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Final Day Frenzy: Man United and Chelsea chase Champions League

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This weekend, the stop-start Premier League campaign will finally come to a close, as all 20 teams will kick off simultaneously at 8:30 PM on Sunday in the final game week of the 2019/20 season.

There is a lot at stake at either end of the table and in the middle as well, and we skim through the biggest storylines that beckon this weekend:

The Champions League-chasing pack

Manchester United’s terrific form since their defeat against Burnley has seen them go 11 games unbeaten and rise to third on the Premier League table on goal difference. Leicester, who were eight points clear of United when football resumed, has struggled since the restart and need a win on the final day at home against United to be assured of a place in the Champions League.

Leicester have beaten United only once at the King Power Stadium since their return to the Premier League in 2014 and have since failed to score a victory over the 20-time champions at home. In the subsequent four games since Leicester’s incredible 5-3 win, United have registered two wins and shared the spoils twice against the Foxes.

Marcus Rashford scored in United’s 1-0 victory last season at the King Power Stadium and earned his team’s only goal from the penalty spot in their 1-0 win at Old Trafford earlier in the campaign. Leicester will be without Caglar Soyoncu, Ricardo Periera and Ben Chilwell, three of the four defenders in their backline that have started the majority of their games in this campaign, as well as playmaker James Maddison.

A draw would suffice for both teams if Chelsea, who are currently level on points with United and one clear of Leicester, lose to Wolves at home. However, a victory or a draw for the Londoners would mean Leicester will miss out on Champions League football if they fail to beat United.

Europa on the horizon for Wolves and Spurs

One of Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester will have to contend with the fifth spot on Sunday, leaving two Europa League spots up for grabs which are currently occupied by Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur.

The two teams are separated by a point in the table and will be eager to finish sixth as Arsenal could steal an automatic qualification spot to the Europa League spots by beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final on August 1.

Wolves will travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea, who themselves need at least a point to guarantee a top-four finish. Wolves picked up four points off the Londoners last season but lost 2-5 earlier this season at home after Tammy Abraham struck his first Premier League hat-trick.

Chelsea last lost to Wolves at home in the top division in 1979, however, the Londoners are coming off the back of two tough encounters against Manchester United and Liverpool and will be playing on three days of rest as opposed to Wolves, who will have a proper week’s break before this encounter.

Spurs, who will have to rely on Chelsea to either thwart Wolves or beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final, will remain in London and travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace. Jose Mourinho’s men have won nine straight Premier League matches against Palace and conceded just once in those games.

Captain Harry Kane scored two sumptuous goals against Leicester this past Sunday and Mourinho will be hopeful that his skipper will fire them to another victory on the final day of the Premier League season.

Battle at the bottom for survival

Watford, Bournemouth and Aston Villa will play for their Premier League lives on Sunday as only one of these three will be plying their trade in England’s top-flight next season.

Villa’s impressive victory over Arsenal saw them climb to 17th on the Premier League table, level on points and one goal better than Watford who are 18th. Bournemouth, who are three points off the two teams in 19th have the same goal difference as Watford’s and just one short of Villa.

All three teams will be on the road on the final day, as Villa and Watford will travel to London to take on West Ham and Arsenal, respectively, while Bournemouth will head to Merseyside to take on Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton.

Bournemouth’s destiny isn’t in their own hands, as they need West Ham and Arsenal to beat Villa and Watford respectively, and also beat Everton themselves to avoid relegation on the final day.

A draw would suffice for Watford as long as West Ham beat Villa. However, if the Villains win, the Hornets will have to beat Arsenal by two goals more than Villa’s margin of victory over West Ham.

Watford could survive even if they lose to Arsenal but will have to hope that Bournemouth drop points against Everton and West Ham beat Aston Villa by two goals more than the margin of their defeat at the hands of the Gunners.

Images courtesy: AFP / POOL / Alastair Grant

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