Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 August 2020

Manchester City in the driving seat, Spurs looking to clinch top-four spot: Premier League final day permutations

Victory for Manchester City against Brighton will see them become the first team to retain the Premier League title in 10 years

Manchester City moved to within one win of retaining the Premier League title as captain Vincent Kompany's thunderous strike earned a nervy 1-0 win over Leicester City on Monday.

Pep Guardiola's side travel to Brighton & Hove Albion for their final fixture knowing victory will guarantee them back-to-back titles.

There is still plenty to play for as we approach Sunday's final round of matches. We take a look at the permutations in the title race, the top four and the Europa League places.

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Manchester City or Liverpool - who will win the title race?

1. Manchester City (95 points)

Fixture: Brighton (away)

Kompany's sublime strike against Leicester has put Manchester City firmly in the driving seat to retain the title.

The equation for Guardiola's side is simple: beat 17th-placed Brighton, who no longer have the threat of relegation hanging over them, on Sunday and City will become the first team since Manchester United in 2009 to successfully defend the Premier League crown.

A draw against Brighton or defeat to Chris Hughton's side, coupled with a Liverpool victory at home to Wolves, will see Liverpool crowned champions.

2). Liverpool (94 points)

Fixture: Wolves (home)

Liverpool have arguably been the best team in 2018/19 but it still might not be enough to end a 29-year title drought.

Liverpool know anything less than three points against Wolves will see them miss out to City. Even if Jurgen Klopp's side win at Anfield they still need Brighton to do them a favour against City.

Roberto Firmino has been ruled out as he is still recovering from a groin injury sustained in the build-up to the first leg of their Uefa Champions League semi-final meeting with Barcelona. But Mohamed Salah should be back fit for Sunday's match after having sustained a concussion in the 3-2 victory over Newcastle United last Saturday.

Champions League places: Fight for the top four

3. Chelsea (71 points)

Fixture: Leicester City (away)

A late season flourish, coupled with the stuttering form of rivals, has carried Chelsea to third place heading into the final league game of the campaign.

It is something of a vindication for manager Maurizio Sarri, whose future at Stamford Bridge seemed bleak in February with Chelsea fans unimpressed with his tactics and team selection. There was also the debacle of the League Cup final against Manchester City when goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga defied his manger's orders to be substituted.

Champions League football is assured no matter what but victory away to Leicester will secure third place, while a draw may be enough if Tottenham Hotspur lose to Everton.

Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen receives medical treatment. AFP
Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen receives medical treatment. AFP

4.) Tottenham Hotspur (70 points)

Fixture: Everton (home)

Tottenham are limping home after looking like making the title a three-horse race at the turn of the year.

Missing key players such as captain Harry Kane, a squad without fresh reinforcements the past two transfer windows look fatigued when third place looked theirs for the taking in April.

Defeat to Bournemouth last time out, a match that saw Spurs finish with nine men after the sending-offs of Son Heung-min and Juan Foyth, has left Mauricio Pochettino's side needing a point against an in-form Everton to make absolutely certain of fourth place. Spurs' superior goal difference means Arsenal need an eight-goal swing to usurp their North London rivals to clinch the final Champions League berth.

Should that happen, Spurs' only route to Champions League football next season will be to win it this term. They trail Ajax 1-0 heading into their semi-final second leg in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

5). Arsenal (67 points)

Fixture: Burnley (away)

Arsenal's away from has been diabolical with only two wins away from the Emirates Stadium since November 25.

The Gunners failed to capitalise on Spurs' recent dip, losing to Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester before being held by lowly Brighton at home last time out.

To qualify for next season's Champions League via the league, Unai Emery's side must win big at Turf Moor and hope Everton can inflict a similar result away at Tottenham to overturn the latter's eight-goal advantage.

Arsenal could still qualify by winning the Europa League; they hold a 3-1 lead over Valencia in their semi-final ahead of Thursday's second leg. However, Chelsea could end those hopes if the two sides meet in the Europa League final; Chelsea face Eintracht Frankfurt in the semis with the tie poised at 1-1 for the second leg.

Europa League slots

6). Manchester United (66 points)

Fixture: Cardiff City (home)

Football, even time itself, is a fickle business. Manchester United looked a team bereft of vision and passion before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as manager, initially on an interim basis, in December.

The Norwegian, an Old Trafford legend, inspired an immediate upturn in performances and results to win his first six league games in charge of United, beating a record held by Matt Busby.

That seems a lifetime ago now. Recent form has been nothing short of minging, with only two wins in nine games. Sunday's 1-1 draw against Huddersfield Town ended any lingering hopes of a top-four finish.

When Solskjaer took over, United were sixth in the Premier League and 11 points off the top four. They have closed that gap to four going into the final game of the season but know the best they can finish is fifth, and only if they beat Cardiff and Arsenal lose at Burnley.

United will play in the Europa League next season but at what stage is yet unclear. If United finish the campaign in sixth place and Watford beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final then United will have to enter the second qualifying round in late July.

Nuno Espirito Santo, the Wolves manager, shows appreciation to the fans. Wolves have obtained 57 points ahead of Sunday's final round of matches. Getty Images
Nuno Espirito Santo, the Wolves manager, shows appreciation to the fans. Wolves have obtained 57 points ahead of Sunday's final round of matches. Getty Images

7). Wolves (57 points)

Fixture: Liverpool (away)

Wolves' return to the top flight has exceeded all expectations. Last season's Championship winners have more than held their own, and given each of the top six a bloody nose along the way.

Nune Espirito Santo's side are guaranteed to finish seventh no matter what. That could be enough to clinch a Europa League spot but only if Manchester City beat Watford in the FA Cup final.

Updated: May 12, 2019 10:50 AM

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