So it’s all come down to this, the final weekend of the Premier League season and there’s a fair bit still to play for. Chelsea will have to hold their nerve against Wigan while Man Utd must beat Stoke and hope that the Blues slip up. At the bottom it’s all already signed and to an extent the European places are done and dusted too, but Spurs will want to try to pip Arsenal to 3rd while City, Villa and Liverpool will jostle for position in the Europa League spots. Other than that though, it’s the last day of the season and everyone wants to go out on a high. Who will manage it? Read on…
All games on Sunday, all kick offs 3pm.
Arsenal vs. Fulham
Fulham really probably won’t give a damn what happens in this match, they’ll finish comfortably mid-table whatever happens and the thoughts of everyone involved with the club will be firmly set on the Europa League final. Expect Hodgson to risk the wrath of the FA again by fully utilising his squad, while Arsenal on the other hand, will play their strongest side to secure 3rd place and a home win for their fans on the final day. While stranger things have happened and Fulham’s reserves will be keen to impress, I can’t look past a home win here.
Aston Villa vs. Blackburn Rovers
Villa may be on a bit of a downer after such a promising start to the season has again faded into disappointment for them with last weeks defeat to City denying them Champions League football next season. That said though, I expect them to finish things off with a win against a travelling Blackburn side who have nothing to play for – which is something of a surprise really as at one point they looked like being in big trouble. Big Sam has again fought (almost literally) out of a relegation battle though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the players’ minds were already on their summer jollies.
Bolton Wanderers vs. Birmingham City
The end of a fantastic first season after promotion for Birmingham ends here and McLeish will want his players to finish with a bang and secure a top half finish. Things will undoubtedly be a little tougher next season with raised expectations but it seems he’s got money to spend so things look good for the Midlands team. Wanderers fans too, have cause for optimism. Owen Coyle came in and steadied the ship and they will hope that a summer rebuild can finally get them playing some nice football – something they’ve probably been yearning after for years. Little at stake for either side here, it could go either way – a cracker or a fizzler.
Burnley vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Burnley, despite a promising start, ended up being the little club that couldn’t in the Premier League this season. But fair play to them, sensibly run they’ll be well off in the Championship next season and it may not be too long before we see them again, the fans at Turf Moor will certainly enjoy this last hurrah though. Spurs become the first team since Everton in 2005 to break the ‘big four’ and well done to them. Redknapp has certainly spent money to get there, and it will be a big test to see how he manages the demands of both competitions next season. First things first though, and with an outside chance of leapfrogging arch-rivals Arsenal I fully expect a buoyant Spurs to ruin Burnley’s relegation party.
Chelsea vs. Wigan Athletic
How Man Utd must be praying that Wigan complete an unlikely double over Chelsea this season. The league leaders were humbled at the DW Stadium earlier this season but this will be a whole different kettle of fish. Stamford Bridge on the best of days is a fortress, but with a packed house eager to see the League trophy presented it will be ferocious. To be honest, and with no respect to Wigan, Chelsea are the only ones who can stop themselves from winning the league. If they approach the game in the right manner I fully expect them to win it in style, if complacency or too many nerves creep in though, disaster could strike. This could be a real test for Ancelotti’s man-management skills, but I think they’ll succeed.
Everton vs. Portsmouth
As an Everton fan I have at various times called our season ‘disastrous’. Had it not been for the most incredible run of injuries I’ve ever seen in football, I confidently believe that we would have finished at least fourth this season. That we finished 8th despite the injuries shows just how disastrous our season hasn’t really been, especially given that at one time we all feared a relegation battle. Now Portsmouth are a club who have had a disastrous season. I can’t begin to outline all the ways in which that is so, but it’s been well documented, and they will not grace the Premier League next season and even their continued existence still seems questionable. Their minds may well be on the Cup final, and Everton will want to sign off on a positive at Goodison, so home win.
Hull City vs. Liverpool
Hull are another club that are playing their last top flight game, their prospects don’t look great for next season either and I wager it will be a long time before they return to the top flight. Things ain’t looking to rosy red at Liverpool either, with increasing debts, a manager who is a bit shit but who they won’t sack and a team that is, frankly, completely over-reliant on two players, their dreams of actually mounting a title bid this season have been shattered. I think that Rafa may just go out on a high thanks to the low calibre of opposition, but I think he, like Hull, may not grace the Premier League again for a while.
Manchester United vs. Stoke
United will beat Stoke, I’m certain of that. The thing with United is that they will always get the result when it counts. It’s just that too many times this season they’ve dropped one too many ‘easy’ points and that is what will probably cost them the title this season. Still, that they’ve come so close despite losing Ronaldo, one of the world’s best, and not really replacing him is testament to… uh, Wayne Rooney, who has carried them this season. Stoke have had another strong and unspectacular season, and they’ll put up a fight, but Pulis will already be focusing on making sure they’re still hard to beat next season I’m sure.
West Ham United vs. Manchester City
West Ham are 17th going into this game, and Man City are 5th, but I’ll bet that won’t be reflected in the atmosphere of the fans on Sunday. West Ham will be jubilant at having survived a nightmarish season with their top flight status in tact while City will be disappointed that all their cash could buy them passage into the Champions League. Whether Mancini remains next season or not is probably at about evens, but I fully expect Zola to resign once all the dust has settled – he’s been treated appallingly by the new owners and won’t stand for it. On the pitch, the Hammers superior morale may just help them out and I wouldn’t be surprised if they nicked this one.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Sunderland
Wolves have really come good towards the end of the season, it was getting to crunch time and McCarthy managed to rally his men and they’ve shown some really good performances in pulling clear of the relegation zone, there’ll be a part atmosphere at the ground for this one. Sunderland will probably reflect on what might have been. A promising start to the season was curtailed by injuries and they’ve struggled since, despite having one of the league’s most prolific strikers in Darren Bent. There’s significant promise for them next season, but for now I think both sides will be reasonably content with a draw here.
Disagree with any of my predictions? Think Chelsea will slip up and United take the crown? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think will happen on the final day…