Dramatic final day of Premier League has EIGHT games with something at stake


So, this is it, the final day of another season. 

For all the highs and lows of the previous 37 games, plenty is coming down to the final 90 minutes. 

Eight games – leaving out Southampton visit to Leicester and Chelsea hosting already-relegated Watford – are very much alive with a title race to finish, a top four spot to seal, relegation still looming large for two teams and Manchester United possibly finishing in the Europa Conference League.  

Burnley moved a step closer to Premier League safety with a point away against Aston Villa

There have been plenty of final day flurries in the top flight at both ends of the table but rarely has so much been undecided come the final day. 

Tottenham hold the edge over Arsenal in the top four race but still need to avoid any complacency at Norwich, while Leeds know anything less than a win at Brentford may not be enough to keep them in the Premier League.

Sportsmail runs through the eight big games this Sunday and what is on the line in each of them… 

TITLE RACE

Manchester City vs Aston Villa

Etihad Stadium

Having won 14 of their 18 home games so far this season, City will arrive at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday as overwhelming favourites. 

The math is simple for Pep Guardiola and his players: win and they are champions. Draw or lose and the trophy is likely to be lifted by Jordan Henderson and Co up in Liverpool. 

City hold a one-point lead and go into a game against a Villa side managed by former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, just to add another layer to the final day narrative.

Guardiola’s side ran out 2-1 winners when these sides met at Villa Park in early December, with goals from Portuguese pair Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva.

Manchester City know that if they beat Aston Villa they will be Premier League champions

Manchester City know that if they beat Aston Villa they will be Premier League champions

On their day Villa can be dangerous and Guardiola will be well aware of the dangers of complacency on a day that is set up to become the biggest of parties.   

‘I encourage all the Blues in Manchester that day to go to the streets, the stadium, because they know we are going to give everything to win that game,’ he said in an impassioned plea to supporters last week.

‘They will be so proud, I’m pretty sure. I can assure you something. In one week our stadium will be sold out and we will give them all of our lives over 95 minutes and they will give us their lives.’

Man City win the title if:  

  • Man City win vs Aston Villa

OR

  • Man City draw vs Aston Villa AND Liverpool draw or lose vs Wolves

OR

  • Man City lose vs Aston Villa by 5 or fewer goals AND Liverpool draw vs Wolves
One point separates the two teams heading into the final round of fixtures on Sunday

One point separates the two teams heading into the final round of fixtures on Sunday

Liverpool vs Wolves 

Anfield

The FA Cup and Carabao Cup winners are desperate to keep the Quadruple dream alive beyond 90 minutes against Wolves – but it is not in their hands.

Jurgen Klopp will likely bring back many of the players he took out against Southampton – he made nine changes for the 2-1 win at St Mary’s – and all he can ask of his players is to put maximum pressure on City by winning the game at Anfield.

Liverpool have the best home record in the league, going unbeaten in their 18 games at Anfield so far (14 wins and four draws). 

Wolves have won eight of their 18 away games and the anticipation is they will offer little-to-no resistance against this Liverpool juggernaut – not that Klopp shares that level of optimism, mind you.

‘Wolves don’t come here and want to be part of our celebrations,’ he said on Friday. 

‘They come here and want to get three points so we have to be ready for this game and not the other one [Champions League final].’

Liverpool win the title if:

  • Liverpool beat Wolves AND Man City draw or lose to Aston Villa

OR

  • Liverpool draw with Wolves AND Man City lose to Aston Villa by 7+ goals

OR

  • Liverpool draw against Wolves AND Man City lose to Aston Villa by 6 goals AND Liverpool score 5+ more goals than City
Liverpool's fans will hope Aston Villa can stop City from winning by getting a draw or a win

Liverpool’s fans will hope Aston Villa can stop City from winning by getting a draw or a win

TOP FOUR BATTLE

Norwich vs Tottenham

Carrow Road 

With three games remaining of the season, Tottenham were four points adrift of Arsenal and beginning to wonder if the top four race would even make it to the final day trip to Norwich.

Fast forward to a north London derby win and a nervy 1-0 victory over Burnley and all of a sudden, Tottenham are a win away from guaranteeing a Champions League spot. 

Norwich have been relegated for some weeks now but will have plenty of professional pride to play for in front of their own fans. 

The fact that Son Heung-min is chasing the Golden Boot – he is one behind Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah – means Tottenham should be right at it as they look to ensure they extinguish any hope down at Arsenal that this is still a race.

Tottenham are vastly superior in every single position but the jeopardy arrives in that Norwich have nothing to lose and can just throw caution to the wind for one last Premier League hurrah before they drop to the second tier. 

Tottenham, be warned.  

Tottenham will finish fourth if:

OR

  • Tottenham draw with Norwich AND Arsenal beat Everton by fewer than 15 goals 

OR 

  • Tottenham lose AND Arsenal draw or lose to Everton
Tottenham and Arsenal head into the final round of matches both holding out top four hopes

Tottenham and Arsenal head into the final round of matches both holding out top four hopes

Tottenham are firmly in control as they need just a point away to rock-bottom Norwich City

Tottenham are firmly in control as they need just a point away to rock-bottom Norwich City

Arsenal vs Everton 

Emirates Stadium

This was all set up to be in their hands.

And yet from the moment Rob Holding was given his marching orders in an abject north London derby display, Arsenal have looked like a heavyweight boxer on the ropes. 

A dismal 2-0 defeat on Monday Night Football to Newcastle felt wholly predictable for a side that have had their mentality brought into sharp focus in this pursuit for the top four. 

As mentioned, they were four points ahead with three games remaining and have then produced zero from the next available six. 

With Everton having secured their survival against Crystal Palace on Thursday night – and the emotion that likely has taken out of them – Arsenal will be expected to finish this season on a high. 

A win would at least put pressure on Tottenham in the off-chance that Norwich can pull out a wholly unexpected win at Carrow Road. 

Arsenal will finish fourth if:

  • Arsenal beat Everton AND Tottenham lose to Norwich 
Manchester United remain at risk of finishing in the Europa Conference League seventh spot

 Manchester United remain at risk of finishing in the Europa Conference League seventh spot

EUROPA LEAGUE SCRAP

Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

Selhurst Park

Not that Manchester United’s players should need any added incentive given as many as a dozen of them are under real scrutiny, but with new boss Erik ten Hag in the stands now is the time to put in a notable performance.

There haven’t been many of those for United in recent weeks – not notable in a good way, anyway. 

If United fans need omens then here is a good one as they look to avoid dropping into the Europa Conference League.

Crystal Palace have never won in 12 Premier League games against United at Selhurst Park, drawing four and losing the other eight. 

In Premier League history that is the most one team has faced another at home without ever winning a single game.

Manchester United will secure Europa League football if:

  • Man United beat Crystal Palace

OR

  • Man United draw with Crystal Palace AND West Ham do not beat Brighton

OR

  • Man United lose AND West Ham fail to beat Brighton 
West Ham and Man United are both facing away games in the battle to finish in seventh spot

West Ham and Man United are both facing away games in the battle to finish in seventh spot

Brighton vs West Ham

AMEX Stadium

Whatever happens on the south coast, West Ham have had a brilliant campaign.

The highlight was undoubtedly reaching the Europa League semi-finals, where they lost out to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt.

Now David Moyes and his players will look to make an immediate return to that competition, even if it is in Manchester United’s hands. 

West Ham simply have to defeat Graham Potter’s Brighton and hope Crystal Palace can beat Manchester United in front of a packed Selhurst Park. 

Given the seasons both West Ham and Man United have had, it’s far from the most unrealistic of scenarios. 

West Ham will secure Europa League football if:

  • West Ham beat Brighton AND Manchester United lose to Crystal Palace 

RELEGATION DOGFIGHT 

Burnley vs Newcastle

Turf Moor 

No glitz and glamour here but plenty on the line in terms of money, specifically the huge amount of cash for staying in the Premier League. 

Burnley have had a dismal season which saw Sean Dyche binned as manager after 10 years in charge in a desperate late roll of the dice.

There was a mini-revival under the guidance of caretaker boss Mike Jackson and they go into a final home game of the season with destiny in their own hands.  

‘That is what you want, you always want that,’ Jackson said following a 1-1 draw away at Aston Villa on Thursday.

Burnley have destiny in their hands in what has been a turbulent campaign at Turf Moor

Burnley have destiny in their hands in what has been a turbulent campaign at Turf Moor

‘We’re at home, it is in our hands but we know that there is a lot of hard work to go, 90 more minutes of work to achieve what we want to. That’s our goal, rest up now and get ready for Sunday.

‘Continue with what we have done today. Add that bit more quality with the ball but I think that will come, we have shown that before. Again, it is about that spirit now. It is there and it is about us focusing on the next game and attacking those moments.’

Newcastle won the reverse game 1-0 thanks to a Callum Wilson goal and it is expected to be an equally tense and fraught battle at Turf Moor. Win and they are safe. Draw and all eyes will switch to events in west London.  

Burnley will stay up if:

OR 

  • Burnley draw AND Leeds draw or lose

OR

  • Burnley lose AND Leeds lose
Both Burnley and Leeds head into Sunday's finale level on 35 points in bid to avoid the drop

Both Burnley and Leeds head into Sunday’s finale level on 35 points in bid to avoid the drop

Brentford vs Leeds 

Brentford Community Stadium

It won’t be lost on Brentford boss Thomas Frank that he was the subject of taunts by Leeds’ players in 2020 when they won promotion at the expense of the Bees. 

Stuart Dallas and Liam Cooper can both be seen chanting ‘mind the gap, Thomas Frank’ in a social media video. Now it is Frank who can put the nail in Leeds’ relegation coffin on Sunday. 

Burnley will hope Frank and Brentford take it seriously given they need to get a result, if they are unable to beat Newcastle. 

‘I think it’s very important to respect the league and try and do everything we can because if I was in that situation, I’d expect that from the other teams,’ said Frank.

‘Of course, we will put our very best team out there and it’s so important to understand we need to do our very best to win.’

So, not on the beach just yet. 

Leeds are facing what boss Jesse Marsch has called a 'final exam' as they go to face Brentford

Leeds are facing what boss Jesse Marsch has called a ‘final exam’ as they go to face Brentford

For Leeds, meanwhile, boss Jesse Marsch believes this is a final exam. Pascal Struijk rescued a stoppage-time point against Brighton to keep the Whites in contention, even if odds are against them. 

‘We have focused on managing every match and focused on ourselves,’ Marsch told BBC’s Football Focus. 

‘What I said to the team even now is we have had 11 trials through the process and now we take everything we have learned, good and bad, for a final exam. Now see if we can come out with 100%. 

‘Can we come with 100% marks in every area and we can’t be afraid of that. We have to enjoy that challenge and be up for it.’ 

Leeds will stay up if:

  • Leeds beat Brentford AND Burnley fail to beat Newcastle

OR  

  • Leeds draw with Brentford AND Burnley lose to Newcastle 

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