Premier League, Week 38 preview: Drama relies on ... West Ham?

Michael Regan

The final day of the Premier League season will only be dramatic if West Ham United play the game of their lives. Neutrals, accept that this is just a victory lap for Manchester City.

Cardiff City vs. Chelsea

Cardiff City Stadium; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

While Chelsea have nothing of any tangible value to play for, Cardiff City will enter the final game of their first spell in the Premier League hoping to avoid finishing dead last. Relegation has been confirmed, but there's certainly some value in finishing off the very bottom; thanks to a goal difference superior to that of Fulham, Cardiff could avoid that dubious honor with only a point, but that's going to be an exceptionally tall order against even an unmotivated Chelsea side.

Fulham vs. Crystal Palace

Craven Cottage; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

With the end of their 13-year spell coming to an end, Fulham are now simply playing with the same hope of avoiding last-place that will motivate Cardiff. The Cottagers will have a slightly easier task in taking on Palace, but it's not an accident than Fulham are in danger of a 20th-place and enter the game with the league's worst goal difference; this is just a very bad team, while Crystal Palace have transformed themselves into a genuinely impressive side under Tony Pulis. Palace won't be moving from 11th place regardless of the outcome, but given the ferocity with which they go about things it's difficult to imagine them sleepwalking through any game. And considering that this is a club that looked dead in the water not too long ago, that they'll finish within shouting distance of the top half of the table is pretty remarkable in and of itself.

Hull City vs. Everton

K.C. Stadium; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Though Hull have somewhat predictably fallen off down the stretch, it's difficult to see this season as anything but a success for the Tigers. An FA Cup final and a year spent largely in mid-table obscurity is a pretty decent campaign in the year following promotion. The same must be said about Roberto Martinez's first year at Everton; though the Toffees will end up well out of reach of a top-four finish, Champions League football looked to be a legitimate possibility as recently as April, and the quality of play has been excellent all season long. Such is the nature of the Premier League that two sides so far apart in points totals can consider their seasons to be successful, but in the case of Hull and Everton it's difficult to imagine that any reasonable expectations have gone unmet.

Liverpool vs. Newcastle United

Anfield; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Liverpool's title hopes are dependant upon West Ham becoming only the second team to defeat Manchester City at home all season, but if there's one thing that can't be denied is that Liverpool isn't known for taking defeat lying down. It wouldn't be all that surprising to see Liverpool come out with the intention of making up the 13-goal difference between themselves and City. Which, well, they're going up against Newcastle's defense, so it's not really the craziest plan in the world.

Manchester City vs. West Ham United

Etihad Stadium; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

All City have to do to win the title is earn a point against West Ham, and luckily for the league leaders earning a point is seemingly all West Ham ever set out to do. City are far from a perfect team and have seldom looked to be a dominant champion, but given the overall state of the Premier League that's likely appropriate. But it's also worth considering that, despite the incredibly long odds of it happening, a West Ham win plunging the title race back into chaos would probably be even more fitting a way for things to turn out.

Norwich City vs. Arsenal

Carrow Road; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Barring a 17 goal swing, Norwich City will return to the Championship after three seasons in the Premier League following a season that did not go nearly as well as planned. Despite some significant investment over the summer the Canaries just never managed to put it all together, and with several key players on contracts that are likely a bit too rich for the Championship this could be a pretty eventful summer for Norwich. Arsenal, meanwhile, will finish 4th and play in the Champions League, which is a sentence that will likely replace "Lorem Ipsum" hundreds of years in the future.

Southampton vs. Manchester United

St. Mary's Stadium; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

If you'd told Mauricio Pochettino that has side would enter the final day of the season with a chance to pull within 5 points of Manchester United, he'd probably have been beside himself with joy. Then you'd show him the table and he'd probably be less excited. Still excited though. Anyways the point is that Southampton are better than most people thought and United are worse than most people thought.

Sunderland vs. Swansea City

Stadium of Light; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Sunderland managing to avoid relegation is the first real "great escape" the Premier League has seen in awhile, and it's been impressive to watch. It shouldn't obscure the fact that they're far too big of a club to have the problems they endure seemingly every season, and this is going to be a crucial summer in determining their future. Swansea are also a club that need to right the ship before the start of the next season, but the role that luck has played in their underachievement shouldn't be understated; they're behind Spurs by 3 on goal difference, and somehow have 27 fewer points. This is an upper-mid table side on talent alone, and though they'd certainly do well to bring in some reinforcements over the summer, their underlying fundamentals aren't so bad as a glance at the table might suggest.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa

White Hart Lane; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Remember when everyone was asking which of Spurs and Villa would be the one to break the Big Four's stranglehold on Champions League football? Yeah.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Stoke City

The Hawthorns; Sunday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

I was going to write a whole thing about how this was an awful note for the Premier League season to end on, but then I realized that I'm an idiot and that all of the games start at the same time. But now I don't have an angle and no one cares about this game anyways, so whatever.

Great season, English Premier League!

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