After Sunday’s draw against Arsenal at the Etihad, Manchester City’s chances of finishing in the top 4 of the Premier League have been dealt a huge blow. They now risk not qualifying for the Champions League.
To make things worse, they have given cross town rivals Manchester United a glorious opportunity to knock them out of 4th place and consign them to the Europa League. United need to win their last two games against West Ham away and Bournemouth at home to secure 4th place. 6 points from their next two matches for United will see Pep Guardiola manage the Citizens in the Europa League next season, and that would be disastrous for City.
Manchester City have one game left, against Swansea on the final day of the season at the Liberty Stadium. However, with City’s current form, the Red Devils may not even need all 6 points to decide the fate of their ‘noisy neighbours’. If City intend on playing in Europe’s top competition next season, United would have to draw or lose one of their next two games and City would have to beat Swansea at the Liberty Stadium, which is no easy task.
United have been far from great this season. But in the past few weeks, they have been grinding out results and taking points from matches where they weren’t even given a chance. City, on the other hand, haven’t been able to do the same this season, losing points in matches that would be considered simple for a side of City’s quality.
United face West Ham and Bournemouth in their final two games of the season. The game at West Ham is sure to be an emotional one as it will the last game to be ever played at the iconic ground before West Ham move to the Olympic Park from the start of next season. If United beat West Ham, then they would be ahead of City by a point, and in 4th place with equal number of games played. Then if United win against Bournemouth at home, they would have sealed 4th spot irrespective of Manchester City’s result at Swansea.
If United lose to West Ham, they will have to win next week against Bournemouth and hope for a City loss, to seal 4th place. If United were to lose, it would be City’s for the taking. If the Red Devils were to draw one and win the other, then they would still finish at 4th place if City lose against Swansea. If City lose to Swansea next week, and United draw both of their remaining games, then both teams would be level on points and Manchester City would qualify based on goal difference.
City have endured a thoroughly disappointing campaign. In a season in which Chelsea put the worst display of a title defence in Premier League history, Arsenal have disappointed as usual and Liverpool and Manchester United failed to put up a fight for the title, Manchester City have been extremely poor, given their investment and the capitulation of the other major teams around them. Needless to say, after spending 4 years in top 4 of the Premier League table and playing in Europe’s top competition, to not even qualify would be a huge setback. Playing in Europe’s second tier competition is not something that Guardiola would have never expected to be doing when he signed for City.
If City let United reach fourth place, it will be a failure on the part of Pellegrini and his players. This would be a huge step back for the Citizens and it would give incoming manager Pep Guardiola much more to work on. City have been plagued by injuries this season, but with the quality available with Pellegrini, it won’t count for much as an excuse.