Manchester City have had their European ban overturned after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).
City were alleged to be in breach of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, leading to a two-year ban from European club competitions.
Their ban would have changed the shape of the Premier League run-in, with an additional Champions League place potentially up for grabs.
Most fans and neutral onlookers have been assessing the Premier League table in light of the ban, but now that City are cleared to qualify, the battle for the top four just kicked up another notch.
What does Man City’s appeal mean for the rest of the Premier League situation in 2019/20?
Champions League contenders
Liverpool and City are locked in at number one and two respectively. No teams can lay a glove on either, meaning there are two places up for grabs and three clear favourites to contend for the top table of European football.
Mathematically, all of the Europa League contenders could still end up in the top four, but those hopes are expected to be snuffed out for good this week.
That leaves Chelsea, Leicester and Manchester United in the battle for the top four.
Frank Lampard’s Blues were defeated 3-0 by Sheffield United after an abysmal performance at the weekend. Had they won that encounter, they would be four points clear of Leicester with three games to go, a near-unassailable lead.
Fortunately for them, Leicester saw Chelsea’s dire performance and used it to inspire them to an even more humiliating loss on Sunday night. The Foxes were 1-0 up and cruising with half an hour to go against Bournemouth before conceding four to Eddie Howe’s relegation-battling Cherries.
That puts Manchester United, who currently sit in fifth, arguably in the most enviable position. They’re one point behind Leicester, two behind Chelsea, with a game in hand against Southampton tonight. Beat Southampton and they go third with the hottest form of any team in the league.
Europa League contenders
Had City’s ban been upheld, logic dictates that fifth-place would have qualified for the Champions League, sixth and seventh for Europa League and potentially eighth too depending on the winner of the FA Cup.
That is no longer the case. Seventh will be the maximum cut-off point, meaning two of Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham and Arsenal will miss out on Europa League qualification via the Premier League table.
Sheffield United are in the best form of the bunch after beating Tottenham, Wolves and Chelsea in their last three home games, with a draw against Burnley sandwiched between.
Wolves rediscovered a clinical touch versus Everton at the weekend and will also fancy their chances of a top-seven finish.
Tottenham appeared the least likely to finish in a European spot prior to Sunday, but their significant north London derby win over Arsenal has shunted them back into contention, to the Gunners’ detriment.
Now, let’s talk about Burnley. Sean Dyche’s warriors are not out of this yet. Their goal difference may be approaching double figures on the wrong side of zero, but they remain tied with Arsenal on points with Wolves, Norwich and Brighton left to play.
Saying all of that, Arsenal could launch a final spanner into the works even after the season is completed. They face City in the FA Cup semi-finals (Man Utd v Chelsea is the other tie) and if Mikel Arteta’s men lift the trophy, they will qualify for Europe, meaning seventh place won’t qualify.
The likely scenario suggests Wolves and Sheffield United will get the job done, but a lot can happen in three games. Who will hold their nerve?