Manchester City handed the initiative to fierce rivals Manchester United in the fight for Champions League football after being held to a 2-2 draw against Arsenal. It meant they finished the weekend two points ahead of United having played a game more, so victory for the Red Devils would see them leapfrog City with a game to play.
Manchester United are fifth in the Premier League table with 63 points from 36 games, and have won three of their last four games to narrow the deficit to the Sky Blues. They beat Norwich City on the weekend, but do have tough opposition next up which could hamper their chances. Seventh-placed West Ham United are next up for Manchester United, and have beaten the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham among others so they aren’t to be underestimated.
West Ham are suffering poor form in recent weeks however, having picked up only two wins from their last seven games, while suffering a 4-1 home defeat to Swansea City this weekend so the Red Devils stand a chance of coming out on top. Even Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini admitted that his side’s hopes of making the prestigious tournament in 2016/17 are down to Manchester United’s performance against the Hammers. Louis van Gaal was rumoured to be on the brink, but he could strengthen his position if he delivers Champions League football again.
Manchester City missing out on the Champions League would be catastrophic with Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola set to take charge in the summer. He will need the club to be in the biggest competitions to attract the biggest names to the Etihad Stadium in the summer, but their hopes now lie on the outcome of their rivals’ clash with West Ham on Tuesday night. City’s last game of the season is against Swansea, a side they will expect to beat, so United will likely need a perfect finish to seal a top-four place.
Louis van Gaal’s first season at Old Trafford saw Manchester United finish fourth in the Premier League with 70 points from the 38 games. If they win their two remaining games of the current campaign, United will finish just a point shy of 2014/15’s total. Supporters have been torn about the future of their boss, but staying in the prestigious European competition will open doors for them in the transfer market.
Manchester United are 5/4 to finish in the top-four of the Premier League this season, but can they deliver?