Chelsea’s mid-week draw with Tottenham was a disappointment for both sides involved in this contest. Chelsea would have all but secured a Champions League place with a win, and though they’re still in a favorable position to finish in the top four there’s enough doubt left that they’re likely to approach this game as a must-win. That’s bad news for Villa, who are achingly close to safety but still not out of the woods entirely. Paul Lambert’s side has shown drastic improvement in recent weeks, but a thrashing the likes of which they suffered at the hands of Chelsea back in December could put them right back into the muck.
Pick: Chelsea, 3-1
Spurs is another side that won’t be entirely pleased with Wednesday night’s result, and they now find themselves in a position where there’s little hope for a top four finish without consecutive wins to close out the season. With Stoke and Sunderland the remaining competition that’s an achievable task, but they’ll need help from Chelsea and/or Arsenal’s less than imposing opposition as well.
Pick: Spurs, 2-0
David Moyes’ final game at Goodison Park--at least as Everton manager--should be quite the emotional experience. Though it’s certain that some will hold his decision to join United against him, but one would imagine that the majority of the Toffees faithful will give him quite a sendoff. Both team’s seasons are functionally done, with Everton still in the Europa League mix but unlikely to do anything that directly harms or improves their chances, but there’s little doubt Moyers would like to go out with a bang. There’s similarly little doubt that Sam Allardyce would like to prevent that, because Sam Allardyce is a thief of joy.
Pick: Everton, 3-1
Fulham: still technically within reach of the bottom three. Liverpool: still technically in reach of a Europa League place. Should you care: probably not.
Pick: Liverpool, 2-1
Now, this is where things start to get interesting with regards to the bottom three. As of now, Wigan is the favorite to go down. The Latics’ game-in-hand turned out to be a loss, meaning that they’re three points back with everyone in the league having played 36. Of the teams on 38 points, Norwich is barely better off than Newcastle in terms of goal difference, so they can’t afford to come out of this game without a point. Wigan’s still got a hill to climb, but it isn’t as if they’ve not managed such things in the past; the Canaries are still vulnerable, and this isn’t really the time to leave things to chance.
Pick: Draw, 1-1
Queens Park Rangers vs. Newcastle
Loftus Road; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET
Newcastle is in a similar boat to Norwich; safe for now, but still well within Wigan’s reach and in slightly worse shape in terms of goal difference. QPR is of course a more welcome opponent than West Brom, but Newcastle can’t seem to stop tripping over their own feet at the moment. A point wouldn’t in and of itself assure safety here, but it would come pretty close, and though that’s not the way Newcastle tends to try to go about things a more pragmatic may very well be called for.
Pick: Newcastle, 1-0
Sunderland vs. Southampton
Stadium of Light; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET
In terms of games involving teams not in the relegation zone that are still within reach of it, this might be the most important. Sunderland is in the best shape of teams on 38 points, with a relatively decent -12 goal difference. Southampton is on 39 with a 12 goal edge over Wigan, meaning it would take two Latics wins at the very least to bring them down. Still, with so much at stake, no team will feel entirely comfortable until the drop is a mathematical impossibility. Either side will likely take a point from this one, and with that being the case such an outcome seems likely.
Pick: Draw, 1-1
Man, talk about your boring, meaningless games. United’s had the title sewn up for weeks, Swansea’s comfortably mid-table; there’s just not one single thing that’s interesting about this game. If only there was some external factor that made this the least bit important, it might be worth paying attention to. As it is, I’d be amazed if anyone even shows up.
Pick: United, 3-0
Arsenal vs. Wigan Athletic
Emirates Stadium; Tuesday, 19:45 GMT/2:45 PM ET
Well, it’s looking increasingly likely that this is the end of the road for Wigan’s somewhat unbelievable uninterrupted run in the Premier League. They’ll need at least three points from these final two games, and it’s more likely that four will be the minimum necessary for survival. A loss to Arsenal-especially a lopsided one-would all but doom them to the drop. That’s likely just fine for the majority of the league’s fans, but for that small subsection of us that have a strange affection for the Latics, it’s bittersweet. A shock FA Cup win on Saturday would send Wigan out on a high note, but there’s little doubt that the Latics would prefer a trophy and another year of Premier League football. If they’re going to manage that, they’re probably going to need to ruin Arsenal’s day.
Pick: Arsenal, 3-1
Sorry guys, but nobody cares.
Pick: City, 3-0