early-season troubles vindicated his decision to quit the team, which carried him to six of his record-equalling seven world championships.

“I don’t feel like I need my decision vindicating,” he said. “I know what is right for me, and that hasn’t changed from the moment I made the decision.

“There’s not been a moment that I’ve questioned it, and I’m not swayed by other people’s comments.

“Even today, there’s people continuing to talk s***, and that will continue on for the rest of the year.

“I’ll have to just do what I did the previous time (when he moved to Mercedes from McLaren). Only I can know what’s right for me, and this (joining Ferrari) will be an exciting time for me.”

Hamilton, who was speaking ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix – the first staged here since 2019 – was asked what he meant by “people taking s***”.

“Just read what’s out there,” he replied.

Hamilton will be 40 when he makes his debut for Ferrari in Australia next March.

Fernando Alonso announced last week that he will remain in the sport beyond his 45th birthday after agreeing a contract extension with Aston Martin. The Spaniard, 43 in July, will become the oldest driver of the modern era.

And Hamilton added: “I’m going to be racing for quite some time still, right into my 40s, so it’s definitely good Fernando is still around and keeps going on for a bit longer.

“I never thought I’d be racing into my 40s. I’m pretty sure I said I wouldn’t. But life is such a crazy trick. I don’t feel like I’m nearing 40. I feel like I’m pretty young.

“It’s a real positive that Fernando is staying because it means I’m not the oldest driver here.

“But also Fernando is one of the best drivers we’ve had in the sport so for him to continue to be here and continue to have the output that he’s had just shows what’s possible.”

Hamilton, who has won a record six times in China, will be back on track on Friday in qualifying for the first sprint round of the season.

In a rejig of the format this year, the grid for Sunday’s main event will now be determined after the 19-lap race which gets under way at 11:00am (4am BST) on Saturday.

The prospect of five English clubs competing in next season’s Champions League is hanging by a thread after Manchester City and Arsenal were knocked out of the continent’s premier club competition on Wednesday night.

Here, the PA news agency explains the situation.

Why is there an extra place?

From this season, the two countries who collectively perform best in this season’s men’s European club competitions will each gain a European Performance Spot (EPS) for one of their clubs in the following season’s Champions League, which will feature a 36-team league phase from 2024-25 replacing the familiar eight groups of four.

For each of the best-performing countries, the EPS goes to the highest-finishing club in those countries who have not already qualified for the Champions League via their domestic performance. In England’s case, that would be the team finishing fifth – currently Tottenham.

How do the rankings look at the moment?

The rankings – known as the association club coefficient – are led this season by Italy. Germany were already ahead of England in the race for the second spot heading into the quarter-final second legs, but the exits of City and Arsenal – coupled with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund making progress – have widened the gap.

Last Friday – after the Europa League and Conference League first legs had been played – Germany had 16.785 points compared to England’s 16.750, a gap of 0.035. On Thursday morning the gap had grown to 0.767, with Germany on 17.642 and England on 16.875.

How are the points worked out?

Teams gain points for wins (two) and draws (one) from the start of the group phase in all three of UEFA’s men’s club competitions. Teams also earn points for participation in the Champions League group phase and for making progress beyond certain rounds in all three competitions.

The association coefficient is calculated by working out an average score – dividing the total number of points the clubs win by the number of clubs representing that country in Europe. So in England’s case any points won by the Premier League representatives are divided by eight.

Can England still do it?

In theory yes. West Ham and Liverpool could still meet in the Europa League final if they can overturn first-leg deficits to Bayer Leverkusen and Atalanta respectively on Thursday night, and Aston Villa could still go all the way in the Conference League. That, coupled with the remaining German teams stumbling, means there is still very slim hope.

But Germany certainly have the edge and could even end up with six teams in next season’s Champions League. If Dortmund finish fifth in the Bundesliga but win the Champions League, it would be the second of those achievements which would secure them their Champions League place for 2024-25. The EPS would then be awarded to whoever finishes sixth – currently Eintracht Frankfurt.

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