Manchester United took one step into the Europa League final with a first leg 1-0 win at Celta Vigo, but there is no time to rest as it’s back to the Premier League on Sunday. With next week’s second leg looming large, Jose Mourinho’s side face a crucial visit to the Emirates to play Arsenal in a game which could have a huge bearing on the top four.
The Red Devils are a point behind their City neighbours in that particular battle, while Arsenal are a further five points adrift. The Gunners do have a game in hand though, and won’t have given up hope of qualifying for the Champions League just yet. Last week’s 2-0 derby defeat to rivals Tottenham was crushing, but a victory here could put Arsene Wenger and his men back in contention.
At the other end of the table Swansea are running out of games to save themselves in the Premier League, and by the time they kick off against Everton on Saturday evening things could be a lot worse. Closest relegation rivals Hull face a home game against rock bottom Sunderland, and if the Tigers win that, Swansea will go into the Toffees fixture five points from safety. Regardless of other results, Swansea still need to win as they look to secure top flight status for another season.
The league leaders will have to wait until Monday night to finish off the Premier League weekend programme, when they welcome Middlesbrough to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea’s lead at the top might be reduced to a single point if Tottenham beat West Ham on Friday night, so a home game against one of the division’s lowest scorers should help to settle any nerves among the Blues. The title will be in the bag with just a few more wins, and it’s hard to see Antonio Conte’s men letting it slip against Boro.
Arsenal v Manchester United
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One criticism of Jose Mourinho’s United is that they draw too many games, and it’s been 14 stalemates to 17 victories in the Premier League this season. It’s only been three defeats all season though, the last of which was the 4-0 reverse at Chelsea back in October. The Red Devils have only been on the losing side a further three times in all competitions since then, to Fenerbache in the Europa League, Hull in the EFL Cup, and Chelsea again in the FA Cup. While the Europa League offers a viable route to the Champions League, United can’t afford to lose sight of fourth place in the table. The second leg against Celta Vigo comes next week, but that doesn’t mean Man United will get turned over easily here.
Arsenal are six points off the top four, and despite having that game in hand, they are reliant on Man City and Man United dropping points. The chances of the Gunners competing in the Champions League again next season are looking increasingly slim, and realistically this is a must-win game for top four pretensions. However, they’ve consistently come up short against the big sides, and have actually failed to win ten of the last sixteen games overall.
Swansea v Everton
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Paul Clement hasn’t been a revelation in Wales by any stretch, but he’s got Swansea performing to a decent level again and has scored some good results on home soil. It’s four wins in the last six in front of their own fans, Southampton, Leicester, Burnley and Stoke the victims. Middlesbrough held the Swans to a goalless draw, while Spurs hit three in the last five minutes to snatch a late 3-1 win. The Welsh club sit two points adrift of Hull at the wrong end of the table, and will attack with the intent of taking all three points.
Everton are comfortable in 7th place, and are unlikely be caught by a distant West Brom in 8th. The Toffees are equally unlikely to go any higher, with 6th placed Arsenal two points ahead with two games in hand. 7th position should be enough to see Ronald Koeman’s men qualify for the Europa League though, and it can be considered a successful season. A 0-0 draw at West Ham and a 3-0 home defeat to Chelsea suggests Everton might have switched off a little bit, and their record of two wins in 15 games on the road will give Swansea confidence.
Chelsea v Middlesbrough
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The Blues haven’t kept many clean sheets of late but did so in the 3-0 win at Everton, and face a toothless Boro side at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League’s final game of the weekend. The title is within Chelsea’s grasp and a run in of Middlesbrough, West Brom, Watford and Sunderland doesn’t look to present too many problems. Three wins from those should be enough, and they are fully expected to start on Monday.
Middlesbrough have failed to score in 8 of their last 10 away games, and defeat here might well confirm their relegation. Even if Boro get a stay of execution, it would take a miracle to see them overtake both Hull and Swansea. They’re the divisions joint-lowest goal scorers with Sunderland (26 goals), and the 10 goals they’ve hit on the road is only one better than the Black Cats 9 away goals. Boro are fighting for their lives, but it’s difficult to imagine the comeback starting here.
Manchester United or Draw
Sunday 7th May, 16:00 GMT
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Swansea to beat Everton
Saturday 6th May, 17:30 GMT
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Chelsea to win to nil
Monday 8th May, 20:00 GMT
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- Manchester United
- Premier League