Rarely in recent memory has so much been left to decide on the last day, and so much that is so difficult to predict as well.
For a start there is the title race. Manchester United are hoping City slip up, or they win by a huge scoreline. City appear to have a straightforward home tie against QPR, but they are battling to stay up and Mark Hughes would love nothing better than to put one over on his old employers and replacement. City have at time struggled to overcome teams who sit back and defend in an organised fashion, and so this will be a particularly intriguing tussle.
For United, they go to Sunderland needing three points. It would be surprising if they did not get them, and they have the ability to put a few past Martin O’Neill’s side too. But probably not enough to win the league without a favour from QPR.
Below them is the struggle for third and fourth place. It has been a rather polite struggle of late. Since Arsenal decisively wrested control of third place from Tottenham, they have been rather nicer to their North London rivals. Both have been dropping points, inviting the other to take the automatic Champions League spot. This weekend one will hope to take a decisive final victory to secure the spot. Arsenal face a tricky away test at an organised West Brom team who don’t look to have mentally gone on holiday yet, and who will hope to give Roy Hodgson something to sign off with. They will have a goalkeeper, Ben Foster, possibly playing for a place at Euro 2012 too.
Tottenham on paper have an easier tie against Fulham, a traditional poor traveller, though they won at Anfield recently. But then again who hasn’t this year? Tottenham will expect to win, and so the pressure is perhaps more on Arsenal this weekend. But if both, or either slip up, Newcastle can surge into third or fourth if they can win at Everton. It’s a tough game, but one Newcastle are capable of winning, though Everton will want to finish above Liverpool.
Then there is the struggle against relegation. A difficult to predict fight has come down to two in the final straight – QPR and Bolton. QPR’s test at Man City has already been touched upon, and they will hope for a point in that game as they have a far superior goal difference to Bolton. Therefore though they are only two ahead of Bolton, one more point should be enough to secure their Premier League future. For Bolton, they really need victory at Stoke. It is a game that is tricky, but one they can win. But they are relying on someone else. As are so many teams in this final weekend of one of the most exciting seasons in years. So much is still at stake. And this season teams have been particularly inconsistent. Even United and the other leading sides have struggled at times and suffered surprise defeats. It makes the prospect of a surprising last day result more likely. This weekend, expect a surprise…