By Nilesh Patel
- Five vital questions ahead of Premier League game-week 37
- Predictions and full list of fixtures
PREMIER LEAGUE – It is another hectic week as we head into the penultimate games of the 2016/17 Premier League season, with the last European qualification and relegation spots still available.
Will Chelsea’s title hopes stall?
Everything we have seen from Chelsea this season suggests the immediate answer to this question is no. Antonio Conte’s men have shown strength, resilience and the talent of champions this season and with their 3-0 demolition of Middlesbrough on Monday they moved just one win away from the title.
They face West Brom at the Hawthorns on Friday, followed by a home fixture against Watford on Monday. A win in either game will mean the trophy will be awarded in their final game against Sunderland at Stamford Bridge.
In what will be club captain John Terry‘s final season for the Blues, and fifth Premier League title, Chelsea would love nothing more than to wrap up the season as early as possible.
Getting a win at West Brom, however, may not be simple. Tony Pulis‘ men have been one of the stand-out performers of this season and are currently in eighth place, 13 points behind Everton. Pulis will no doubt be wanting to claim his first Premier League top-half of the table finish and could secure it with three wins from their remaining fixtures against Chelsea, Man City and Swansea.
The Baggies will have to look to Nacer Chadli and Matt Phillips to resurrect the form of last year after their current form leaves them with just 8 points from a possible 30. With four losses in their last five games, Pulis will require much more from his team to cement a successful season finish in the top-half of the table.
West Brom – Last Five Matches
Chelsea – Last Five Matches
Do Spurs still have something to play for?
After Friday’s 1-0 loss to West Ham, Tottenham‘s title hopes were in the balance. Since, Chelsea have increased their gap by another three points, making their title chances even slimmer. With a difficult fixture ahead against Manchester United on Sunday, then a mid-week game against Leicester, Spurs will definitely need all 6 points if they want any chance of lifting the Premier League trophy.
However, even before their game against Man United, their hopes could be over. Last time Spurs and United met, Jose Mourinho‘s men salvaged a 1-0 win, accounting for one of Spurs’ four losses this season. England front-man, Harry Kane, still has something to play for; being three goals off top-scorer Romelu Lukaku. For Kane this could be his second consecutive golden boot win, putting him in an elite list of winners.
Can Liverpool keep their mental strength?
It’s fair to say with the lack of European football and their form against the top-six, Liverpool have been in the most likely bet for making the top-four. However, their results against bottom-half teams have let their hopes down. On Sunday, the Reds struggled to break down Southampton’s resolute defence. With an unordinary penalty miss from James Milner, that probably wasn’t a penalty, Jurgen Klopp‘s men require all remaining six points.
To secure those beloved Champions League nights at Anfield next season, Liverpool will need a win at West Ham on Sunday to help their chances. The last time the two teams met both sides earned a point, but on current form a definitive result is hard to predict.
Liverpool – Last Five Matches
West Ham – Last Five Matches
With creating chances not a problem for Klopp’s midfield, the clinical touch needed in the final third is something that has been missing in their last games. Scoring just five goals in their last five games coincides with the loss of Sadio Mane through injury, suggestin the Scousers will need a more prolific figure up-top agasint the Hammers. Perhaps Daniel Sturridge can offer that outlet amid rumours of a potential transfer bid from the London club.
Who is in the best position to finish in the top-four?
Liverpool, Arsenal and both Manchester clubs, are still all within a shout of qualifying for next year’s Champions League, but there are only two spots available. Currently, Manchester United sit in sixth, four points behind Man City in fourth, and Arsenal remain just one win away from City. All the teams have a game in hand on Liverpool, who are one-point above Man City in third.
This weekend’s fixtures include Manchester City hosting Leicester City, Arsenal travelling to Stoke and Manchester United going to White Hart Lane. Wins will all put them in an advantage over Liverpool, considering their mid-week fixtures.
On Tuesday, Arsenal and Man City play Sunderland and West Brom respectively, while Man United face Southampton on Wednesday. Six points for either team will put them above Liverpool, depending on their weekend result.
With regards to this week’s fixtures, Man City look most likely to make the top-four. Their games against a relegated Sunderland and a coasting Leicester will be ones which Pep Guardiola and co will be confident in winning.
For Arsenal, their late surge in form may have come too late for Arsene Wenger. The Gunners have won four of their last five games, but will rely on Liverpool and Man City slipping up to breach the top-four.
Fortunately for Mourinho’s United, despite looking least likely to finish in the top-four, their potential Europa League triumph could offer them an easier option for Champions League qualification.
When will relegation be decided?
Swansea and Hull City are the clubs in immediate danger of facing the drop, with Crystal Palace maybe being sucked in on the final day.
A win for Sam Allardyce‘s Palace against Hull will cement their Premier League status for another season and will maintain Hull’s place in the bottom three.
For Paul Clement‘s Swansea, they face an already relegated Sunderland, with three points they will remain in the top-tier of English football, but only if Hull lose against Palace.
However, since Marco Silva‘s appointment Hull have witnessed a massive improvement in form and could avoid the drop against all odds. A win for them against Palace will take the relegation fight to the last day of the season. In addition, a loss for Swansea and win for the Tigers will move them two points ahead of the Swans.
In what would be the deciding week: Hull host Spurs – who may not have anything other than pride to play for, Palace play Man United and Swansea welcome West Brom. The team which gains the most points from their remaining two games will stay in the Premier League.
Friday 12th May
- Everton 0 – 2 Watford
- West Bromwich Albion 0 – 3 Chelsea
Saturday 13th May
- Manchester City 3 – 1 Leicester City
- Bournemouth 0 – 0 Burnley
- Middlesbrough 0 – 2 Southampton
- Sunderland 1 – 1 Swansea City
- Stoke City 1 – 2 Arsenal
Sunday 14th May
- Crystal Palace 2 – 2 Hull City
- West Ham United 1 – 2 Liverpool
- Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 1 Manchester United
Monday 15th May
- Chelsea 1 – 0 Watford
Tuesday 16th May
- Arsenal 4 – 0 Sunderland
- Manchester City 3 – 1 West Bromwich Albion
Wednesday 17th May
- Southampton 2 – 0 Manchester United
Thursday 18th May
- Leicester City 1 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur
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