After almost nine months and 370 matches, the 2011/12 Premier League season has reached its climax but there are still plenty of issues to be settled on the final day.
The result of today’s matches will decide which Manchester club will win the title, which two teams will qualify for the Champions League and who becomes the third and final team to be relegated. Here’s a look at the things that are at stake today.
Fight For the Title – City v United
This year’s race for the Premier League title has been one of the most entertaining for years. As we stand, City and United are level on 86 points but City are at the top of the table thanks to a superior goal difference (+63 compared to United’s +55) and thus are in pole position to win their first ever league title in 44 years.
City host QPR – who are fighting to stay in the Premier League – today, while United travel to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland. It’s very straightforward, if City beat QPR at the Etihad they are the Champions of England, unless United go on a prolific scoring spree to even up the goal difference, which is highly impossible as they would have to score around 9-10 goals to do that. If QPR hold City to a draw, then a win for United would guarantee them their 20th league title. And finally, If City lose to QPR – which is highly improbable as the latter have won just three games on the road while City have won 17 of their 18 games this season and draw the other one at home – then United would need just a draw to win against Sunderland to win the title.
The Race For The Champions League Spots
If the title race this season was fascinating then the race for the 3rd and 4th place in the league has been no less entertaining. With just one round of fixtures remaining, Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle have a fair chance of finishing in the top four. But with Chelsea playing the Champions League final next weekend it remains to be seen a 4th place finish is enough for Champions League football next season. Here’s how things stand:
Arsenal play their final game of the season away at West Brom, while Spurs host Fulham and Newcastle travel to Goodison Park to face Everton. With Chelsea playing the Champions League final, England will have four teams in the next season’s Champions League and so Arsenal would only need a draw at the Hawthorns to finish in the top four on goal difference. Newcastle don’t have this in their hands, as they have to beat Everton and hope other results go their way. If Spurs and Gunners both lose, the Magpies jump up to third with a win. If one of the London clubs lose, Newcastle win will help them finish fourth. If Newcastle and Arsenal win, Spurs have to win to hold on to their 4th place and finally if Arsenal lose and Spurs win then they finish third.
If it was any other normal season, finishing 4th would mean Champions League football next season but this season there is a possibility that it won’t happen. Chelsea are sixth in the League and have no chance of finishing in the top 4 but play Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on 19th and a win for the Blues in Munich will mean they play Champions League football next season as the holders of the competition at the expense of the team that finish 4th in the league.
Who Will Go Down? QPR v Bolton
Blackburn and Wolves are already relegated to the nPower Championship. But the third and final relegation spot is still to be decided. It’s come down between QPR and Bolton. Here’s how things stand:
Both Bolton and QPR travel to Stoke and Manchester City respectively in their final game of the season. Who stays up and who goes down is very straight forward. Bolton must simply win their final league game to Stoke to stand any chance of staying up in the Premier League. Anything less than a win and they are going down. QPR can afford to lose at City and then also stay in the Premier League if Bolton fail to get a win at the Britannia Stadium. If Bolton win today, then QPR will need a draw against City to stay up.
Pride of Merseyside – Everton v Liverpool
Keeping aside the Carling Cup win and a FA Cup final defeat, this has been a pretty poor season for Liverpool. Resigned to a mid-table finish, the Reds go into the last game of the season with bragging rights of the city at stakes. Liverpool will be desperate to avoid finishing below their fierce city rivals Everton for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Here’s how they stand:
Liverpool’s record at Anfield this season has been disastrous and fortunately for them they play their final league game of the season away to Swansea – who have nothing to play for. Everton on the other hand face an in-form Newcastle side – who are in contention of finishing 4th in the league – at Goodison Park. A win for both the teams will see Everton finish above Liverpool, a draw or a defeat for Everton and a win for the Reds will see Liverpool jump over Everton. But if both teams lose and Fulham win against Spurs then Fulham would jump up to 7th and finish above both the Merseyside clubs.