Premier League Preview: Ex-United boss hoping to deal City one last Hammer-blow

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So here we are then, the season finale. For all of the talk of final day chaos and permutations, each of the Premier League’s major touchpoints are as good as tied up: Villa have secured Champions League football for the first time in 28 years and the three sides promoted from the Championship last term — Luton, Burnley and Sheffield United — will be plying their trade in the second tier once again next season. 

Man City’s 2-0 win away at Tottenham on Tuesday has put Pep Guardiola’s side within a hair’s breadth of clinching an unprecedented fourth consecutive title, with a win at home to West Ham – who have nothing to play for – enough to confirm their position as champions once again. 

Arsenal’s title-charge has been valiant to say the least. Last season the Gunners took City to the wire but fell away by mid-April and allowed the Cityzens a clear pathway to the top of the tree. This year it has been much different, and even up until the very final whistle there is still a chance that they could win the league, although it does seem extremely unlikely. 

Indeed, the last remaining slice of jeopardy still brings with it some interesting talking points. A win for Arsenal against Everton, coupled with a defeat or draw (due to Arsenal’s slightly superior goal difference) for City would be enough to get them over the line. 

There are two points of concern clouding that specific situation unfolding, though. The first being that Everton are a team in form at the moment – the Toffees have lost just one of their last eight games whilst keeping five clean sheets in the process. 

Despite Everton’s current form, however, you would still back Mikel Arteta’s side to get the job done in this one especially with so much riding on the fixture — the only thing in their hands is to win their final game and if they do that then, as mentioned, a glimmer of hope will continue to sparkle until the final whistle is blown and the curtain is brought down on this excitement-fuelled Premier League campaign which has been one of the best we have witnessed in years. 

Arsenal will look back on the defeats against West Ham and Fulham over Christmas, and 2-0 loss at home to Aston Villa in April as the catalyst for their potentially agonising title-shot miss. Aside from those upsets, the Gunners have been close to faultless this season and enter this weekend’s finale on the back of five straight wins and a 0-0 draw at the Etihad. The fact that they have found themselves competing directly against a team which displays an almost unerring level of quality and consistency in Manchester City feels almost like just bad luck and poor timing. 

But they do. And they have. And they will most likely look on in bitter disappointment on Sunday evening when a swarm of sky blue lifts the trophy on the final day for the sixth time in seven years. 

City barely ever lose and especially not at home. Their record against West Ham makes for comforting reading for anyone associated with the blue side of Manchester: 30 games, 26 wins and just one defeat. It is hard to imagine such a force being resisted with the stakes so high — not least against a side who have suffered such an inferiority complex against them throughout recent history. 

But this is Premier League football. 

It would be remiss of anyone to completely dismiss the fact that a top-flight professional team — who have competed in the top half of the world’s highest division for the most part of the last ten months — do not possess a genuine chance of winning a game between two teams during a 90 minute outing. 

This is, remember, also David Moyes’ last game in charge of West Ham after five seasons in charge. The Scot will depart east London having guided the Hammers to four top-half finishes and a European trophy during his memorable tenure at the London Stadium. The legacy he will leave behind feels like it will only be appreciated months — perhaps even years — after he departs E20. 

That same legacy was tarnished altogether when Moyes bid farewell to Manchester United following a hugely underwhelming nine months in charge at Old Trafford immediately after the Sir Alex Ferguson era back in 2013/14. He could, though, go a long way in rebuilding it amongst the United faithful should he thwart United’s bitter rivals in their surge to make history with a fourth straight title-win this term.

Premier League Gameweek 38 – Fixtures in full

KO for all games – 4pm

Arsenal vs Everton

Brentford vs Newcastle United

Brighton vs Manchester United

Burnley vs Nottingham Forest

Chelsea vs AFC Bournemouth

Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa

Liverpool vs Wolves

Luton Town vs Fulham

Manchester City vs West Ham

Sheffield United vs Tottenham

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