European Contenders to Win Premier League Matches

Manchester United and West Ham are both chasing European Qualification.

Leicester were crowned Premier League Champions last week, and Newcastle and Norwich were confirmed as the two teams to join Aston Villa in the Championship during midweek. Sunderland’s win over Everton consigned those two sides to the drop, and it all means that there is little drama to be had on the last day of the season this Sunday.

The only games with real significance feature the sides between 4th and 8th who are all jostling for position as they attempt to qualify for European competition next season. There are various permutations that could see any or all of the teams involved qualify, but some of those depend on the results of the FA Cup final and the Europa League final – two games which will be played after the league season has finished.

However, Sunday’s task is clear. Each team must win its own game to ensure the highest position and the best chance of qualification. Manchester City currently hold the fourth Champions League spot and a win at Swansea will guarantee participation in next year’s competition. Manchester United could overtake them if City lose, but they must win their own game at home to Bournemouth to have a a chance, and also to guarantee at least 5th place.

West Ham, currently in 6th, would leapfrog United if the Red Devils fail to beat Bournemouth, but the Hammers must win at Stoke to do so. A win in the Potteries will also guarantee at least a 6th placed finish and Europa League football for West Ham as they prepare to move to the Olympic stadium.

Southampton are 7th and a win at home to Palace will consolidate that position, but could also push them up to 5th or 6th if either of West Ham or Man Utd slip up. 7th is likely to be enough for a Europa League spot if Manchester United go on to lift the FA Cup, as the European place for winning it will pass down to the league.

The situation becoomes more complicated if Liverpool win the Europa League as they will automatically qualify for next year’s Champions League, and that could affect other places depending where the Reds finish. It may sound as clear as mud, but the simple point is that each team must win its game on Sunday, and there is reason to back each of them to do so.

Swansea v Manchester City

Manchester City can turn it on when they absolutely have to, and they can be backed at  -189  with SkyBet and Bet365 to get the better of Swansea.

The Swans shocked West Ham last week, winning 4-1 with a much-changed side, and they will fancy finishing the season with a bang. However, they’ve lost their last five games in a row to City, and the Citizens will be desperate not to give up the last Champions League spot to their deadly rivals, United.

It will also be Manuel Pellgrini’s last match in charge before Pep Guardiola joins for next season, and the players ought to be busting a gut to give the dignified manager a good send off. He will be able to look back on his reign with some sense of achievement having brought trophies to the club and taken them further than they’d ever been in the Champions League.

Manchester United v Bournemouth

Manchester United are an easy choice to beat Bournemouth even at skinny odds of  -250  with Totesport and Paddy Power

The Cherries have had a cracking season since being promoted and rarely looked in danger of dropping back down, but the competitive edge has fallen away in recent weeks with three defeats in the last four games.

Manchester United are not the finished article under Louis van Gaal by any stretch, but they have slowly improved and go into the final game with slim hopes of making the top four. They’ve won 7 of the last 10 at Old Trafford and should be wound up to produce a good performance after letting a lead slip at West Ham in the week.

Stoke v West Ham

West Ham are also on the verge of a great finish and are worth following to beat Stoke at  +120  with William Hill

The Hammers nearly blew their chances of Europe with that 4-1 reverse to Swansea, but restored pride and ambition with the 3-2 win over Manchester United on Tuesday night, in the last ever game at the Boleyn Ground. They are still in danger of dropping to 7th if they do anything other than win here though, with Southampton breathing down their necks.

Stoke are another side that could be accused of already being on the beach, having lost four of the last five games conceding 17 goals in the process. They will want to put on a good show for their fans on the last day, but West Ham should have the extra competitive edge with much more to play for.

Southampton v Crystal Palace

Southampton are the banker of the weekend at  -278  with William Hill and Bet365.

The Saints have had a superb run in the second half of the season and will lament their poor start. They’ve won 6 of their last 8 games and are facing a Palace side that are bound to have one eye on next week’s FA Cup final. The Eagles only league wins of 2016 have come at home to Norwich and Stoke, and St Mary’s is a tough place to with Southampton in such good form.

Tips Summary

Manchester City to beat Swansea
Sunday 15th May, 15:00 GMT
Odds:  -189

Manchester United to beat Bournemouth
Sunday 15th May, 15:00 GMT
Odds:  -250

West Ham to beat Stoke
Sunday 15th May, 15:00 GMT
Odds:  +120

Southampton to beat Crystal Palace
Sunday 15th May, 15:00 GMT
Odds:  -278

manchester city
Manchester United
Premier League
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