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This Sunday sees the last schedule of fixtures in the English Premier League and the matches will decide several outstanding issues. Manchester City and Arsenal can still finish second behind the champions Chelsea and Arsenal could still be overhauled by Manchester United in the race for third place. This is significant because the team that finishes fourth will have to play a qualifying tie for the Champions League in August. Fifth place and a route into the Europa League is still possible for Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton. Queens Park Rangers and Burnley are relegated and any one from Sunderland, Newcastle and Hull will also lose their Premier League status. After the final group of fixtures the only remaining game in England is the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium a week on Saturday between Arsenal and Aston Villa.
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Newcastle United v West Ham
This is a must win game for Newcastle who need three points to stay in the division without relying on Hull losing to Manchester United. They have been dragged into the mire with nine defeats in ten matches and a squad lacking confidence or direction. Fortunately West Ham have little to play for and have down tools in anticipation of a new manager. Newcastle have only won six of 18 home matches in the league this season but can add to that tally with a crucial win.
Pick: Newcastle United at 8/11 or -137.50.
Hull City v Manchester United
This is the other key fixture in the context of which side will drop into the relegation places after Sunday’s matches. Hull have home advantage but their manager, Steve Bruce, who played for United, has never beaten his old club when in charge of a team. Hull could win this match and still be relegated if results in matches involving Sunderland and Newcastle go against them. United have the quality to consign their former player to the Championship and probably dismissal.
Pick: Manchester United at 11/10 or +110.
Everton v Tottenham Hotspur
Everton have little to play to for except their final place in the table as they cannot qualify for Europe and are free of relegation issues. This has been a season of underachievement so the side will wish to record a win and send their fans home with some optimism for next season. Tottenham can still qualify for the Europa League so have a tangible incentive to put in a decent shift. That motivation can be enough to decide this match which could produce Tottenham’s ninth road win from 19 matches.
Pick: Tottenham Hotspur at 9/5 or +180.
Arsenal v West Brom
Depending on their result against Sunderland on Wednesday Arsenal could be playing for second place or avoiding finishing fourth and a qualifying tie for next season’s Champions League that takes place before the regular league season begins. West Brom know there is nothing at stake in this match so they may play with freedom which could negate any feeling of not giving everything in pursuit of a relatively meaningless victory. On balance Arsenal’s need for the points should see this match end in a home win.
Pick: Arsenal at 1/3 or -300.
Chelsea v Sunderland
Sunderland may need to record an improbable draw to claw themselves out of trouble and will be monitoring the scores in the matches involving Newcastle and Hull. However, if they have avoided defeat against Arsenal they are safe from the drop so this match will have a party atmosphere. Chelsea have won the league and even their manager’s competitive streak will allow for a dropping of effort and commitment. In any scenario Chelsea are too good for their opponents and can record a comfortable win.
Pick: Chelsea at 4/9 or -225.
Leicester City v Queens Park Rangers
In different circumstances this match could have been a relegation decider bur Rangers are down and Leicester will be playing in the Premier League next season after their best run of form when it was needed most. The home side were bottom of the league at Christmas and that usually means relegation at the end of the season. QPR have been a shambles from the first week and are unlikely to go out on a high and this is a match that Leicester can win.
Pick: Leicester at 1/2 or -200.
Aston Villa v Burnley
This is another fixture that brings together a home side safe from relegation and visitors who will be making an immediate return to the Championship. Villa only secured their status for next season last week and will now be surely focusing on the FA Cup Final against Arsenal a week on Saturday. The home crowd will demand effort and some squad members will be playing for their places at Wembley. Burnley will be demoralised and this scenario points to a home win.
Pick: Aston Villa at 21/20 or +105.
Stoke City v Liverpool
Liverpool look an average team and will be much weaker for the departure of club stalwart Steven Gerrard who is joining LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer. If last week’s match with Crystal Palace had not been his final appearance at home the players would have been booed of the pitch as they performed with no confidence or conviction. Stoke are becalmed in mid-table safety but may have enough desire to avoid defeat and take a point for a draw with Liverpool.
Pick: Draw at 12/5 or +240.
Crystal Palace v Swansea City
Swansea can not drop a place or move up due to the points they have accumulated compared to the teams around them in the table. They are not even playing for an improved final position and more prize money. Palace could rise to tenth which would be a great effort as they looked like relegation fodder earlier in the season. New management has turned things around and they looked exceptional in beating Liverpool. That level of form should be enough to secure a win on Sunday.
Pick: Crystal Palace at 5/4 or +125.
Manchester City v Southampton
City might need to avoid defeat in this match to secure second place. However, there is little downside from finishing third so it would not be a major issue if Arsenal overhauled them and took second spot in the Premier League table at this juncture in the season. Southampton have an outside chance of finishing fifth but require Liverpool and Tottenham to drop points to move to that position in the table. City have enough ability in the team to end the season with a home win.
Pick: Manchester City at 1/2 or -200.
Parlay the 10 picks for odds of 682/1.
European odds can be found at British bookmakers William Hill
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