With the Premier League season winding down, there does not seem to be much to play for for the majority of teams in the top flight.Chelsea are already champions, Manchester City and Arsenal seem to have automatic Champions League places, Manchester United have fourth wrapped up, and both Burnley and QPR are already relegated.
Despite this, there are still two main issues to be resolved.
The final relegation spot
With Burnley and QPR already playing Championship football next season, there is still one place left for three different teams to attempt to avoid. The situation look like this:
16. Sunderland - P36 Pts 37 GD -20
17. Newcastle United - P37 Pts 36 GD -25
18. Hull City - P37 Pts 34 GD -18
Sunderland have a game in hand, but their last two fixtures are away at Arsenal and Chelsea, so they will be very difficult to pick up points from indeed. Newcastle United face West Ham United at St. James' Park, and a win will ensure their safety.
Hull City look the most likely to be relegated next Sunday, and they face Manchester United at home in their last game. However, it is likely that United will not have anything to play for, and therefore Hull could be catching them at the best time, and maybe a great escape is on the cards. Nothing but a win will do though for Steve Bruce's men.
Europa League places
With their hopes of Champions League football no longer possible, Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton will fight it out for Europa League qualification. At this moment, two places are up from grabs, with Liverpool and Spurs in 5th and 6th respectively, but there is just two points separating Liverpool and Southampton, so any of the three sides could still miss out.
At the moment, the race for Europa League qualification looks like this:
5. Liverpool - P37 Pts 62 GD +9
6. Tottenham - P37 Pts 61 GD +4
7. Southampton - P37 Pts 60 GD +23
Liverpool finish their season away at Stoke City, Spurs travel to Everton, and Southampton visit Manchester City. Southampton have a much superior goal difference, so if they can get something at the Etihad Stadium, there is a decent chance they may leapfrog one of the sides above them.
However, this may be almost irrelevant, but that depends on the outcome of the following weekend's FA Cup final clash between Arsenal and Aston Villa. This season is the first one where FA Cup final runners up do not get the privilege of playing in the Europa League if the winners already have European qualification.
So to gain entry into next season's competition, Tim Sherwood's side have to win the final at Wembley Stadium. So if Arsenal do retail the FA Cup, the 7th place side will qualify for the Europa League anyway. The only difference is the round in which they would enter, as finishing higher means entering at a later qualifying round for the group stages.
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