The title and relegation places have already been decided, but there is still plenty to be decided on the final day of the Premier League season. Here are six things to keep an eye on this afternoon.
Premier League final day: 6 things to be decided
The race for the top four
Leicester City were brought back down to earth with a thud on Tuesday. Just over 72 hours after lifting the FA Cup, a 2-1 defeat by Chelsea left Brendan Rodgers’s side sweating in their bid for a top-four finish. Liverpool’s 3-0 victory over Burnley on Wednesday means the Foxes go into the final day of the Premier League season outside the Champions League places.
Chelsea will secure a spot in Europe’s principal competition – as well as a third-place finish – if they beat Aston Villa. Leicester must not only beat Tottenham Hotspur at the King Power Stadium, but hope that Liverpool fail to overcome Crystal Palace at Anfield.
Leicester will be hoping that Roy Hodgson can spoil his former club’s party in what looks set to be his final game as a Premier League manager, although Rodgers’s side will also qualify for the Champions League with victory over Spurs if Chelsea fail to beat Villa.
The battle for the Europa League
One of Chelsea, Liverpool or Leicester will be in the Europa League next season, unless the Blues finish fifth but win the Champions League final on May 29.
Sixth spot will also bring with it a place in Europe’s secondary competition, which Manchester United will hope to win next week. West Ham United are in pole position to finish sixth, having come from behind to beat West Bromwich Albion in midweek. If the Hammers avoid defeat by Southampton on the Premier League final day, they will be in the Europa League next term.
A Southampton win at the London Stadium would open the door for Tottenham, provided they beat Leicester. Everton need both teams to lose and a hefty victory over Manchester City; realistically, this is a two-way battle between Spurs and West Ham.
The fight to avoid the Europa Conference League
Tottenham are in a strange position. Europa League football is a prize worth fighting for and they will do their utmost to emerge triumphant at the King Power. But a victory for Spurs would see them wrap up a seventh-place finish if West Ham do not lose, and that means the north Londoners would be competing in the Europa Conference League next season.
Smaller clubs may welcome UEFA’s addition of another tournament but, for sides like Spurs, it is surely an unwelcome distraction. If Tottenham fail to beat Leicester, they could be leapfrogged by Everton or Arsenal – although whether either of those teams would welcome a place in the Conference League remains to be seen.
Kane vs. Salah for the Golden Boot
Harry Kane has been in the headlines this week, with the Tottenham striker keen to seek pastures new this summer. Before attempting to sort out his future, the England international has the chance to win the Golden Boot for the third time in his career. Going into the final day of the Premier League, he is level with Mohamed Salah, with both men having found the net 22 times.
Kane also tops the assists chart, having provided 13 so far this term. Bruno Fernandes, whose United team face Wolverhampton Wanderers, is close behind on 12, while Kevin De Bruyne is sitting on 11 but could be rested with the Champions League final in mind.
West Brom seeking pass/possession double
Sam Allardyce bristled at Michail Antonio’s suggestion on Wednesday night that West Brom are a long-ball team. The statistics, though, lend credence to the West Ham striker’s claim. Since Allardyce took the reins at the Hawthorns, West Brom rank second for long balls attempted.
The Baggies could also end the season bottom of two related rankings. Ahead of Sunday’s trip to Leeds, West Brom have the lowest average possession in the Premier League at 41 per cent. They could yet finish with the lowest pass completion rate too, although Burnley (71.6 per cent) are outdoing the Baggies (72.3 per cent) ahead of the final day.
Three-way tussle for xG ignominy
Much has been made of Brighton’s struggles in front of goal this season. The south-coast side’s approach play has often been excellent, but profligacy in and around the penalty area has left Brighton just two places above the relegation zone after 37 games.
According to Understat, the Seagulls have scored 13.6 goals fewer than would have been expected based on the quality of chances they have created. Yet despite widespread coverage of their woes, Brighton are not out in front (or behind) in that particular ranking: Fulham are underperforming their xG by 13.1 and Sheffield United by a whopping 13.7. The final day race to go down as the most inefficient attack of the Premier League campaign is very much on.
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