IT’S the end of a long, hard season in the Premier League and at the end of 90 minutes Hull or Newcastle will be Championship clubs.
Hull must beat Man United at home and hope Newcastle don’t see off West Ham and it’s Hull who are 1-6 favourites to drop out.
Steve Bruce’s side could get a result if United aren’t interested but I’m pretty sure Louis van Gaal will want to finish with a win. Newcastle are tough to back to win any game having taken one point in 27 but have a chance against a side who packed their holiday bags weeks ago although the Sam Allardyce factor could make it interesting.
He was sacked by Mike Ashley in January 2008 and famously used his pay-off to buy a Costa Blanca holiday home which he named “Casa St James”. To add to the intrigue Allardyce was bookies favourite to land the Sunderland job in the summer – and is fourth favourite to replace Carver.
How Newcastle progress in 90 minutes could depend on how Hull are faring – if they go behind for example Newcastle will happily settle for a point.
So it’s a tough call but having backed Carver’s men to avoid the drop in the last few weeks I’m risking them to edge the Hammers although under 2.5 goals could be best bet at 7-10 with Ladbrokes. The Magpies were 250-1 to be relegated a few weeks ago and are now are 5-1 at bet365.
Hull’s hopes may depend on what team van Gaal puts out but I expect both to score at 17-20 with McBookie. Bruce’s boys will have to go for it so it should be an open affair with plenty of goals.
The only other issue to be settled is a Europa League spot. It’s between Liverpool, Spurs and Southampton for the two spots – although all three will make it if Arsenal win the FA Cup.
Talking of Liverpool what a mess the club’s in with Steven Gerrard likely to be followed out the door by Raheem Sterling whose agent isn’t doing him any favours. Sterling’s representative wants megabuck wages for his player and is unlikely to play at Stoke today.
The Reds couldn’t handle the occasion of Steven Gerrard’s Anfield bow last week as they crashed to Crystal Palace and could lose again on the skipper’s last appearance at Stoke.
Mark Hughes’s men have finished the season well with one defeat in six and are 5-2 at bet365 to rock the Reds and extremley tempting at 6-4 draw no bet. And what price Charlie Adam celebrating his Scotland recall with a goal?
He is 11-1 at bet365 to score first and 22-5 with 888sport to add to the four he’s grabbed in seven outings.
Chelsea v Sunderland
Forward Eden Hazard could miss his first Premier League match of the season when Chelsea play Sunderland after undergoing emergency dental surgery to remove his wisdom teeth. Midfielder Cesc Fabregas is suspended following his dismissal in Monday night’s loss at West Brom while keeper Petr Cech (calf) is a doubt. Striker Diego Costa is expected to start a second successive game after recovering from his hamstring problem but Kurt Zouma (knee), Ramires (kidney) and Oscar (thigh) are out.
Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon is out after the Romanian damaged a knee in Wednesday night’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal which secured the club’s top-flight status. He could be joined by striker Danny Graham who is nursing an ankle problem. Midfielder Sebastian Larsson, who finished the game at the Emirates Stadium limping, is fit, but defender Wes Brown and midfielders Liam Bridcutt and Jordi Gomez (all knee) remain on the sidelines.
Last season: Chelsea 1 Sunderland 2; Sunderland 3 Chelsea 4;
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).
Crystal Palace v Swansea
Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew has announced there are no fresh injury concerns for the final league fixture of the season.
Ki Sung-yueng has had a minor knee operation and misses out for Swansea. The South Korean has been struggling in recent weeks and had surgery now to allow him to be fit for the start of Swansea’s pre-season preparation. Manager Garry Monk might hand some of his fringe players rare opportunities with Leon Britton, Jay Fulton and Modou Barrow all in the frame to start at Selhurst Park.
Last season: Swansea 1,Crystal Palace 1; Crystal Palace 0 Swansea 2.
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).
Everton v Tottenham
Out-of-favour defender Sylvain Distain will be given the chance to say his farewell to Goodison Park. The Frenchman is out of contract at the end of the season and has not featured in a match-day squad since January 31 but if he recovers from illness he will be included. On-loan midfielder Aaron Lennon is ineligible against his parent club. Centre-back Antolin Alcaraz, who is also out of contract, is not fit and is joined on the sidelines by fellow defenders Leighton Baines and Tony Hibbert, midfielders Steven Pienaar, Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson.
Tottenham will assess goalkeeper Michel Vorm following illness. Forward Emmanuel Adebayor has been given compassionate leave to return to Togo on family matters. Defender Vlad Chiriches is suspended, while Kyle Walker (foot) and Ben Davies (shoulder) remain sidelined.
Last season: Tottenham 1 Everton 0; Everton 0 Tottenham 0.
Referee: Jonathan Moss (West Yorkshire).
Hull v Manchester United
Hull boss Steve Bruce hopes to name an unchanged side for the Tigers’ unlikely survival mission. Nikica Jelavic is expected to lead the forward line once again as Bruce seeks the win his side require to give themselves any hope of staying up. Jake Livermore remains suspended by the club following a positive drugs test while Mohamed Diame (knee) and Gaston Ramirez (hamstring) are both still out.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will see how David de Gea trains on Saturday before deciding whether he is fit enough to play. De Gea, who suffered a hamstring injury against Arsenal last week, trained on Friday and the goalkeeper has a chance of featuring against Steve Bruce’s side at the KC Stadium on Sunday. Captain Wayne Rooney has overcome a leg injury, but his deputy Michael Carrick (calf) and defender Luke Shaw (concussion) are out, while right-back Rafael (rib) is unlikely to feature.
Last season: Man Utd 3, Hull 1; Hull 2, Man Utd 3.
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).
Leicester v QPR
Danny Simpson will not be considered for selection by Leicester after being found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. The club are examining the case and the right-back will be sentenced next month. David Nugent is out with a calf problem and missed last week’s 0-0 draw at Sunderland when the Foxes completed their Houdini act and sealed Barclays Premier League survival. Matty James is out with cruciate knee ligament damage and may not return until Christmas.
Goalkeeper Rob Green (concussion) and defender Steven Caulker (hand) will miss out for QPR after they were were forced off during last week’s defeat of Newcastle. Chris Ramsey, given a permanent contract as head coach this week, may make further changes to look to the future.
Last season: Leicester 1 QPR 0; QPR 0 Leicester 1.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).
Manchester City v Southampton
Manchester City midfielder Fernando will miss out, having also been left out of the trip to Swansea last weekend with an unspecified knock. Playmaker Samir Nasri is City’s only other notable absentee having been ruled out for the closing weeks of the campaign with a groin injury.
Southampton boss Ronald Koeman will pick from an unchanged squad. The Saints put Aston Villa to the sword last week with a 6-1 victory and Koeman has the same group available as Morgan Schneiderlin (knee) and Dusan Tadic (groin) are both still out. Jay Rodriguez will travel with the squad after returning to full training after 13 months out with a knee injury but Koeman has confirmed he will not play any part.
Last season: Man City 4 Southampton 1, Southampton 1 Man City 1.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).
Newcastle v West Ham
Centre-back Mike Williamson returns from suspension for Newcastle after serving a two-match ban following his second dismissal of the season at Leicester. He could be joined in the squad by midfielder Siem de Jong, who is back in training after a thigh problem. Striker Papiss Cisse (knee) and winger Rolando Aarons (hamstring) are fit, if short of match fitness, but goalkeeper Rob Elliot (thigh), defenders Steven Taylor (calf/shin) and Massadio Haidara (knee), plus midfielder Cheick Tiote (also knee) remain on the sidelines.
West Ham defender James Collins will miss out with a calf strain. Collins has also been ruled out of Wales’ European Championship qualifier against Belgium on June 12 with the injury. Defender James Tomkins returns to the team after recovering from a dislocated shoulder.
Last season: West Ham 1 Newcastle 3, Newcastle 0 West Ham 0.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire).
Stoke v Liverpool
Asmir Begovic is set to return in goal for Stoke. The Bosnian has sat out the last three games as manager Mark Hughes opted to give England Under-21 international Jack Butland some first-team experience. Midfielder Stephen Ireland is a slight doubt with a stiff back while forward Victor Moses could be back in contention after a hamstring injury.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists forward Raheem Sterling is available for selection despite his contract row hitting the headlines again this week. Captain Steven Gerrard makes his 710th and final appearance before leaving for Los Angeles Galaxy. Striker Mario Balotelli, who has not featured since April 28 because of injury and illness, remains a doubt.
Last season: Stoke 3 Liverpool 5, Liverpool 1 Stoke 0.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).