Hammers Host Toffees And Race For The Top Four Hots Up On Premier League Final Day
After a midweek of Premier League action from other matchdays, being tidied up, it’s now time to look forward to all of Sunday’s season-ending drama and what a final round of fixtures of the 2017/2018 campaign it promises to be, as David Moyes’ West Ham United meet a familiar foe and Pep Guardiola’s champions travel to the South Coast with the chance to relegate their opponents.
But, first, let’s go over the five matches that were played out on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening, which were all re-arranged from previous Game Weeks.
On Tuesday, Southampton defeated Swansea City to all but secure their safety, while a day later, Huddersfield Town got the point they needed to stay up away at Chelsea.
Also on that Wednesday night, Tottenham Hotspur gave themselves a much-needed top four cushion by beating Newcastle United 1-0 and Leicester City and Manchester City convincingly overcame Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion respectively, West Ham United and Manchester United drawing 0-0 at London Stadium in Thursday’s only match.
As is customary with the final day of the season, all affairs will kick-off at exactly the same time of 3 PM BST, so we will start with the champions and a relegation-threatened side.
Mark Hughes’ Southampton would need to see a nine-goal swing between themselves and Swansea City in order to be relegated on the final day, but they are hosting the Citizens at the St Mary’s Stadium and stranger things have happened, many eyes will be watching what unfolds in this one.
A place where there is considerably less to play for is Old Trafford, where Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and Javier Gracia’s Watford will bring the curtains down on their seasons.
The Red Devils secured second spot behind their city rivals in East London two days ago and will be playing with next weekend’s FA Cup final at the back of their mind, meanwhile, the Hornets could see this as an opportunity to leave Manchester with something, some encouragement for next season after an average campaign.
Tottenham Hotspur were another team to achieve their objective, cementing a top-four finish last midweek, but they have one test left, facing Leicester City at home.
This will be Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs last league game at Wembley Stadium and they will be hoping to end the spell at the ground with a flourish, as will Claude Puel, who is hoping to win over the Leicester supporters and ensure that he remains in charge at the King Power Stadium forevermore, this could be an interesting one.
At Anfield, the only remaining team that could drop out of the top four on the final day are in action when they entertain a Brighton & Hove Albion side who have secured their safety in recent weeks, some achievement.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, one eye on the Champions League final at this end of this month, could fall to fifth if they taste defeat to Chris Hughton’s men, putting more pressure on them to overcome Real Madrid at the end of May and as for Brighton, a fitting way to end a ground-breaking campaign would be with a victory of this magnitude.
Plenty of the Sunday afternoon focus will be on St James’ Park, where Antonio Conte’s Chelsea can sneak into the top four if results go their way elsewhere, standing in their way will be former boss Rafa Benitez and his Newcastle United.
The Magpies will be looking to damage the Blues’ hopes of playing in the Champions League next campaign and can do so, while all that the west Londoners need to do is collect three points and await news to filter through from Anfield, but will it be that simple for them in the North East?
Whichever way you look at it, it will be a momentous afternoon in Yorkshire when Huddersfield Town take on Arsenal for many different reasons at the John Smith’s Stadium.
There will, without doubt, be a party atmosphere off the back of David Wagner’s Terriers securing their PL status for another season with an impressive result at Stamford Bridge, but the Gunners are the favourites for one reason and one reason only, it will be Arsene Wenger’s last ever match in charge, what an occasion.
Another place that is expected to be jubilant on the afternoon is Turf Moor as Sean Dyche’s Burnley have reason to celebrate when they welcome Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth to Turf Moor.
Whilst there is nothing to play for in this fixture, the Clarets have Europa League football to look forward to with a seventh-place finish and will be looking to fittingly finish with three points, it has also been a successful term for the safe Cherries, although the afternoon is expected to belong to the hosts.
At the London Stadium, the Hammers will see an appearance from an old foe in the form of Everton manager Sam Allardyce when the two teams go head-to-head, a game that you can follow live here on West Ham Matters.
Remarkably, if they win and are helped by other results, the East Londoners could record a top half finish in what has been a very turbulent campaign for them, while the Toffees, going up against their ex-boss of 11 years Moyes, have the incentive of trying to hold on to eighth position, with Leicester breathing down their necks.
Also in the capital, Roy Hodgson and Crystal Palace, who have achieved the near-impossible and managed to avoid the drop, entertain a team that, sadly, haven’t been so fortunate in the form Darren Moore’s West Bromwich Albion at Selhurst Park.
It had looked like the Baggies would still possess a slim chance of survival going into the final day, but results in the past week have meant that they will be playing Sky Bet Championship football next season, despite a valiant late effort and Moore being crowned Manager of the Month for April, it will be time for celebration for the Eagles.
And last but not least in Wales, there are desperate times for Swansea City as they aim to avoid joining their opponents Stoke City and West Brom as 2017/2018’s relegated sides.
Carlos Carvalhal’s Swans must defeat Paul Lambert’s already relegated Potters and hope that Blue Moon convincingly overcome the Saints, but as aforementioned, they are requiring a nine-goal swing and it seems incredibly unlikely that anything like this will transpire, they can only do their bit and pray.
Southampton vs Manchester City (Sunday 3 PM) – 0-4.
Manchester United vs Watford (Sunday 3 PM) – 2-0.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City (Sunday 3 PM) – 3-0.
Liverpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion (Sunday 3 PM) – 1-0.
Newcastle United vs Chelsea (Sunday 3 PM) – 0-2.
Huddersfield Town vs Arsenal (Sunday 3 PM) – 1-3.
Burnley vs AFC Bournemouth (Sunday 3 PM) – 2-1.
West Ham United vs Everton (Sunday 3 PM) – 1-1.
Crystal Palace vs West Bromwich Albion (Sunday 3 PM) – 2-2.
Swansea City vs Stoke City (Sunday 3 PM) – 2-0.
So, now that all the spills and thrills from the final offering of the campaign from the league that well all know and love have been well and truly previewed, who will be matchday 38’s winners? Who will be its losers? And more importantly, who will make the headlines? Join us once again then to find out.