As one of the most exciting Premier League seasons’ ever draws to a close, the final day could prove to be a bit of a damp squib.
With Leicester crowned as Champions, attention quickly turned to those involved in the fight for survival, but Sunderland’s win on Wednesday condemned Newcastle and Norwich to Championship football next season.
Even the Champions League places are done – barring a major City mishap at the Liberty.
Liverpool face Sevilla in the Europa League final on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Manchester United and Crystal Palace face each other in FA Cup on May 21. All three managers will consider their starting line-ups on Sunday with those matches in mind.
So, until next season…… I bid you farewell. Keep checking the site and following throughout the summer for the latest news on transfers and injuries. From the Premier League to the European Championship to the Copa America.
Arsenal – vs – Aston Villa
Mesut Özil “is back” after recovering from the minor hip problem which ruled him out of last weekend’s draw at the Etihad. Per Mertesacker and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss out through injury but “everyone else is available” with the exception of Danny Welbeck. The devastated England international will be side-lined for up-to nine months after Arsenal confirmed Welbeck had undergone surgery to repair ‘significant cartilage damage’. No decision on whether Jack Wilshere will start his first Premier League game since May 2015. Expect Arsène Wenger to name a strong attacking line-up with second place still up for grabs.
Rudy Gestede is available for the final game following his return to training on Friday. The striker missed the draw with Newcastle because of a groin problem. Aly Cissokho is back following suspension, however, Eric Black will need to check on a number of players before the trip to the Emirates. Kieran Richardson (calf) and Jordan Veretout (hip) are expected to miss out although the pair will be assessed closer to kick off. Alan Hutton and Ciaran Clark are doubts after picking up knocks during a credible 0-0 draw with Newcastle.
Manchester United – vs – AFC Bournemouth
Anthony Martial bagged a brace on his return to the side last Tuesday – the forward was withdrawn as a precaution at Norwich after feeling hamstring discomfort during the pre-match warm-up. It remains to be seen whether the young attacker will be risked in the final league match of the season. Speaking ahead of the game, Louis van Gaal said he would consider resting one or two of his players with the FA Cup final only six-days away. Phil Jones was included in the match day squad for the first time since January at West Ham and the 24-year-old would like to finish his season on a high. Marouane Fellaini serves the final game of his three-match ban and despite making good progress – Luke Shaw will not play again until 2016/17. The full-back had a minor surgical procedure to remove a metal fixation and won’t be risked. Ashley Young has returned to training after missing the last month – he won’t be ready for Sunday – but could make the Wembley showdown on May 21. Adnan Januzaj is another who will miss out this weekend after picking up an injury.
No new problems for the Cherries: "We have the same injuries," said Eddie Howe who “might shuffle things around” following the draw with West Brom. Callum Wilson and Josh King are among those pushing for a recall while Marc Pugh is hoping to make the 18 after he was omitted from the match day squad. Tyrone Mings, Sylvain Distain and Adam Smith are all ruled out of the clash at Old Trafford because of injury.
Southampton – vs – Crystal Palace
Jordy Clasie is the only expected absentee after the Dutchman was forced off at White Hart Lane with a groin problem. Sadio Mane has been passed after was replaced against Tottenham because of dizziness. Southampton announced on Friday that James Ward-Prowse had signed a new 6-year-deal at the club and the midfielder could top a great weekend with a start against Palace.
Alan Pardew hints at change at St Marys: “There’s one or two we need to protect for this fixture.” That could include Yohan Cabaye who was “as usual” according to the Eagles boss “getting bashed” against Stoke. Joe Ledley has fractured his fibula and the midfielder faces a race against time to be fit for the Euros: “His injury has been a blow to us this week.” Wilfried Zaha is ruled out with his place at Wembley hanging in the balance “we'll have to wait and see if he makes the cup final” but Mile Jedinak should recover from a “slight knock.” Julian Speroni is set to start in goal and will equal the clubs’ all-time record for goalkeeper appearances on Sunday. The availability of Chung-Yong Lee remains questionable after he was fined following comments about Pardew in the South Korean Press. Pardew has promised game time to Sullay Kaikai who was excellent during his loan spell at Shrewsbury.
Chelsea – vs – Leicester City
Guus Hiddink confirms Diego Costa will miss Sundays' game due to a hamstring problem: "With a rest and good training, he 'could' be fit for Spain in Euro 2016 but he cannot be sure." Thibaut Courtois has returned to training following illness but there was no mention of Branislav Ivanovic in the pre-match briefing who missed the draw at Anfield because of a groin issue. John Terry is also suspended. The Dutchman may opt to play John Obi Mikel in the back four once again with Baba Rahman starting at left-back - Azpilicueta would switch across onto the right. Bertrand Traore is favourite to lead the Chelsea attack with Loic Remy injured and Alexandre Pato / Radamel Falcao way down the pecking order. Willian will be assessed after tweaking his hamstring on Wednesday. Hiddink "is pleased" that Eden Hazard is back to his best but he would have been more pleased if it "had happened earlier."
Claudio Ranieri confirms Jamie Vardy "will be" ready for the Community Shield after his planned surgery in July: "I think it’s a little (wrist) operation." No fresh injury worries ahead of their trip to Stamford Bridge after the striker played down injury fears last weekend: “Hopefully it's just cramp. We'll find out when I get in [the dressing room]." Danny Drinkwater is available after serving his suspension and Matty James could be involved for the first time season after recovering from a serious knee injury. Marcin Wasilewski is expected to deputise for Robert Huth who is two-games into a three-match ban.
West Bromwich Albion – vs – Liverpool
Darren Fletcher (ankle) and Jonny Evans (groin) suffered minor injuries at Bournemouth, but the pair are expected to be OK for the visit of Liverpool. Stephane Sessegnon has recovered from illness and the winger is likely to be added to Tony Pulis’ match day squad. James Morrison is training, although after seventeen weeks on the sidelines, the midfielder is “not fit to play yet.” The Baggies boss promised to blood some youngsters - Jonathan Leko, Tyler Roberts and Sam Field “have been excellent in training recently” and could play a part.
With the Europa League final next Wednesday, Jürgen Klopp will rotate his starting XI: “We'll try to find a line-up to win - at this moment it's the most important thing in the world.” Simon Mignolet appears to be the only guaranteed starter after back up goalkeeper Danny Ward injured his knee in training. Adam Bogdan will take his place on the bench. Divock Origi and Jordan Henderson are progressing well and the pair could make the match day squad. Danny Ings is also training with the main group, but the striker won’t be risked unnecessarily following a serious knee injury.
Swansea City – vs – Manchester City
Francesco Guidolin confirms Lukasz Fabianski will miss out on Sunday with Kristoffer Nordfeldt set to make his Premier League debut. The goalkeeper will be rested ahead of Euro 2016: “I will go away now and then prepare for the summer.” The Polish international joins Ashley Williams who is also taking some time before joining up with the Wales squad. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Alberto Paloschi and Neil Taylor are ruled out through injury but Jefferson Montero could return for the final game.
Sunday will come too soon for David Silva who is recovering from a hamstring strain. Meanwhile, Vincent Kompany could miss up-to four months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured thigh muscle. Pablo Zabaleta looks set for surgery to address an on-going ankle problem, but regardless, the Argentine is currently side-lined due to a calf complaint. Aleksandar Kolarov has a chance and will face a 'late fitness test'. Samir Nasri is available following illness: ‘He is working as normal (with the group),’ confirms Pellegrini who takes charge for the final time.
Everton – vs – Norwich City
Temporary boss David Unsworth confirms Tim Howard will start in goal for Everton on Sunday. Phil Jagielka trained on Friday and “could” return barring any adverse reaction - a decision on Seamus Coleman will be made on Saturday. Funes Mori and Gareth Barry returned to the starting line-up at Sunderland but there was no change in the end result. The 3-0 defeat ultimately cost Roberto Martinez his job on the back of just one win in nine (D3, L5).
Jonny Howson is the latest injury victim for Norwich after he limped off with a “grade two” knee ligament strain in last weekends’ early kick off. The versatile midfielder has been a key player throughout the 2015/16 campaign starting 33 of the clubs’ thirty-six Premier League games - his presence will be a miss. Alex Neil confirmed Howson will spend between six and eight weeks out: “It's really disappointing for us and for him, because his performance levels over the course of the season have been consistently high." Alex Tettey is progressing following ankle surgery but the midfielder won’t return until next season. Andre Wisdom has ended his loan agreement at the club after damaging knee ligaments. Timm Klose faces a race against time to play at this simmer’s European Championships. The Swiss international has a 50-50 chance of playing in France after having his knee brace removed this week. Ryan Bennett (illness) is available.
Watford – vs – Sunderland
Valon Behrami will play no part in the final game after sustaining a rib injury in training: “We don’t want to risk him (ahead of the Euros),” revealed Quique Flores. Etienne Capoue is also “finished” for this season after failing to recover from the knee injury he sustained during the FA Cup semi-final loss to Crystal Palace. Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban have been involved for the Under-21s although neither is expected to play.
Lamine Kone recovered from a thigh problem – to score twice – on Wednesday guaranteeing Sunderland’s top flight status for another year. The Black Cats were unchanged for the seventh successive game against Everton although Big Sam will make changes for the dead rubber at Vicarage Road. "My idea is to play some youngsters on Sunday. The U21s had a great year and they need to play. I expect them to compete." Duncan Watmore, Jack Rodwell, Seb Larsson and Jeremain Lens are pushing for starts. Billy Jones is available after recovering from a hip injury.
Newcastle United – vs – Tottenham Hotspur
Newcastle could only manage a disappointing draw at Villa Park to become the only team in the Premier League not to beat Aston Villa this season – for that reason alone they probably deserve to go down. Daryl Janmaat and Vurnon Anita are both fit and it was the latter who was given the nod at right-back last time out. Fabricio Coloccini remains a major doubt despite shaking off a calf complaint – the skipper lacks fitness having spent more than two-months on the sidelines. Andros Townsend will want to put a big performance in against his former employers.
No fresh injury concerns for Tottenham, who, following a home defeat to Southampton left the door slightly ajar for Arsenal who could still finish second – a point on Tyneside should do the trick unless the Gunners manage to hit fourteen past Villa! Mauricio Pochettino confirms Nabil Bentaleb is the only injury after Toby Alderweireld (knee) and Danny Rose (hamstring) both recovered from minor niggles. Mousa Dembele accepted a violent conduct charge for his 'eye-gouge' on Diego Costa and Dele Alli is also suspended. Clinton N’Jie was back on the bench last Sunday for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in December.
Stoke City – vs – West Ham United
Glen Johnson “has had a good couple of weeks” and the full-back is available for selection “it would be good to get him some game-time” said Mark Hughes. Shay Given is also ready having trained this week. “There are decisions to be made for certain.” Stephen Ireland is set for an extended period on the sidelines after the 29-year-old suffered a double leg fracture: “It looks like he will be out for eight or nine months unfortunately. He has had an operation and the surgeon was pleased with that.” Marc Wilson’s domestic campaign is over as he won’t be fit enough, but he could be OK for the Republic of Ireland depending on a specialist report.
Slaven Bilic reveals his squad came through Tuesdays’ encounter with Man United relatively unscathed: "We've come in today and touch wood everyone is OK."A calf strain is expected to end Adrian’s season - the Spanish goalkeeper has missed the last two-games with Darren Randolph deputising in his absence.