The curtain will finally be drawn on the longest of English Premier League seasons on Sunday, but there will certainly be no lack of drama to see out the 2019-20 campaign as teams still fight for survival and European spots.
Fans will be keeping an eye on both ends of the tale as Manchester United take on Leicester in a shoot-out for a place in the Champions League, while Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Watford are vying for the final place outside the relegation zone.
Chelsea are hoping to secure their place in the top four, and Wolves and Tottenham are fighting for one place in the Europa League.
The most intriguing clash will be the winner-takes-all clash between Leicester and United, and Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers has been playing mind games ahead of the match at 7pm UAE time on Sunday.
The Northern Irishman says all the pressure is on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s visiting side at King Power Stadium as the Old Trafford faithful demand Champions League football, while it would be a bonus for Leicester.
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“There is a difference where we want to be in the Champions League, but when you’re a club like Manchester United, there’s a need to be in the Champions League,” Rodgers said. “We want to be in it, but if we fall short, it’s still been a really good season.
“I’ve been involved in finals and two-legged games where games mean everything so I’m not new to the situation. It’s just very exciting. Sometimes things peter out in a season, but for us this is what you’re looking for. Our season doesn’t finish until the very end, we can finish on a high.
United are third with 63 points ahead of Chelsea on goal difference while Leicester City are one point behind the Blues in fifth.
Champions League dreams
Leicester fell out of the top four for the first time since September in midweek after a run of three wins in 13 games either side of the coronavirus shutdown.
However, United’s and Chelsea’s failures to win on Wednesday means the door is still open for Brendan Rodgers’s men to salvage all the good work they did early in the season with victory on home soil on Sunday.
Leicester are hampered by injuries to James Maddison, Ben Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira, but have had a full week to prepare in stark contrast to United’s packed schedule.
Solskjaer’s men have looked jaded in the past week in losing 3-1 to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals and being held 1-1 at home by West Ham.
Chelsea just need a point at home to Wolves to seal Champions League football next season, but should Frank Lampard’s men lose, then a draw between Leicester and United would see the latter two finish in the top four.
Spurs surge toward Europa League
Whoever misses out on the Champions League between United, Chelsea and Leicester will be guaranteed fifth and a place in the Europa League next season.
Wolves are looking to go one better than their fine first campaign back in the top-flight last season by finishing in the top six and have the potential to upset Chelsea’s push for the Champions League at Stamford Bridge.
However, any slip from Nuno Espirito Santo’s men would give Spurs the chance to move into sixth.
Jose Mourinho’s side have won their last three and will be confident ahead of a trip to Crystal Palace, who have lost their last seven games.
Seventh could still be good enough for European football next season, but that depends on Chelsea beating Arsenal in the FA Cup final on August 1.
At the bottom, two of Bournemouth, Watford and Villa will join already relegated Norwich in the Championship next season.
Villa have the upper hand with a three-point lead on Bournemouth and a marginally better goal difference than Watford.
Dean Smith’s men also have momentum after a 1-0 win over Arsenal on Tuesday and travel to a West Ham side now sure of their place in the Premier League next season.
“Results went our way in the week and we’re above the dotted line at the moment,” said Smith.
“The most important thing is to be above that dotted line on Sunday and we know we have to win to guarantee that.”
Watford’s sacking of Nigel Pearson with just two games of the season remaining did the Hornets little good in a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday and they travel to Arsenal needing to better Villa’s result.
Should both lose then Bournemouth could extend their five-season stay in the top-flight by beating Everton at Goodison Park.
“The next game is the biggest game of all our careers,” said Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.
All games 7pm UAE
Arsenal v Watford
Burnley v Brighton
Chelsea v Wolves
Crystal Palace v Tottenham
Everton v Bournemouth
Leicester v Man Utd
Man City v Norwich
Newcastle v Liverpool
Southampton v Sheff Utd
West Ham v Aston Villa