EPL Last Drama: United, City Battle for Top Four | Independent Newspapers Limited
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EPL Last Drama: United, City Battle for Top Four

Posted: May 14, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Steve Oma-Ofozor

LAGOS – The English Premier League (EPL) this Sunday May 15, 2016 will come to an end in a style, but not with the tussle for the title or survival for relegation; it all for the top four between Manchester United and Manchester Ctiy.
The title was won last week by Leicester City and by midweek the relegation sides were made known as well among Newcastle, Norwich and Aston Villa.
However, the Sunday drama of who grabs the fourth place will be largely determined by the results at Swansea City when it hosts Manchester City for the last game – Week 38.
Manchester City has 65 points and a draw with Swansea will give it 66 points which will not be enough to see the team through for the UEFA Champions League spot, should Manchester United win at home to Bournemouth.
This implies City must not slip as Swansea in recent times has become invincible at home and away, if the 4-1 defeat of West Ham at away last week is anything to go by.
The coming of Francesco Guidolin changed the fortunes of the team and that has earned him a new deal at Swansea.
In same vein, City has not been very fantastic recently, but could spring a surprise to ensure UEFA spot, just as it could also serve a farewell gift for Pellegrini. This makes the result that will come from Swansea too close to call.
On Sunday Swansea’s Euro 2016-bound quartet of Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lukasz Fabianski will all be rested.
Goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt will make his Premier League debut, but Jefferson Montero and Alberto Paloschi are out with hamstring injuries.
On City’s line up, Aleksandar Kolarov is a doubt, while Samir Nasri is available again after illness, while Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Pablo Zabaleta are definite absentees.
For Manchester United, only straight win over AFC Bournemouth for the three points can be good enough for the Louis van Gaal men as they can only hope to secure the UEFA spot by praying for City to slip at Swasea.
Otherwise, if City wins at Swansea, any result from Old Trafford will be meaningless.
Again in the lineup reports revealed, United defender, Matteo Darmian, is expected to miss out again with an ankle injury.
Marouane Fellaini serves the final game of his three-match suspension, while Luke Shaw and Bastian Schweinsteiger remain out through injury.
Bournemouth has no new injury problems, but the manager Eddie Howe says he might rotate his squad on Sunday.
Defender Sylvain Distin and Adam Smith both remain out with back and hernia problems respectively
For Arsenal which will be hosting already relegated Aston Villa, no mathematical calculations will take the club away from the UEFA Champions context as it has secured enough points (68) ahead of City and United to grab a ticket.
The worst that could happen to the Arsene Wenger boys is coming forth in the top four, if only Villa springs a surprise of grabbing the maximum points at the Emirates-a very tall order!
It was speculated by bookmakers that midfielder, Jack Wilshere could make his first start for Arsenal since the final day of last season as he steps up his fitness after a broken leg.
Mesut Ozil is likely to return after missing out with a hip injury last weekend, but Danny Welbeck is out for nine months after having knee surgery.
Aston Villa full-back Aly Cissokho is available after a one-match ban. Rudy Gestede is set to miss out with a groin injury, while Kieran Richardson and Jordan Veretout are doubts.
Meanwhile, champions Leicester City will be on a leisure trip to Stanford Bridge for a date with Chelsea.
But, according to analyst John Motson: “This is more about the occasion than a football match, with three people in particular guaranteed a rousing reception.
“One, of course, is Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who will get the appreciation and recognition he deserves on his return to Stamford Bridge? as last season’s league champions salute their successors with a guard of honour.
“Another is Ranieri’s Chelsea counterpart Guus Hiddink, a popular man throughout his two short-term stints at the club who steadied the ship this season after Jose Mourinho’s departure.
“Thirdly, there’s John Terry, Chelsea’s captain and a veteran of 703 appearances for the club. He is out of contract in the summer but rumours are circulating? he will now stay another year.
“Either way, his suspension won’t prevent him rightly getting some of the goodwill that will be in abundance on Sunday.”
The result does not matter for either team but it would be nice for Leicester to go through the season only losing three league games, to two different clubs – Arsenal (home and away) and Liverpool.
For other interesting matches of the day see fixtures.