Could however is very much the operative word here. This should be relatively serene for Manchester City. Meanwhile Pep Guardiola has never lost on the final day of the English season.
1.A title showdown short on drama
Realistically though City may well have their game against Villa wrapped up rather swiftly allowing England’s attention to drift elsewhere.
2.Stakes are high for Burnley
The disappointment that one of Liverpool and Manchester City will be feeling by the time the sun sets on Sunday will pale into insignificance compared to the catastrophe that awaits one of Leeds and Burnley. The former head into the final weekend well aware that their fate is out of their hands.
Leeds may be level on points with the Clarets but their atrocious goal difference means that topflight survival will be dependent on achieving a better result against Brentford than Burnley get at home to Newcastle.
Relegation from the Premier League is rarely a pleasant experience for a club’s balance sheet; for Burnley it could be all the more severe.
Relegation to the Championship would force owners ALK Capital who secured the club in a leveraged buyout in February 2021 to pay back the majority of the $81 million loan that financed their purchase. That would be hard enough at any time but when their finances have already taken a battering from the pandemic there would be serious cause for concern at Turf Moor. No pressure then.
3.Spurs couldn’t could they?
This should be the most tied up of all the races. Beat Norwich the worst team in the Premier League and Tottenham are back in the big time. But then Giorgio Chiellini’s grinning face emerges through the fog.
But it surely won’t happen. Antonio Conte’s Spurs might have a reputation for struggling against lower ranking reactive opponents as opposed to clashes with the Premier League’s big boys but the reality is that it has been some time since they faltered against a relegation candidate. You would need to go back to that shock loss to Burnley in late February a time when this looked to be a radically different team.
Could Spurs slip at Carrow Road against a Norwich side who if nothing else might at least want to give their fans something to celebrate following another crushing return to the top flight? Perhaps.
But even then Arsenal would need to pick up three points against Everton something that looks beyond a team that may struggle to fill the numbers defensively if Ben White and Gabriel who missed training this week are not able to take part. Spurs and Arsenal might have previous for dramatic denouements.
4.The fight to avoid the Conference League
As they travel to Crystal Palace they have West Ham breathing down their necks desperate to return to the Europa League after their invigorating run to this season’s semifinals.
After all the disappointment that defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt bought there seems to be a real motivating force to go better next time. Speaking last week Michail Antonio even said: As much as Manchester City want to win the league we want to be back in the Europa League again. They showed that in a more than credible 22 draw at the London Stadium.
It is hard to see quite the same energy emanating from Manchester United who look to have written off this season long ago. If the carrot of Europa League football does not motivate his squad Ralf Rangnick might at least be able to use the stick of Europa Conference League.
Not that there is anything wrong with away days to Lincoln Red Imps Qarabag and Kairat of course. But a qualifying round before preseason is even done perhaps meaning shortened holidays? Perish the thought.
5. Millions to make
It is that time of season where we are reminded that there is plenty at stake even for those not duking it out in the European places and relegation zones. Indeed every step you clamber up the Premier League table should mean around $3 million more come the end of the season.
If a few extra millions on the club’s balance sheet might not be enough to motivate players to go that extra yard there might at least be some that see reasons to give it their all on the final day.
In particular that mass of clubs between Brighton in 10th and Aston Villa in 14th might all see plenty of prestige to be won from a tophalf finish something that few expected from either Crystal Palace or Brentford when the season was begun. That might just be enough for their managers to get the best out of them.
6. The SonSalah shootout
With plenty on the line for both their teams come the final day Heungmin Son and Mohamed Salah will surely get the chance to add to their respective goal tallies of 21 and 22 respectively as the race for the golden boot goes down to the wire.
For a while it seemed that the Liverpool forward would set an unassailable tally. When he flew off to the Africa Cup of Nations he had 16 Premier League goals to his name already.
But as the Egyptian’s scoring form dried up Son has hit perhaps the greatest heights he has yet reached in England with 10 to his name in his last nine matches. The South Korean international might find it easier to add a few more on the final day.
Where Salah has to overcome the league’s outstanding goalkeeper this season (Jose Sa) it is only Norwich that stand in the way of Son becoming the first Asian footballer to win the scoring title.
7.Double for Salah?
The golden boot might not be the only trinket coming Salah’s way at Molineux.
With victory required for his side to have a hope of winning the title Salah doubtless won’t be sniffy about who is making the chances for him but his biggest rival for the Playmaker Award will be on the pitch with him.
If Liverpool are three goals up and a cross comes his way from the unerring boot of Trent AlexanderArnold one behind Salah with 12 assists to his name might he be tempted to spoon a shot over?
8. AllBrazilian battle
Liverpool could well end up sweeping the individual honors board this season. Salah is already the football writers’ player of the year and could bag the two output titles available to him whilst for Alisson the golden glove award is within reach.
Both he and his Manchester City counterpart Ederson are locked on 20 clean sheets a shutout for either would guarantee that they at least share the award.
Alisson will surely be feeling confident that he can win this award for the second time. Wolves have scored four times in their last six games and go into this season’s final match with the league’s second lowest expected goals tally at 41.1. Whether they’re lifting the Premier League crown or not there could well be plenty of trophies and trinkets to go round the Liverpool squad on Sunday evening.
He has experienced the highs and lows of life at Chelsea almost as deeply as any supporter going from the fringes of the squad to Champions League winner in six months last season.
As he put it in his farewell piece in the Players’ Tribune: Chelsea will always be in my heart. London will always be my home. And of course I have hundreds of memories that will stay with me forever.
10.and some less warm goodbyes
Mike Dean surely would not want it any other way.
Joining him in riding off into the sunset will be Jon Moss and after 18 years of service Martin Atkinson.