10 May 2019
If things had slightly – and only slightly – happened differently, this could’ve been a humdinger. But Brighton’s 36pts is enough to preserve their top-flight status, so their day will be much less tense. And so will City’s. Especially when their third goal goes in. Yes, I said it. City will sweep Brighton aside and retain the Premier League title with a staggering 98pts. Brighton haven’t mustered a single point vs the Top Four this season, and their recent form doesn’t suggest a Final Day twist. Just two goals in their last nine matches has meant an awful lot of running, blocking and chasing shadows for their back eight just to keep them up.
Hot Shot – Aguero (MC). Just 2 in his last 9. But could finish with a flourish.
Midfield General – Sterling (MC). None in his last four but has another couple in him.
Case for the Defence – Kompany (MC). Did his duty on Monday but should get a final sheet here.
If Arsenal had looked remotely bothered over the last month, they could be comfortable in a Champions League qualification slot by now. But you could say the same about Tottenham, Chelsea and Man United to be fair. But they seem happy with 5th, perhaps even 6th. So they will not be busting their humps to get anything out of Burnley. Who might be in a celebratory mood! At the turn of the year, Sean Dyche would’ve snapped your hand off for a 15th place finish. And they can now write this season off as a bad one – along with any thoughts of playing in Europe until they are ready for it. They could even finish 14th with a win here.
Hot Shot – Wood (BUR) and Barnes (BUR) have carried the fight in recent months.
Midfield General – Mkhitaryan (ARS) will get roped in to play here. Ozil won’t fancy it.
Case for the Defence – Tarkowski (BUR) can get his ton up with a sheet here.
Palace have been in Top Six form over the last third of the season. But looked like relegation fodder for most of the opening half, which seems to be their trouble. If they could string together a full season – or even two thirds – there is no reason why they couldn’t be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Watford, Wolves, Leicester et al. They need to find a way of playing at home though – 29 of their 46pts (63%) have come on the road. The Cherries’ season has gone the other way. Their best ever start was followed by a damp squib of a second half. But they have ended up just a point behind Palace.
Hot Shot – Zaha (CP). Flatters to deceive, but could be ready for another stab at the big time.
Midfield General – Fraser (BOU). Might also be ready to move on after an excellent seven goals and 14 assists.
Case for the Defence – Van Aanholt (CP) is still the best full-back at the club, despite Wan-Bissaka.
Fulham look a different team in the last month. Winning three of their last four and only conceding once during that time. They are likely to look different again next season too. And will surely regret last summer’s transfer splurge, as it could be a while before we see them in the top-flight again. Newcastle have been one of the more consistent teams in the Premier League this term. And it’s not often you can say that. Against the Bottom Half, the Magpies have swooped in for 27pts of their 42pts. Writing off the Top Six, apart from the memorable 2-1 win over Champions elect Man City.
Hot Shot – Rondon (NEW) and Perez (NEW) would make an excellent player between them.
Midfield General – Sessegnon (FUL). Sure to stay in the Premier League.
Case for the Defence – Schär (NEW). One of a few gems to emerge this season.
Only the most unlikely of worldies cost Leicester a deserved draw against City. The defeat was only their second in a run of nine games that has outstripped all but the runaway Top Two in the final couple of months. They’ve taken some tasty scalps this season as well – City (at home) and Arsenal among them. And they’ve already beaten Chelsea once, so the visitors won’t relish ending their season here. It’s hard to recall now, but Chelsea went 12 unbeaten at the start of the campaign and looked like real contenders until their off-field dramas derailed matters. Familiar story.
Hot Shot – Vardy (LEI). Has caught fire in his last ten matches. Loves a Top Six goal.
Midfield General – Hazard (CHE). Might be the last chance for FPL managers.
Case for the Defence – Maguire (LEI). Talk of Man United sniffing around might inspire H.
Hmm. On the back of the Anfield miracle, this will be a much more light-hearted affair. No-one really expects Man City to slip up – not two miracles in a week, surely. But with their place in the Champions League Final booked, a second place finish on 97pts will not be the crushing disappointment it might’ve been. Instead, it will be looked on quite rightly as a magnificent achievement – and if things go well in Madrid – the start of big things at Liverpool. Wolves will be feeling pretty good about themselves too. A 7th place finish and FA Cup semi-final appearance has been an excellent effort.
Hot Shot – Origi (LIV). Might get the nod again after a great night’s work on Wednesday.
Midfield General – Salah (LIV). Should also be back to confirm his FPL No 1 status.
Case for the Defence – Alexander-Arnold (LIV). Only Liverpool’s 3rd best defender, but outstanding.
The only way that Man United could make this season more miserable is being beaten at home by relegated Cardiff. But I fancy they might get a draw. Ole’s stint at the wheel started with a 5-1 win against the Bluebirds, but that seems a very long time ago now. You get the feeling he will be glad when this is over, so the clear out can start. We can expect a few clues as to his plans for next season in this weekend’s line-up. Keep an eye on the lap of honour too. It will be a farewell for some. Cardiff will do their best to enjoy it and rightly so. Unlike their hosts, you couldn’t accuse their players of underperforming this season.
Hot Shot – Rashford (MU). Looks tired but still your best option up top.
Midfield General – Pogba (MU). 13 goals and ten assists ain’t too shabby.
Case for the Defence – Shaw (MU). A better bet than De Gea these days.
Dead rubber. Four wins in the spring effectively rescued the Saints, and the form of Brighton and Cardiff has been so poor over the last four that just 2pts has been plenty to keep them out of a real relegation scrap. Finishing with a good win will allow Ralph Hasenhüttl to sweep this season under the carpet – like a few in the Premier League – and start afresh next, with ambitions of restoring the mid-table mediocrity that the fans took for granted for so long. Huddersfield have been on the ropes since the opening round. In fact, their head never looked like it had cleared from last time around. They’ll enjoy winning a few games next season.
Hot Shot – Ings (SOU). Looked like being a saviour when he signed. Doesn’t now.
Midfield General – Ward-Prowse (SOU). Looked more like his old self recently. Average.
Case for the Defence – Lössl (HUD). Can tip 100pts this weekend. Decent effort behind this lot.
Nearly started by saying that Everton don’t want the season to end, based on their last 12 matches. Where they have only been outperformed by Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea. But that’s wrong. Of course, they want the season to finish. So, they can fill their fans with hopes for next and convince the board to invest another truckload of money. Then finish 8th again. Until Wednesday’s extraordinary Champions League tie, you could’ve argued that Tottenham’s season ended in the 4-3 defeat at Man City in the previous round. Since then there had been just one (late, fortunate) win v Brighton, four losses and only one goal. They look pooped though.
Hot Shot – Janssen (TOT). Might actually start this match.
Midfield General – Sigurdsson (EV). 13 goals and five assists is a reasonable effort. Deserves better around him.
Case for the Defence – Digne (EV). A threat. As four goals and five assists will attest.
There is no sign of Watford resting up ahead of their FA Cup Final appearance. They were bang at it at Chelsea despite losing the match and will not be going through the motions here. There are places up for grabs, after all. And defeat would see them slip below their visitors in the final table – which they don’t deserve. West Ham have rediscovered a bit of form. Posting back to back league wins for the first time this year. But haven’t travelled well in 2018/19. Before their win at Tottenham – which always brings the best out of them (W4 D2 L2 of their last eight visits) – they went nine without a win (all comps).
Hot Shot – Deeney (WAT). Will lead by example as always.
Midfield General – Deulofeu (WAT). Will probably save something for Wembley, but the pick.
Case for the Defence – Foster (WAT). Watford’s No.1 and No.1 FPL performer this season.