Wednesday 18 October 2017

From Champions League to the battle of the clarets - reasons to watch on Sunday

Arsene Wenger's Champions League record is on the line but it will be nail-biting stuff everywhere - just you wait
Arsene Wenger's Champions League record is on the line but it will be nail-biting stuff everywhere - just you wait

With the Premier League title and relegation already decided, there is only Champions League qualification to play for in the final weekend's matches. Or is there?

Here, Press Association Sport's Tom White unearths a (perhaps tenuous) reason to pay attention to each of Sunday's games.

Arsenal v Everton

Arsenal's midweek win over Sunderland kept them in the Champions League picture, meaning they can displace Liverpool or possibly Manchester City with a win. A draw could be enough if Liverpool lose by at least two goals at home to relegated Middlesbrough. Everton are set in the Europa League but Romelu Lukaku needs to respond to Tottenham's Harry Kane moving two clear in the Golden Boot race.

Burnley v West Ham

Almost equally significant, the Turf Moor clash will determine who is the best team in claret and blue - Burnley, on 40 points, need a win to overtake the Hammers who have 42.

Chelsea v Sunderland

Victory for Chelsea would be a record 30th in a Premier League season, breaking their own mark from the first two years of Jose Mourinho's initial reign as manager in 2004-05 and 2005-06. The record even encompasses the competition's early years after rebranding, when the season comprised 42 games rather than 38. Even if they lose, t hey will finish with more wins this season than opponents Sunderland have points.

Hull v Tottenham

After scoring four against Leicester, Kane will be out to add to his 26 league goals and make it impossible for Lukaku to deny him top-scorer honours. If Hull can sign off with a win after being condemned to relegation, it would equal their highest Premier League points total of 37 set in 2013-14.

Leicester v Bournemouth

A massive game for both teams as they battle for the accolade of highest-placed English manager. Victory for Craig Shakespeare will give him the bragging rights over Eddie Howe as his side will finish 10th, one place ahead of the Cherries. It would also avoid Leicester becoming the first Premier League champions to finish the following season in the bottom half of the table.

Liverpool v Middlesbrough

Actual footballing consequences riding on this one, with Liverpool needing a win to make sure of their Champions League place. Relegated Boro have the fewest wins and goals in the top flight this season, but have the chance to catch Sunderland on both fronts with the Black Cats just one ahead.

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

United will finish sixth and are entirely focused on the Europa League final, so what is at stake here is good old-fashioned cash - each place in the final table is worth a reported £1.9million in additional prize money and Palace can finish anywhere from 11th to, technically, 17th (although Swansea's poor goal difference makes that unlikely). The match, therefore, is worth a potential £11.4m to them - roughly what they paid for midfielder Luka Milivojevic.

Southampton v Stoke

After the European places, eve rybody wants to be best of the rest, right? Right? Fans of eighth-placed Saints will be nervously biting their nails to see if their side can hold off West Brom, Bournemouth and theoretically Leicester for the prestigious honour. Stoke, on the same points total as Palace, are therefore playing for approximately one Xherdan Shaqiri's worth of transfer funds.

Swansea v West Brom

Howe and Shakespeare may top the English managers table, but West Brom's Welsh boss Tony Pulis still occupies top spot as far as Britain is concerned and will need a result to hold on to that spot. Paul Clement, with survival assured, could still move above Burnley's Sean Dyche in the standings as well.

Watford v Manchester City

A point would rubber-stamp City's Champions League spot and most likely direct passage to the group stage, although if Liverpool rack up the goals then a win may be required to keep hold of third place. Watford have lost five in a row - another would see Walter Mazzarri end his reign by matching Hull and Palace for the season's worst losing run.

Press Association

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