Manchester United are still hoping to catch Manchester City and finish in the top four, denying their neighbours Champions League football next season. Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who front beIN Sports’ EPL coverage, discuss whether that is likely to happen and the other matches that bring an astonishing season to an end.
Andy Gray: Manchester United had a glorious opportunity to go to Upton Park, get a result and put themselves in pole position for fourth place. Instead, they were beaten by West Ham, and I think fourth place disappeared with that defeat. I know City have to go to Swansea which is not easy but they know they just need a point to stay in the Champions League and I think they will get it.
I am surprised United are battling for a top-four place because all season I have been saying there was no chance of that happening, but I don’t think they are in this position because they have been playing great football. They are in the mix because teams like City and Arsenal have not finished the season well.
The FA Cup run has definitely helped United’s confidence and, West Ham apart where they really let it slip late in the second half, they have been playing well. I am sure they will beat Bournemouth, but it will be too little, too late and then it will be interesting to see what happens to Louis van Gaal. I don’t think there is a great appetite at Old Trafford to sack him. Why? I don’t know.
He will argue that he has blooded a load of youngsters and made the future look good for United but injuries to senior players left him with no option but to play those kids. The only reason we have seen Marcus Rashford is that Van Gaal had no option but to give him his chance.
The fact of the matter is it looks like they are going to miss out on Champions League football for the second year running, although they are favourites to win the FA Cup.
Is that good enough? Not if you are Manchester United. The current hierarchy might want Van Gaal to do one more season and then give the job to Ryan Giggs but if it was up to me I would give the job to Jose Mourinho now. He and United are the perfect combination.
It would be like Eric Cantona joining United when everyone said he would be a bad buy from Leeds United where he had a reputation as being a bit wild but look what happened with him. He inspired the rest of the team, drove them on, and became a legend at Old Trafford. I really do think, like Cantona, Mourinho would be a good fit. Some don’t like him and he might be lots of things but one thing is for sure, he is a winner.
If Mourinho went there they might lose Giggs because he probably wouldn’t want to be an assistant for another three years and maybe that is in their minds, but the big question has to be – Is Louis van Gaal going to win the League title for United? Not in the near future, as far as I am concerned.
United need someone with a huge personality and for me that man is Mourinho. As for Sunday, I think United will finish on a high and win 3-1.
Richard Keys: I am going to stick my neck out and say that United are going to pip Man City to fourth place. If there is a club capable of messing this up it’s Man City. If there is a club, other than Everton, that are just bang ordinary at the minute it’s Man City and if there is any player with any personal ambition to want to finish fourth, apart from Joe Hart and maybe Sergio Aguero, I’m not sure I’ve seen them.
I feel this will be Manchester United’s weekend and if Van Gaal gets the Champions League slot, the minimum requirement at Old Trafford, he stays for another season. If he doesn’t then not even an FA Cup win will save
him. I agree with Andy’s point that United are only in this position because of the inadequacy of others but I do like the look of Rashford; his quick feet remind me of Andy Cole at his best.
Jesse Lingard has done well, Anthony Martial has been a revelation and Wayne Rooney has been okay, although I don’t know what the future holds for him. The problem is, I don’t look at that team and think, automatically, that the future is bright. If they can get Zlatan Ibrahimovic then he would give them one fantastic season a bit like Robin van Persie did but it will only be one season. I expect United to win 2-0.
Swansea v Man City
AG: Because Aguero is desperate to finish as the EPL’s top scorer, I think he can inspire his teammates. 1-2.
RK: Swansea’s end of season run in has been really good, unlike Man City, and although I accept what Andy is saying about Aguero I don’t think they care enough. 2-1.
Arsenal v Aston Villa
AG: Arsenal will want to try and catch Tottenham and I don’t think Villa have the stomach for a fight at this stage of the season. 3-1.
RK: This will be a cruise for Arsenal and it’s a case of how many, not if, they will score. I’ll stick to 2-0.
Newcastle v Tottenham
AG: Tottenham will want to finish above Arsenal in second place and Newcastle will be as flat as a pancake after being relegated. 1-2.
RK: Spurs have run their race and I’m not sure anybody there, apart from the fans, is that worried about finishing above Arsenal. 1-1.
Everton v Norwich
AG: Everton owe the fans a performance. Roberto Martinez has gone but the players aren’t blameless for what has been a disappointing season and have to take some responsibility. Joe Royle will be in the dugout and he will lift them. 2-0.
RK: The players have succeeded in playing Martinez out and will want to finish on a high and Norwich will be deflated. 2-0.
Chelsea v Leicester
AG: This will be Chelsea’s last game as champions and I think they will want to go out with a win. They are playing much better and Eden Hazard has finally got his act together, not before time. Claudio Ranieri will, quite rightly, get a brilliant reception but I am predicting a 2-0 win for his former club.
RK: It is possible that Leicester could win the league with a margin of 13 points, one of the biggest in history, which would be an achievement so expect to see them push on. 1-2.
Southampton v Crystal Palace
AG: Southampton are playing well and there’s no reason to think their good form will desert them for the last game of the season against a side which will be more interested in the FA Cup final. 2-0.
RK: Palace won’t be interested in this game and Southampton will want to keep their good run going. Ronald Koeman has done brilliantly at that club and they need to give him a new contract because others will come calling if they haven’t already. 3-0.
Stoke v West Ham
AG: The Hammers have had a long season and they will be tired, particularly after that fantastic win over United at Upton Park which will have taken it out of them. 1-0.
RK: This could be Mark Hughes’ last game in charge of Stoke if Everton pursue their interest but West Ham are a better side and will win this. 1-2.
Watford v Sunderland
AG: It seems unfair that Quique Sanchez Flores is leaving Watford after what he has done for them but he doesn’t appear to be that unhappy. The players will want to give him a good send off but Sunderland will be buoyant after avoiding relegation. 1-1.
RK: The way Quique Sanchez Flores has been treated is shameful and it will cost Watford. I think it will affect them today and Sunderland, with no pressure, will be up for this. 0-1.
West Brom v Liverpool
AG: The Baggies should nick this because they will be playing Liverpool reserves. Jurgen Klopp will, quite rightly, rest his best players for the Europa League final. 1-0.
RK: Andy is probably right but whatever Liverpool team turn out will have a goal in them. 1-1.
Pep Guardiola will take over from Manuel Pellegrini as Manchester City coach but the Chilean only had words of encouragement for his successor.
“It’s a very good job, because it’s a team and a club that wants to grow every year, so it is one of the best clubs to manage,” Pellegrini, who delivered a title and two Capital One Cups, said. “Any manager who arrives here will be happy.
“I am sure that, being in a difficult league, Guardiola will be prepared to do well in it.”
Do you think Guardiola will improve upon Pellegrini’s record at City? Tweet us your thoughts using #360fans.
However, if Leicester are still partying and Newcastle, Norwich and Aston Villa are crying into their beer, there remain issues to be settled.
Here, Sport360 takes a look at some of them.
NORTH LONDON PRIDE
Tottenham may have stumbled towards the finishing line in recent weeks as Leicester claimed a stunning title, but they have the perfect incentive to end a run of three games without a win. Victory at relegated Newcastle – a draw would be enough given their superior goal difference – would see them clinch second place ahead of arch-rivals Arsenal, who host basement boys Aston Villa hoping for a slip-up from their neighbours.
BLUE OR RED?
Manchester City are without a win in four games in all competitions and would dearly like to address that record at Swansea. Fourth-placed City could yet finish third with a victory should Arsenal lose to Villa, however unlikely that may be, but more importantly, a point would be enough to fend off the challenge from Manchester United and deny their city rivals a return to Champions League football.
Whatever happens in their final-day trip to Stoke, West Ham have had a season to remember, although it could get better yet. A win at the Britannia Stadium, coupled with anything less for fifth-placed Manchester United at home to Bournemouth, would see the Hammers leapfrog Louis van Gaal’s men.
Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy head into the final day vying for the title of the Premier League’s top goalscorer. Tottenham’s Kane is currently on 25, one ahead of both his Manchester City and Leicester counterparts, and Vardy will hope his penalty miss last weekend does not rob him of the chance to cap a dream season with yet another honour.