If the Premier League was in an MLS format‏: An alternative ending

A look at what might happen if the Premier League season ended today and went to an MLS-style play-off format.

MLS Premier League

Inspired by Reddit user wakawaq, we predicted how things might go if the Premier League followed the same structure as MLS, with play-offs used to decide who takes the title.

Knockout round

The first round of each conference has two one-off matches between the fourth and fifth-place teams and the third and sixth, with the two higher seeds hosting. The lowest-seeded winner advances to face the conference's top seed and the next-lowest faces the second in the Conference Semi-finals.

Northern Conference

Liverpool 3 – 0 Newcastle United

In-form Liverpool have few problems dispatching John Carver’s men at Anfield, as a Jordan Henderson brace and Daniel Sturridge goal send them through to the Conference Semi-finals in comfortable fashion.

Stoke City 1 – 0 Swansea City

The lift from the Britannia crowd is what sees Stoke through in the end, as Charlie Adam’s first-half strike proves just enough to see off the Swans.

Southern Conference

Southampton 2 – 1 Crystal Palace (aet)

Alan Pardew’s side manage to take the Saints to extra-time after Scott Dann’s thumping header cancels out Sadio Mane’s first-half effort but the Senegalese winger’s second in the 103rd-minute ensures there is no upset.

Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 2 West Ham United

The Hammers run their London rivals close, twice pegging them back through James Collins and substitute Nene, before a last-gasp Harry Kane strike to complete his hat-trick sends the White Hart Lane crowd into raptures.

Conference Semi-finals

The Conference Semi-finals and Conference Finals are conducted over two legs. In both rounds the lower-seeded team hosts game one and the higher-seeded team game two. If the scores are level after 180 minutes in either the Conference Semi-finals or Finals, the away goals rule applies.

If the scores are still level after the rule is applied, extra-time and, if required, penalties will used to decide the tie. The away goals rule does not count with goals scored in extra-time.

Northern Conference

Manchester City 0 – 0 Stoke City (agg 0-1)

After Glenn Whelan’s goal seals the Potters a shock 1-0 win at the Britannia, Mark Hughes’ side manage to hold firm at the Etihad Stadium to secure their place in the Conference Finals.

Manuel Pellegrini criticises referee Mark Clattenberg for his decision to show a straight red to Fernando for a challenge on Victor Moses but the Chilean's protests are of little significance, as he is sacked just a few hours later.

Manchester United 1 – 1 Liverpool (agg 2-4)

A 3-1 win at Anfield puts Liverpool in a comfortable position for the second-leg and, while Wayne Rooney’s 11th-minute opener gives United some hope of a comeback, Brendan Rodgers’ side soon restore their two-goal aggregate advantage through Philippe Coutinho.

Southern Conference

Chelsea 1 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur (agg 2-1)

Tottenham are dealt a serious blow in the first-leg when goal hero Kane comes off injured and misses the return match, forcing Mauricio Pochettino to start the misfiring Roberto Soldado up top

A close-fought encounter ensues but a controversial Diego Costa goal, which TV replays show was offside, ensures there is no need for the away goals rule to be applied.

Arsenal 1 – 0 Southampton (agg 1-2)

Arsenal are shocked at St Mary’s after a revived Graziano Pelle scores twice in the second-half and, while Theo Walcott’s late effort gives them some hope of sending the tie to extra-time, Koeman’s side manage to cling on to set up an encounter with the regular-season champions.

Conference Finals

Liverpool 1 – 0 Stoke City (aet, agg 1-0)

Stoke hold Liverpool to a 0-0 stalemate over the 180 minutes with some resolute defending but the much-maligned Mario Balotelli proves the hero after coming on in extra-time to net a dramatic winner moments before the whistle is blown for penalties.

Chelsea 2 – 2 Southampton (aet, agg 3-2)

Like the Northern Conference final, the clash between Chelsea and Southampton requires extra-time after the Saints recover from a 1-0 home defeat to peg Jose Mourinho’s team back at Stamford Bridge.

A potential upset is avoided, though, when Branislav Ivanovic performs his usual heroics to net the decider and send the Blues through to the final.

Premier League Cup

The team with the superior regular-season record hosts.

Chelsea 1 – 1 Liverpool (3-4 on penalties)

Chelsea take a first-half lead through captain John Terry’s header but a sensational long-range strike from substitute Kolo Toure 20 minutes from the end forces the match into extra-time.

With neither side able to find a goal in the 30 minutes, the game reaches a dreaded shootout, where Didier Drogba's attempt is saved by Simon Mignolet and Terry fires the hosts' final effort wide to hand Liverpool the spoils.

Mignolet's resurgence is further underlined when he picks up the the final’s MVP award, while Steven Gerrard departs for the LA Galaxy hoping to do it all over again.

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