Tomorrow is the last day of the English Premier League season. As a Liverpool fan, I have to say thank goodness for that. But as a fan of the sport, I’ll miss what I consider the world’s best league. There are a number of important matchups, and battles for first place and Champions’ League spots, in addition to one spot in the relegation zone. All 20 teams play at the same time tomorrow – and the drama will surely be high. You can see the matchups here and current table here.
With that in mind, here is what’s at stake:
The Title Race
With their victory in the Manchester Derby nearly two weeks ago, City took control of their destiny in the title race, drawing level with United on points, but holding the tiebreaker on a (probably) insurmountable goal difference. Both sides won last weekend, so the title remains up for grabs.
United will need a result at Sunderland; City hosts relegation-threatened QPR. Speaking of…
The Fight for Survival
Wolverhampton and Blackburn have been officially relegated to the Championship (second division), and Bolton is the strong favourite to join them. To avoid that fate, they need to win at Stoke, and have QPR lose at City. While the latter is a strong possibility, the Wanderers have no margin for error. If they draw, QPR would have to lose by at least 9 goals to wipe out their goal differential tiebreaker.
On that note, wins by Bolton and United, along with a QPR win (or draw) – would keep the Rangers up, and deny City the title – making for an all-time memorable final day. Were it not for my general reluctance to see good things happen to Sir Alex Ferguson, I would definitely be rooting for this outcome.
Top Four Turmoil
The top two (in some order) are set, as is sixth place (sorry, Chelsea!). Arsenal is in third, one point ahead of Tottenham, who in turn is one point ahead of Newcastle. The top four qualify for the Champions’ League (with fifth going to the decidedly less glamorous and lucrative Europa League). That is, unless sixth place Chelsea wins this year’s Champions’ League final against Bayern Munich next weekend, in which case they’d qualify at the expense of the fourth place team in spite of their record. Clear as mud? Okay then.
All three teams face difficult challenges:
– Arsenal visits West Brom, who upset them at Emirates last year, and will be playing for the last time under manager Roy Hodgson, who leaves to take the England job after this match. WBA is a tough matchup in any circumstance, so a result for the Gunners is far from guaranteed. A draw would guarantee them at least 4th place, though.
– Tottenham is at home against a tough Fulham team, who has beaten them in recent years, and could still finish as high as 7th depending on tomorrow’s outcomes.
– Newcastle visits Everton, who with a win will be assured of finishing 7th (and ahead of rival Liverpool…sigh).
Two teams fighting for the title, two for survival, and three for the one or two remaining Champions’ League spots. Tomorrow should be an exciting day to cap off this year.
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