If Manchester City fail to beat Chelsea tonight, Liverpool will be crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years, holding an unassailable lead at the top of the table with only seven rounds remaining.
But should City take all three points from their trip to Stamford Bridge, the title race will go to Liverpool’s next league match, which is due to be played against Pep Guardiola’s side next Thursday.
The Premier League clash had been initially identified as a potential problem to Project Restart, with a fear among officials that fans would congregate outside the stadium due to the match taking place behind closed doors.
But after a review carried out by the Manchester Council Safety Advisory Group (SAG), the game has been given approval to take place at the Etihad Stadium.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, executive member for skills, culture and leisure, said on Thursday: “The Council’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG) for the Etihad stadium met this morning to review the upcoming fixture between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC.
“Following the most recent round of Premier League fixtures which have all taken place behind closed doors the SAG has signalled it has no objections to the above fixture taking place at the Etihad Stadium as planned at 8:15pm, Thursday 2 July. As with all other Premier League matches this fixture will take place behind closed doors, with no fans present.”
The fixture was one of five that the Premier League considered staging at neutral venues if they could not guarantee that the new coronavirus safety protocols could be maintained, though the decision remained with local authorities who provide the security and police presence.
The successful restart of football in England over the last week has appeased those fears though, and after the Merseyside derby took place last Sunday at Goodison Park without incident, City have been given the green light to return to the Etihad Stadium for their top-of-the-table encounter next week, knowing that the importance of the fixture lies in their own hands as they need to defeat Chelsea to prevent Liverpool from wrapping up the title with seven games to spare.