English Premier League
16:00 GMT – 9 May 2010
It’s D-Day in the Premier League as all 20 teams kick off at 16:00 on Sunday, with one final chance to decide on their final positions in th table this season. With fourth place decided on Wednesday night this week, and the relegation battle done and dusted, all that remains to be seen is who will be crowned Champions of England; Chelsea? or Manchester United?
Final showdown preview
Should Sir Alex Ferguson’s men beat Stoke at Old trafford, and Chelsea drop points against Wigan at home, the title will remain at Old Trafford for a record fourth consecutive season. On the other hand, all Chelsea need to do is beat Wigan at home, a seeimgly simple task to overcome after beating Liverpool so easily last weekend. When you consider Wigan’s league form the task appears even easier for Carlo Ancelotti’s men. Only three league win’s from the last ten matches. This, alongside five defeats and two draws will be a statistic that will worry Sir Alex on sunday. None of those wins mentioned have come away from home either. In fact, you have to go all the way back to January 16 to find the last time Wigan won away from home; a 2-0 victory over Wolves.
It may not be all doom and gloom for you United fans though. Two of Wigan’s last wins have come against Liverpool and Arsenal. And earlier this season Wigan also beat Chelsea at the DW stadium, so Ancelotti’s men have and extra incentive to win today. Chelsea should have a near full strength side for the encounter, which makes the prospect of them winning the title even more likely.
The fact remains however that regardless of Chelsea’s result, Man United have to win against Stoke at Old Trafford if they are to retain any hope of clinching the title. Despite the fact that Alex Ferguson will most probably tell the players to enjoy the match, make no mistake, he will be demanding a win, which is no picnic against Stoke. In contrast to Wigan, they have only lost three of their last ten matches, falling at the hands of Tottenham, Bolton and of course the 7-0 demolition against Chelsea. Ferguson’s side won’t find it easy on the day that’s for sure.
Elsewhere Arsenal play Europa League finalists Fulham, a match they must win if they are to retain any hope of finishing third. Tottenham lay in fourth, two points behind their rivals. Spurs play Burnley on Sunday, which you would assume is almost an automatic three points for Harry Redknapp’s side. If they are to leap from the Gunners however, Arsenal must lose, and Tottenham must win. Keep a close eye on both these matches those of you in North London!
Moving down, Aston Villa and Manchester City may have both missed out on fourth, but both could still potentially finish fifth. Aston Villa host Blackburn, who have an appauling away record; only two away wins this season. Martin O’Neill will be desperate to finish fifth, bettering the sixth position that Villa seem to finish in every year nowadays. However they will be hoping Man City slip up against West Ham. Zola’s side host the Blues, and Mancini’s job safety is already in question after failing to qualify for Champions League football earlier this week. To fall to sixth place would surely see him leaving Eastlands.
Liverpool of course were realistically well out of the battle for fourth a long time ago, but they could still finish sixth should Aston Villa lose, and they beat Hull away from home. Don’t be suprised if this is the last time you see Rafa Benitez managing Liverpool either. The Spaniard is hotly tipped to pack his bags at the end of the season after a dismally disappointing campaign.
Both Everton and Birmingham’s places are all but set in stone now. Regardless of how Everton do against Portsmouth (who’s final league position has been clear for a while now) they will be guaranteed to finish in eighth. Birmingham are pretty much guaranteed ninth. Stoke could mathmatically finish above them, but they would have to beat Manchester United by two goals, an unlikely scenario, whilst Birmingham would have to lose to Bolton.
Potentially Bolton could finish anywhere between 14th and 17th place. They will be battling hard to ensure they give themselves the best chance of finishing as high up as possible. One team that will be looking to leap frog them however is Wolves, who host Sunderland. Steve Bruce’s men have just as much incentive to win, as they could move up a place should Fulham lose to Arsenal.
In a league like this, final positions count for a lot more than just pride. Money becomes a huge factor and the difference between first and second can mean millions, so rest assured the majority of teams will be taking this final day very seriously.
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