The Britwatch Football Team give their preview and predictions for Sunday’s final day of the season
Follow their progress throughout the season and see which writer takes up the Premier League Prediction cup
Correct result gets one point, correct result and score gets three points.
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – Matchweek 38 arrives as the curtain comes down on the 2017/18 Premier League campaign. Will Liverpool or Chelsea secure fourth and who will lift the Britwatch prediction cup? As usual our writers have their say on what they think will happen.
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Burnley vs. AFC Bournemouth (Sunday, 15:00)
Neil: Matchweek 38 and the final day of the season gets under way at Turf Moor. Burnley have rather hit the buffers in recent weeks and their 5-0 hammering at Arsenal was a pretty fair indicator that the Clarets have run out of gas after a fantastic season in the top-flight. The Cherries meanwhile are eyeing a top-ten finish to end the season but need to win to guarantee that to happen. Sean Dyche will be demanding a response from last week and in front of their home fans, I believe they will put the cherry on the cake of a terrific campaign.
Niall: When you reach the final game of the season, a lot of matches are redundant and this is one of them. Neither has anything to fight for so you may see them experiment with some young players and different systems. Burnley have a good home record whilst Bournemouth are sketchy with their form, so I am backing the Clarets.
Prediction: Burnley 2-0 Bournemouth
Crystal Palace vs. West Bromwich Albion (Sunday, 15:00)
Neil: For Palace to have already secured safety after eight games without a point or indeed a goal at the beginning of the season, if a remarkable feat and the credit must go to Roy Hodgson for steering the ship out of choppy waters. For my money three players have been the lynchpin of the Eagles’ rise in Luka Milivojevic, James Tomkins and of course Wilfried Zaha. West Brom end their eight-year stint in the Premier League here and it will be a sad day for many traveling Baggies fans. Darren Moore should also take his own plaudits for giving the West Midlanders a future to believe in but I feel here they will be sent packing to the Championship with a defeat.
Niall: With Palace safe and West Brom down, this match is about nothing but ending the season on a high. For West Brom they want to say farewell to the Premier League with a win, but that will be difficult away at Palace. The Eagles are in good form and they could secure a top 10 berth with a win, so I am going for a home win.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 West Brom
Huddersfield Town vs. Arsenal (Sunday, 15:00)
Neil: Having sealed their safety with two excellent – and wholly unexpected draws away to both Manchester City and Chelsea, there will be a party atmosphere at the John Smiths’ as Arsene Wenger waves goodbye to Arsenal. I was their for his final game at the Emirates last Sunday and it was a rather strange experience; torn by both emotion and the necessary beginning of a new era in North London. The Gunners continue to lose on the road this calendar year, but I just a feeling that the visitors will be pulling out all the stops to give Wenger a fitting send-off. However, you can pretty much bank on both sides scoring.
Niall: This match has bigger stakes than many because it is Arsene Wenger’s last game as Arsenal manager. It would be fitting for the Frenchman to walk away from the Gunners with a win, but Arsenal’s away form suggests it could be a struggle. Huddersfield are safe after two draws against Man City and Chelsea, and if they can avoid defeat it would be a good end to their first season in the Premier League. It will likely look like the previous two matches for the Terriers and I think they can eek out a similar result.
Liverpool vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (Sunday, 15:00)
Neil: Matchweek 38 continues at Anfield. With just a fortnight until the UEFA Champions League final with Real Madrid in Kiev, this will be Liverpool‘s final opportunity for a competitive game until their trip to the Ukraine at the end of the month. Mo Salah having failed to score in his last two games is still eyeing goal records on 43 in all competitions and is three away from Alan Shearer‘s record in a campaign with 34. Brighton have become formidable opponents home and away but I can’t see them troubling the Reds too much. With Los Blancos on the horizon however and after their loss to Chelsea last time out, I think Jurgen Klopp may err on the side of caution defensively – if that is possible – but still foresee a few goals being scored with a top-four place still not guaranteed.
Niall: This is one of the few matches with actual stakes on the standings. If Liverpool lose and Chelsea win then the Reds could miss out on the Champions League next season unless they defeat Real Madrid. Liverpool have gone off the boil in recent weeks with Salah’s goal count drying up a little, but at home against one of the worst travelling sides in the league they should have enough to seal a top four place.
Neil: Having secured second place in the league table, Manchester United will have half an eye on next Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley. There are still a number of individuals with the places at stake against the Blues next weekend and this will be the last opportunity for a number of fringe players to stake their claim, in particular Marcus Rashford with Romelu Lukaku still a doubt for the showpiece final. Watford won well last time out against the Magpies but this is likely to be a loss to round off their season, though I have my doubts whether we will see many goals here, with the emphasis on defence.
Niall: With second place sewn up, Man United have no worries heading into their final game of the season against Watford. They have not been the best team to watch this season so we hope they put tactics aside to give us a show on Sunday. Watford will no doubt be up for it, but away from home they struggle so I predict a United win.
Neil: Two losses on the bounce have seen Newcastle’s late-season form take a turn from the worse, but as they return home for the final game of the season for Matchweek 38, the Magpies will be seeking a happy end to what has been a difficult campaign. Chelsea are unbeaten since April Fools’ Day against Spurs and after beating Liverpool last Sunday wold have been in buoyant mood, before another frustrating evening at Stamford Bridge against the Terriers. The visitors seem to be unsure as to their best approach and like United may switch things around for the trip to Tyneside. The hosts have a poor recent record against the West Londoners, however they have beaten the Blues three times at St. James’ since 2013. Do I see a repeat of that? Not entirely. I can see them finding the net but am edging Antonio Conte to win what could be his final league game in charge for the Kings’ Roaders.
Niall: Chelsea go into this match with a slim chance of making the top four if they manage to beat Newcastle. They would of course need a Liverpool defeat to make it, so it is not entirely in their hands. The Magpies have struggled in recent games having lost their last four, but a top ten berth could be sealed with a result. Chelsea’s stakes are higher though and I think that extra drive, motivation and quality will see them nick a result
Neil: The hard work has almost been done for Southampton after their 1-0 win at Swansea in midweek, but the hosts still need to be a little bit careful of a serious hammering at St. Marys’. That eventuality will likely see Mark Hughes play five at the back but in terms of taking anything here, it may be a forlorn Matchweek 38 afternoon. The Citizens with a win can reach the magic 100-point mark on the South coast this Sunday, an achievement which will take some beating. After resting a number of names for the midweek clash, City will likely name something close to their strongest and as a result an away win is surely the only plausible result. The only worry for the hosts then is keeping the scoreline down.
Niall: Southampton are likely safe with their goal difference advantage over Swansea, but they are not mathematically there yet. Man City are looking to become the first team to reach 100 points in a Premier League season and you would fancy them to do it against the Saints. Will the defeat be heavy enough for Swansea, I do not think so.
Neil: There will likely be a funereal atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium on Matchweek 38, with Stoke already down and the Swans set to join them, barring a Southampton thrashing and a similar goal-glut in South Wales. After the run Swansea went on to climb the league table it does seem a little surreal that the Welsh outfit look set to make the drop town to the second tier, but the reality is that hosts’ wheels have completely fallen off and have lost their attacking bite. Many of the Potters may be playing in the shop window effectively, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri looking for a new club next season. Because of the that, I am sticking with the draw which will extinguish the faintest of faint hopes of a miraculous final day escape in the valleys.
Niall: Swansea go into match-week 38 knowing they need a huge win against Stoke to stand any chance of staying in the Premier League, so they will come out swinging on Sunday. This could be a high scoring game then as Stoke will want to bow out in a good way, so I think an entertaining home win might be on the cards.
Prediction: Swansea 3-2 Stoke
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Leicester City (Sunday, 15:00)
Neil: Having lost to West Brom last weekend, Tottenham Hotspur bounced back with a win against Newcastle albeit in less than scintillating fashion. Leicester also responded from a home loss to the Hammers with a win over Arsenal and boss Claude Puel needs a Matchweek 38 result here to keep alive any lingering ambitions of keeping his place in the dugout this summer. Spurs have had the habit in recent seasons of dotting the ‘I’s and ‘T’s’ on their league campaign with a handsome win and often a hatful of goals to boot. Whilst I dont’t necessarily see the Foxes rolling over, I do see the hosts notching the win here with Harry Kane looking to hit form with the World Cup just a month away in Russia.
Niall: For Spurs, they will be hoping to secure a third place finish when they host Leicester on Sunday of Matchweek 38. This match does not have much riding on it so we may see some reserve and young players get a chance in this game. Leicester have defeated a North London club already this week, but I can not see them defeating both.
Neil: So here we are the final game of Matchweek 38 and indeed the 2017/18 Premier League campaign. Having taken a point off United on Thursday night, the objective here for West Ham United will be to remain unbeaten over their final two games to close out the season. Everton meanwhile have become the draw experts, which has rather turned the tide against Toffees’ boss Sam Allardyce amongst the fanbase. Struggling to create any chances of note against the Saints, West Ham might fancy their chances of a final day win and I am backing them to achieve that.
Niall: And the final game we are predicting this season comes at the London Stadium where West Ham host Everton. There is not a lot on this game and it will likely not be a barn burner, so I think a draw is the most probable result.
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