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Manchester United still favourites for Champions League qualification

by Red Billy

Yesterday’s 2-2 home draw against Southampton was disappointing for Manchester United as they chase a top four finish in the Premier League, but it was not a disaster.

The side maintained its unbeaten run and whilst it felt like a loss, it was a valuable point that could be very significant; it was one more point than our rivals Chelsea and Leicester got.

There are now three more games for each side and two out of the three sides will qualify for next season’s Champions League (although it is possible that Wolves or Sheffield United – and mathematically, Spurs or Arsenal – could take advantage if all three slip up again).

If the Red Devils win all three of their remaining games, they will qualify no matter what happens elsewhere. But it is also likely that they will be able to still drop more points and still qualify.

United Chelsea Leicester
Crystal Palace (A), Thur 16 Norwich (H), Tues 14 Sheff Utd (H), Thur 16
West Ham (H), Wed 22 Liverpool (A), Wed 22 Spurs (A), Sun 19
Leicester (A), Sun 26 Wolves (H), Sun 26 Man United (H), Sun 26

It would be a huge shock if Chelsea were to drop points tonight against relegated Norwich, but they then have two tough games against champions Liverpool and Europa League-chasing Wolves.

Leicester also have two tough games against Sheffield United and Spurs, who are also both chasing those European places.

If United were to take six points from their two games against Crystal Palace and Wolves, they would enter the last day of the season on 65 points with a goal difference of at least +28.

If Chelsea were to beat Norwich but lose to Liverpool, they would be on 63 with a goal difference of around +14.

If Leicester took 3 points from their two games, they would be on 62 with a goal difference of around +29.

That’s a lot of if’s, of course, but if that were the case, depending on goal difference, United might even go into that last game against Leicester knowing that even, say, a one or two goal loss would be enough to see them through and a draw would be enough for them to finish third and avoid the early Champions League qualification rounds.

Conversely, if United drop points against either Palace or West Ham, they may still find themselves in with a chance on the last day of the season. For example, a win and a defeat would leave United on 62 points with around +26 GD. If both other sides won both of their games, Chelsea would be through, but Leicester would still need to avoid defeat by United by whatever the goal difference is between them, to qualify.

A highly unlikely but possible scenario is that United could lose to both Palace and West Ham and take just one point from Leicester and still qualify for the Champions League, if Leicester suffered worse defeats (3 goal difference) – assuming Wolves or Sheffield United didn’t catch up in the process.

There are many scenarios of course but despite the dropped points yesterday, of the three sides United have the most momentum, arguably the strongest squad and almost certainly the easiest run-in. There is therefore every reason to stay confident that Champions League football will return to Old Trafford next season.

18-year-old Mason Greenwood has been setting the world on fire for Manchester United this season. But how much do you know about other teenage stars that have played for the Red Devils over the years? Take our quiz below to find out.

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