A place in next season’s Champions League is at stake when Leicester City host Manchester United on the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday (11am ET).
It is, in fact, a three-way contest for the two remaining top-four places behind Liverpool and Man City. United are third on 63 points, the same tally as Chelsea in fourth. Leicester are a point back in fifth.
A draw would be enough for Man Utd to qualify regardless of Chelsea’s result. If Chelsea win at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leicester would have to beat United to make it. If Chelsea lose, then Leicester’s vastly superior goal difference would see them nip in ahead of them with a draw against United.
Everyone seemed to be working on the assumption that Manchester City ban’s from European competition would be upheld. In the scenario, third to fifth would have yielded Champions League football. With that ban overturned on appeal, one of the three teams will miss out, and it currently looks most likely to be Leicester.
That is a function of the wildly different results they and Man Utd have achieved since the resumption of Premier League action last month. When we got back underway, Leicester were up in third, with an eight-point cushion over MUFC in fifth. They have taken just nine points from their subsequent eight matches, compared to United’s haul of 18.
Leicester lost 0-3 to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. They created a good amount of chances over the course of the 90 minutes, outshooting Spurs 24 t0 seven and carving out at least a couple of very good opportunities but the scoreline told a different story. Three first-half goals consigned Leicester to defeat and put them on the back foot in the Champions League race. For the first time since September, they dropped out of the top four.
It says much for just how bad Leicester have been since the restart that only four teams have taken less points than them. Even before then, there had been signs of a downturn. After taking a superb 2.05 points per match from their opening 19 matches of the season, they had taken just 1.40 per match across their 10 fixtures between then and the suspension of play.
Even just maintaining that rate through their eight matches post-restart would have seen them to 64 points by this stage, enough to make a draw on Sunday sufficient to secure a Champions League berth. Instead, they have taken just 1.13 points per match, lower mid-table form, and must win if they are to return to a competition they have appeared in only once before.
Man Utd are far more regular Champions League participants and now the more likely of the two teams to grab a place there thanks to a points accumulation rate that has only been bettered by that of Manchester City since action resumed last month.
The January arrival of Bruno Fernandes, the returns from injury of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford and the emergence of Mason Greenwood have transformed a side who were solid but a bit stodgy earlier in the season into one of the most entertaining teams in the league and a pretty effective one too. Only Man City have better underlying numbers since the restart.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side did nearly stumble at home to West Ham on Wednesday. They went behind to a late first-half penalty, before Greenwood struck back early into the second to secure a 1-1 draw. Even a one-goal defeat would have meant that only victory would have been good enough against Leicester; the point there gives them the clear upper hand.
Given that Manchester United are undefeated since the league resumed and last suffered defeat in January, 14 matches ago, avoiding defeat on Sunday seems a pretty doable task. They were even 1-0 winners when the sides met at Old Trafford in September of last year, with a Rashford penalty the difference between the sides.
Our Preview’s LCFC vs MUFC Betting Tips Verdict
The form book is with United and if they take the lead, they are likely to find plenty of opportunities to cause Leicester problems on the counter-attack as their hosts push forward for goals. Even if they just keep things tight to start with, the match has to open up eventually, given Leicester’s need for three points. Under those conditions, the betting tip for this Leicester vs Man Utd preview is that the away team look a solid bet for victory.
- Bet on Manchester United to win @ best odds of +129 with 5Dimes.