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Premier League

Premier League final day: What can still be decided

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Mo Salah, Eden Hazard and Nathan Redmond

Image credit: Eurosport

ByTom Adams
11/05/2018 at 09:58 | Updated 11/05/2018 at 10:58
@tomadams83

The 2017-18 Premier League season comes to a close on Sunday with a few issues still to be resolved at the top and bottom of the table.

Huddersfield’s remarkable success in securing back-to-back draws against Manchester City and Chelsea in the past week has taken the sting out of the relegation battle but the fight for the third spot is still technically live.

The biggest point of interest comes in the battle for the Champions League – with Liverpool and Chelsea’s tussle for fourth going down to the wire. But there are plenty of other subplots to look out for.

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Here we take a look at the storylines which will dominate Sunday’s 3pm kick-offs.

Man City’s quest for 100 points

Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi with the Premier league trophy

Image credit: Getty Images

With their win against Brighton on Wednesday night, Pep Guardiola’s side set three new Premier League records: 31 wins in a season, 97 points in a season and 105 goals in a season. But they could reach a magnificent milestone on Sunday by becoming the first ever English top-flight team to reach a century of points.

Guardiola’s side make the trip to Southampton – who, as we will explore below, are technically still at threat of relegation – in search of that magic number.

Liverpool and Chelsea duke it out for Champions League

Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea

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Manchester United, in second, and Tottenham, in third, have already secured automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League group stage and only one more team can join them via the league. Liverpool, in fourth, have 72 points, while Chelsea, in fifth, have just 70 after being held to a draw by Huddersfield on Wednesday.

Liverpool have a goal difference of +42 compared to +27 for Chelsea so in effect, Jurgen Klopp’s side need only to draw at home to Brighton to secure fourth place. The only way Chelsea will play in the Champions League next season is if Liverpool lose that game, and Antonio Conte’s men win away at Newcastle.

If Liverpool do manage to slip to fifth, they can still qualify for next season’s Champions League if they beat Real Madrid in the final in Kiev on May 26. If they finish fourth and also win in Kiev, an additional place is not granted to England, so Chelsea could not benefit from this scenario.

Mo Salah hunts down records

Liverpool's Egyptian star Mohamed Salah

Image credit: Getty Images

Salah’s stunning season sees him on 31 Premier League goals with one match remaining. This is a joint record for a 38-game season along with Alan Shearer (1995-96), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08) and Luis Suarez (2013-14). One goal against Brighton would put him clear in the record books.

He would need to go some way to secure the European Golden Shoe, though: Lionel Messi is three goals ahead on 34 for the season and has two Liga games remaining with Barcelona.

Without a goal in his last three matches in all competitions, Salah’s chances of breaking an iconic Liverpool record are also waning. It is 34 years since Ian Rush scored 47 goals in the 1983-84 season and Salah is on 43, from 50 games. He would need to score four goals across the Brighton match and the Champions League final to match it.

Kane’s Golden Boot mission

Tottenham Hotspur's English striker Harry Kane celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United at Wembley Stadium in London, on May 9, 2018.

Image credit: Getty Images

Harry Kane has won the golden boot for the past two seasons in the Premier League and unless you’ve been living off grid in North Korea for the past couple of months, you’ll know that he has been insatiable in pursuit of a hat-trick. Kane infamously appealed to the Premier League to be given a goal first credited to Christian Eriksen against Stoke, and rushed back to action following an ankle injury in March.

Kane scored the winner against Newcastle on Wednesday night but, with 28 goals, is still three behind Salah in the top scorers’ list. Tottenham are home to Leicester on the final day and don’t rule it out: Kane scored a hat-trick on the final day last season. If the two men finish level on 31 goals it will be the first time the award has been shared since Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov both scored 20 goals in 2010-11.

Europa League almost settled

Sean Dyche will go head to head with Arsene Wenger in the Frenchman’s final home game at Arsenal (Martin Rickett/PA)

Image credit: PA Sport

England has three spots in the Europa League with two given to the winners of the League Cup and the FA Cup. With League Cup winners Manchester City qualifying for the Champions League and FA Cup finalists Chelsea and Manchester United also guaranteeing European football thanks to their league position, that means the two cup places are reallocated to the league. So seventh-placed Burnley have joined sixth-placed Arsenal in being confirmed as participants next season.

The only question is who joins them. It will be either Liverpool or Chelsea depending on who finishes fifth. And if Liverpool do finish fifth but win the Champions League final, then only Burnley and Arsenal will contest the Europa League next season.

An unlikely twist in the relegation battle?

Southampton manager Mark Hughes felt the Swansea hotel row worked in the Saints’ favour in their 1-0 Liberty Stadium win (Nick Potts/PA)

Image credit: PA Sport

Huddersfield’s amazing week has made the battle at the bottom of the table considerably less interesting: with 37 points they have now guaranteed another season of Premier League football.

Stoke City and West Brom are already down and Swansea are almost certain to join them. Ahead of their home game against Stoke, Carlos Carvahal’s side are on 33 points, with Southampton above them on 36. In addition, Southampton have a goal difference of -18 compared to Swansea’s -27.

Swansea’s only hope is that they can stick a few past Stoke and Manchester City absolutely pummel Southampton. If they can win while Southampton lose, and somehow get a swing of nine goals, then they will be staying up.

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FootballPremier LeagueChelseaHuddersfield Town
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