The Champions League. European competition. The ultimate goal of every single club in the football league, and only four will get it. Right now, Chelsea look like the only side with it completely secure, with just 7 points separating Spurs in second and Man United in seventh, however United currently have between 1 and 3 games in hand on the teams above them.
Man United face ‘Boro away tomorrow, and a win, which would be expected against a Middlesbrough side who are managerless and have only scored twice in 2017, would take them up to fifth thanks to Arsenal’s loss to West Brom earlier today. Should they then win their game after that, at home to The Baggies, they would be up to fifth and behind Liverpool only on goal difference. Arsenal could soon find themselves in even more bother, with their next game away to Man City on April 1st. However, so could the blue side of Manchester, with their next games being away to Arsenal and away to league leaders, Chelsea.
Yet, Man United could have a place in the champions league without having to finish in the top four, as their Europa League campaign this season is looking very promising, with the draw for the Quarter-Finals going excellently for them, with their main rivals for the competition, Besikitas, Lyon, Schalke and Ajax, all being drawn against each other, while The Red Devils face a seemingly easy trip to Belgian outfit Anderlecht. However, the Belgian side aren’t to be taken lightly, having recently won their domestic league title, and youngster Youri Tielemans should be watched eagerly. He has a brilliant long shot on him, his passing is brilliantly accurate and his work rate is like that of a prime N’golo Kante. Definitely one to watch.
Should Man United win The Europa League, and finish fourth, this would then mean that whatever team in 5th position, should it be Liverpool, Arsenal or possibly Everton, would then be given the place in the final qualifying round that United would have been given for finishing fourth. This would then mean that the side finishing 6th would get the place in The Europa League the 5th side would have been given. This extends to all the qualifying round positions in the league too.
But what would become of Arsenal, and Wenger for that matter, should they not achieve the Champions League position they have done consistently for the last 20 years? Well, if Wenger isn’t already gone by then, it would certainly mean him getting the chop, and I’m rather confident that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil wouldn’t be far from the exit door either. This would then possibly create the same domino effect at the north London side that happened to Manchester United when 26-year-reigning manager Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, with their best players leaving, and with nobody experienced to guide the team, which would mean a huge rebuilding job for Arsenal, and maybe yet another great side falling down the table.
I can see the top four going one of three ways. Either, Man United capitalise on Liverpool and Arsenal’s slip ups and finish either fifth or fourth, or they bottle it again and finish sixth and the table finished roughly as it is now, or Arsenal completely lose it and end up in sixth, United follow through on their form with the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and force Liverpool into a slip up, and it finishes with Arsenal sixth, Liverpool fifth and United fourth.
Overall, the top four race is far from over, and every team needs to be careful as to not slip up at the wrong time, or they could find themselves in a daunting position, away from the glory, money and fame of the UEFA Champions League.