Final PL Matchday Preview – who will win it?

After what has been a controversial, entertaining and exciting PL season we now head into the final weekend, before we draw the 2023/24 season to a close. In midweek a number of matches were played that were postponed or rescheduled for one reason or another during the season and we now have every team on 37 games, with one more to go. A number of major issues have already been decided but there are one or two things still to be worked out.

Man City to lift the trophy again?

Starting at the top of the table, the all important league winner is yet to be decided. Manchester City are firmly in the driving seat following their midweek win at Tottenham and they go into this final round with a two point gap over Arsenal as they hunt down a record breaking fourth title in a row. Both the top two teams have home matches to conclude the season and Manchester City know that a win of any sort against West Ham will guarantee that the title stays in Manchester. Arsenal have to win their match against Everton and hope that City somehow slip up, their superior goal difference means that a draw for City and a win for Arsenal will take the title to North London. Not many will expect West Ham to hold Manchester City, but it is David Moyes’s last game in charge and he will surely want to go out with a bang, even though West Ham will finish in ninth spot no matter what happens on the last day. 

The CL places were confirmed when Tottenham lost at home to City in midweek, meaning Aston Villa ended a very impressive season with a place in the top four and CL football for next season. Joining them is Liverpool, whose season fizzled out when many expected Jurgen Klopp to go out in a blaze of glory. They did win the EFL Cup but that is all they will claim this year but they will at least want Klopp’s last game to be an entertaining win against Wolves. 

Battle for European spots

The battle for EL and ECL places is still on though, Tottenham are in fifth, three points ahead of Chelsea with the latter having a better goal difference. Spurs will therefore need at least a point against bottom club Sheffield United to guarantee EL football. In form Chelsea have had a very good end to the season and now have four wins in a row, a run of form which has pushed them above Newcastle and Manchester United. They could finish in fifth but equally they could be caught by Newcastle who are three points behind and have a superior goal difference. Chelsea have home advantage when they play Bournemouth whereas Newcastle travel to West London to take on Brentford. After beating Newcastle in midweek, Manchester United can still reach European football via their league place although they have a vastly inferior goal difference to both Chelsea and Newcastle. United will qualify for the EL if they beat City in the FA Cup final but should they fail to do so then seventh spot in the league will guarantee ECL football.

Comfortable in midtable are the likes of West Ham, Brighton, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace who can all be pleased with their performances over the year, reaching and sometimes exceeding expectations. Wolves recent poor run of form has seen them fall to thirteenth and Fulham have had an up and down season one place below them. Everton battled hard all season and had to contend with a points deduction but Sean Dyche did an excellent job yet again and they have four wins from the last five, meaning they will finish either 15th or 16th. It has been a bit of a disappointing year for Brentford, who certainly missed talisman Ivan Toney most of the season. Nottingham Forest are another team who were handed a points deduction but they just about avoided relegation, they go into the final day of the season with a three point advantage over Luton and a superior goal difference. 

The relegation battle

Finally, the bottom three teams who will be playing their Football in the Championship next season. This time around the three teams that came up and the same three who are heading back down again. In many ways, it was an expected outcome with all three being significantly weaker than other teams in the league but it does emphasise the gap between the Championship and the PL. Sheffield United were poor all season and have only managed to accumulate sixteen points and three wins. They conceded a huge amount of goals, 101 going into this final match day and broke a number of unwanted records. Even the return of Chris Wilder as manager did not help them and they will need to regroup if they are to have a solid season in England’s second highest division next year. Burnley were only marginally better, managing five wins, but they were the team many thought had the best chance of staying up. Vincent Kompany stuck to his principles and that took them straight back down again so it remains to be seen whether he will be given another crack at getting them promoted again next season. Luton won many fans this season for their efforts in the PL, they have been a refreshing addition to the league and overperformed in many ways as most people thought they would be the weaker of the three promoted teams. As it turns out they just fell short and will need to go again in the Championship next season. 

All focus will be on the top two teams on Sunday afternoon, how their two matches unfold will be key to deciding who claims the coveted PL trophy. All neutral fans will hope for some drama, some twists and turns on the day but no matter what, it has been a highly entertaining season and, as the saying goes, a team always finishes where it deserves in the table, luck evens itself out over the year.

Last Updated: 16.05.24