Manchester United: Premier League's Race for Champions League Football

Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial at Wembley Stadium, London, April 23. Martial could be pivotal in Manchester United's quest for Champions League football. Paul Gilham/Getty

With three games remaining in this most surprising Premier League season, the race for Champions League football is reaching a climax.

With Leicester City confirmed in the group stages of next season's competition—and on the verge of being crowned champions—and Tottenham Hotspur close behind, it is up to Arsenal and Manchester City to fight off a resurgent Manchester United.

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has the opportunity to put his side closer to Champions League qualification as the Gunners face Norwich in a late kick-off on Saturday.

The Manchester clubs feature the following day, with United's clash with Leicester followed by City's visit to Southampton.

Five points separates Louis van Gaal's side with City and Arsenal but with a game in hand, to be played on May 10 against West Ham United. It may, however, be too late by then.

In Leicester, United faces a determined side that knows the Premier League title is just a whisker away. Defeats are not something that have been common to the champions-elect, with Leicester losing just once in 13 games.

Arsenal's opponents, Norwich, are unlikely to go down without a fight either, as Alex Neil's side battles for its Premier League status. History is against them, however, as the Canaries have recorded just one victory against Arsenal in 24 years.

Theoretically, City's opponents for Sunday don't have a great deal to play for, with Southampton sitting comfortably in eighth and just slim hopes of gaining Europa League football.

Manuel Pellegrini, the City manager, faces the daunting task of playing Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final decider 48 hours later, so focus may be elsewhere.

It may be the defining weekend for the Champions League places. But Manchester United will have to force Leicester to put the champagne on ice to keep this subplot rolling on.