Tuesday's soccer news starts with the Premier League table a matchday after the resumption of the 2019-20 season. With all teams now at 30 games played, it's an interesting situation for teams just outside of the top 8 and likely a European place. That requires an explanation of Manchester City's situation in 2nd-place.
If UEFA's Financial Fair Play ban that's currently under appeal holds, City isn't allowed into the 2020-21 and 2021-22 European competitions. That means City finishing in the top four puts the 5th-place team into the Champions League. That's the likeliest competitive result with City 17 points ahead of 5th-place Manchester United. Even if they dropped out of the top four, City has a spot in the Europa League from winning the League Cup. If their appeal is unsuccessful, that spot will end up with the 7th-place club.
With the FA Cup at the quarterfinal stage, a team in the top four winning would add another Europa League group spot for 7th-place, dropping the Europa League qualifying spot to 8th-place. Again, assuming City's appeal doesn't go in their favor. That's already adding pressure to the situation for clubs in the middle of the table. As it stands, we have to consider City's ban in effect with that subject to change.
Sheffield United currently holds 7th-place with 44 points, two ahead of 8th-place Spurs and 9th-place Crystal Palace. Arsenal is two points behind in 10th. Four teams are within three points of Arsenal, taking us all the way down the table to Southampton in 14th-place. There's a five-point gap between 14th and 15th-place, for now marking the separation between clubs reasonably in contention for Europe and those concerned about a relegation fight.
Last season, it was 8th-place Everton finishing three points out of the European spots and two points ahead of 9th-place Leicester City. Three points separated 9th from 12th-place. In 2017-18, there was a five-point gap between 7th-place Burnley taking the final European spot and Everton in 8th-place. Three points separated 9th from 12th. In 2016-17, the points gap between Europe and the rest of the table was 15 points. Three points separated 8th from 13th-place. In 2015-16, two points were the difference between 7th-place West Ham and 8th-place Liverpool. In turn, nine points separated Liverpool from 9th-place Stoke City.
The easy takeaway is that there's usually a gap at or just outside the European places with a clear distinction between the teams really in contention for those spots. Well, normally. The resumption of this season is new territory for all involved, creating a situation that is hardly predictable. The potential for two European spots and maybe three falling further down the table means a reevaluation of success this season.
If Europe is the goal for all Premier League teams, finishing in 8th-place may be cause for celebration in 2019-20. What that means for the teams within a win of 8th-place is the same question MLS teams ask themselves every year. If the playoffs draws the line, does close enough count?
Also in the soccer news, The Independent's Melissa Reddy with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on the points gap between 1st and 2nd. Inside World Soccer's Andrew Warshaw explains how French clubs could play games that count in front of fans next month.
The Athletic's Sam Stejskal on the growing concern over holding MLS is Back in Orlando. MLSsoccer's Charles Boehm interviews San Diego Loyal coach Landon Donovan. Front Row Soccer's Michael Lewis looks back at the career of Ken Snow, who died on Sunday.
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