Preview to the final day of the Premier League season: Title race, top four and relegation to be resolved
The final day of the 2011/12 Premier League season on Sunday, 13th May, will finally draw a line under the remaining situations to be settled.
The big focus, naturally, is on the title race, where the battle of Manchester has been raging all season.
Manchester City are in the driving seat as they host relegation threatened QPR at the Etihad Stadium, knowing that a win will guarantee them their first league title in 44 years.
City have dropped just two points at home this season and the blue side of Manchester is looking favourite to be celebrating on Sunday. But QPR need a point from their trip up north to guarantee their Premier League survival, so former City boss Mark Hughes may just have a score to settle.
Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping that there will be one final twist in the tale of the season, come Sunday. The Red Devils will be ready and waiting to pounce, should City slip up, as United head to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland.
In order for Man United to win the league, they have to better what Man City accomplished against QPR. If City win, then United will not be defending their league title, even though they go into the final day level on points with them. United are trailing in goal difference by eight to Man City and that is highly unlikely to be overturned.
So while the title race will be the highlight of the day, there is a three-way race going on behind the two Manchester clubs in order to try and book a Champions League spot next season.
Arsenal will start the day in third place, but their winning ways have deserted them recently. The Gunners head to the Hawthorns to face West Brom without a win in their last four matches now.
Arsene Wenger’s men hold just a one-point advantage over fourth placed Spurs, who have home advantage in a London derby against Fulham at White Hart Lane. Like Arsenal, a win for Tottenham would secure a top four finish, but any slip ups at this stage could be highly costly.
That is because Newcastle are waiting in the wings to capitalise on any mistakes from the two north London sides above them. Newcastle are just a point behind Spurs and two points adrift of Arsenal, so the Magpies have everything to play for.
However, Alan Pardew’s men have a very tough end of season fixture as they head across the country to face an in-form Everton at Goodison Park. Only a win will do for Newcastle now and along with that, they would need either Spurs or Arsenal to fail to win.
Should Newcastle draw and Tottenham win, those two would finish level on points, but Tottenham would take fourth because of a far superior goal difference.
Getting a Champions League place out of a fourth place finish is dependent on Chelsea losing this season’s final against Bayern Munich. If Chelsea win the final, then only the top three sides in the EPL will enter the tournament along with the Blues next season.
The other outstanding business to be settled on this super Sunday in the Premier League is who will be joining Blackburn and Wolves in the Championship next season?
Two clubs are fighting for their survival on the final day of the season, QPR and Bolton. QPR are two points ahead of 18th placed Bolton, but the R’s have that daunting trip to title-chasing Manchester City, while the Trotters have a winnable fixture away at Stoke. So while Rangers hold a slender advantage, Bolton actually look as if they have a big window of opportunity to jump through and maintain their Premier League status.
Man City v QPR: Home win. Tough to see City letting this slip after two defining games against United and Newcastle. City lift title, QPR get relegated.
Sunderland v Man Utd: Away win. The Red Devils have seemed a little lifeless in the run in, but would expect a response in a tough match.
West Brom v Arsenal: Draw. The Gunners are faltering at the wrong time and the Baggies are a good, solid side at home. Good enough to frustrate Arsenal. Arsenal drop to fourth.
Spurs v Fulham: Home win. Fulham are a good side, but Spurs have the bigger incentive to go chasing three points. They should do, Fulham have been poor on the road. Spurs land third place.
Everton v Newcastle: Draw. Tough match to call, both have great qualities. Everton don’t give up much on home soil and it looks a very even match. Magpies miss the top four.
Stoke v Bolton: Away win. Bolton simply have to give it their all and Stoke are not a high scoring team and not in the greatest form. Bolton survive.
Chelsea v Blackburn: Home win. Chelsea will have one eye on the Champions League final, still good enough to ease past a relegated Rovers.
Norwich v Villa: Home win. Hugely disappointing season for a poor Villa side. Norwich should go out with style here, even though both are stumbling towards the finish.
Swansea v Liverpool: Draw. The Swans and their exciting passing game could give the Liberty Stadium faithful something to cheer about with a point here.
Wigan v Wolves: Home win. Wolves are without a win in 13 games and Wigan have been the form team in the Premier League over the last eight matches.