Manchester City’s exit from Europe on Wednesday night means that a 4th place finish in The Premier League will definitely qualify cross-city rivals Manchester United for next season’s Champions League preliminary stage.
Had Manchester City and Liverpool finished lower than 4th, but both won their European competitions this season, they would have denied the Premier League’s 4th placed finisher entry to Europe’s top tournament next term.
Manchester United lie 4 points behind neighbours City with a game in hand and just three left to play. While The Red Devils’ European fate is not currently in their own hands Manchester City host Arsenal this weekend after a draining semi-final in Spain.
Well-rested Arsenal last played on Saturday and still need 2 more points to be certain of Champions League football themselves.
With just 10 days of the league season to go this weekend could well be decisive for City, Arsenal and United.
Anything other than a Manchester City win against Arsenal on Sunday would put United in control of their destiny again, should they beat Norwich in the early kick off on Saturday.
It goes without saying that Manchester United will probably need to win all three of their remaining games to get that fourth spot. But City’s exit from Europe will only motivate this somewhat clunky vintage to take 9 gettable points from Norwich (a), West Ham (a) and Bournemouth (h) and salvage another confusing season at Old Trafford.