For the majority of Premier League sides the season is basically over, and while there may be a bit of extra cash on the table for finishing in 12th rather than 13th place I doubt very much if that will work as a motivational tool for most. The one exception to this rule in a weird way are Wolves, who are down already and as such have nothing to play for, but with the announcement of Stale Solbakken as the boss for next season the men in Old Gold know they must impress the new man who will be watching.
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At the top defending champions Manchester United have an away fixture with Sunderland to negotiate, and with the home side not really having anything to play for, and a record of one win in twenty-one attempts at this level against United it doesn’t look like a big challenge. Add into the equation the fact Sunderland have several ex-Man U players in their squad, haven’t managed a goal against United in their last four minutes and call upon Bendtner as their best attacking threat and the 4/9 on United winning with BetFred seems a pretty solid bet.
Their rivals and leaders have a home match, but Manchester City face opposition from QPR, a club with much still to play for, namely survival. The last time QPR were relegated from this level they were joined by Manchester City in the Championship, but things have moved on and today they go to the Etihad knowing that the home side have dropped just two points there this season. With five wins on the bounce now, Roberto Mancini’s side are 1/7 with Ladbrokes to win the game and take the title, barring a massive swing in goal difference, although that wouldn’t put QPR straight down.
Because they are seventeenth in the league, and looking down on Bolton in the relegation zone QPR could potentially lose and stay up, and that will be comforting to an extent. Bolton travel to Stoke, who are 6/4 to beat the Trotters and send them down, and given that the last two meetings between these sides have both ended 5-0, one to Bolton, one to Stoke, it is hard to know how this will go. Having said that, the Potters have won once in their last ten matches, and with the Europa League campaign they endured this term tired legs could be a factor for them.
These circumstances and the relative fixtures mean the best price on Bolton to go down is 4/11, with Bodog, while QPR are 23/10 with 188Sport to spend next term in the Championship. I think a lot of neutral support lies with the more established side, not to mention the wonderful story of Fabrice Muamba that has come out of the Reebok of late, but football cares not for the wishes of the fans and you can put your house on there being plenty of QPR fans who would be devastated to see their side relegated.
The last remaining mystery to tie up is the race for the Champions League spots, and with fourth position not confirmed as such so far we’re currently in a weird place. Newcastle, Arsenal and Spurs are all in contention for third in the league, but if Chelsea lose to Bayern in the Champions League final then fourth also gets you into the Champions League and fifth the Europa. Arsenal travel to West Brom, and that will be a strange game with Baggies manager Roy Hodgson and Arsenal legend Pat Rice both on their way out, but the Gunners will want a win and are fancied to pick one up, with Ladbrokes having them at 7/10.
Newcastle have an away game at Everton, and are 12/5 with VictorChandler for the victory, while their hosts are 5/4 favourites with BlueSquare. Spurs, on the other hand, are 2/5 to win their home game with Fulham, but I reckon they’ll do so in vain. Arsenal will almost certainly pick up a win at Brom, Spurs will finish fourth and then have to hold their breath and cross their fingers that Bayern win. However it shakes down this season has been excellent entertainment, and let’s hope we get a final day that does it justice.