United walk out at Old Trafford.

The top-four permutations for United

Tuesday 21 July 2020 09:31

Three into two simply won't go as the battle for a Champions League spot comes to a conclusion this week.

Liverpool and Manchester City will compete in next season's top European competition but third and fourth place in the Premier League remain up for grabs, with Chelsea, Leicester City and United vying for the spots.

It could, and probably will, get complicated - particularly as the Reds visit the Foxes on the final day of the campaign, which has a huge impact on the overall outcome.

Let's try to take a closer look at the various permutations...

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men face West Ham United on Wednesday, just before Chelsea travel to Liverpool. Leicester have only one game left, following their 3-0 defeat to Tottenham on Sunday.

Focusing on United, the Reds need at least a point from the Old Trafford encounter with the Hammers in order to move above Leicester into fourth. The teams are currently level on 62 points but Brendan Rodgers's side have scored more goals. 

A victory by a one or two-goal margin would not alter the situation with the Foxes too dramatically. Leicester would still be left needing victory at the King Power Stadium to regain fourth place, unless Wednesday's result was, say, 5-3 which would mean a 1-0 victory for the 2016 champions on the last day ensuring the two clubs having an identical record (head-to-head is then considered but United won 1-0 at Old Trafford in the corresponding fixture!)

A win over West Ham by three goals would leave Leicester requiring at least a two-goal margin of success on Sunday, in order to leapfrog United. Obviously, the bigger any victory on Wednesday, the more this could change.

Any triumph in midweek would take us to 65 points, so it would move us two points ahead of Chelsea, leaving them requiring a win in at least one of their two matches to overtake us. 

At the other end of the scale, a defeat to David Moyes's Londoners would then leave United needing all three points in the East Midlands at the weekend. A draw for the home team would be enough to finish ahead of us on goal-difference.

Early team news for United v West Ham


Ole could be without four defenders, but other Reds will hopefully emerge unscathed from a bruising game at Wembley.

Chelsea are currently a point clear in third and, despite a vastly inferior goal difference, they look in a strong position to remain in the top four. Three points from their last two games - against Liverpool and Wolves - would guarantee Champions League football in 2020/21.

If they end up with only one point from the two fixtures, it would still be enough if United lose to West Ham and then draw the final game. In that scenario, we would miss out with Leicester finishing fourth on goal difference.

Should United win at the weekend, Chelsea could afford to lose both of their remaining matches and still finish above Leicester.

Of course, there is another route for the Reds, with the Europa League campaign resuming next month. Lifting that trophy in Germany would also secure a Champions League berth in 2020/21.

Chelsea are also still in this year's Champions League and, although trailing 3-0 from the home leg with Bayern Munich, if they were to stage a miraculous recovery and win the tournament, that would also earn a passage into the next edition of the competition.

For United, the fact is three points from our last two outings might not secure a top-four place, while two definitely would. We told you it might get complicated!

We are all United as the Reds go marching on! On sale now, get your 2019/20 kit while stocks last.