THIS seemingly never-ending Premier League season could go on a few days longer if Man Utd and Leicester can contrive to produce one last incredible twist.
Chelsea, the Red Devils and the Foxes have been slugging it out for a Champions League position since the campaign got underway, all the way back on August 9, 2019.
But now, with the season set to finally come to an end 352 days later – the latter pair could be in for yet another extension to their domestic campaigns.
For if United and Leicester were to finish below Chelsea and on the same number of points, goal difference, goals scored and head-to-head – FA rules stipulate that the pair would need to meet in an unprecedented top-four play-off.
This would decide which team would snatch the final Champions League position.
How could this scenario come about? Let’s take a look.
First of all, let’s remove Chelsea from the equation.
With Frank Lampard’s side currently sat in third, a point above their two rivals, but having played a game fewer than Leicester, one more win against either Liverpool or Wolves will see them safely in.
But as Leicester host Man Utd in what could be a blockbuster match at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, here is what would need to happen to set up our theoretical play-off.
Before we address United’s game in hand against West Ham on Wednesday night, we should look at Sunday’s match with the Foxes first.
As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side defeated Leicester 1-0 at Old Trafford, all the way back in September, the Foxes would have to match that scoreline on Sunday, so as to level up the two sides’ head-to-head.
Previously, head-to-head has not been used at all by the Premier League, but it was introduced this season as the final way of separating teams who finish level on points, goal difference and goals scored.
The Champions League-chasing duo are already locked on identical goal differences of plus-28 – but United would have some serious work to do on Wednesday to match up Leicester’s number of goals scored and conceded going into the final showdown.
A 5-3 win for the Red Devils over the Hammers at Old Trafford would see them move onto 68 goals scored and 38 conceded going into Sunday’s match.
And with Leicester having scored 67 and conceded 39 – that 1-0 win we mentioned earlier matching up the head-to-heads would also see both teams locked on 68 and 39 and 65 points… triggering our hypothetical play-off.
Still with me? Good.
Should all of this happen, the play-off would take place at a neutral venue, most likely on July 29 – BEFORE the FA Cup final.
Nothing is scheduled to take place at Wembey Stadium until August 1’s FA showpiece… although for logistical reasons the play-off could take place further up north, should all of the above come to fruition.