After the 37th round of Premier League fixtures and the five-midweek matches played on Tuesday and Wednesday, almost every outstanding issue has been resolved, barring a remarkable turn of events this coming Sunday. Chelsea’s failure to beat Huddersfield on Wednesday means Liverpool need only a point at home to Brighton to secure the last remaining Champions League berth, while at the same time it left Swansea needing a nine-goal swing to overhaul Southampton’s advantage in the relegation battle. Stoke were relegated on Saturday after losing at home to Crystal Palace and West Brom’s demotion to the Championship was confirmed on Tuesday when Manolo Gabbiadini’s goal gave Saints a crucial 1-0 win at Swansea. Southampton’s superior goal difference means they are on the verge of securing their top-flight status as long as they avoid a heavy defeat at home to Manchester City.
Last weekend’s action began with Brighton making themselves safe with a 1-0 home win over Manchester United, who had already secured a top-four finish. Huddersfield set up their great escape with a battling goalless draw at Manchester City, while West Ham eased away from the bottom three with a comfortable 2-0 win at Leicester. West Brom had continued their revival under Darren Moore with a 1-0 win over Tottenham, while Southampton were denied a victory by a last-minute Everton equaliser but still picked up the critical point that drew them level on points with Swansea. On Wednesday, Manchester City set new records for the most wins in a 38-game season and for total Premier League points and goals with their 3-1 win over Brighton, in which Leroy Sane created all three goals. The German winger has drawn level with Kevin De Bruyne on 15 assists this season, with team-mates David Silva and Raheem Sterling third and fourth in the division’s assists chart. Meanwhile, a goal from Harry Kane ensured Tottenham finish in the top four.
Week 38 Preview
It looks unlikely that there will be any drama on the final weekend, but Liverpool still have some work to do to guarantee themselves a top-four finish. Should Chelsea win at Newcastle, the Reds will need to avoid defeat at home to Brighton. Swansea must beat Stoke by a large margin and hope champions City run riot at St Mary’s in the other games that matter. Pep Guardiola’s side still have another milestone in their sights, as a victory on Sunday will see them become the first Premier League team to reach 100 points. It would also be a record 16th away win. Elsewhere clubs will be jostling for finishing positions, with Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Watford all tied on 41 points as they seek the kudos of a top-half finish. Newcastle currently occupy the 10th place, but it is Palace who have the momentum going into the last round of matches.
Liverpool v Brighton
In other circumstances, Jurgen Klopp may be tempted to rest some of his key players with the Champions League final in mind, but there is a job still to do and they can’t afford to slip up against Brighton. The Reds are renowned for their blistering starts and they will be eager to get some early momentum going to ensure nerves don’t creep in. That would also allow Klopp to make changes in the second half. After a tough but successful season, Brighton’s players will be looking forward to a hard-earned summer break. Their mid-table finish owes much to a solid home record, but they have struggled away from home – they have won only twice on the road and only Watford have lost more away matches.
Recommended bet: Liverpool to lead after 30 minutes
Huddersfield v Arsenal
It’s been a gruelling week for the Terriers, who have put their bodies on the line to earn unlikely draws away to both Manchester City and Chelsea and with their top-flight status secured they can celebrate against Arsenal in what will be Arsene Wenger’s last match in charge of the Gunners. David Wagner has to be right up there alongside Guardiola and Sean Dyche as manager of the season for his achievement of keeping Huddersfield up. The German coach surely won’t be expecting his players to chase and harry Arsenal in the manner they have City and Chelsea, and this could be a very open game. Ten of Arsenal’s last 19 league games have seen four or more goals scored, with seven of them going over 4.5 goals.
Recommended bet: Over 4.5 goals
Southampton v Manchester City
Saints need only to maintain their healthy goal difference advantage over Swansea, which means digging in and limiting City’s goalscoring opportunities and relying on Stoke to do the rest. There’s little chance of Mark Hughes sending his side out with any great attacking intent as that would play into City’s hands and they can’t afford to take that risk. We’re likely to see Southampton defending in numbers and City dominating possession and it all points to a low-scoring game. Brighton, Newcastle and Stoke are the most notable examples of teams adopting those tactics at home to City this season and they lost 2-0, 1-0 and 2-0 respectively.
Recommended bet: City to win and Under 2.5 goals
Burnley v Bournemouth
No ground has seen fewer goals scored than Turf Moor this season, with Burnley scoring and conceding just 15 for a total of only 30 – five fewer than the 35 witnessed at St James’ Park. A visit from Bournemouth on Sunday could increase the average from its lowly 1.66 goals per game. The Cherries have kept only one clean sheet in their last 13 away games in all competitions, while they usually find the net too. There were three goals scored when these teams met at Dean Court in November, when Burnley won 2-1, and in a relaxed atmosphere this should be another entertaining game.
Recommended bet: Both teams to score and Over 2.5 goals