The final day of the Premier League season has always had a special air to it, with both desperation and elation found in abundance. Come May every year, the title-winners rejoice, the relegated bid tearful farewells and Arsenal celebrate fourth place (well, maybe not this time).
This season’s finale promises much of the same, as the protracted race for top-spot between Manchester City and Liverpool careens towards its conclusion. With just the one point separating crimson from sky blue, hope is still alive for Liverpool, and where there is hope, the door is also open for a heartbreak.
Of course, heartbreak and hope are not emotions limited to the football pitch, and the results of the final day will be keenly monitored across the globe, as millions of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) bosses wait with baited breath to know whether the countless hours they spent tinkering around with their teams have been to any avail whatsoever.
Last week’s round of fixtures was a mixed bag to say the least, as usual suspects Mohamed Salah and Eden Hazard came good with 7 and 11 points respectively. However, FPL managers who put their faith in City’s attack weren’t rewarded for their belief in the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero, as the league-leaders squeezed past Leicester with a solitary goal courtesy of Vincent Kompany’s thunderous strike.
This time around, all the fixtures are set to be played simultaneously, beginning at 19.30 IST, as is customary on the concluding day of the season. Whilst the programme for this action-packed Sunday is bereft of any notable clashes at the top of the table, a couple of matches do stand out.
Can Liverpool keep the Wolves at bay?
Second-placed Liverpool play host to the mercurial Wolverhampton Wanderers, who have enjoyed an astounding record against the big six this season. With the dangerous Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota leading the attack, a Wolves forward could be a good addition to any FPL side. However, the tireless Matt Doherty, who has become a mainstay for many managers, could concede a couple of goals and should probably be left on the bench.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have proved their mettle on several occasions since winning promotion to the Premier League, and defeating them will require a spirited showing from the Reds. Luckily, spirit is something that Liverpool have in spades, as witnessed in their heroic 4-0 win over Barcelona, and Jurgen Klopp’s side have fought tooth and nail to cling on to Manchester City’s coattails over the last few weeks.
With the injured Salah available again, and Divock Origi – modestly priced at £5.1m – finally living up to all the hype that surrounded him in 2014, this could be a high-scoring affair, and Liverpool are favourites to score.
Leicester aim to outfox Chelsea
Leicester City will look to end their campaign with a win at the King Power Stadium against Chelsea, who were involved in an exhausting Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday that went all the way to penalties.
Chelsea’s talismanic winger Eden Hazard has played a lot of football over the past week, and loathe as Maurizio Sarri might be to bench the Belgian in what could be his last Premier League game ever, there is the small prospect of a European final to consider. Pedro could be a good option in his stead, with the Spanish winger being benched midweek. Jamie Vardy, as always, is an excellent option for Leicester up top, as is Youri Tielemans, who has one goal and one assist to his name in his last three appearances.
Manchester City to be crowned Kings of Albion?
Manchester City have had their work cut out for them this season, and come into the final week with Liverpool breathing down their necks. Standing between them and the Premier League title is Brighton, who recently secured their top-flight status, and may not have much to play for anymore.
Pep Guardiola is not likely to take any chances, and will go with the strongest possible line-up he can field, with Aguero and Sterling almost certainly leading the line, both of whom can score a goal or two on their day. At the back, Aymeric Laporte has been solid as a rock, and barring any more worldies from Kompany, should be an easy pick.
Best of the rest
Crystal Palace come up against Bournemouth in a match that could go either way. Both Palace and Bournemouth have scored three or more goals on two occasions in their last four matches, and currently, sit in 12th and 13th places respectively. The likes of Wilfried Zaha for Palace and Bournemouth’s duo of Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson could bring home the bacon.
With Son Heung-min having ruled himself out of Tottenham’s fixture against Everton after picking up a red card, Fernando Llorente seems like a shoe-in to start, and at a measly price of £5.1m, the Spaniard could free up some cash. Lucas Moura, whose performance against Ajax in the Champions League was a thing of beauty, will also be a viable option.
Spurs also have the faint possibility of surrendering their fourth place spot to Arsenal to contend with, but Unai Emery's side has been sub-par in the last few weeks, and will be looking to make amends in their final league match of the season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enjoyed a good outing in mid-week, and the pace of the Gabonese striker could be the undoing of Burnley.
Manchester United have had a disappointing season so far, but could make a splash when they take on Cardiff. Paul Pogba, who at £8.6 is priced exactly as much as Son, could be a good replacement for the Korean.
Top picks for GW 38:
Mohamed Salah: Rarely does a round of fixtures go by where the addition of Mohamed Salah to your team is not a given, but the necessity of his presence this week cannot be overstated. With Liverpool closer than they’ve ever been to their first title in the Premier League era, who could be better poised than the curly-haired Egyptian to lead the Kop to the promised land?
Jamie Vardy: Jamie Vardy has been banging them in on the down low, and the fleet-footed fox is currently fifth in the race for the Golden Boot with 18 goals to his name. Vardy has scored nine goals in his last appearances, with a couple of assists thrown in for good measure, and comes up against a Chelsea side that has not been impressive away from home.
Callum Wilson: While Callum Wilson’s performances at home in recent weeks have been lacking in ‘Vitality,’ the Bournemouth striker has been in imperious form in away games, scoring a massive 44 points over the course of his last four fixtures on the road.
Sergio Rico: Has someone told Fulham that they’ve been relegated? Because they sure aren’t playing like it. With three wins and as many clean sheets in their last four matches, the Cottagers have surprised just about everyone with their upswing in form. Newly-appointed permanent coach Scott Parker and his Championship-bound side will be looking to give the good folks at Craven Cottage something positive to remember the season by when they host Newcastle, and Sergio Rico seems as good a pick as any between the sticks.
Nathan Redmond: Unfortunately for Huddersfield, Fulham’s desire to exit the Premier League in a blaze of glory has not rubbed off on them. Firmly rooted to bottom place, their solitary point in the last two months has come in a draw against Manchester United. Southampton, as a whole, have been far from wonderful themselves, but Nathan Redmond has done well, bagging two goals and an assist in his last two appearances at home.
O Captain, my Captain!
There’s no dearth of contenders for the captain’s armband this week, but Mohamed Salah and Sergio Aguero stand out amongst the favourites. A slightly left-of-field option could be Pogba, who is always likely to come up with something spectacular.
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Updated Date: May 12, 2019 13:30:36 IST