Fallout from failed European Super League rumbles on
The fallout from the failed European Super League fiasco spilt on to pitch at the weekend as fan protests resulted in Manchester United and Liverpool’s match at Old Trafford being postponed.
Despite supporters not being allowed into grounds because of the coronavirus pandemic, 200 fans took their protest — against the Glazer family's ownership of the club — from outside the stadium on to the field after breaking into the ground.
After refusing to leave the field, the decision was taken to call off the match on safety grounds, with two police officers suffering injuries after clashing with protesters. As a result the match was the first Premier League to be postponed because of fan protests.
The demonstration followed United's decision, along with five fellow Premier League clubs, to join the ill-fated European Super League last month, before subsequently pulling out.
The postponement also meant that Manchester City's champagne continues to be put on ice after they were denied the chance to win the Premier League at the weekend.
Having beaten Crystal Palace 2-0 the previous day, City would have sealed the title had United lost to Liverpool.
However, it is surely only a matter of time for Pep Guardiola’s side, who need just two points, meaning victory at home to Chelsea tomorrow would seal their fourth title in five years.
Leicester City v Newcastle United
Leicester City will be keen to inch closer to securing their spot in next season’s Champions League and extend their unbeaten league run to four games against struggling Newcastle.
The Foxes missed a golden opportunity to put further daylight between themselves and fifth-placed West Ham after being held to a 1-1 away to Southampton — who had ten men for majority of the game — last time out.
Victory today could prove decisive for Brendan Rodgers’s side with daunting fixtures against Man United, Chelsea and Tottenham to follow; all of whom remain in the hunt for a top-four spot.
Meanwhile, Newcastle, who had enjoyed an upturn in form in recent weeks, will be aiming to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat by Arsenal last time out and all but secure their league status. The Magpies are one place, but nine points, clear of the drop zone with four games remaining.
Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham head to Yorkshire knowing they cannot afford any slip-ups if they are to keep their hopes of a top-four finish alive.
Spurs maintained that hope in emphatic style last time out with a thumping 4-0 victory at home to already relegated Sheffield United.
Gareth Bale was at his devastating best to clinch am impressive hat-trick before Son Heung Min wrapped up the scoring 13 minutes from time. The victory leaves the club in sixth, five points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea.
A trip to Elland Road to face hosts Leeds United poses a far greater challenge for Ryan Mason’s side, with The Whites demonstrating their liking of an upset in recent weeks, picking up points against Man City, Liverpool and Man United.
However, a 2-0 defeat away to Brighton halted their previous six-match unbeaten run and manager Marcelo Bielsa will no doubt be demanding a reaction from his players.
Sheffield United v Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace travel to Sheffield United in need of a change in fortunes as they aim to halt a run of four matches without a win.
Having seemingly secured their league status once again, the Eagles, in thirteenth, have looked off the pace in recent weeks after a 1-1 draw away to Everton with successive defeats by Chelsea, Leicester City and Man City.
A trip to relegated United could pose the ideal tonic for their woes; however, Palace fans will be wary of blind optimism, with many waiting for the end of the campaign after too many underwhelming performances.
Manchester City v Chelsea
The maths is simple … victory will be enough for Man City to be crowned Premier League champions.
The intriguing tie pits Pep Guardiola’s champions-elect against Thomas Tuchel’s ever-improving Chelsea in a dress rehearsal for the Champions League final.
While City are in touching distance of the title, their coronation taking place tomorrow remains far from certain against a side who themselves are keen to achieve their aim of securing a top-four finish.
Guardiola will also need no reminding of the last time the two sides met, the FA Cup semi-finals last month, when Tuchel and Chelsea prevailed in a 1-0 victory.
Liverpool v Southampton
With Man City on the brink of winning the league, Liverpool can only sit back and watch their title slip away after an underwhelming campaign that threatens to see them finish outside the top four.
Ahead of welcoming Southampton to Anfield, Jürgen Klopp’s side are languishing in seventh place, seven points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea, albeit with a game in hand. The Reds are aiming to get back to winning ways after back-to-back draws against Leeds and Newcastle.
Saints head to Merseyside with relatively little to play for other than pride, sitting in fifteenth, ten points clear of the drop zone, having played a game fewer than those around them.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Brighton & Hove Albion
Much like Crystal Palace fans, Wolves supporters are just waiting to bring to a close an underwhelming campaign.
The loss of talisman Raúl Jiménez to injury and the sale of strike partner Diego Jota to Liverpool have proved decisive, with Nuno Espírito Santo never quite filling the void left by the influential pair.
As a result, the West Midlands club find themselves in twelfth, five points adrift of Leeds directly above them and four clear of the Eagles directly below them.
They will, however, be determined to make amends for poor performances in recent weeks, in which they followed a 4-0 thumping at home to Burnley with a 1-1 draw away to rivals West Brom.
Brighton, meanwhile, will be out to build on the momentum of a 2-0 victory over Leeds last time out.
Aston Villa v Manchester United
After the drama of the last weekend’s protests at Old Trafford, United will be hoping their performance on the field at Villa Park will be dominating the headlines come Sunday evening.
While United’s title challenge effectively finished weeks prior, Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s side will be keen to further cement their place in second and guarantee automatic qualification to the Champions League. The Red Devils head to the Midlands on the back of an impressive 13-match unbeaten run.
An encouraging campaign has left Dean Smith’s men securely in mid-table, sitting in tenth, a point behind Arsenal directly above them, having played a game less. Villa will be aiming to build on the momentum of a 2-1 victory away to Everton last time out.
West Ham United v Everton
West Ham continue their pursuit of fourth-placed Chelsea and a Champions League spot, with a visit from inconsistent Everton.
After back-to-back defeats by Newcastle and, crucially, Chelsea, the Hammers responded with a hard-fought 2-1 victory away to Burnley to remain just three points adrift of fourth with four games remaining.
Everton’s own push for the European places remains in the balance with Carlo Ancelotti’s side in eighth place, four points below sixth-placed Tottenham. The Toffees will be aiming to bounce back from a disappointing 2-1 defeat by Villa last weekend.
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion
West Brom look set to have their immediate return to the Sky Bet Championship confirmed imminently despite a valiant battle against the drop in recent months.
Sam Allardyce also looks set to suffer the first relegation of his managerial career with the Baggies second from bottom, ten points adrift of safety with only four games remaining.
Hopes of masterminding another great escape still looked possible last month, however, a winless run of three matches coinciding with teams around them picking up results has all but dashed those faint hopes.
Arsenal, in ninth, will be going in search of a second successive win, having beaten Newcastle 2-0 last time out.
Fulham v Burnley
Fulham look destined to join West Brom in heading straight back to the Championship, with their hopes of avoiding relegation all but over.
Of the teams in the drop zone, Scott Parker’s men had looked the most likely to have any chance of securing survival after strong run of form in February.
However, their fortune soon turned with the Cottagers now finding themselves on a six-game winless run, which has left them nine points adrift of Newcastle with games running out.
Burnley, meanwhile are in sixteenth place, also nine points clear of Monday’s hosts and look all but assured of another season of Premier League football.
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