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Premier League Permutations: Champions League race, relegation battle

The Premier League finally comes to a climax this Sunday, and while champions Liverpool wrapped t...



Soccer

Premier League Permutations: Champions League race, relegation battle

The Premier League finally comes to a climax this Sunday, and while champions Liverpool wrapped the title up with seven games to spare, there is still plenty to play for on the final day of the season.

Project Restart's ambitious plan saw 92 fixtures squeezed into six weeks, and somewhat surprisingly there are still Champions League places up for grabs, as well as a relegation battle that has boiled down to the final weekend.

Some of the Europa League positions are yet to be decided also, and there is the small matter of the Golden Boot to be finalised.

With all that in mind, Off The Ball has broken down the final day and detailed what is at stake for several English clubs, this Sunday.

The battle to stay up

Aston Villa's crucial win against Arsenal on Tuesday evening means that they go into the final weekend with their fate in their own hands.

Villa travel to West Ham knowing that should they win and better Watford's result, they will remain in the Premier League for another year.

If Villa lose, and Watford are beaten by Arsenal, then a Bournemouth win would see Eddie Howe's side, leapfrog both and ensure survival.

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Watford face the unenviable task of travelling to Mikel Arteta's Arsenal, who will likely be hurt by the manner in which they were beaten by Villa.

The Hornets were thrashed 4-0 by Manchester City on Monday evening, a result which severely damaged their hopes of Premier League survival.

They allowed Villa to take the driver's seat, and know that if Dean Smith's side wins away to West Ham they will need to better that result by two goals at least. With Arsenal smarting from Tuesday night's loss that is by no means an easy task.

Aside from their 4-1 thrashing of Leicester City two weeks ago, Bournemouth have struggled since the restart. In fact, that was their only victory in the past nine games.

Nigel Pearson

This poor run of form has left them three points adrift of both Villa and Watford going into the final weekend. They travel to Merseyside to face an Everton side, who picked up a very good win against Sheffield Wednesday in their most recent outing.

Eddie Howe knows his team has to win to have any chance of staying in the Premier League. Anything less will see the club relegated to the Championship for the first time since 2015.

They also will have to hope that both Watford and Villa lose or they will be relegated, regardless of their own fortune.

Should the points total end up being the same, goal difference will come into play. Failing that the team's head to head record will decide which team are relegated.

European places go down to the wire

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United, were playing some of the best attacking football in the league following the restart.

However, in their past three games, disappointing draws against Southampton and West Ham have seen United crawl towards the finish line.

Premier League

They will take solace from the fact that their Champions League dream is still within their own hands. If they beat Leicester on Sunday they will seal third place. A win will also ensure that they will compete in Europe's premier competition next season.

Should United win, Chelsea will need to match that result to clinch the fourth position and join United in the Champions League, albeit having to navigate the qualification rounds.

Chelsea do not have an easy task in front of them. They host Wolves, who have had another wonderful campaign this year.

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Nuno Espirito's side also need to win to ensure that they clinch European football once again.

If United and Chelsea draw, that too will see them take third and fourth place respectively.

However, if Leicester manage to take all three points against United, and Chelsea beat Wolves then United will drop to fifth and lose out on the Champions League.

A United win and a Chelsea loss would see Leicester have to settle for the Europa League.

After their scintillating start to the season, this would be a blow to Brendan Rodgers whose team were in second place after 18 games.

If both teams were somehow to lose then Leicester would pip United to third, and Solskjaer's men would limp into the final Champions League spot.

While not as glamorous as the Champions League, there are Europa League places still to be decided. Jose Mourinho's Tottenham loiter in seventh and make up the final European place.

If Spurs finish the season in this position, their North London rivals, Arsenal would knock them out of Europe, should the Gunners win the FA Cup.

For this reason, Spurs will hope that both Leicester and Wolves lose, and they manage to pick up all three points against Crystal Palace.

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Brendan Rodgers Chelsea Frank Lampard Leicester City Manchester United Ole Gunnar Solskjaer