Soccer

Hopeful for a final flourish

  • Home advantage: whoever lives here will hope Liverpool can clinch a Champions League place next season (Photograph by Peter Byrne/PA/AP)

The final day of the Premier League is upon us and an exciting and dramatic end to the season awaits.

Oh, wait, strike that, most teams have absolutely nothing at stake but pride given the title race and relegation battles have already been decided (barring a miraculous result for Swansea and a calamitous collapse from Southampton, that is).

In fact, only the final Champions League qualification place is up for grabs and even then, Liverpool, who have not lost at home all season, need just a point at home to Brighton in their last game to hold off a late Chelsea challenge for fourth.

Manchester City continue to set records and their margin of victory means that sixth-placed Arsenal, in terms of points, finished closer to the bottom of the league than the champions.

Roll on the World Cup.

Sunday

Kick-offs 11am

Burnley v Bournemouth

Two teams with English managers who should be given a chance at bigger clubs. Sean Dyche has worked wonders on a tiny budget to guide Burnley into seventh, a position that guarantees European football next season for the first time in 51 years. Eddie Howe has also performed admirably to ensure Bournemouth remain in the division for a fourth season. with nothing to play for in this match, though, don’t expect any fireworks. Prediction: 0-0

Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion

West Brom manager Darren Moore now has the dubious honour of being the only man relegated on the same day as being named Premier League Manager of the Month. He will suffer a defeat in his last top-flight game but he should be given the task of leading West Brom in the Sky Bet Championship next season. Prediction: 2-0

Huddersfield Town v Arsenal

David Wagner will surely be on the shortlist for every managerial job going this summer after draws with Manchester City and Chelsea this week helped to guide Huddersfield to safety with a game to spare. Arsène Wenger is limping over the finishing line with Arsenal, who have failed to pick up a point on the road in 2018. Surely that has to change in the Frenchman’s last game. Prediction: 1-2

Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion

Jürgen Klopp may have an eye on the Champions League final in two weeks’ time, but if his side fail to beat Real Madrid in Kiev, they still need a point to ensure qualification. That will be done with ease. Prediction: 3-0

Manchester United v Watford

United have the best home defensive record in the Premier League and have finished runners-up, but José Mourinho will be expected to improve his side’s fortunes in Europe and close the gap on their big city rivals next season. An easy victory is anticipated here against a side who will probably be seeking their eighth manager in seven years during the summer. Prediction: 2-0

Newcastle United v Chelsea

Chelsea will be hoping to go into the FA Cup with a confidence-boosting success after a disappointing draw against Huddersfield Town on Wednesday. Rafa Benítez has done a brilliant job at Newcastle with an average squad and a win here would see them finish in the top half of the table. Prediction: 1-1

Southampton v Manchester City

Barring a catastrophic defeat of five goals or more — and a Swansea victory — Southampton are assured of their place in the division next season. That is just as well as it is difficult to see them coming out on top against the champions. Prediction: 0-2

Swansea City v Stoke City

This game could be at risk of being postponed because of a waterlogged pitch given the amount of tears that will surely be shed by the supporters of these relegated teams. Swansea will probably snatch victory but it will not be enough to save them. Prediction: 1-0

Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City

Spurs secured another season of Champions League football after narrowly beating Newcastle United in midweek and they will be looking to end the season with a flourish. This is likely to be Claude Puel’s final game in charge of Leicester and he will sign off with defeat. Prediction: 2-0

West Ham United v Everton

Two managers who may not be in these jobs at the start of next season if supporters have their way. However, David Moyes and Sam Allardyce have more than fulfilled their briefs since taking over and deserve the chance to continue, despite reservations about their style of play. West Ham should get the better of an injury-hit Everton, who are without Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott. Prediction: 2-0