By Jake Davies
- The two Manchester teams race for Top 4 culminates this weekend
- Everton begin life without Roberto Martinez as Martinez is sacked
- Bragging rights come into play for North London teams for second position
The Red and Blue of Manchester’s Race for Top 4 will be settled
With the league title getting settled with Tottenham Hotspur’s draw to Chelsea sealing the first ever top flight title for Leicester, there is still one race still in motion in the Premier League- the scrap for Champions League Football. The two bitter rivals of Manchester are separated by two points with just the one league game to play for on Sunday. Manchester United will feel hard done by seemingly having the fourth position in their hands before Winston Reid’s winner at the Boleyn Ground sunk them to a rare defeat in recent weeks. That defeat could prove to be pivotal with the anticipation of whether Swansea City can get all three points against Manchester City, which isn’t totally unforeseeable, but an unlikely proposition.
Manuel Pellegrini will be managing his last game at Manchester City and there will be a significant emphasis on ending his tenure on a bright note as they tackle Swansea City this weekend. Like their rivals Manchester United, City have faced their own turbulent traumas in the league in particular, as inconsistent results in the league have put them in the last minute fight for Champions League Football. The semi-final loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League last week will be envisioned as great progress, but the progression will mean very little if Pellegrini’s men fail to deliver Champions League Football at the Etihad next season.
Manchester United’s match at home to Bournemouth is a winnable match, but the inconsistency and failure to predict just what Manchester United team will show up on any given day, to a certain extent, puts Manchester City as the firm favourites to claiming the last Champions League position on Sunday.
Everton cut ties with Roberto Martinez before the Norwich City game
News emerged following the heavy defeat to Sunderland in midweek that Everton will not be managed by Roberto Martinez next season as he was relieved of his duties before the Premier League Season had even concluded. As Roberto Martinez was unveiled to the press in 2013 he promised Champions League football, but delivered very little on his promises as Everton slumped to as low as 12th in the league. A league position that’s truly unacceptable for a team the size of Everton and with the strength in depth to the current squad including Romelu Lukaku, a player in high demand for many of the heavyweights in World Football due to his exploits for Everton.
Everton face already relegated Norwich City this weekend, where both teams will be searching for a positive win to build from leading into their next respective seasons.
Second position on the line between the North London clubs
Tottenham Hotspur have met quite a few obstacles in their path in recent weeks. They have unceremoniously vacated the league title conversation through a string of bad results and now have the second position on the line as their neighbours Arsenal look to finish the season on a positive note. Spurs are winless in three matches, but with a long term contract signed for their bright, young manager Mauricio Pochettino, they’ll be intent on ensuring they don’t let their best league position in 53 years slip to Arsenal this weekend.
One thing that both Spurs and Arsenal have in common is that both teams will be facing already relegated opposition, Arsenal are at home to Aston Villa, whereas Spurs face a tricky away game to Newcastle United. Arsenal will be without the injured Danny Welbeck, who has been ruled out of the Euro 2016 international competition as well as for most of next season due to his recovery from a serious knee injury.
Spurs have no fresh injury concerns in the build up to their game against Newcastle United with the only absentee being Nabil Bentaleb, who hasn’t featured in the first team squad for quite some time.
Also featuring in the final Premier League showdown
The Champions of the Premier League 2015/16 Leicester City will be given a guard of honour by the Chelsea players in the lead up to their match on Sunday. This will be an emotional return for Claudio Ranieri, who after four years managing Chelsea was deemed not good enough to win the league by current Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Ranieri has spent a lot of his career managing English, French and Italian giants in world football without getting that winning feeling of successfully achieving domestic success in the respective leagues- he’s now finally accomplished that with Leicester City.
Watford will play Sunderland, who will be buoyant after escaping from the relegation struggles and confirming their Premier League status for another season. Whether they decide to stick with Sam Allardyce is another matter, historically he’s never been relegated with a Premier League side. On the talk of managerial sackings, Watford have chosen to part company with Quique Flores, who directed Watford to a domestic cup semi-final and also kept Watford comfortably in the Premier League. One element that continues to arise in football is the disconnect from football owners to the tireless managerial work that takes place. Some owners fail to appreciate the importance first and foremost of Premier League survival as every owner has their sights on the ambitions of European Football.
The three remaining games, feature three teams bidding for Europa League football next season- West Ham United, Southampton and Liverpool. West Ham United face the prospect of playing Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. A match that on paper looks extremely strenuous, but Stoke City actually haven’t won a league match at home since they beat Newcastle United in March.
Southampton could potentially put pressure on West Ham United as they challenge a Crystal Palace side that will have one eye on the FA Cup Final next weekend. That massively plays a part in proceedings, as Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew may decide to field a weakened side in order to prepare properly for one of the most important matches of Crystal Palace’s recent history.
Lastly, Liverpool have an outside chance for Europa League football next season as they tackle West Bromwich Albion. But Liverpool could achieve even greater things later this month as they could sneak into the Champions League by winning the Europa League final over Sevilla. That’s a massively great task as Sevilla are two time defending champions, but Jurgen Klopp will feel he has enough experience of European football to guide Liverpool into the Champions League next season.
All this weekend’s Premier League fixtures will take place at 3pm on Sunday.
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