Soccer

5 talking points: Three clubs battle for Premier League survival on last day

Sean Dyche’s Everton (left), Dean Smith’s Leicester (centre) and Sam Allardyce’s Leeds are fighting to stay up (Peter Byrne/Zac Goodwin/Mike Egerton/PA)
Sean Dyche’s Everton (left), Dean Smith’s Leicester (centre) and Sam Allardyce’s Leeds are fighting to stay up (Peter Byrne/Zac Goodwin/Mike Egerton/PA) Sean Dyche’s Everton (left), Dean Smith’s Leicester (centre) and Sam Allardyce’s Leeds are fighting to stay up (Peter Byrne/Zac Goodwin/Mike Egerton/PA)

All eyes will be on the battle for survival and the scrap for the final European place on the final day of Premier League season on Sunday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points.

Everton in the box-seat

Everton are one of three clubs in danger, with two making the drop alongside already-relegated Southampton this weekend.

But the Toffees at least have control of their own destiny heading into a Goodison Park clash against Bournemouth, knowing that a 70th-successive season in the top-flight awaits if they match the results of Leicester and Leeds.

It promises to be a nervous afternoon, though, with Everton’s cause not helped by injury absentees Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Nathan Patterson and Ben Godfrey.

Foxes’ future looks bleak

Leicester City
Leicester City Leicester won the Premier League title in 2016 (Nick Potts/PA)

Seven years after the charismatic Claudio Ranieri masterminded Leicester’s stunning Premier League title triumph, the Foxes look Championship-bound.

They host West Ham knowing that victory over the Hammers might not be enough to keep them in the top division.

Dean Smith’s team must win and hope Everton do not collect maximum points against Bournemouth, otherwise their fate will be sealed. It is all a far cry from May 7, 2016, when Ranieri and captain Wes Morgan held aloft the Premier League trophy.

Leeds need a minor miracle

Sam Allardyce's Leeds need help from elsewhere
Sam Allardyce's Leeds need help from elsewhere Sam Allardyce’s Leeds need help from elsewhere (Mike Egerton/PA)

Sam Allardyce faced mission improbable when he was parachuted in as Leeds manager with just four games of the season left after Javi Gracia was sacked.

And so it has proved, with Allardyce overseeing one draw and two defeats so far.

Nothing less than a win will do for Leeds against Tottenham at Elland Road and even then they need the results from both the Everton and Leicester matches to go their way.

Battle for Europe

Aston Villa are a win away from returning to Europe
Aston Villa are a win away from returning to Europe Aston Villa are a win away from returning to Europe (Peter Byrne/PA)

Tottenham have their own targets to worry about during their trip to West Yorkshire. After spending much of the season battling for a Champions League spot, they could miss out on Europe altogether as they fight Aston Villa and Brentford for seventh and a place in the Europa Conference League.

Villa are in pole position and know a win at home to Europa League-bound Brighton will be enough to secure European qualification for the first time since 2010. Anything less would open the door for Spurs, who last did not feature in continental competition in the 2009-10 campaign.

Should both slip up, then Brentford can secure European football for the first time in their history if they manage to win at home to champions Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola’s balancing act

What kind of City side awaits Brentford remains to be seen. With the Premier League title already won, City’s hopes of a trophy treble rest with the FA Cup final against Manchester United on June 3 then the Champions League final versus Inter Milan seven days later.

It will be about finding a balance between resting players and avoiding rustiness ahead of those games, so rotation can be expected for Sunday’s trip.

Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland could be among those rested, but if Haaland plays, it will be a last chance to extend his remarkable Premier League goalscoring record of 36 this term.