The Premier League’s “Project Restart” has proven to be a success, with the challenge of completing the 2019-20 season following the 100-day coronavirus-enforced shutdown now entering its final week.
Liverpool have already secured the league title, wrapping up their first domestic championship since 1990, and Norwich City have suffered relegation to the Championship after just one season back in the top flight. But there are still many issues yet to be resolved as the Premier League approaches its final round of fixtures on Sunday.
The battle for European qualification will go into the final day and five clubs are locked in a fight to avoid occupying the two remaining relegation berths. The race for the Golden Boot and Golden Glove are still too close to call, while Friday will see the 2019-20 Footballer of the Year announced.
So how will it all shake down by the end of the season?
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION
Liverpool and Manchester City are already assured of their place in next season’s Champions League, but City’s success last week in overturning their two-year ban from European competition has left Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United in a three-way battle for the two remaining spots.
One point separates the three teams going into the final week, with fourth-placed Leicester ahead of United in fifth by virtue of goals scored. It could not be tighter. But by the time United visit Leicester on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team could be three points clear of them. If United beat West Ham at Old Trafford on Wednesday, every goal will count — a big win could be crucial in order to leave Leicester needing to win by more than one goal on Sunday to claim a top four finish.
But Leicester and United can still both finish in the top four because Chelsea have a tough final week, with a trip to Liverpool on Wednesday followed by a clash with Wolves at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
If Chelsea lose at Anfield and fail to beat Wolves, Leicester can pip them at the post.
EUROPA LEAGUE QUALIFICATION
Arsenal‘s run to the FA Cup final has complicated the picture in the race for the Premier League’s three Europa League spots.
The first will go to one of Chelsea, Leicester and Manchester United, with one of those clubs guaranteed to finish fifth, so finishing in sixth is now crucial for the likes of Wolves and Tottenham, but Sheffield United and even Arsenal, currently in 10th, started the final week with hopes still alive of a top six finish.
Sixth will guarantee a Europa League place, but the team which finishes seventh will have to wait until the cup final to discover whether it is enough for European qualification.
If Chelsea win at Wembley, seventh will be good enough for the Europa League, but if…