Arsenal and Man Utd face risk of fixture chaos with July start to 2020/21 seasonby Rich Jones, https://www.mirror.co.uk/authors/rich-jones/
Arsenal and Manchester United run the risk of fixture chaos to start the 2020/21 Premier League season.
The two clubs are battling to return to the Champions League next season but look likely to miss out on the all-important top four.
If they do fall short, a spot in the Europa League looks a likely end result, although Arsenal still have work to do the close the gap on the top seven.
But if they finish seventh there is a serious danger of a July 23 start to the season in the Europa League qualifiers - the same scenario faced by Wolves this campaign.
If Manchester City beat Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup final and a team qualified for Europe win the FA Cup, then the side who finishes seventh will enter the Europa League in the qualifying round at the end of July.
Everton currently occupy seventh spot but Arsenal lie 10th on 31 points, five behind the Toffees, whilst eighth placed Manchester United are just a place and a point behind.
The Red Devils face a huge game against fourth placed Chelsea on Monday night, whilst Arsenal host Newcastle on Sunday in a bid to kick-start their resurgence under Mikel Arteta after the winter break.
Such an early start to competitive fixtures would disrupt preparations for the new Premier League season and also cause chaos at the top.
But they could solve the issue by winning the Europa League to secure a return to the top table of European football.
Both Arsenal and United are accustomed to heading far afield for money-spinning pre-season tours which could have to be shelved if they enter European competition in July.
Arsenal spent their latest pre-season in America whilst United headed to Autralia, Singapore and Shanghai.
Wolves headed to China for the Premier League Asia Trophy before their Europa League campaign got underway, playing just two friendlies before beating Crusaders 6-1 on aggregate after games on July 25 and August 1.
They then had to head to Pyunik in Armenia on August 8 just three days before their Premier League opener at Leicester.