As Manchester City pressed on towards a series of new records with their 4-1 win at West Ham, Manchester United secured their qualification for next season’s Uefa Champions League with a 2-1 home victory over Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final visit to Old Trafford. That leaves two places in Europe’s elite competition up for grabs and Liverpool left themselves vulnerable in third place after being held to a goalless draw by Stoke. However, having progressed to this season’s final with their dramatic 7-6 aggregate victory over Roma, Jurgen Klopp’s side can guarantee themselves a place by beating Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Kiev on May 26th. Tottenham sit fourth, a point behind Liverpool, after goals from Dele Alli and Harry Kane gave them a routine 2-0 win over Watford on Monday night, while Chelsea are a further five points behind after claiming their third successive league win when Cesc Fabregas scored the only goal at Swansea.
At the foot of the table, Southampton revived their survival hopes with a tense 2-1 home win over Bournemouth to move a point behind Swansea, who they meet at the Liberty Stadium next Tuesday. The Saints are now also within touching distance of Huddersfield, who were beaten 2-0 at home by Everton and who face the toughest of run-ins with games against City, Chelsea and Arsenal. West Ham’s defeat to City means they are still in the relegation mix, tied on 35 points with Huddersfield, but time is running out for Stoke whose winless run now stretches to 12 matches. West Brom made it seven points from a possible nine under Darren Moore with their 1-0 win at Newcastle, but they remain doomed to the drop unless Swansea draw with Southampton and lose to Stoke.
Week 37 Preview
The weekend’s action begins on Friday night, with Brighton’s game against Manchester United, while there’s a crunch game for Stoke on Saturday lunchtime. Crystal Palace visit the Bet365 Stadium and the Potters must win to set up a potential relegation decider at Swansea on the final day. The Swans are at Bournemouth in the most significant 3pm kick-off on Saturday, before Southampton go to Everton in the evening game.
City will receive the Premier League trophy after their home game against Huddersfield on Sunday afternoon, by which time they could have set a new points record for the competition with two games still left to play. Pep Guardiola’s side will surpass Chelsea’s record of 95 points with a win, while they will eclipse the Blues’ record of 103 goals if they score twice. They would also move to 31 wins – one more than the previous best tally, also set by Chelsea.
The key game at the top of the table is at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea need to beat Liverpool to keep alive their hopes of a top four finish. Tottenham could move a step closer to securing a Champions League place by winning at West Brom on Saturday afternoon.
Stoke v Crystal Palace
A run of eight points from four games has carried Palace to the safety of mid-table and they will be in the top flight next season, despite losing their first seven games of the campaign without scoring a goal. It’s a great achievement from Roy Hodgson and his players, who have taken 38 points from their last 29 games. In the same period, Stoke have won just 22.
This game is priced as if Palace will ease up over their final two games, but a remarkable top-half finish is still within reach and Hodgson will be eager to grasp it. Stoke’s position is desperate and although their defence has become stronger since Mark Hughes left the club, they haven’t scored twice in a game since Paul Lambert’s first match in charge against Huddersfield in January. Take Palace to nick it.
Recommended bet: Crystal Palace and Under 2.5 goals
Everton v Southampton
Southampton gave themselves hope with their victory over Bournemouth, but Everton look a great bet to extinguish it at Goodison on Saturday. This, too, is a game priced according to the greater need of the club in danger of relegation, with the Saints the marginal favourites to win.
That overlooks Everton’s current run of form, which has seen them win four and lose only one of their last seven games. It also fails to take into account their record at Goodison. They are the only team outside the top six to have won 10 or more home games this season, with the best of the rest winning no more than seven. Against teams currently beneath them in the table they have a 100 per cent home record.
Toffees fans are up in arms about the style of football under Sam Allardyce, but the one-time England boss will point to the results which have them on course to finish eighth when they had been heading for a relegation scrap when he came in.
Recommended bet: Everton
Chelsea v Liverpool
Liverpool will be on a high after winning through to their eighth Champions League or European Cup final and they go to Stamford Bridge knowing that even if they lose, they can guarantee themselves a top four spot by beating Brighton on the final day thanks to their superior goal difference.
Chelsea’s record of nine league defeats paints a picture of inconsistency in a ragged title defence, but they have won their last four games in all competitions and will be keen to maintain that momentum as they gear up for the FA Cup final against Manchester United on May 19th.
It’s hard to envisage a top notch performance from Liverpool following their exertions over two legs against Roma and that gives Chelsea the edge in a game which would otherwise be priced much more evenly. Chelsea have won their last two games without conceding, but they had gone 10 without a clean sheet before that, while there have been 66 goals scored in Liverpool’s 18 away league games – an average of 3.66 per game.
Recommended bet: Chelsea to win and both teams to score
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