EPL Final Day – 20 teams, 10 matches, one trophy and other stories
Zee Media Bureau/Jayanta Oinam
London: After 39 engrossing weeks, the most famous football league in the world will have one final essay Sunday. All the twenty teams in England`s top-flight league will feature in the Super Sunday fixtures, all the matches kicking-off simultaneously. When the match-day 38 ends, there will be a new champion. Luckily for the banters, there are only two teams to choose from – between Manchester City and Liverpool.
Besides the title fight, the final day of the season as usual will witness teams vying for crucial points and positions. Unluckily for Cardiff City and Fulham, their match-ups against Chelsea and Crystal Palace respectively will be of no consequence. Both the teams have already been relegated to the Championship, and Norwich`s situation is not better either. Even if they manage to beat Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion falter at Stoke City, an indifferent goal difference has already made them the third team to be relegated to the second tier.
Sunderland – after scripting one of the greatest escape acts, will face Swansea in a fight for prestige. Black Cats have resurrected their fortunes thanks to a exceptional outings against the top teams. After the unceremonious separation with Paolo Di Canio, Sunderland earned the respect by playing insatiable football – attacking, creating chances and scoring – under Gus Poyet. For Swansea, the season has been all about survival. And they succeeded despite living through the humdrum of changing managers.
If Poyet performed a miracle to revive Sunderland, what Tony Pulis did with Crystal Palace has been one of the stories of the league. The London club endured all sorts of issues and were facing a certain drop from the league, but with the arrival of Pulis, they found the rhythm and are now fighting for a top-10 finish. A win over already-relegated Fulham and a favourable result from Stoke City will help them achieve this end.
For teams like, Manchester United, it`s more about titles and talking points. These clubs, with their illustrious histories set their goals high, and they do everything to fulfil such goals. Red Devils, thanks to their slump, will fight for an European place, that of Europa League. They will visit Southampton while Tottenham will host Aston Villa. All United need is a win and Villans win over the Spurs, to finish sixth in the table.
Arsenal, having already secured their 17th successive Champions League passage, will visit Carrow Road to increase their points accumulation. 76 points after match-day 37 is Gunner`s highest tally in six seasons. For Everton, three points from Hull City will confirmed their status as one of the rising forces in the league. Roberto Martinez handled the club`s dwindling fortunes, after the departure of David Moyes, with renewed vigour, with mercenaries borrowed from other outfits.
After fighting in all possible fronts, Chelsea will settle without a title in Jose Mourinho`s return. But, with a young squad, the 2013-14 season has been all about settling in. A point, the astute Portuguese often made during the campaign! The Blues will play Cardiff in their final match of the season.
That leaves, title contenders – Manchester United and Liverpool – hosting two dangerous outfits in their final outings. A final twist is still possible with a difference of only two points between them. A win for Manuel Pellegrini means the title stays at Manchester, no matter what Liverpool do against Newcastle United. The Citizens, thanks to their superior goal-difference, can still afford to play out a draw. But a defeat at Etihad Stadium and Reds victory at Anfield will mean, the Kop celebrating the league triumph for the first time in 24 years.