And it all ends with something of a whimper. That’s probably being a tad unkind to the world’s favourite league - and there is still the matter of that last relegation spot to decide. But I feel that we shall forever be damaged by the sensory overload that was Mancini’s Premier League title win with City, as diminutive magician Sergio Aguero heralded the most astonishing last gasp comeback that we will ever witness. Chelsea will lift a trophy that seems to have weighed slightly heavily on their shoulders in recent times, with Cesc Fabregas’ tempestuous chip epitomising their slightly relaxed level. Hull need to win against United and hope that Newcastle slip up against West Ham in the clamour for the final survival spot. While this may not have the most intrigue in recent final day history, I’m sure that ardent supporters will find something of interest in a league that can never be dubbed boring.
Brendan Rodgers will have loads on his mind going into this tricky last fixture at the Britannia stadium. Raheem Sterling’s delusions of grandeur are one thing; Rodgers has to find a way to replace a true Liverpool legend in Steven Gerrard whilst keeping prized asset Daniel Sturridge fit. Stoke have had another excellent season, with Stephen N’Zonzi and Charlie Adam dominating most games in the middle of the park. With all of Liverpool’s off-field problems, I can’t see the Reds taking down a powerful Stoke side. The Potters are available at 24/10. Get on.
John Carver, the Premier League’s self-proclaimed greatest coach and golfer, comes up against the similarly embattled Sam Allardyce in perhaps the most important game of the weekend. Newcastle need more than a draw against West Ham to guarantee survival and it’s not exactly as if their home form has been anything to bank on recently. Newcastle lost poorly to a relegated QPR side in a game that should have sealed their Premier League status. I can’t see both sides scoring considering the lack of firepower. Take Both Teams to Score - No - at 11/10.
Manchester City’s late season surge has typified everything that people love about Pellegrini’s side. Not adverse to conceding a goal or two, City have been imperious on attack, often picking apart teams at will with their plethora of talent. Sergio Aguero will finish unchallenged in the race to the Golden Boot while Yaya Toure may well be playing in his final game for the club. Southampton’s Sadio Mane made Premier League history last weekend with the fastest hat-trick ever, a record that I daresay will never be beaten. The win came as a welcome boost to a club whose results had somewhat dried up in recent weeks. I anticipate another resounding victory for City that will leave their fans frustrated at what could have been. Take the Citizens on the halftime-fulltime double at 12/10.
This match sees a contrast in style. On one hand you have Leicester, the little engine that truly could - punching above their weight when everyone around them doubted their status. On the other you have a QPR side full to the brim with overly inflated egos and has-been ‘talent’, a team banking on reputation alone to see them across the finishing line. Nigel Pearson has to be congratulated for the most amazing turnaround that I have ever witnessed in the Premier League while Chris Ramsey will be hoping that Raheem Sterling will be sold off at a huge price so that they - the parent club - can use the twenty percent transfer fee to pay off some debt. Back Leicester for a comfortable win at 11/20.
Steve Bruce’s Hull City side have to beat Manchester United this weekend and hope that Newcastle slip up against West Ham. I daresay that the last part of that equation is probably not that inconceivable, but does the former United legend’s side have it in them for one last push this weekend? In a season beset by injury and suspension, Hull have hardly had the easiest time of it. This has been exacerbated by the Jake Livermore’s brush with high society indulgence, a crippling suspension that could not have come at a worse time for Hull. United are in the process of gearing up for a busy transfer window, with names such as Gareth Bale and David De Gea foremost in the minds of onlookers. I personally see a draw on the cards with Hull going down with a strong fight, but anything is possible in the maelstrom of a relegation dogfight. Punt the Hull win/draw Double Chance 6/10 if you’re feeling brave.
Everton and Spurs are probably both in a pensive mood over seasons that never really got off the ground. Pochettino’s side showed glimpses of Champions League form over the season, but lacked the depth of squad to really mount a consistent challenge to the top four places. Everton have shown some decent late season form to suggest that they may be a resurgent side next season, especially without the obvious distraction of Europa League football. They will need a few new players to re-energise a squad with an overly familiar look to it while Spurs will probably have to do an even more expansive reshuffle in the wake of ludicrous spending. Everton’s home form has been impressive lately and the atmosphere at the Goodison creates quite a foreboding cauldron for visiting teams on the last day of the season. I’m tipping a Toffees victory at 13/10.
With all eyes fixed on the rather manipulatively emotional farewell of Stevie G last weekend, it’s quite easy to forget how impressive Crystal Palace were in dispatching of Rodgers’ stuttering Reds. Yannick Bolasie was supreme once again while Glenn Murray continued in his rich vein of scoring form off the bench. Swansea City have negotiated the transfer of Wilfried Bony extremely well; Gomis is becoming something of a juggernaut in leading the line. Gary Monk would be my pick for manager of the season, especially following Bony’s exit and the general mood of negativity after Michael Laudrup’s departure. I think that this will be an open affair with both sides safe and prepared to take some risks in attack. Palace’s counter-attacking style will beautifully compliment Swansea’s possession based football, setting up what could be a high scoring fixture. You’ll find Over 2.5 goals available at 15/20.
This is going to be a celebratory occasion for both sides following Sunderland’s dogged defensive display against Arsenal in mid-week. Dick Advocaat’s side avoided the drop despite being on the end of some of the worst defeats all season. Considering they had to deal with the Adam Johnson furore on top of everything, it’s something of a miracle that this side managed to creep over the line. Chelsea will lift the trophy this weekend in the wake of a surreal defeat to West Brom on Monday night. Cesc Fabregas will miss out following his hilarious decision to pitch an eight iron into a Diego Costa inspired fracas on Monday night. I feel that Sunderland were one goal away from being torn apart by Arsenal on Wednesday night and can’t see anything but an easy Chelsea win. I would opt for the halftime-fulltime double at 17/20 as Sunderland’s survival exertions take their toll.
Aston Villa’s performance last weekend was nothing short of shocking. Luckily they still managed to secure their survival despite an on-field pre-Wembley malaise that left Tim Sherwood rather embarrassed. Burnley have given an excellent account of themselves this season, never being disgraced in the manner that Villa were last weekend. I expect Sean Dyche’s side to come out fully-charged in their final Premier League salvo. On that note, I’m tipping Burnley to win or draw at 7/10. I expect those pre-Wembley flutters to remain for Aston Villa.
West Brom’s bizarre victory over Chelsea in mid-week exemplified the strong work ethic instilled by Tony Pulis. There are concerns that West Brom may indeed sell their most prized asset - Saido Berahino - in the summer, fuelling further speculation that Pulis may seek greener pastures as he did at Crystal Palace in the wake of club downsizing. Arsenal have all but ensured a third-placed finish and can already start looking towards the FA Cup final for one last shot at glory. Jack Wilshere’s return has been encouraging while the Theo Walcott saga will continue to rage in the off season. Arsenal should have too much in front of their adoring home supporters on a celebratory final day. Back the Gunners at 4/10.