Arsenal v Everton
The Gunners’ promising season has unfolded into a disappointing one in a span of 180 minutes with back-to-back defeats at Tottenham and Newcastle, which left them only with a glimmer of hope to make the much wanted comeback in the Champions League. However, one can argue that the signs of a potential downfall were always there given the lack of rotation and inexperience within the young squad, but Arteta insisted that they are fine. Now, they need a favour from the already relegated Canaries and a win against the Toffees at the Emirates if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season. Everton are coming to London fresh off securing safety through an incredible comeback and stoppage time winner in Merseyside. Frank Lampard’s squad is physically as well as mentally drained out after an exhausting season and the stressful finale at Goodison Park, which most probably means a rotation is on the horizon. The likes of Kenny, Van de Beek and Alli are set to start and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a youngster or two given a debut to mark a successful end of their season.
The hosts need a win for more than one reason, beginning with boosting the slim chances of a return to the European elite to giving their fans something to cherish after squandering the 4th place out of their hands. Arteta’s issues in defence remain still with Tomiyasu joining Holding and Tierney on the sidelines, but with the midfield looking likely to dominate possession, the danger from the Toffees will be limited to counter-attacks. In the last couple of matches at home, the Gunners have put three past the Red Devils and two past Leeds United respectively, so I expect another win to end the season on a high note even if it means a place in the Europa League rather than the Champions League.
Brentford v Leeds United
The Bees’ splendid season in the top-flight is hitting new heights as Brentford sit in 11th place and Thomas Frank has been deservedly nominated for Manager of the Year. Nothing short of exceptional from the squad which boasts amazing team spirit among the players and is determined to secure as high a possible finish in the Premier League. Brentford’s stadium is going to proudly applaud the squad in the lap of honour, but a team fighting for safety is coming to London. Leeds United enter the final matchday in the relegation zone and Jesse Marsch’s squad needs a positive result to avoid Championship football next season. The Whites are on a five-match winless run which saw them drop to the danger zone and their performances suggest a relegation won’t be a surprise given their awful form. It was only to Gelhardt’s moment of greatness that they earned a draw last week against Brighton and with a host of key players ruled out, it’s going to be extremely difficult to get anything from London.
The high-flying Brentford noted back-to-back wins against Southampton and Everton respectively and they have put three past both of them. Frank’s squad boasts the second-best attack in the bottom half of the table and scoring against Meslier shouldn’t be a problem. However, even if the visitors are without James, Roberts and Bamford, this is one of the most important matches in their careers and if they fail to score, they will face relegation, so I expect them to put one in the hosts’ net. An enjoyable and open match is upon us and with Brentford’s attacking mindset and Leeds’ high stakes at the table, I expect goals galore in London.
Brighton v West Ham
Fresh off qualification for Europe, West Ham will look to target 6th place and European football with victory on the South Coast on Sunday while the home side are gunning for a first top 10 finish in their Premier League history.
Graham Potter has led Brighton to a wonderful season and will look to round off their campaign with a finish as high as 8th. The Seagulls are in fine form with 14 points from their last 7 games, despite stumbling to just a point at Elland Road courtesy of a last minute equaliser. Despite rocky home form, Brighton did put 4 past Man United in their last home fixture dominating their visitors by using a back 3. With Marc Cucurella and Joel Veltman as outside centre backs who have experience as full backs, Brighton were able to attack from all over the field leaving United on the back foot for most of the game.
West Ham are also enjoying a fine season and will feel confident that Europa League football could return to London Stadium next season. In order to leapfrog United into the top 6, Palace must beat United and West Ham take the 3 points here, which isn’t unheard of considering United’s away form. The Hammers will be confident of springing a result here, particularly as they breach the Champions elect twice to race into a 2-0 lead courtesy of Jarrod Bowen.
This should be an entertaining battle between a Brighton side playing attractive football and a West Ham side full of electric attacking talent. David Moyes won’t stray away from playing attacking football, especially shown by West Ham scoring in every home game this season. BTTS has landed in 62% of West Ham fixtures and I expect that to rise today. Particularly as the last 6 games between these sides have finished in BTTS draws.
Burnley v Newcastle
With destiny entirely in their own hands, Burnley know a victory seals their Premier League status after a miraculous turnaround under Mike Jackson and Ben Mee. A point at Villa Park on Thursday saw Burnley take the pivotal step up to 17th before the final day, however Newcastle will be set on spoiling the party despite having virtually nothing to play for.
When Ashley Barnes’ penalty hit the back of the net, Burnley fans were jubilant feeling just one step from survival. A nervy point following a resilient defensive performance backed up Mike Jackson’s recent plaudits as he ground out a result against a side full of attacking depth. Burnley have won 3 of their last 4 home games, keeping 2 clean sheets and scoring 7 times in that period. Interestingly, Burnley average 42% possession at home despite picking up results, showing their ability to soak up pressure as they don’t have the pace to counter attack.
The visitors in town today were in a similar position to Burnley around Christmas, without a win in the first 14 Premier League games. They notched up their first win of the season against Burnley and haven’t looked back as the 4th best side in 2022. Eddie Howe’s job can’t be understated and with significant investment this summer, I expect Newcastle to build on this platform.
Newcastle have only won once on the road since March 10th, against relegated Norwich which will give Burnley hope for a point or more today. The home side have shown their passion time and time again, and I don’t think Newcastle have the physicality to match Burnley in a meaningless game for them. I like Burnley double chance in this game, the crowd will be bouncing at Turf Moor, keen to spur on an in-form claret and blue side.
Chelsea v Watford
With little to play for, both Chelsea and Watford will be playing for pride in front of their fans after what can be deemed underwhelming seasons. Failure to stay in the Premier League is clearly an underachievement from Watford whereas Chelsea had aspirations of winning the league and will finish third having lost a pair of cup finals on penalties to Liverpool.
There will be plenty of final outings at Stamford Bridge with Azpilicueta, Rudiger and Alonso all leaving the Bridge this summer. The Blues were held to a 1-1 draw by Leicester in midweek, with a pivotal missed chance by Pulisic highlighting Chelsea’s inconsistencies going forward. 12 points in 9 games highlights Chelsea being out of form but their defensive mistakes have overshadowed decent performances. Leicester only racked up 1 shot on target and 0.03xG in their 1-1 draw highlighting how dominant Chelsea were.
Today they welcome one of the more woeful outfits in the league, missing a significant number of their key players. An “injury” list featuring Dennis, Sarr and many more mean Watford lack attacking quality aside from Pedro to break down a Chelsea back 5 conceding just 32 goals all season.
The Hornets have shipped 46 goals at home but just 29 on the road by comparison and won’t be an easy nut to crack at Stamford Bridge. Despite this, I expect Chelsea to win narrowly and seal off their season with a comfortable win by taking advantage of Watford’s weakness in wide areas. Only 28% of Watford’s away games have gone over 3.5 goals and only 32% of Chelsea games have gone over the same mark so I’m taking the under in this game.
Leicester v Southampton
A meeting with Leicester will bring back flashbacks to one of the 9-0’s for Southampton fans, but with little to play for I doubt we will see 9 goals again. Both sides have had an underwhelming season and will look to go into the summer break on a high before next season.
Despite reaching a European semi-final, Leicester have vastly under-achieved this season, with a European place now out of reach by some way. With injuries hampering the Foxes’ season, Rodgers has enjoyed the returns of Vardy and Maddison from knocks with the latter adding to his tally at Stamford Bridge. The pair have scored 25 between them, often utilising Barnes and Dewsbury-Hall out wide to create more space for them. With these two wingers in play today against a side missing Livramento and Perraud, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Leicester find great success out wide.
For the Saints, they are on a run of 3 defeats in a row, with no wins in 6 and just 3 wins in their last 23 away games. Reverting back to a 4-4-2 today should see more familiarity with Saints style of play and less defenders packed compactly as they look to play more expansively than against Liverpool. As I just mentioned with Leicester’s attacking quality, Saints could struggle to contain the pace with defensive injuries.
Leicester have won 7 of their last 12 at home and are starting to make the King Power a fortress again. With little to play for, I don’t expect Rodgers to take his foot off the pedal as he pushes for a higher finish for more investment next year. I like Leicester to win at what I think is extremely long odds given the likelihood of them breaching the Saints back line.
Crystal Palace v Manchester United
The Eagles unexpectedly fell apart at Goodison Park in the second half and let Everton mount an astonishing comeback to secure safety. Not something we are used to seeing from them this season as Vieira’s squad have been impressive, especially in defence. But, the debut season of the Frenchman at the helm has been a positive one as he is growing into a fan favourite at Selhurst Park and the last home match is an opportunity to make up for the disaster on Merseyside. However, a team with a point to prove is travelling to London as the Red Devils risk dropping down to the Europa Conference League if they draw or lose and the Hammers win. Rangnick’s short tenure can turn into even more disastrous if he lets that happen to Ronaldo & co, who surely don’t want to spend their Thursday nights playing against clubs they don’t even know their names with all due respect. United had more than a couple of weeks to get ready for the match and most of their injured players are back in training and in contention to return.
Vieira’s frustration at watching his side crumble saw him boot a fan after he was insulted during the pitch invasion at Goodison Park and the hosts’ coach is going to be eager to make it up to the home fans with a positive result. But, it’s questionable how the players are going to recover after losing important points in stoppage time. The Red Devils are on a mission to not drop down further the table and are going to have their maiden audition in front of their new manager, Erik ten Hag who will be in the stands to watch them play. If they want to continue wearing the red shirt in the future then they have to impress him and I expect a win for the visitors despite their tendency to always disappoint their fans.
Liverpool v Wolves
The Reds return at Anfield with the FA Cup trophy in their hands and with an eye on giving their best shot at winning the Premier League if Gerrard and Coutinho do them a favour at the Etihad. But, if Liverpool wants to pressure the Citizens into rushing things, they have to open the scoring quickly against Wolves at Merseyside and hope for a “small” miracle. The booed Wanderers are coming at Anfield with a woeful winless run extending to six matches and that will most probably continue given they even failed to defeat the already relegated Norwich last week. Also, they are not guaranteed to keep the 8th place in the standings and if their rivals win, Bruno Lage’s squad can drop to 10th, which would present a complete failure.
The strength in squad depth among the hosts is nothing short of exceptional as they won at St. Mary’s in midweek with nine changes from the FA Cup final. Even with Van Dijk and Salah doubtful to bid farewell to the home fans this season ahead of the Champions League final, Klopp has more than enough motivated players to secure a convincing win. The visitors have the lowest scoring attack in the top half of the table and that looks unlikely to change at Merseyside with Alisson looking to pick up the Golden Glove if he keeps his net empty. I expect another ruthless win by the Reds to mark an amazing season for them in front of the home fans and a run-out for Klopp’s squad ahead of the hunt for European glory in Paris.
Man City v Aston Villa
Looking to wrap up a 6th PL title, Man City host Aston Villa on the final day knowing 3 points will see the title return to the Etihad again. However, Villa will be up for today’s game despite having nothing to pay for. With Steven Gerrard taking charge of the Villa side, I’m sure he would love to spoil the party and send the title back to boyhood club, Liverpool.
After stumbling to a 2-2 draw in London last week at West Ham, City will be intent on sealing the title in fashion. Despite this blip, City are unbeaten in 11 and have scored at least twice in their last 8 games, emphasising City’s quality. Having played 18 home games, City have also scored 55 goals, 9 higher than any other side, at a rate of over 3 per game.
Steven Gerrard is out to win Liverpool a PL title in the most unlikely of fashions after failing to pick one up as skipper for the Reds. However, winning away at City is no easy task with only Spurs and Palace succeeding this season. Villa operate in a 4-3-1-2 system, with the attack staying quite narrow with a key attacking outlet being the full backs. This threat will be neutralised by City’s pressing and endless talent on the wing.
Overall, I can’t see how City don’t win the league at a canter here. Having scored 19 in their last 5 home games against resilient defences including Brighton and Liverpool, I don’t expect a side with 10 losses on the road to put up much of a fight. Over 2.5 Goals has landed in 67% of City home games and 56% of Villa away games which is a selection I like to bump up the odds.
Norwich v Tottenham
With top 4 firmly in their control, Spurs travel to relegated Norwich looking to seal the deal with victory over statistically the worst PL side. Without a goal difference swing of 15, Spurs only need a point on the last day but born a winner, Antonio Conte will have his sights set on 3 points,
Spurs received a scare on Friday when Harry Kane fell ill and there was the possibility that the club had been swept with food poisoning. Conte was keen to squash these rumours, noting how his side “are very close to reaching a big achievement.” Since losing star centre back Christian Romero, Spurs have kept back to back clean sheets which gives me confidence in the North London side to do the same today. Spurs have been the 3rd best side in 2022, only picking up less points than City and Liverpool, showing how good Conte has been.
For Norwich, they have been preparing for life back outside the Premier League for a long time. The Canaries can take confidence from a point away at Wolves last time out halting a run of 5 defeats on the spin. At Wolves, Norwich matched Wolves’ system, playing a back 3 similar to the one Spurs play and finding success defensively. Obviously, Spurs have Kane and Son who will overrun this defence eventually but a back 3 could provide more resilience than most expect.
Although I expect Spurs to win, I can see it being a narrow win for the visitors. Norwich in a back 3 should make space in the box limited thus limiting Spurs’ shooting opportunities. Interestingly, despite Norwich’s tendency to let the floodgates open, 17 of the last 18 meetings between these sides have gone under 3.5 Goals and that is great value in this game.
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