Race for Champions League qualification heats up after Man City’s ban is overturned
– Man Utd are battling to finish in the top four after Man City’s ban was overturned
We are now in the thick of the final month of fixtures in the English Premier League with the season scheduled to close on Sunday 26 July. Time is running out on the 2019/20 campaign but there’s still all to play for at both ends of the table with clubs challenging for a European finish are battling to avoid relegation to the Championship.
Liverpool have been confirmed as the Premier League champions for this season and Manchester City must be content with finishing second, handing their trophy to the Reds. The top two spots have been confirmed meaning the race is now on to secure third and fourth spot. At present five teams are trying to cram into two places – Chelsea, Leicester City, Manchester United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United.
Man Utd expected to deny Leicester
In the final three games of the season it’s a tight race with very close odds at the football bookies. Bettors are clamouring to make their predictions and beat the traders to secure a profit this summer.
Man Utd are seen as a real threat to Leicester City and many leading bookmakers expect the Red Devils to finish fourth behind Lampard’s men. Wolves and Sheffield United are considered to be also-rans in this race which means Leicester City would feel the brunt of Man City’s European ban being overturned.
Change of direction turns up the heat
Those involved in that frantic finish for the prizes and a place in UEFA’s elite competition had hoped a fifth place finish would have been enough to secure their entry after Manchester City were banned from competing in European football for a period of two years. The likes of Wolves and the Blades had that hope cruelly snatched away on Monday afternoon, however, when it was confirmed the Cityzen’s had successfully overturned the ruling.
The change of direction on the Man City ban means we revert to the standard top four teams in England qualifying for the Champions League. Which side will be hit hardest by that decision? It remains to be seen but the heat is now on the clubs ranked third to seventh to put get the strong finish to this season needed to ensure they end in the top four.
Weekend results suggest pressure is beginning to get to the teams involved and we saw both Chelsea in third and Leicester in fourth suffer defeat. In round 35 of the Premier League season only one team in the top four managed victory and that was Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s men have no chance of winning the like, but it appears they are prepared to remain focussed and continue working all the way to the finish line. A drop in performance won’t be accepted.
Blues and Foxes suffer late wobble
What of the teams involved in the race? Frank Lampard’s men have been consistent in the top four this year but have suffered a late wobble and lost two of their last four. They were beaten by West Ham and Sheffield United. They are scheduled to face Liverpool at Anfield, and Wolves at Stamford Bridge and the latter could be a 90 minutes shootout for the top four.
Leicester City have proven to be the surprise package of the season with Brendan Rodgers pushing them up the table. They were seen as Liverpool’s main challengers for the title earlier in the campaign but have since dropped off the pace. There’s a real risk that the Foxes could miss out on the top four. They have won only one of their last five games and trip to Tottenham before hosting Manchester United in the league finale. The latter will be tasty.
Man Utd are the form side in the league at the minute as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men pile pressure on the teams above. Despite struggling towards the end of 2019 the squad have improved and bounced back from lockdown in fine form. Both Wolves and Sheffield United have an outside chance of gate crashing the party but both clubs have already proven it is foolish to take them lightly. They will play a huge part in the final order of the top four.
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