Europa League

Premier League state of play after Man City ban lifted

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Eight clubs, six five places.

Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal no longer have the eighth-place crutch when it comes to chasing a place in Europe.

Manchester City’s European ban has been lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who ruled that City “did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions but did fail to cooperate with the UEFA authorities” and reduced the club’s fine from $32 million to $11 million fine.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

This means two of the Premier League’s guaranteed four UEFA Champions League bids are sewn up with Liverpool and Man City guaranteed to finish first and second.

Want to know how this alters perspectives for the final three match days of the Premier League season (and the FA Cup)? Read on…

The field “shrinks” and Man City wins. Who loses?

This is especially bad news for Leicester City and Wolves. Both Leicester’s form and Champions League hopes have dropped significantly and the Foxes and their 59 points could sit fifth by the close of business Monday if Manchester United stays hot and beats Southampton (United is a heavy favorite).

Wolves had an outside shot of catching one of Chelsea, Leicester, or Manchester United for fifth but now are likely to need to win the Europa League to qualify for the UCL.

Obviously the lifting of the ban is not great news for the margins of error for Chelsea or Man United, but it hurts fellow traditional powers Tottenham and Arsenal a whole lot more.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners dipped to ninth place on Sunday when they lost the North London Derby to Spurs, and now are four points back of the final UEL spot held by Sheffield United (54 points). Spurs have 52. Burnley’s dreams of a second UEL berth are also stung, their 50 points level with Arsenal.


Arsenal’s new reality as wild card

The Gunners can no longer affect the fates of any team around them in the table via the league route, with matches left against confirmed champions Liverpool and relegation candidates Aston Villa and Watford.

They can also affect all of the teams around them by winning the FA Cup and eliminating seventh place as a UEL place.

Arsenal maxes out at 59 points. That would probably be enough for a Europa League place, but so would winning two FA Cup matches, easier said than done against Man City and then either Chelsea or Manchester United.

They’ll know a lot more about whether that could be their only route by about 5:15 pm ET Wednesday when they finish a league tilt against Liverpool. A loss to the champions would arguably make Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal versus Man City their last chance to avoid a first Europe-free season since 1996.


The biggest “swing” matches

As mentioned, the margins of errors have shrunk in a big way, and the final day of the season could be a blockbuster with the table’s current third through sixth place teams matching up on Decision Day.

Imagine if the table holds form and Wolves visit to Chelsea and Manchester United’s trip to Leicester City kick off at 11 am ET on July 26 with the Champions League on the line. Hashtag drama.

That assumes that Leicester City dodges a Thursday effort from Sheffield United, the Blades bidding to keep themselves in the discussion for a stunning berth in the UEL during their promotion year in the Premier League.

In fact, you might as well have a look at Leicester’s fixture list as the one that will determine European slotting. The Foxes control their destiny with a visit to Spurs sandwiched between home matches versus the seventh-place Blades and fifth-place (at the moment) Red Devils.


Remaining fixture lists of European candidates

Chelsea (60 points)

Monday v. Norwich City — 3:15 pm ET
July 22 at Liverpool — 3:15 pm ET
July 26 v. Wolves — 11 am ET

Leicester City (59 points)

Thursday v. Sheffield United — 1 pm ET
Sunday at Spurs — 11 am ET
July 26 v. Manchester United —  11 am ET

Manchester United (58 points)

Monday v. Southampton — 3 pm ET
Thursday at Crystal Palace — 3:15 pm ET
July 22 v. West Ham — 1 pm ET
July 26 at Leicester City — 11 am ET

Wolves (55 points)

Wednesday at Burnley — 1 pm ET
July 20 v. Crystal Palace — 3:15pm ET
July 26 at Chelsea — 11am ET

Sheffield United (54 points)

Thursday at Leicester City — 1 pm ET
July 20 v. Everton — 1 pm ET
July 26 at Southampton — 11 am ET

Tottenham Hotspur (52 points)

Wednesday at Newcastle — 1 pm ET
Sunday v. Leicester City — 11 am ET
July 26 at Crystal Palace — 11 am ET

Arsenal (50 points)

Wednesday v. Liverpool — 3:15 pm ET
July 21 at Aston Villa — 3:15 pm ET
July 26 v. Watford — 11 am ET

Burnley (50 points)

Wednesday v. Wolves — 1 pm ET
Saturday at Norwich City — 12:30 pm ET
July 26 v. Brighton — 11 am ET


Oh, why not? Predictions!

3. Manchester United — 68 points
4. Chelsea — 65 points
____________________________
5. Leicester City — 63 points
6. Wolves — 60 points
7. Spurs — 59 points
_______________________________
8. Sheffield United — 58 points
9. Arsenal — 56 points
10. Burnley — 56 points

FA Cup semifinal draw
Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic watched by Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Photo by Mark Leech/Offside via Getty Images)

Mourinho wants Europa League trophy; Arteta positive

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Jose Mourinho not only wants to qualify for the Europa League, he wants the trophy, while Mikel Arteta was still positive despite Tottenham beating his Arsenal side 2-1.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

The north London derby was an open, entertaining encoutner as Spurs battled back from Alexandre Lacazette’s superb opener to win as Heung-min Son equalized and Toby Alderweireld won it late on.

ProSoccerTalk spoke to both managers after the game and although Mourinho admitted he doesn’t ‘love the Europa League’ he is desperate to finish sixth and get in it.

Mourinho also reminded everyone that he’s only played in the Europa League twice in his career but he’s won it twice and said “it wouldn’t be bad to play in it a third time and win it a third time.”

Why does he think the Europa League would be beneficial to Tottenham next season?

“Europa League isn’t the biggest competition in Europe, but it is the second biggest. When a club wins Champions Leagues, or a player wins Champions Leagues, or a manager wins Champions Leagues, then the Europa League feeling… if you ask Lewis Hamilton if he wants to win Formula 3000, or whatever you call it, I don’t think it would be a great deal for him,” Mourinho smiled.

“But, it is a competition. I prefer to play Europa League than not to play. I think it is a title that Tottenham would obviously like to get. For example, at Manchester United, of course United is a club with a dimension that thinks about Champions League but when I was there we had to play Europa League and we won Europa League. So, I think we have to do everything possible to play in the Europa League next season and we have to fight for that.”

Tottenham are three points off sixth with three games to go and have an easier schedule than most of the teams around them, as they play Newcastle, Leicester and Crystal Palace. The battle for sixth, and seventh, will be intense as teams scramble to qualify for the Europa League.

As for Arsenal, who are in a straight fight with Tottenham for sixth place and the Europa League places, we asked Mikel Arteta if he was still positive they are on the right track despite the defeat at Spurs.

“Yes, if we minimize the mistakes that we do and keep playing like that we are going to win many, many, many football games because we are going to make it really, really difficult for the opponent. I am sure of that,” a positive Arteta said. “But these two aspects, one has to be maintained and the other one has to be avoided. It’s on us. They believe in what they are doing. You can see how they are trying, how they are going. It is a shame because if you are able to win that well in such a big ground and such a big stage like today, it gives you a big belief. I am gutted for the players because they really tried.”

The north London derby was a tight clash between Mourinho and Arteta and it underlined that both teams have a long, long way to go to become top four contenders.

Defensively Tottenham were slightly better and that is why they won the north London derby. But this was more about Arsenal giving Tottenham the win due to their defensive mistakes rather that Spurs totally earning it.

Pogba: Manchester United hoping to win FA Cup, Europa League

Aston Villa - Manchester United recap
Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
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Paul Pogba and Manchester United are cruising through matches and sending a message to the Premier League.

The Red Devils won by three-or-more goals for the fourth-straight match, something that hasn’t been done in the history of the PL, and moved within a point of fourth place thanks to a 3-0 demolition of Aston Villa at Villa Park on Thursday.

[ RECAP: Aston Villa 0-3 Man Utd ]

Injured for most of the year, Pogba scored his first goal of the season in the win. He’s been looking tremendous in the midfield since returning from the coronavirus pause, and has even triggered hope that he’ll sign a new long-term deal with United.

Pogba was asked how he’s feeling about his time at Old Trafford and where it may run:

“Right now I’ve been injured for a very long time,” Pogba said. “I focused on myself to get back and help the team as much as I can. This year I have two goals, to go for the Europa League and the FA Cup so we focus on that.”

United faces Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinal and has one foot, well, most of its body in the Europa League quarterfinals.

The Frenchman says it’s good that the Red Devils are playing as well as they have been, but he’s not getting carried away with accolades.

ASTON VILLA – MANCHESTER UNITED FULL MATCH REPLAY

“We didn’t win the Premier League,” he said. “That’s the goal. We didn’t win anything this year so obviously we have to keep working. There’s a lot to do.”

Pogba thinks United can achieve all of their season goals regardless of what the top four chasers do, but cautioned that the Red Devils cannot ignore their poor start to Thursday’s win.

“We are our own enemy. We have to play not like we did the first 15 minutes but how we finished the game.”

Europa League tournament confirmed

Europa League
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The dates and details have been confirmed for a UEFA Europa League straight-knockout tournament held in Germany in August to conclude the 2019-20 competition.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule ]

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin announced the news Wednesday, as the tournament will take place from August 10-21. The Europa League was halted on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The quarterfinals and semifinals will be one-off games instead of the usual two-legged format, while the remaining Round of 16 games will be played on August 5-6 either at home stadiums or in Germany if that isn’t possible.

Venues to be used in Germany are Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen, as Premier League teams Man United and Wolves remain in the competition and among the favorites to win it all. UEFA also revealed details for a Champions League tournament in Portugal at the same time as the Europa League, as the two will dovetail in August.

Below are the Europa League dates, schedule and venue details for how the tournament will work, as UEFA also said they will make a decision in early July about whether or not fans will be allowed to attend. Ceferin said the coronavirus pandemic in Europe is ‘changing rapidly’ and UEFA will adjust accordingly in the coming weeks.

UEFA Europa League tournament schedule

August 5-6: Round of 16 second legs

Man United v. LASK (5-0)
Wolves v. Olympiacos (1-1)
Bayer Leverkusen v. Glasgow Rangers (3-1)
Wolfsburg v. Shakhtar Donetsk (1-2)
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Basel (0-3)
Sevilla v. AS Roma* first leg wasn’t played, one-off game will decide winner
Inter Milan v. Getafe* first leg wasn’t played, one-off game will decide winner

August 10-11: Quarterfinals

August 16-17: Semifinals

August 21: Final

Venues to be used

Cologne
Duisburg
Dusseldorf
Gelsenkirchen

Sheffield United boss Wilder readies for European fight (video)

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has overseen one of the more incredible debut seasons for a promoted club in Premier League history.

His Blades are currently in a Europa League position and two points back of what will likely be a Champions League position if Man City’s European ban is upheld next month. They will also host Arsenal in an FA Cup quarterfinal if the tournament resumes this summer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Wilder has been planning for the Blades return over the coronavirus pandemic, and admitted to NBC’s Arlo White that there are some odd moments when he considers their position on the Premier League table.

“There has been a time when the league table flashes up and you go, ‘What’s happened there? What’s that team doing right the way up there above some big hitters?’ But really what it does teach you in the game of football is that you have to live in the moment. We’ve enjoyed this season. We fully deserve our position. We believe (in) the points that we’ve gained and the points that we’ve produced. We want to carry on where we’ve left off.”

“I liken it to a Ford Fiesta in the Le Mans 24-hour race in super cars. Listen, we’re competitors. We’ve enjoyed it and I do 100 % percent believe deserve the performances we’ve got have been fully deserved. We’re going to have to do a lot just to maintain our position now.”

Blades remaining fixtures are far from easy, with Spurs, Manchester United, Wolves, Leicester City, and Chelsea still to come. They’ll have their say on the UCL and UEL and, almost regardless of how it goes, will have made a wildly strong impression on the PL.