What’s left to play for on final day of EPL?


Premier League status, European places, the Golden Boot, an assists record, and some cold, hard cash… here’s what’s left to play for on the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday.

Where can teams finish?

First up, where can each team finish? The graphic below reveals the best and worst scenarios for every club and the extent of what’s at stake on the final day.

The blue bars reveal probabilities of finishing in each position, according to an algorithm based on expected goals by data guru Ben Mayhew.

The relegation battle

Aston Villa, Watford and Bournemouth are fighting for survival going into the final day.

Who will join Norwich back in the Sky Bet Championship? Aston Villa have taken a big step towards safety but it is not settled yet ahead of the final round of Premier League fixtures.

Who is going down?

The situation is rather tight and complicated: Villa are 17th with 34 points (GD -26), Watford are 18th with 34 points (GD -27) and Bournemouth are 19th with 31 points (GD -27). On the final day, Villa go to West Ham, Watford are at Arsenal, and Bournemouth go to Everton.

The race for the top four.

It’s been a topsy-turvy top-four race, and it all comes to a head from 4pm on Sunday. Three sides, two places up for grabs.

Manchester United only require a draw with Leicester on the final day to finish in the top four, and Chelsea need just one more Premier League point to secure a top-four place against Wolves at home.

The race for Europe

Leicester must beat United on the final day to finish in the Champions League spot, which seemed a given just months ago.

If they fail to do so, they will still qualify for the Europa League group stage, with Wolves’ goal difference effectively meaning the Foxes cannot be caught by Wolves.

Europa League qualification

Wolves and Spurs are guaranteed top-seven finishes, but would ideally want to avoid seventh. Wolves are currently sixth, a point ahead of Tottenham in seventh, and with a goal difference not too dissimilar (Wolves: +13, Spurs: +14)

What we do know is both Wolves and Tottenham can’t finish below seventh, but there is still a mini-battle among them.

Here’s why: fifth (which will be occupied by one of Man Utd, Leicester or Chelsea) and sixth place are guaranteed a Europa League spot, however, the key here is to avoid seventh spot if possible.

That’s because if Arsenal win the FA Cup against Chelsea at Wembley on August 1, they will take the Europa League spot off seventh place. It could be north London rivals Spurs.

On the final day of the season, Wolves are at Chelsea, while Spurs go to Crystal Palace.

The Golden Boot

It’s been a good year for English strikers, and Jamie Vardy in particular. He currently leads the top scoring charts with 23 goals, and is closing in on his first Golden Boot crown having come within a single goal in 2015/16.

Realistically, there are four players within reach of Jamie Vardy going into the final day of the season. Danny Ings is two behind on 21, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has 20, while Mo Salah and Raheem Sterling have 19 each.

Vardy’s Leicester host Man Utd, Ings’ Saints host Sheffield United, Aubameyang’s Arsenal host Watford, Mo Salah’s Liverpool are at Newcastle, and Sterling’s City host Norwich.

In the event of a tie, the Golden Boot is shared, just as it was last year with Salah, Aubameyang and Sadio Mane all finishing on 22 goals.

A long-standing assists record

Here to assist you: Kevin De Bruyne has 19 assists this season, one short of Thierry Henry’s 2002/03 record.

It’s a niche gong that has stood for 17 years, but we may finally see Thierry Henry’s assists record broken on Sunday.

Henry holds the title for the most assists in a single season – 20 in 2002/03 – but Kevin De Bruyne is just one away going into Man City’s final Premier League game of the season. Their opponents? Relegated bottom side Norwich.

Many have tried and failed to get near Henry’s record in recent years; Mesut Ozil registered 19 in 2015/16, while Cesc Fabregas (2014/15) and Frank Lampard (2004/05) both claimed 18.

Speaking about the record, De Bruyne told Soccer AM: “It’s not that I’ve really been thinking about it. I spoke about it around two years ago when Thierry Henry was an assistant for Belgium and I think I finished the season with 16 [assists] that time and the season before, I think it was 18. He said ‘you’ve been coming close, you’ve got a shot one day’.

“I then saw him at Vinny’s [Vincent Kompany] testimonial and I’d started the season strongly – I had five in four games I think – and I said ‘I’m coming for you’. It’s a nice challenge because it keeps you focused in a way, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen and it’s still going to be an incredible season.”

However, Pep Guardiola’s famed squad rotation may come into play on Sunday, with the second leg of their Champions League last 16 with Real Madrid to play on August 7. Will De Bruyne get his chance?

Prize money

The mid-table dwellers, the recently survived, and those languishing just outside the European places still have something tangible to play for: cold, hard cash.

Though the Premier League are yet to confirm the prize money on offer for every place in the final table, in recent seasons the difference between each place has been roughly £2m.

For context, that’s the equivalent to 100,000 fans buying a £20 match ticket, or roughly two Jamie Vardys when he signed for Leicester back in 2012. Every little helps!

Liverpool seek to equal win record

Liverpool need a win over Newcastle to equal Man City’s 32-win season in 2017/18.

They didn’t finish unbeaten, they didn’t win every home game, they didn’t get to Man City’s 100-point record.

However, it’s not all tears at Anfield. They can still claim the biggest winning margin between first and second, which previously stood at 19 points (Manchester City to Man Utd in 2017/18) if they win and Manchester City lose at home to relegated Norwich, having long-since secured the title with a record seven games remaining.

And there’s more… Liverpool can also equal City’s 2017/18 record of 32 wins in a season if they win at Newcastle on Sunday.

The Golden Glove

England goalkeeper Nick Pope is level with Ederson on 15 clean sheets.

For those between the sticks, the battle for the Golden Glove – most clean sheets in a season – is fierce. Nick Pope (15) and Ederson (15) currently lead the way, and for either it would be their first Premier League Golden Glove award.

The Golden Glove is shared by goalkeepers with an equal number of clean sheets, regardless of the number of games they played.

Sunday July 26: The final day fixtures in the Premier League…

Arsenal vs Watford

Burnley vs Brighton

Chelsea vs Wolves

Crystal Palace vs Tottenham

Everton vs Bournemouth

Leicester vs Man Utd

Man City vs Norwich

Newcastle vs Liverpool

Southampton vs Sheffield United

West Ham vs Aston Villa

*all kick off at 17:00 SA time.

By Sky Sports

Edited by Tiyani wa ka Mabasa 

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