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Homesoccer newsPL2 enters knockout stages as league standings are finalised

PL2 enters knockout stages as league standings are finalised

The Premier League 2 league standings were finalised on Monday night, and the top 16 teams are now preparing for the knockout stages to determine this season’s champions.

Aston Villa grabbed a spot in the last 16 in their final match, beating Newcastle United 1-0 at St James’ Park last night, with Southampton the unfortunate team who dropped to 17th in the final standings as they lost 6-3 at home to Manchester United.

One surprising name missing among the 16 remaining teams is that of Manchester City, the PL2 champions of the past three seasons, but who finished 22nd this time round. 

This is the first season of a new format for PL2, where there is only one division, with no promotion or relegation, and the title is decided by playoff matches rather than league position.

Why was this change introduced? 

The change came about after an extensive review of Player Development Programme (PDP) competitions. It was felt the removal of relegation introduced positive jeopardy, supporting clubs making development-first decisions, and minimising the impact of relegation on future groups of U21 players.

The new format would also give teams a greater breadth of fixtures, playing 20 different opponents, compared with only 13 in Division 1 and only 10 in Division 2 last season.  

There is also an extra reward for the top 12 teams, who have qualified for next season’s Premier League International Cup, getting the chance to take on other Under-23 sides from across Europe.

How do the PL2 playoffs work?

The teams are seeded according to their final positions. Tottenham Hotspur have finished top of the table, and their reward is that their last-16 tie is against the bottom-ranked team still left in the competition, the 16th-placed Villa.

Similarly, second-placed West Ham United will take on 15th-placed Blackburn Rovers and third-placed Fulham face 14th-placed Nottingham Forest. The pairings continue in that format throughout the top 16, with the higher-placed team having home advantage in the one-legged ties.

Each of the ties will take place this weekend, between Friday 3 May and Monday 6 May. If a tie is level after 90 minutes, there will be extra-time, and then a penalty shootout if required.

Each club’s path to the final is mapped out below.

Last 16 (3-6 May)

Match 1: Spurs v Aston Villa
Match 2: Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Match 3: Arsenal v Man Utd
Match 4: Chelsea v Brighton
Match 5: Reading v Middlesbrough
Match 6: Fulham v Nott’m Forest
Match 7: Sunderland v Wolves
Match 8: West Ham v Blackburn Rovers

Quarter-finals (10-13 May)

Match 9: Winner 1 v Winner 2
Match 10: Winner 3 v Winner 4
Match 11: Winner 5 v Winner 6
Match 12: Winner 7 v Winner 8

Semi-finals (17-20 May)

Match 13: Winner 9 v Winner 10
Match 14: Winner 11 v Winner 12

Final (24-27 May)

Winner 13 v Winner 14

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