Leicester may have wrapped up the title already but there’s still lots to play for in the Premier League, with the final European placings yet to be decided. Arsenal and Manchester City are currently sitting in 3rd and 4th positions, but with Manchester United and West Ham breathing down their necks, they are yet to confirm Champions League spots for next season. What makes matters worse is that they face each other in a Sunday afternoon game at the Etihad stadium, and that match could go a long way to deciding final league placings.
Spurs missed the chance to keep the pressure on Leicester last Monday night when they let a two-goal lead slip away at Chelsea, but they are guaranteed Champions League football next season and still have the incentive of finishing above deadly rivals Arsenal. Three more points from their last two games will ensure they are the top North London side, but they face a tough match against Mauricio Pochettino’s former club Southampton in the early Sunday kick off. The Saints are also chasing Europe and are looking to challenge for 6th or 7th place and a spot in the Europa League.
The other game of the day features Liverpool at home to Watford off the back of that excellent 3-0 victory in midweek over Villarreal which saw them qualify for the Europa League final. They will be keen to win that competition and take a place in next season’s Champions League, but they can also give themselves the safety net of Europa League qualification via league position with favourable results in the last few games. It’s all to play for then, and it promises to be another Super Sunday of Premier League action.
Manchester City v Arsenal
The Gunners are three points away from guaranteeing Champions League football for another season, and also have Tottenham in their sights. They trail their traditional rivals by three points, and with a home game against Aston Villa to come on the last day, they will fancy their chances of pipping Spurs to second place. Tottenham face Newcastle away on the last day, and with the Magpies fighting for their lives, points could be dropped.
Arsenal will look back ruefully at this season knowing that with a little more strength of character they could have been in Leicester’s position and title-winners. A series of poor results in the first few months of 2016 put to bed their chance of catching the Foxes, but they’ve been back to their consistent best over the last seven games with four wins and three draws. They’ve never been the most reliable on their travels, but they are playing with a pace and dynamism that is desperately lacking in Manchester City’s play.
The Citizens were dumped out of the Champions League semi final in midweek by Real Madrid, and although it was only 1-0 over the two legs, there is little doubt about which was the best side. Madrid missed plenty of chances in the second leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, but what was more pertinent was City’s utter lack of urgency. They looked devoid of energy and ideas as they failed to really trouble the Madrid goal all night, and losing captain Vincent Kompany to injury again was a bitter blow.
Arsene Wenger can’t have failed to notice the gaping holes in the City defence that night, particularly in the channel between Mangala and Clichy, and the likes of Sanchez and Welbeck will be encouraged to take advantage. Yaya Toure looked far from fitness in Wednesday’s semi final, strolling around the pitch and making no impact, while the injury to David Silva has shorn City of their most creative influence. The Champions League exit will have hit Man City players hard and it will be tough to lift them for this game, while Arsenal have had a full week to recover after last weekend’s 1-0 home win over Norwich. The value lies with Arsenal to deepen the woes at the Etihad Stadium.
Liverpool v Watford
Jurgen Klopp has waved his magic wand at Anfield and all of a sudden there is an air of invincibility about the Reds. They’re unbeaten at home since January, and have won six of the last eight in front of the Kop. They were beaten 3-0 by Watford in the reverse fixture back in December so there is a certain revenge to be had in this game, and they are also chasing a potential 5th or 6th placed finish in the league. Another home game follows against Chelsea next Wednesday, so they will be keen to get three points on the board from this weekend’s much more ‘winnable’ game.
Overall Watford have had a great season but the FA Cup semi final defeat to Palace has left them with nothing left to play for. They struggled at home to Aston Villa last week, needing two late Deeney goals to come from behind to win 3-2. However, it’s now six defeats in the last ten games including three of the last four on the road.
Tottenham v Southampton
Both sides have been serving up the goals in recent weeks with three of the last four games featuring three or more goals for both sides. In fact, Southampton’s last two games have been 4-2 wins against Aston Villa and Man City. It’s hard to know how Spurs will react to losing their title chance last week, but they can console themselves with the fact that they are in next year’s Champions League, and still have a big incentive to finish above Arsenal.
Southampton are chasing down Manchester United and West Ham for 5th or 6th place, and even 7th may be enough to see them qualify for next year’s Europa. There is incentive for both teams to try and win this match and we should see an open and attacking game of football.
Arsenal to beat Manchester City
Sunday 8th May, 16:00 GMT
Liverpool to beat Watford
Sunday 8th May, 16:00 GMT
Tottenham v Southampton – Over 2.5 Goals
Sunday 8th May, 13:30 GMT
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