Manchester United will take on Leicester at the King Power Stadium today, with their sights firmly set on the prize: the Champions League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team are hopeful to finish in the top four this season, currently in third place with 63 points on the Premier League table before today’s final round of fixtures. The Red Devils are matched by Chelsea also on 63 and who take on Wolves at home today.
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But Frank Lampard’s side are 13 goals ahead of Man United’s goal difference of 28.
Coming up close behind them both is Leicester City on 62 points and a goal difference to match United’s.
So there’s still all to play for today as the final top four looms ever closer.
And Solskjaer believes his homegrown side will have the edge over top four rivals Leicester.
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He said: “The players now are learning what the other players through history have been through.
“We’ve been doing well before as well, having setbacks and having to come back.
“But say, for example, Marcus (Rashford) or Mason (Greenwood), they’ve been in the academy for so many years, they’ve seen so many players having done this before them, so it’s a great learning for them.”
A win today would guarantee third spot – but should they lose this afternoon, United will be reliant on Chelsea also chalking up a loss so they can secure fourth place.
But even that might not be enough to save their hopes of playing in the Champions League next season.
But quirk of the way places in European competitions are worked out could mean Man United fall short for 2020/2021.
After the Man City ban was rescinded earlier this month, only the top four will qualify for the group stages of the CL.
As the PL’s top two clubs, Liverpool and Man City will be going straight through.
But there’s still a few weeks left before we can determine who will make up the remaining spots.
Man United will want to finished third today to secure their future in Europe thanks to a bizarre rule.
Should the winners of the Champions League and Europa League both come from England and both those sides finish outside of the top four, the team that came fourth in the Premier League would miss out and drop to Europe League instead.
And with Wolves still vying to win the Europa League and Chelsea – who are currently 3-0 down to Bayern Munich from their first leg of last-16 clash – win the Champions League, it could happen yet.
It’s a slim chance, as it would require Chelsea to lose tomorrow while United were beaten by Leicester, leaving Leicester third, Man United fourth.
Then, Wolves would have to go all the way in the Europa and Chelsea would have to lift the Champions League trophy.
All in all it means a win is necessary for Solskjaer’s men this afternoon in order to comfortably secure their European dream.
He said on Saturday: “It would be a good boost and a nice boost for the team to finish third.
“I know since October, after that international break, we’ve had the third-most points in the league. For a long, long spell now we’ve been the third best team, we just, in the start of the season, we were too inconsistent. Now we have got more consistency, more fitness levels, we’re more robust.
“And of course we want to be in amongst the elite in Europe and play in the Champions League but the old Winston Churchill quote is, ‘success isn’t final, failure isn’t fatal – then what you need is the courage to continue’.
“That’s what we’re going to do with this team, we continue. We carry on developing the team, improving and knowing that this is not the end of the journey for the team, this is just one other stepping stone in our development.”