When the Premier League season began back in August, fans of all 20 clubs had dreams and aspirations for the year ahead. For some, these were quickly demolished, others remained hopeful of a revival until their failure was confirmed. Two clubs will have to wait until the final day until their fate is decided and for one Sunday night will bring about huge celebrations.
It is of course the Premier League title race. Chelsea enter the weekend in the driving seat with a two point cushion over Manchester United and they know victory over Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon will secure the Premier League title and set up the possibility of an historic double for Carlo Ancelotti in his first year in charge. Wigan arrive in London on Sunday with their Premier League safety confirmed and to many it would seem nothing to play for. However, Roberto Martinez will be keen for his side to push for the highest league position possible and with it, extra transfer funds for the summer. Recent meetings between the two hint that an upset certainly is not out of the question. Wigan beat Chelsea 3-1 at the DW Stadium earlier in the season and have made Chelsea sweat at Stamford Bridge in recent encounters.
Manchester United know Chelsea are now firm favourites to secure Premier League glory but Sir Alex Ferguson will want to make sure they keep their side of the bargain with a win over Stoke City at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney has once again returned from injury earlier than expected and looks sure to feature in a season to remember for the England front man who has transformed from playmaker to prolific goal scorer in the past 12 months. Stoke boss Tony Pulis has received many plaudits this season and rightly so, as his side have continued to prove formidable opponents for any side in the league and are on course for a top 10 finish after a narrow 1-0 victory of Fulham on Wednesday night.
Harry Redknapp has produced possibly his best managerial achievement to date at Tottenham Hotspur, securing Champions League football next season after a 1-0 win over closest rivals Manchester City on Wednesday night. A massive step in the right direction for Tottenham but a massive blow for the owners of City who, despite the massive funds available during the summer transfer window, will now struggle to attract world class players having failed to qualify for Europe’s biggest club competition. Tottenham travel to Burnley on Sunday and could even finish above local rivals Arsenal if they are victorious and the Gunners are defeated. Burnley will have other ideas and despite a torrid season, Brian Laws will ask his players to put on a performance for their fans who have not had much to shout about this year.
Arsenal take on Fulham at the Emirates who will have one eye on their Europa League final next Wednesday after another impressive campaign under Roy Hodgson. The Gunners will be keen to secure third place after an improved season in which they have shown they possess enough talent to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title in the coming years.
The remaining games on the final day are once again of no real significance to the larger picture with the bottom three and European qualifiers now confirmed. However as usual on the final day, all 20 sides will be looking to reward their supporters with a victory – a victory that in Chelsea’s case would be very rewarding indeed.
Game of the weekend: Chelsea vs. Wigan Athletic
A massive game for Chelsea who will end Manchester United’s dominance of the Premier League with victory over Wigan. The Latics have performed surprisingly well against the Londoners in the past and will go to Stamford Bridge full of hope they can have a huge say on where the title goes come Sunday evening.
Blast from the past: 15th November 2008 – Manchester United 5-0 Stoke City
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th Manchester United goal with a trademark free-kick as they sealed an emphatic home win over Stoke City. It took just three minutes for Ronaldo to find the net with a dipping set piece before goals from Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov all but secured the points. 17-year-old Danny Welbeck capped his Premier League debut with a stunning strike before Ronaldo completed the rout late on in a dominant performance from the Champions.
On this day: 10 years ago – 1999/00
Bradford City beat the drop on the final day with a narrow 1-0 victory over Liverpool condemning Wimbledon to relegation to Division One after they lost 2-0 to Southampton.
Five years ago – 2004/05
West Bromwich Albion completed a miraculous escape, having gone into the final weekend at the bottom of the Premier League table. Southampton, Norwich and Crystal Palace were relegated in one of the most competitive relegation scraps English football has ever witnessed.
One year ago – 2008/09
Tyneside giants Newcastle United were relegated to the second tier of English football after losing 1-0 to Aston Villa, with fierce local rivals Sunderland and Hull City both avoiding the drop as a result.
Week 38 fixtures
Sunday 9th May
(All games 16.00 kick off)
Arsenal vs. Fulham
Aston Villa vs. Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers vs. Birmingham City
Burnley vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea vs. Wigan Athletic – Live on Sky Sports
Everton vs. Portsmouth
Hull City vs. Liverpool
Manchester Utd vs. Stoke City – Live on Sky Sports
West Ham Utd vs. Manchester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Sunderland