The Premier League comes to a conclusion on Sunday with title and relegation issues already resolved.
However, the race for a top-four spot is going right to the finish line on what could be a dramatic afternoon.
Here are five five talking points as the 2016-17 Premier League season is consigned to history.
Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal are involved in a three-way fight for two Champions League places.
Third-placed City need only a point at Watford to book their place, and even if they lost they would only be denied by Liverpool beating Middlesbrough and an Arsenal victory over Everton producing a five-goal swing.
Wenger: "We've come through a difficult period & won a few games. I don't think in terms of top four... I think of us doing our job instead" pic.twitter.com/q9VFd2yzJO— Premier League (@premierleague) May 13, 2017
Liverpool also have their destiny in their own hands as three points will secure Champions League football for only the second time in eight years. Draw or lose, though, and Arsenal would be ready to pounce.
The Gunners are the outsiders to be dining at European football’s top table next season, but four consecutive win suggests Arsene Wenger’s side have not given up the chase just yet.
On the face of it, Chelsea’s motivation levels might have dipped after a fifth title in 12 years was confirmed by a 1-0 win at West Brom last weekend. It was a very unChelsea-like performance on Monday as Antonio Conte’s champions were guilty of some haphazard defending in beating Watford 4-3.
But Chelsea have every reason to finish the season in style at home to relegated Sunderland at Stamford Bridge. Another win would be their 30th of the campaign, a Premier League best in a 38-game campaign.
Chelsea currently hold the record of 29 set in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons under Jose Mourinho. The record would provide another feather in Conte’s cap, and raise yet more cheer before the Premier League trophy presentation at the end of the game.
Harry Kane’s four-goal salvo as Tottenham thrashed Leicester 6-1 on Thursday night put the England striker in pole position to win the Golden Boot for the second successive season.
Not bad for a player who has missed three months of the season through injury.
Kane goes into Spurs’ final game at Hull with 26 league goals to his name, two ahead of Everton striker Romelu Lukaku and three more than Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. The 23-year-old scored 25 last season and has become only the fifth player in the Premier League era to reach that mark in successive seasons.
Kane would be the first player since Robin van Persie in 2013 to win the Golden Boot in successive seasons.
TV pundit Alan Hansen famously once said that Manchester United would not win “anything with kids” and Jose Mourinho seems set to put that theory to the test against Crystal Palace. The United manager has Wednesday’s Europa League final against Ajax on his mind, with a place in next season’s Champions League at stake in Stockholm.
JM confirms Pereira, O'Hara, Mitchell, McTominay, Harrop, Willock, Gomes, Dearnley, Fosu-Mensah & Tuanzebe will all be involved in Sunday.— Man Utd Update (@MufcDevilUpdate) May 19, 2017
Having complained that the Palace fixture should have been brought forward to allow United extra preparation time for the final, Mourinho is set to hand youth its chance at Old Trafford.
Joel Pereira, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Axel Tuanzebe, Matty Willock, Josh Harrop and Zachary Dearnley are all in line to make the matchday party, and for many of them it could prove to be the biggest afternoon of their careers.
The final day of the season is always a time for fond farewells and the odd tear or two – and Sunday will be no exception.
John Terry will end his 22-year stay at Stamford Bridge by playing his 717th Chelsea game, lifting the Premier League trophy and making a farewell speech to the fans.
Conte describes Terry as a legend for Chelsea and compares his career with players like Totti, Maldini and Del Piero. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 19, 2017
We wait to see if Arsene Wenger and Wayne Rooney are saying goodbye to the league, even if they still have cup finals to come.
Watford’s Walter Mazzari is on his way and Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland are definitely bidding bon voyage for now, although Harry Maguire, Jordan Pickford and Jermain Defoe will probably end up staying somewhere.
And will Daniel Sturridge, Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, Riyad Mahrez, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Michael Keane be bowing out for their current clubs? A busy summer awaits.
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Judgement Day is nearly upon us. After a season of elation or frustration – depending on where you are in your respective leagues – Sunday brings the final day of the Premier League season.
Gameweek 38, the last round of the Fantasy Premier League is your chance to finish on a high whether you’re in a battle to finish top or languishing at the bottom.
This week’s column will help you out in your FPL endeavours. Here’s why you should captain Harry Kane while also taking note of three important factors.
But first, here’s a look at the tactical geniuses who make up the top five in our fans league this week.
WHO TO CAPTAIN
Kevin De Bruyne [10.5m] was our captain pick in Gameweek 37 and although he had a poor outing in the first fixture against Leciester City, he did come through with a goal and an assist against West Brom. He wound up with a cool 15 points after a three-point bonus as well.
This week, we’re backing four-goal hero Harry Kane [11.8m] for the captain’s armband. After a tidy seven points against Manchester United, he followed it up with four goals and an assist away to Leciester in a 6-1 trashing of last season’s champions.
In total, the striker racked up a massive 31 points. On the back of that, his captaincy seems rather like chasing that point haul again but you can’t ignore the fact that he’ll be desperate to add another goal or two against a relegated Hull City side to ensure he ends up with the Golden Boot.
The argument is Tottenham don’t have anything to play for but that didn’t stop them from hammering six past Leicester, did it?
THREE THINGS TO CONSIDER
There’s a few things you should know before you make your picks for the final Gameweek since some teams are more motivated than others. Meanwhile, the likes of Chelsea and United will be fielding weaker sides as they prepare for the FA Cup and Europa League finals respectively.
STEER CLEAR OF THE CHAMPIONS
As mentioned above, Antonio Conte is expected to rest his big stars on Sunday as Chelsea face Arsenal in the FA Cup final the following Saturday. With the Premier League wrapped up, bow and all, Conte has taken the opportunity to field a few squad players.
That’s why it’s best to steer clear of the expensive, big-hitters like Diego Costa [10.4m] or Eden Hazard [10.5m] as they’re unlikely to play 90 minutes, let alone start.
However, if you’re looking for more affordable options, the likes of Cesc Fabregas [6.9m], John Terry [5.2m] and Nathan Ake [3.8m] provide great value.
Cesc Fabregas has now been directly involved in 12 goals in his last 10 home league games.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 15, 2017
4 goals ⚽️
8 assists 🅰️
Always delivers. 📬 pic.twitter.com/xRfqvhYSks
THE FIGHT FOR THE TOP FOUR
The natural tendency is to favour players in teams that have plenty to fight for and with the final two Champions League spots yet to be decided between three sides, there are few great options to choose from.
Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal all have decent fixtures on the final day. Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus [9.0m] would be the front runners to grab a few points away to Watford.
Meanwhile, Liverpool play at home to bottom side Middlesbrough where Philippe Coutinho [8.6m] could pop up with one final breath-taking performance of the season.
Arsenal have to win their game at home to Everton if they’re going to have any chance of making the top four for a record equalling 20th consecutive season (Real Madrid 1997/98 to 2016/17). They’ll be banking on Alexis Sanchez [11.6m] to deliver the goods again.
Mesut Ozil has come into some form as well and is a cheaper alternative while Rob Holding [4.1m] has proved to be great value for money in defence.
Clean sheets have been a great source of points in the last few Gameweeks and in the final round, there are a few defenders who could serve you well. Joel Matip [5.3m] has been providing great returns with Liverpool keeping four clean sheets in their last five.
Terry at Chelsea is a good option too especially after his goal in his last outing. Southampton duo Maya Yoshida [4.5m] and Jack Stephens [4.2m] provide great value as well with three clean sheets in their last five.
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Since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer of 2013, Manchester United have been in free fall.
The appointment of David Moyes as Ferguson’s successor was seriously misjudged and Louis Van Gaal’s tepid football didn’t take well to the Old Trafford faithful.
In comes Jose Mourinho last summer and 12 months on we are seeing just how badly this squad needs to be chopped and changed.
Although the Dutch manager brought in fresh faces before Mourinho’s time, the stark difference between the Man United squad and Europe’s elite is alarming.
We cannot forget that Ed Woodward, Man United’s executive vice-chairman, has assembled the most expensive squad in history, but you would not have thought that judging by squad’s performances in the Premier League.
Here is a look at Man United’s key positions, the strength in depth and comparing it to the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
David De Gea / Sergio Romero
One of the very few positions in which Manchester United do not need major surgery.
While there has been speculation regarding the futures of both De Gea (Real Madrid) and Romero (Inter Milan), the Red Devils have one of the best combinations in world football providing they can keep hold of them.
Antonio Valencia / Matteo Darmian / Timothy Fosu-Mensah
Daniel Carvajal / Danilo / Nacho Fernández
Dani Alves / Stephan Lichsteiner / Tomas Rincon
In credit to Valencia, he has been a stalwart in Man United’s defence and, alongside Eric Bailly, been one of the team’s best defenders.
But when you compare Valencia to Carvajal and Alves, there is a clear level of quality that the Ecuador captain does not possess.
The former Barcelona right back was instrumental in both legs of Juventus’s semi final against AS Monaco and even scored in the Coppa Italia final.
The ability to go forward, while also be robust in defence and slot back into formation, is crucial to becoming an established European right back, something which Alves has become.
Carvajal is more than on his way to accomplishing the same. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he has been injured for the majority of May; but in his 40 appearances this season, the right back has been exceptional in both going forward and slotting back in defence.
When you dive deeper down the pecking order, Darmian is a shadow of his former self and not the typical Italian defender which Man United thought they were purchasing after the 2014 World Cup.
Juventus only have the Switzerland captain, Lichsteiner, as their second choice to compete with Alves. A player full of experience and has more than 80 appearances for his country to his name.
Danilo, while not boasting that amount of caps for his country, is still a very competent right back and has still registered three assists and one goal. Darmian, however, only has one assist to his name in four more appearances.
There is a clear problem in having only one competitive right back at the club and something that Manchester United cannot go on with. They should be looking at Fabinho of AS Monaco, who can also play at defensive midfield.
Daley Blind / Marcos Rojo / Luke Shaw
Layvin Kurzawa / Maxwell / Serge Aurier
David Alaba / Juan Bernat / Rafinha
While Blind and Rojo have been very good for Man United in spells this year, they are very much auxiliary left backs, and are much better suited in central defence.
The club’s number one, Shaw, has had a string of injuries keeping him on the sidelines and an ongoing battle with Mourinho regarding his mentality.
Comparing Blind and Rojo to Kurzawa and Maxwell as well as Alaba and Bernat is rather embarrassing for the supposed ‘biggest club in the world’.
The former Monaco left back, Kurzawa, is arguably one of the best left backs in Europe and has been unfortunate with a recent injury he picked up.
Maxwell might be 35 years old, but he is still featuring over 30 timer per-season and giving the French giants a much needed use of experience and guile.
Another shout for the best left back in Europe has to be Alaba, who has consistently shown that he is a force to be reckoned with.
A bit like Alves, the Austrian wing back acts more of a winger than he does defender and can play in five positions – an incredible player to have in your team.
Bernat is still relatively young, 24, but has featured seven times in Spain’s squad since the 2014 World Cup.
Given it is probably the most competitive national team in the word, that is something to be admired, coupled with the fact that he is also the second choice left back.
If Shaw cannot prove himself that he is ready to commit fully to this club, he will be moved on. If that comes to fruition, Manchester United should be doing all that they can to prize Benjamin Mendy away from AS Monaco.
Given the lack of experienced, world class left backs in the world, the Red Devils are going to find it exceptionally difficult to bring in a player of the quality they desire if they cannot recruit Mendy.
Eric Bailly / Marcos Rojo / Chris Smalling / Phil Jones / Daley Blind
Sergio Ramos / Raphael Varane / Nacho Fernandez / Pepe
Leonardo Bonucci / Giorgio Chiellini / Andrea Barzagli / Mehdi Benatia
When Bailly was drafted by Ivory Coast to go to the African Cup of Nations in January for a month, the centre back left a gaping hole in United’s defence.
The Argentinian World Cup finalist has stepped up to the plate, but when comparing him to the likes of Chiellini and Varane, it is plain to see that Manchester United are lacking considerable talent in this area.
Varane is technically Madrid’s second-choice centre back this season, but would walk into United’s team in a heartbeat. The Frenchman is comfortable on the ball, a threat in the air and his defensive intelligence is the strongest part of his game.
Smalling, however, lacks any sort of presence on the ball and seems to panic when passed to; his distribution is that of a League One player’s in the sense that he will only hoof it up front or in space for the striker to chase – rarely to feet.
You would not associate defensive intelligence with Smalling. In the past two months, the England centre back has been at fault for a considerable amount of mistakes in games.
Jones is not the best centre back, but he is OK. Nothing special and certainly not as good as Sir Alex Ferguson once thought, but a good squad player if he kept fit. However, that is his problem.
He is now 25 years old, not a youngster anymore, and can barely string a few games together without being injured.
As a centre back you have to be reliable and Jones is not that. Smalling is not either. Rojo is a good squad player, but should not be starting from next season if the Red Devils want to close the gap on the top of the table. Bailly is the only permanent fixture in this back line, he is a very good – and young, only 23 – defender who has shades of Nemanja Vidić in him.
If Man United are to get back to winning ways, they need an authoritative centre back next season. They should be looking at Virgil van Dijk of Southampton: proven experience, one of the best centre backs in the country and, most importantly, a leader.
Michael Carrick / Ander Herrera / Paul Pogba / Marouane Fellaini
Marco Verratti / Adrien Rabiot / Blaise Matuidi / Thiago Motta
Xabi Alonso / Thiago / Arturo Vidal / Renato Sanchez
Pogba has been under the microscope for the whole year and will never match some critics’s unattainable standards, but he has been Man United’s conductor in midfield. He might not have set the world alight, but his time will come and there should be no hesitations about that.
Carrick is still a very good player, but given that he is approaching the tender age of 36, it is time for the club to stop relying on his wisdom and excellence for the whole season. They desperately need a replacement.
If Man United were astute in the market, they would hand Borussia Dortmund a blank cheque for Julian Weigl – the perfect replacement for Carrick.
There is no denying Herrera has been a good player for Man United, but when comparing him to the likes of Rabiot, Verratti, Thiago and Vidal, those players are just a cut above and impact games on a far more regular basis.
They control the game whereas the game can sometimes go beyond Herrera’s reach.
And then there’s Fellaini – the Belgian maestro himself. While good in certain situations, it is baffling to think that he has made 49 appearances this year and has been saved getting the axe from LVG and Mourinho.
When Bayern Munich have Sanches as a possible fourth central midfielder and Manchester United have Fellaini, it paints the picture perfectly for you in terms of how far away these clubs are apart.
Anthony Martial / Henrikh Mkhitaryan / Jesse Lingard
Lionel Messi / Neymar / Arda Turan
Cristiano Ronaldo / Gareth Bale / Marco Asensio / Isco
Martial and Mkhitaryan have bags of potential and will eventually show that once they have better players around them, but when Lingard is appearing 40 times in a season, there needs to be questions asked.
While Lingard works hard, pressurises defenders and scores the goals at Wembley, his output, creativity and general threat to a defence is uninspiring.
In the respective squads, Lingard is of the same position, more or less, of Turan and Asensio, but has featured a lot more given the other two in Man United’s team underperforming.
Turan’s form at Atlético Madrid warranted him a move to Barcelona and, while things have not gone as smoothly as he would have wanted, he has still scored 13 times and assisted on seven different occasions in 30 appearances. That is a very good record for an impact player.
Asensio has scored slightly less, only the nine times, and assisted four times this campaign. However, when watching him, there is a genuine threat every time he gets the ball and drives at the opposition’s defence. He is also 21 – not 25 like the Man United winger.
Lingard, however, has played 40 times – more often than not from a starting position – and found the back of the net five times and only assisted thrice.
For a club like Manchester United, who is trying to claw their way back to their best, that is appalling.
There is already talk of Antoine Griezmann and James Rodríguez joining the club, in which they desperately need. It would appear the result of the Europa League final will determine whether they can sign the likes of Griezmann.
Zlatan Ibrahimović / Marcus Rashford / Wayne Rooney
Paulo Dybala / Gonzalo Higuaín / Mario Mandzukic
Karim Benzema / Álvaro Morata / Mariano Díaz
Finally on to the strikers. Ibrahimović has taken England by storm and was incredibly unfortunate not to finish the season off.
The Swedish superstar ended his campaign on 28 goals and eight assists – a very respectable achievement and one that has most certainly turned a few heads.
While he might not be at the club next year, due to his long-term injury, he has been very good on and off the pitch for United.
Rashford has stepped up to take his place and found some good form, but he is 19 years old. He is not a cultured striker that has been in the game for years; it is his second season as a first-team player.
Not to mention Rooney, who delivered so much over the years but has now found his body catching up to him and can barely last 90 minutes. The game whizzes past him in a flash and it is sad to see such a demise of a truly legendary figure in the game.
When you look at Juventus’s depth in squad in the striker’s role and that of Real Madrid’s, the Red Devils are once again lagging so far behind.
Take Morata for example: one of Europe’s hottest strikers that would play for most, if not all, Premier League clubs.