The 6 Key Battles to Watch Out For In The Premier League Finale

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A Gerrard Story

First off Manchester City has been incredible this season. The departure of Sergio Agüero and the failure to replace the legendary striker led many to ask questions of this City side.

There was a feeling that without a true number 9 they would struggle to break down some of the more defensive sides in the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola was quick to make those claims seem like nonsense. His false 9 system that he first developed at Barcelona was deployed and as a result, his side has topped the league for most of the season.

At one point in the season, his side could boast a 14 point lead over 2nd place Liverpool, however that lead has since evaporated.

Going into the final game only three points will guarantee a Premier League trophy for Manchester City.

It seems like destiny may have predicted City’s predicament as it has placed Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard as the man Pep must overcome in order to achieve his goal.

So often in his playing career, Gerrard rescued his Liverpool side, but, now he will need to rely on his managerial skills to do the same. The Aston Villa boss has had a strange start to life as a Premier League manager.

When he first came in, the new manager bounce was evident and the Villa boss was quickly backed with high profile signings. Unfortunately for Gerrard, his side’s form has dragged them down to the bottom half of the table.

Undoubtedly Gerrard will be trying desperately to motivate his team to pull off the upset and deliver one more trophy to his beloved Liverpool.

Interestingly if this were to happen Pep Guardiola’s brilliant side would finish this entire campaign without a single trophy to show for it.

Risk or Reward For Klopp

While Manchester City has been failing on all fronts outside of the Premier League, Liverpool has been dominating.

Klopp’s side will finish this season with a minimum of two trophies and also find themselves in the Champions League final on May 28th.

Liverpool has already secured both the League Cup and FA Cup this season. This means that there is potential for this Liverpool side to become the first team to win all three major domestic trophies and the UEFA Champions League in the same season.

While that would be a remarkable achievement, it has come at a cost. Liverpool currently has multiple star players struggling for fitness as the season comes to a close.

So much so that Manager Jürgen Klopp almost had to field a second string side in a recent must win game at Southampton. Joe Gomez, Virgil Van Dijk, Mohammed Salah and Fabinho are all doubts heading into the final day of the season.

Many would say that the latter of those three represent the best players Liverpool has to offer. Interestingly all three have minor injuries that are at risk of being aggravated and this leaves Klopp with a serious dilemma.

The German will obviously want to push City all the way for the Premier League, but he will know that it is unlikely that they will slip up on the final day.

At the same time, he will be very aware that he could end up risking his best players in a meaningless match before a giant Champions League final against Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid.

Even then if City do drop points Liverpool will need to overcome a talented Wolves side at Anfield on the final day.

It would be a disaster if Villa took points off of City and a depleted Liverpool side threw the title away by resting players that could have contributed.

The stakes and the risk couldn’t be higher for Jürgen Klopp Klopp.

Arsenal Hope

It seemed this season like no team truly wanted to finish in the top four.

You could be forgiven for believing that Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham and Manchester United have all made a concerted effort to avoid finishing there this season.

Each time one of them took the lead in the race they quickly threw it away. Arsenal is by far the most guilty of this out of all the clubs involved.

The Gunners found themselves in pole position with games to spare on two separate occasions towards the end of the season and managed to blow it both times.

In January it was obvious that Arsenal needed a new striker and they neglected to add one despite the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

While Arsenal did perform well despite misfiring strikers it is now even more obvious that they were lacking in that area. One sided defeats to both Tottenham and Newcastle have shattered the Gunners Champions League dreams.

This has put Arsenal two points behind Spurs going into the final day. Now Mikael Arteta’s hopes of a top four finish are hanging by the thinnest of threads.

Tottenham’s goal difference is far superior to Arsenals meaning The Spaniard must rely on the bottom of the league Norwich to defeat Spurs on the final day.

The Canaries were relegated a few weeks ago and have only won five games this season. Arsenal themselves will need to pull themselves together to overcome a joyous Everton side which secures Premier League safety in their last match.

Spurs Cannot Spurs it

If there is any side in world football that can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, then it is Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs have developed a reputation in their history for failing at the final hurdle and they will need to be cautious that the same doesn’t happen again when they visit Norwich on the final day.

Antonio Conte endured a turbulent season plagued with inconsistency and it really is impressive that he has dragged his side kicking and screaming into fourth place.

His side looked to have thrown Champions League football away, however, improved form at the end of the season and a 3-0 win over Arsenal have Spurs firmly in the driving seat.

Tottenham is huge favourites to defeat Norwich and will go in knowing that avoiding defeat is all they need to do. Norwich hasn’t beaten a side in the top half of the table this season and has been defensively atrocious this season.

With Harry Kane and Son Hueng-Min in tremendous form, only a catastrophe at Norwich can derail their hopes of European football next season and while Spurs may be prone to catastrophe, Antonio Conte is not.

Leeds Must Win

Simple as the headline suggests if Leeds United want to stay in the Premier League they will need a win to have the best chance.

It took Leeds a gruelling 16 years to return to the top flight after they were relegated in the 2003-2004 season.

It was only through the brilliance of Marcelo Bielsa that they managed to finally escape the English Championship.

Knowing how difficult it was to get out of the Championship you’d think the Leeds owners would have invested in the squad to make sure it was equipt to remain in the Premier League.

Unfortunately for Leeds fans that was not the case. The squad was noticeably small with little depth heading into the season, a problem that only got worse as the first team squad has been injury-ravaged since the beginning of the season.

Star players Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Philips have been a huge injury miss for The Whites this season. The situation for Leeds was so bad at one point that a 15-year-old was named on the bench for a Premiership match against Arsenal.

Manager Marcelo Bielsa played some of the highest intensity football in the league and it was unbelievable that he wasn’t given money to spend in January.

It was at that point that the Leeds board decided to gamble on their safety and they are reaping exactly what they sowed going into the final day.

Leeds is away to Brentford and currently sits in the relegation zone. They are equal on points with 17th place Burnley who have a far superior goal difference.

This means that Jesse Marshe’s side will need to better Burnelys result in order to be safe.

Burnley’s Great Escape

There was a point this season where Burnley, Norwich and Watford all looked dead and buried in the relegation zone.

Two of the aforementioned sides are long since relegated, but Burnley fought on and fought hard to find themselves in the position they are now.

In mid-February Burnley was at rock bottom of the Premier League with only two wins to their name.

Defensively the club were solid, but they struggled in the forward areas.

In January star striker Chris Wood was snatched away by Newcastle United and with Burnley bottom of the league, it really did seem like the writing was on the wall.

The signing of a top Bundesliga attacker in Wout Weghorst seemed to revitalise The Clarets and their form improved drastically in the short term.

This boost in form pulled Everton and Leeds into a fight for survival. After a defeat to Norwich, the Burnley board made an extremely controversial decision.

They sacked Mr Burnley FC himself in Sean Dyche and replaced him with the relatively unknown Mike Jackson. Fans were rightly outraged and this move again seemed to further condemn Burnely.

Then something unexpected happened. Burnley won three games in a row and yet again was back in the fight. At this point, they are even favourites to stay up.

Burnley goes into the final day at home to Newcastle knowing that three points will guarantee their Premier League safety.

The club’s new owners have been severely criticised for the way they bought the club by leveraging it with debt, however, if changing out Eddie Howe for Mike Jackson keeps the Clarets up then they will earn some praise from the Burnley support.

Who will be the champions? Will Spurs bottle it? Will Leeds survive? Let us know what you think! If you enjoyed this content then follow me on Twitter @AzLynchy and also make sure to follow @FootballOTH and @OTHeroics for more sports content.

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