- Premier League season finale takes place this Sunday afternoon
- Aston Villa, Watford and AFC Bournemouth vie for 17th spot to avoid relegation to Championship
- Leicester City host Manchester United with winner set to claim top-four spot
PREMIER LEAGUE – A nervy Premier League finale lies in store on Sunday, with top-four, European spots and relegation survival at stake. So how might this weekend pan out?
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After the most unprecedented Premier League season is history finally draws to a close this weekend, there is much yet to be determined ahead of the final games of the season on Sunday afternoon.
As the only day of the campaign all 20 top flight teams face-off simultaneously – and whilst Liverpool have already begun basking in their newly-inherited status as league champions – relegation and top-four finishes are on the line on finale day.
On the back of an exhaustive 11-month term, the stakes as high as ever up and down the land. So what should we be keeping a eye out for, what might happen and what are the many permutations for Sunday’s likely nail-biting conclusion to the 2019/20 season?
Eyes on King Power
37 games down and both Leicester City and Manchester United begin the final day almost as they were last August, with just one point separating the two former Premier League champions as they face-off in a winner-takes-all encounter at the King Power Stadium.
After the Red Devils were held by West Ham on Wednesday night at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s charges could only draw level with Chelsea on 63 points, with the Foxes a further point back in fifth in the battle for the final two UEFA Champions League berths for next term.
Brendan Rodgers‘ men have slumped in form since the restart last month, but ahead finale day The Foxes still have their own European fate left in their paws. Things however, could get complicated.
Both Leicester and United have the same goal difference of +28, however that is unlikely to be a factor here. Instead, it could be just a straight shoot-out, with the visitors needing just a point to secure fourth at least, whilst a win will see United finish third. The hosts meanwhile, will leapfrog United for a final time with a win.
If both finish fourth and fifth, level on points, goal difference and goals scored (United have scored 64 to Leicester’s 67) then it goes down to head-to-head record (including away goals). United won 1-0 at Old Trafford in September and if Leicester replicate that exact scoreline a play-off to decide fourth would be needed – perhaps fitting in the most remarkable of seasons.
As the third element in the mix-up, Chelsea begin the final day tied on points with United, but with a inferior GD of 15 – as a result sitting in fourth.
Welcoming sixth-placed Wolves to Stamford Bridge is not the ideal scenario for Frank Lampard, however with the Black Country outfit now unable to improve on sixth place with a similarly lesser GD, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side might now be focussing their attentions on the resumption of the UEFA Europa League in Berlin next month – with a potential spot in the Champions League should they win the competition.
That said, Tottenham Hotspur remain just a point behind Wolves in seventh ahead of their trip to Crystal Palace and with a win themselves could sneak into sixth if Wolves do not beat Chelsea.
A win for Chelsea on the other hand would guarantee at least fourth and should United lose, third spot. Similarly, a point will seal one of the final Champions League berths, whilst a Blues defeat would see Chelsea miss out on the top four completely should Leicester and United draw.
As documented, Spurs could still overhaul Wolves for sixth spot and given the lingering risk of Arsenal grabbing a route into the Europa League with victory in the FA Cup final over Chelsea on August 1 – denying Spurs their own way into the competition by finishing seventh – their North London neighbours will be keen to seal the likely final Europa League spot.
If either Wolves or Manchester United win this season’s Europa League however, the final outcome could get a little muddier.
Three-way relegation scrap
At the bottom end of the table, the picture is a similarly murky and like with the the duel for final European spots, goal difference could very much come into play by 17:45 on Sunday evening.
After West Ham United sealed their safety with a point on Wednesday, the relegation picture remains with AFC Bournemouth, Watford and Aston Villa, two of which will drop back to the Championship next season.
Following the Hornets’ parting of the ways with Nigel Pearson only last week, the Hertfordshire side begin Sunday on the same goal difference as the Cherries, but perhaps crucially one less than Aston Villa – after their huge win versus Arsenal on Tuesday.
Intriguingly, manager-less Watford travel to the Emirates this weekend to take their shot at the Gunners, whilst the Villans visit the now-safe Hammers. If both sides win, then Watford will have to score two more than Dean Smith‘s side, as should both sides end on the same GD, goals scored will come into play – which Villa have six more of.
Draws a-piece will send Watford down, whilst a draw for Watford will be sufficient provided Villa lose. A Watford loss would mean Villa have to lose by two clear goals also.
Should both sides lose, then Bournemouth can still stay up but only with victory against an unsure Everton at Goodison Park. Despite a similar GD of -27, if the duo above them fall to defeat, their respective tallies will then drop below that of Bournemouth, meaning Eddie Howe‘s side stay up. Still with us?
The final day of the 2019/20 Premier League season takes place on Sunday, kick-off 16:00 UK time.
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