The Premier League champion has been determined for a while now, but there are still important battles taking place on the final game of the season. Three teams are competing for the remaining two Champions League spots and three teams are fighting to survive for next season. In addition, the battle for sixth place has been overlooked, along with the Europa League spot that would be guaranteed with it; seventh place would not receive a spot if Arsenal wins the FA Cup.
Manchester United: Qualifies for the Champions League with a win or draw against Leicester, or a Chelsea loss
Chelsea: Qualifies for the Champions League with a win or draw against Wolves, or a Leicester loss
Leicester City: Qualifies with a win against Manchester United, or a draw along with a Chelsea loss
Wolves: Will clinch top six with a result that is equal to or better than Tottenham’s
Tottenham: Will clinch top six with a result that is better than Wolves’
Manchester United vs Leicester City
Expected Score: Man U 1.44 – Leicester City 1.22
Man U Win Probability: 42.3%
Leicester Win Probability: 31.9%
Previous Match: Man U 1 – Leicester 0
This will likely be the most watched game this weekend, as both teams can control their own destiny in the Champions League race. Both are coming off disappointing performances, with Man U drawing with West Ham and Leicester losing to Tottenham. Given Leicester’s comparative financial strength, this is even more important for them due to the difference in prize money between the Europa League and Champions League.
Both teams have been very similar in their overall offensive and defensive numbers over the course of the season, though Man U has certainly been the hotter of the two teams since the restart. Leicester must find a way to contain Bruno Fernandez; the front three of Man U is going to generate opportunities, but Leicester must keep Fernandez from generating those opportunities in dangerous areas.
On the other side, I’ll be monitoring the ability of Leicester to counter effectively. Leicester has generated the second-most shots and goals on the counter this season, and Manchester United struggled at times to track the later runners on the counter against West Ham. West Ham wasn’t able to find those players to generate shots, but the opportunities were there; one chance stands out where Tomas Soucek was left wide open in the box, but a pass couldn’t find him. Leicester is much more likely to make Man U pay if they have similar issues on Sunday.
Chelsea vs Wolves
Expected Score: Chelsea 1.35 – Wolves 1.51
Chelsea Win Probability: 34.0%
Wolves Win Probability: 41.1%
Previous Match: Chelsea 5 – Wolves 2
The win probabilities here are surprising, especially given the result earlier this season, but make sense considering goal differential; even though Chelsea has four more points this season, the goal differential for both teams stands at +13.
I’d expect Chelsea to dominate possession based on how both teams like to generate offense. Chelsea is comfortable generating chances in open play, while Wolves is the best team in the league at generating shots off of the counter-attack. The place to watch on the field may be on Chelsea’s left and Wolves’ right, assuming that both Pulisic and Traore place. Both have been very effective since the restart at generating opportunities; the key may be which one is more effective defensively to give their fullbacks enough support to limit the opportunities.
Tottenham vs Crystal Palace
Expected Score: Tottenham 1.83 – Crystal Palace .65
Tottenham Win Probability: 65.8%
Crystal Palace Win Probability: 12.5%
Previous Match: Tottenham 4 – Crystal Palace 0
Tottenham should handle Crystal Palace easily, and the result only matters in terms of the Europa League if Arsenal wins the FA Cup. Unfortunately for Tottenham they’ll also be cheering for their London rivals, as Chelsea losses against Wolves and in the FA Cup final against Arsenal would keep Tottenham out of the Europa League.
Bournemouth win, Aston Villa and Watford lose – Bournemouth survives
Either Watford or Aston Villa get a result better than the other – that team survives
Both Aston Villa and Watford draw – Aston Villa survives
Aston Villa and Watford lose, Bournemouth loses or draws – Aston Villa survives if their margin of defeat is no more than one goal worse than Watford’s; otherwise Watford survives
Aston Villa and Watford win – Watford survives if their margin of victory is two goals or more better than Aston Villa’s, otherwise Aston Villa survives
Aston Villa vs West Ham
Expected Score: Aston Villa 1.25 – West Ham 1.80
Aston Villa Win Probability: 26.7%
West Ham Win Probability: 50.1%
Previous Match: Aston Villa 0 – West Ham 0
West Ham has looked strong recently and were able to clinch safety against Manchester United. That may be the key for Aston Villa, since West Ham has nothing left to play for. It will be interesting to see if some of the players that have helped West Ham clinch safety play much on Sunday, since this could be a great opportunity to give playing time to some young players and those who haven’t been fully fit.
Watford vs Arsenal
Expected Score: Watford .84 – Arsenal 1.76
Watford Win Probability: 17.6%
Arsenal Win Probability: 59.2%
Previous Match: Arsenal 2 – Watford 2
This should be an exciting match, and Watford’s strategy will be interesting. They could choose to sit back and try for a low-scoring draw or small loss, and then depend on West Ham to handle their business against Aston Villa. Otherwise, they could push forward and try to turn around the goal difference compared to Aston Villa. Arsenal could also give Watford a hand by trying to rest a few players, with the FA Cup final next Saturday representing their chance at European play next season.
Bournemouth vs Everton
Expected Score: Bournemouth 1.04 – Everton 1.52
Bournemouth Win Probability: 25.9%
Everton Win Probability: 48.4%
Previous Match: Bournemouth 3 – Everton 1
Bournemouth’s odds are probably understated here, as Everton will be without several players. Given their issues with generating chances, Bournemouth’s best chance will likely come from their ability to create shots on set pieces. With Everton giving away a large number of free kicks in dangerous areas, that could be the key to Bournemouth having any chance at survival.