How Liverpool and Man City could be forced into unprecedented PLAY-OFF for Premier League title at end of the season
LIVERPOOL and Manchester City could clash in an unprecedented Premier League title decider – just three days before the Champions League Final.
Top flight rules state that a play-off will be used to determine the champions if two sides are level on points, goal difference, goals scored and in the head-to-head results between them.
With the league games at both Anfield and the Etihad having finished in 2-2 draws, that last element has already been confirmed.
While City stole a march on their fierce rivals by putting five past Newcastle following Liverpool’s draw with Spurs, a defeat in any of their remaining games opens the prospect of the first play-off in Premier League history.
But while League chiefs have not yet made any formal planning, it is understood that the most likely provisional date for what would be the most important single match in the history of the competition is Wednesday May 25.
For a play-off to be needed, Liverpool must pick up three points more than City in their remaining games, effectively meaning Pep Guardiola’s defending champions need to lose one of their games.
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Jurgen Klopp’s men also need to score three goals more than City and concede three fewer.
But a 3-1 City defeat at either Wolves or West Ham this week and a 1-0 victory in the other match would allow Liverpool to draw EXACTLY level by beating Southampton 2-0 next week, after they saw off Aston Villa 2-1 last night.
That would mean a final day scenario on Sunday May 22 of the team that scored the most goals when City host Villa and Wolves travel to Anfield would claim the crown.
If the two matches then finished with exactly the same result, a play-off would be necessary.
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But the first available date – with both sides needing a clear 48 hours after their final Prem games – would be May 25, with Old Trafford a potential venue.
That, though, would be hugely disruptive to Liverpool’s preparations for their Paris showdown with Real Madrid on May 28.
But with City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko required by Ukraine for their World Cup play-off semi with Scotland on June 1 and then the potential final against Wales four days later, the following week would be out of the question.
Other international calls would then interfere, with games being played across the world from June 5 onwards.
It would mean Fifa having to give their consent for players from both sides to miss scheduled internationals in June, although that is possible given the magnitude of the match.
But it still means the EARLIEST other date for the game would be June 8, 17 days AFTER the end of the season.
The prospect of a second play-off for fourth between Arsenal and Spurs has now effectively ended.
For the two teams to be dead level would require Tottenham to win Thursday's North London derby 3-1 and then squander a goal difference advantage of 10 in the final two matches while picking up one point more than the Gunners.
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