They say it's not how you start, but how you finish
Premier League Final Day, Sunday 3.00pm
The final day of the Premier League is upon us, and despite a thrilling season and a romantic tale of success for the underdogs, the last Sunday comes with a tinge of disappointment. Leicester have won the title, Tottenham and Arsenal make up the top three, while Aston Villa, Newcastle and Norwich have gone down. The only meaningful spot up for grabs is fourth – but even that is pretty much sewn up with Manchester City only needing a draw against Swansea. The Paddy Power traders suspect Manuel Pellegrini’s side have a 90 per cent chance of scooping fourth place.
However, don’t let anybody tell you that Sunday’s 10 games are meaningless. Particularly when this £20 accumulator could return little more than £1k on the final day of the season.
Our long-shot acca is here for a couple of reasons. Firstly with Euro 2016 fast approaching a grand would go a long way to getting us over in France for a couple of weeks to soak up the atmosphere (Drink a lot/Pray that someone has a spare ticket). And secondly because of Paddy Power’s acca insurance offer, where you get your money back as a free bet if one leg of your five-fold or more lets you down. The perfect safety net to our hopeful punt.
Southampton v Crystal Palace
We’re starting with a fairly obvious one, but it would be madness not to include Southampton in our accumulator at odds of . Short enough admittedly, but only Leicester have picked up more points than Southampton in the last 10 games. The Saints are still pushing for a top six place and they are now unbeaten in the last five games, winning four.
Ronald Koeman’s men are coming off wins against Manchester City and Tottenham, while Crystal Palace’s 2-1 victory over Stoke last week stopped a winless four game run. Southampton have lost just once at St Mary’s since Christmas Day – Branislav Ivanovich goal in the 88th minute giving Chelsea a 2-1 win – while the Eagles’ record against the top six this year reads drawn three, lost nine.
The Saints are the team with all the momentum and they can deliver a straightforward win at .
Swansea v Manchester City
Swansea’s defensive home record this season may put some people off backing Manchester City at odds of , but not us. While the Welsh club may have kept eight clean sheets at the Liberty Stadium, and conceded just 19 goals, the Citizens have almost always found a way to get a result against bottom half sides this season.
Against teams ranked 11th or lower in the top flight, City’s record reads drawn four, won 15. Table-toppers Leicester are the only team in the division who can match that kind of dominance. Throw into the mix that in nine Premier League meetings between Swansea and City, the Citizens have come out on top on seven occasions, and it would appear that the away team have a serious advantage.
The Swans beat Liverpool 3-1 and West Ham 4-1 in their last couple of games, but they won’t have it all their own way on Sunday. City need a win to guarantee Champions League football next year, while Sergio Aguero needs at least one goal to be in with a chance of winning the Golden Boot. That’s enough motivation for us to back City at .
Stoke v West Ham
Stoke are just one of three teams (along with Aston Villa and West Brom) who come into the final game without a win in six. A woeful end to the season has seen the Potters win just one of their last eight league games, while in April alone they conceded four goals in each game against Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City.
West Ham’s form is exactly the opposite which makes us keen to keep them on side at 6/5. Slaven Bilic’s men have lost just once in the last 12 league games and have been scoring for fun – finding the onion bag 23 times in the last 10 games. Since the start of April, the Hammers have put three past Arsenal, Watford, West Brom and most recently Manchester United.
A win guarantees West Ham some European action at the Olympic Stadium next year, and Bilic can put a fine end on a remarkable campaign at .
West Brom v Liverpool
The Europa League Final looms large on Wednesday, so it would be no surprise to see Jurgen Klopp field a significantly weaker side at the Hawthorns – however, that still wouldn’t put us off backing the Reds at . While Liverpool fans probably couldn’t care less about Sunday’s result in comparison to Wednesday’s Final in Portugal, Klopp has emphasised the importance of momentum, and partnered with some atrocious West Brom form give us hope that an away win is on the cards.
The Baggies have drawn three and lost five in their last eight league matches, and Tony Pulis’ men are ambling towards their summer holidays. The flip-flops have been out for some time in the Midlands, and they haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of the last six matches. Liverpool have far bigger fish to fry in Europe on Wednesday, but it would be no surprise to see a weakened team still get the job done at .
Everton v Norwich
Two teams that just want a miserable season to come to an end. Aston Villa are the only side with worse 10 game form than Everton in the top flight, and a comprehensive thumping by Sunderland on Wednesday means that Roberto Martinez has finally got the boot. That Sunderland win also meant that Norwich were relegated, meaning life in the Championship awaits Delia Smith’s side after Sunday’s clash.
The Toffees have won just one of their last 10 games, and only Bournemouth and Villa have a worse home record than Everton this season. Norwich have lost 11 of their last 13 away games in the league and, bar Wednesday’s impressive performance against Watford, they’ve looked as threatening as a balloon filled with jelly for most of the campaign. Any momentum from that win will have been sucked out of the Canaries following their relegation, and this game can finish all square at to draw a line under two disastrous seasons.