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It’s the penultimate week of the season and although Chelsea have won the league there are several issues still to be decided. The top four is just about set in stone but Manchester City and Arsenal are vying for second place. Manchester United are in the Champions League next season but for some freakish results. Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton are competing for fifth place and Europa League qualification. Queens Park Rangers and Burnley are relegated and any one from five teams can still join them in the Championship for next season.
Here are last week’s picks.
Southampton v Aston Villa
Southampton were in the mix to qualify for the Champions League for most of the season but can now realistically only finish sixth at best which is still a fine achievement for a club with their resources. Villa are in the Cup Final but not yet totally clear of relegation issues needing possibly one more point to be certain of surviving. Both teams should be motivated but can cancel each other out in a scoring draw which would be acceptable for both sides.
Pick: Draw at 5/2 or +250.
Queens Park Rangers v Newcastle United
Rangers are down and Newcastle could join them in the Championship for next season. The home side have won five of 18 matches at their own stadium this season, scoring 21 goals and conceding 23.Newcastle have lost 11 of 18 road matches, equating to a negative goal difference of 21, which is only better than that of Rangers and worse than the other 18 teams in the Premier League. The visitors are desperate for points and that desire means they can avoid defeat.
Pick: Draw at 5/2 or +250.
West Ham v Everton
This fixture brings together two sides in mid-table safety, with no chance of qualifying for Europe and clear of the relegation zone with just two matches remaining. West Ham are moving to London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium next year so will be looking to build on a relatively good season and staying in the league was vital for that ambition to succeed. Everton have underachieved but can provide some optimism for next season by winning their last away match of this campaign.
Pick: Everton at 8/5 or +160.
Sunderland v Leicester City
This fixture could be looked on as a six-pointer or a match in which both teams would be happy with a draw. They have both made some ground away from the relegation places but the nightmare scenario of dropping into the Championship is not totally out of the question. Sunderland have been scrambling for points while Leicester are on their best run of the season that has brought them six wins in seven matches. The circumstances point to a draw and more trouble for Hull and Newcastle who would be the main beneficiaries if this match had a definite result.
Pick: Draw at 11/5 or +220.
Burnley v Stoke City
This is another match with little on the outcome but final positions in the table. Burnley are relegated and are playing to avoid the shame of finishing bottom while Stoke can finish no higher than 9th and no lower than 11th. The road side are out of contention for making Europe next season and their Premier League status is secure. The result of this fixture could come down to desire and as the home side Burnley can out battle their opponents and win just for the fifth time at home in the league this season.
Pick: Burnley at 7/4 or +175.
Tottenham Hotspur v Hull City
Tottenham can still qualify for the Europa League by finishing fifth in the table while Hull are desperate for points to avoid dropping out of the division. This is one fixture which both teams will want to win and home advantage can be key in determining the outcome. Tottenham have won nine of 18 home matches, scoring 29 goals and conceding 24. Hull have only won three of 18 league matches on their travels and avoiding defeat in this match looks beyond them.
Pick: Tottenham at 3/4 or -140.
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
This is the last home match for Steven Gerrard who has played more than 700 times for Liverpool. The home side will be up for this fixture and hope their captain gets a good send off with a victory. Palace are safe from relegation worries and may not have the hunger to spoil the party. Liverpool have lost just three times in the league at home this season while Palace have won six of 18 away matches. Motivation will be a factor and on that basis Liverpool should get the outcome Gerrard craves.
Pick: Liverpool at 4/9 or -225.
Swansea v Manchester City
Swansea could finish as high as sixth if other results go their way and that would equate to their best season in the Premier League era. Manchester City are vying with Arsenal for second place but the only tangible reward is better prize money though that will not concern one of the richest clubs in the world. They have not won the title and with all their spending that is underachieving. Swansea have been solid at home this season and City just about average on the road so the conclusion is a drawn fixture.
Pick: Draw at 7/2 or +350.
Manchester United v Arsenal
This is one of the blockbuster fixtures of the season as it brings together superpowers from the north and south of England. In theory Manchester United can overhaul Arsenal for third place which is significant as the team in fourth must play a qualifying tie for the Champions League before the start of the regular season. Only Chelsea have a better home record than the Manchester club and they generally excel in fixtures of this nature so they can beat Arsenal.
Pick: Manchester United at 19/10 or +190.
West Brom v Chelsea
West Brom are safe from relegation and there will be a party atmosphere at this meeting. The home side will not play at their own ground again this season while Chelsea have won the Premier League for the first time in five years. Predicting the outcome of matches like this is difficult but Jose Mourinho is generally competitive whatever the circumstance. He won’t allow his side to forget their principles which involve trying to avoid defeat in road matches against sides of the calibre of West Brom so a draw is the most likely outcome.
Pick: Draw at 12/5 or +240.
Parlay the 10 picks for odds of 31338/1.!
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