AFTER five games of the 2017-18 Premier League season, Manchester City and Manchester United are separated only by the alphabet.
Manchester United beat Everton 4-0 at Old Trafford this afternoon.
But, despite ensuring they match City’s goal difference, they STILL are not sitting on top of the Premier League.
Following their opening quintet of fixtures both clubs have 13 points, have a goal difference of +14 and have scored 16 times.
The Red Devils have now scored and conceded the same amount of goals as their fiercest rivals after five games.
And that means Pep Guardiola’s side are on top solely because of their name
In fact, with no other determining factors to play with, Pep Guardiola’s City are handed the No1 spot purely based on the fact City comes before United in the dictionary.
But what would happen if the two clubs – or any two clubs, in fact – finished the season with an absolutely identical record?
According to league rules and regulations, the teams involved in the deadlock would play an additional “play-off” match at a neutral venue – much like a cup final.
The Premier League rules state: “If at the end of the season either the league champions or the clubs to be relegated or the question of qualification for other competitions cannot be determined because two or more clubs are equal on points, goal difference and goals scored, the clubs concerned shall play off one or more deciding league matches on neutral grounds, the format, timing and venue of which shall be determined by the board.”
While it is incredibly unlikely the law will ever have to be enforced, this City-United deadlock is already an intriguing prospect.
After all, this is only the second time in Premier League history two teams have boasted an identical record outside of August.
The only other instance of this happening came incredibly late into the season – in January – back in the 2014-15 season.
That year, Chelsea and Man City were tied up after 20 games – both with 46 points, 44 goals scored and 19 goals conceded – for a +25 goal difference.
That season, Jose Mourinho’s Blues pulled clear to win the Premier League title by a massive eight points.