The decision by The Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn Manchester City’s European ban complicates the race for European football. The Cityzens are already guaranteed to finish in second meaning they have already qualified for next season’s Champions League. As a result, finishing fifth is only but a direct ticket to the Europa League and not the Champions League.
Only two places are on the cards in England to play in Europe’s elite club competition. Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester united are all in the running to try and stake their claim for an automatic ticket by finishing inside the top four in a race that is set to go down to the wire. Wolves are also breathing down on the necks of these lot and stand a chance of making it should they continue to drop points.
Manchester United failed to capitalise on defeats to their challengers over the weekend by only managing to get a 2-all draw against Southampton last night.. Failure to finish in the top four doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom for the record English champions. Should they win this year’s Europa League, then they are guaranteed a place in next years champions league group stages. United next face two teams from the capital in Crystal Palace and West Ham before a potential winner takes-it-all cracker away to Leicester on the final day of the season.
Brendan Rodgers’s foxes have lost their killer instinct since the restart after the lock-down. They have won once, lost twice and drawn thrice jeopardizing their chances of sealing a Champions League spot well before the final day of the season.
Their frustrations were evident over the weekend when key defender Caglar Soyuncu was sent off for needlessly kicking an opponent off-the-ball. A man down, the 2016 champions capitulated and were drubbed 4-1 by relegation threatened FC Bournemouth.
Leicester face a tough run of fixtures as they welcome an ambitious Sheffield United before taking on Tottenham in their penultimate game of the season. A mouthwatering clash at home to Manchester is set to light up the King Power Stadium before the curtains close on the 2019/2020 season.
The blues have a chance to put clear daylight between themselves and the chasing pack when they host already relegated Norwich at Stamford Bridge Tonight. Frank Lampard’s men have been blowing hot and cold after the lock-down. Impressive wins against Manchester City and Crystal palace were besmirched by disappointing losses to West Ham and Sheffield United.
And while the signings of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner have provided Chelsea fans with optimism ahead of the new season, the blues need to get their groove back on. A home game to Norwich is followed by a trip to champions Liverpool before a tricky fixture against ravenous Wolves on the season’s day of reckoning.
The allure of competing with the finest in Europe coupled by the inordinate amounts of money that come with playing in the Champions league, is reason enough for teams to go at it hammer and tongs.
Expect a rousing end to the season with positions moving form pillar to post.