The following are talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action:
CHAMPIONS CONFUSION MAY LAST A WHILE
In the wake of Manchester City’s two year ban from European football, handed out by UEFA on Friday for breaches of the Financial Fair Play regulations, fifth place may be enough to secure a Champions League place this season.
May be enough. When will we actually know for sure?
City are appealing the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland and while that decision is likely to be expedited, the timeframe is unclear.
If the court upholds City’s ban, the club has the option of taking the matter to the Federal Supreme Court in Switzerland — which is the designated seat of appeal for CAS decisions, albeit one rarely used.
The Premier League season ends on May 17 and UEFA’s qualifiers for the Champions League start in July with the draw for the group stage on Aug. 27.
There could be a few asterisks on league tables and fixture lists and it could get very messy.
CANARIES EARN RESPECT BUT…
Liverpool were made to work hard for their latest victory — by a single goal at Norwich City on Saturday and while the Canaries remain adrift at the bottom of the Premier League, they continue to earn respect for the way they approach games.
But although pundits and commentators praise their positive, passing football, the reality of the Premier League is that a tighter, more disciplined style remains more effective — as the league table illustrates.
VYDRA’S LONG WAIT ENDS
Czech international Matej Vydra had become the forgotten man at Burnley – making only one Premier League start since November 2018.
A 10-million-pound ($13.03 million) signing from Derby County, where he had been leading scorer in the second-tier Championship, the 27-year-old looked a shrewd signing by Burnley manager Sean Dyche.
But with Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood forming an effective strike partnership and Jay Rodriguez brought back to the club from West Bromwich Albion in the close-season, he has been left on the fringes at Turf Moor.
He was even left on the bench for an FA Cup tie against Peterborough and when he appeared as a substitute was given a noticeably warm welcome by Burnley fans, which drew a strange response from Dyche, who said he was “intrigued” by the reaction.
“The fans went crazy. He must have got 20 goals last season because the fans went mad,” he said.
They certainly went mad at Southampton on Saturday where, after coming on for the injured Wood, Vydra scored a stunning winning goal.