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11 things we’re looking forward to this Bank Holiday Weekend

1. With every major matter bar one in the Premier League already sewn up before the end of the season, we are just left with finding out who will be the other team to join Burnley and QPR in the relegation spots and drop down to The Championship. The side with it all to do are Hull who have to not only travel to Old Trafford but also win to have any chance of survival. Steve Bruce has never beaten a Manchester United side in 17 attempts since being a manager so the omens don’t look good but they are going there with nothing to lose it literally is win or bust for the Tigers and even that might not be enough.

2. The other side who are precariously close to the drop are Newcastle who if they win will guarantee safety but with only 1 point in 10 matches you do have to think that there’s no reason that they will come good on Sunday. They go up against a West Ham side who have been safe since January and there performances have reflected this but how much would Big Sam love to get one over the club that sacked him back in 2008 and have a hand in sending them down a division. If Newcastle do manage to stay up it will be more down to the ineptitude of others rather than them actually pulling themselves out of survival. If ever a team deserved to go down on merit than this is certainly one.

3. Sunderland will go to champions Chelsea on Sunday knowing that Premier League safety is already in the bag. 2 0-0 draws in their last two games has been enough to get themselves over the line can they spoil Chelsea’s party when they are finally given the trophy for which they been quite easily the best team in the league. Edin Hazard could miss out due to having a wisdom tooth operation in the week but with both teams already reaching their objectives I would expect to see Jose Mourinho shuffle his pack again and spare a thought for Cesc Fabregas who has already started his summer holidays.

4. Steven Gerrard should make his last ever appearance for Liverpool tomorrow at The Britannia Stadium as the Reds go up against Stoke. Liverpool who have only won 2 of their last 6 matches need a better result than that of Tottenham and Southampton’s to secure 5th place and a much maligned Europa League place, Gerrard who had his farewell celebrations at Anfield last weekend ruined by Crystal Palace will be hoping the “farewell tour” doesn’t draw another blank as Charlie Adam and his Stoke teammates will be looking to no doubt upstage proceedings and increase their already record points tally in a season.

5. Tottenham travel to Everton knowing that they could either be 5th, 6th or 7th by the end of Sunday Afternoon depending on results. Harry Kane will be looking to celebrate his call up to the England U-21 European Championship squad with a goal or two to round off what has been nothing short of an amazing season for the breakout star. Again the question of do Tottenham necessarily need or want a Europa League place  next season has been bought into question but there performance against Hull last week would suggest they do, it’s now just a case of how early they will start next season and at what round of the competition they will enter. As for Everton they will look to round out what has been a particularly anti climactic season with at least trying to finish in the top half of the table, Aaron Lennon will be unavailable due to not being able to play against his parent club.

6. The third team in the race for Europa League places (they may all still get there if Arsenal win the F.A. Cup) is Southampton. The Saints have had a season far past probably theirs and definitely all of the pundits expectation, with so many players leaving during the summer doom and gloom was cast over St. Mary’s but Ronald Koeman has done nothing short of an outstanding job their final challenge is to go away to a Manchester City side who have won their last 5 matches. After Wednesday’s draw between Arsenal and Sunderland, Manchester City will now that second is secure but will that be enough to keep Manuel Pellegrini in a job we will have to wait and see.

7. Arsenal who secured third on Wednesday and automatic qualification to The Champions League next season face a West Bromwich Albion side who recorded a shock 3-0 win over Chelsea on Monday night. I expect Arsenal will use this game to rotate the squad and rest some names for the F.A. Cup Final while giving some game time to others, West Brom will be looking to claim their second London club scalp in a week.

8. Leicester take on QPR which a few months ago was either being looked as either a “winner takes all” last day encounter or both teams playing against each other with their fates already decided. Amazingly thanks to Leicester’s great if not greatest escape they have pulled themselves away from the dread of the drop zone and will live to fight another season. QPR on the other hand have not been so fortunate and will have to start adjusting to life in The Championship, no doubt Chris Ramsey will want to start his permanent managerial reign with the West London club with a win and build on their 2-1 disposal of Newcastle last week.

9. Aston Villa were obviously trying out some high line defending last weekend against Southampton and got emphatically punished with a 6-1 defeat, they take on a Burnley side who have won many admirers but unfortunately for them they were too timid in the final third when it really matters. Aston Villa will probably have their minds on the cup final whereas Burnley will want to go out on a high, could this even be Sean Dyche’s last game in change of the Turf Moor side.

10. Crystal Palace take on Swansea in what is probably as a mid table clash as you can get. Both sides can consider their seasons a success with Alan Pardew turning the Eagles fortunes around since his appointment and Garry Monk looking a more astute manager as the weeks continue to pass, I expect this game might be played in quite a relaxed party atmosphere.

11. One place that certainly won’t be a relaxed atmosphere this weekend is Wembley as the Football League Play-Offs are decided. As always the games will be a lottery with many twists and turns and a roller coaster of emotions. Southend take on Wycombe in League 2, Preston take on Swindon in League 1 while in the Bank Holiday main event Norwich face Middlesbrough. When you get this far the form book goes right out of the window but my predictions are Wycombe, Preston and Norwich to be celebrating at the final whistle.

Whatever happens enjoy the last weekend of the domestic season, it will come round again in August quicker than you know it!

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