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The improbable 10-goal swing needed to save Swansea and more Premier League talking points

Plus, Chelsea require a minor miracle to deny Liverpool a Champions League spot.

Swansea players pictured during the defeat to Southampton earlier this week.
Swansea players pictured during the defeat to Southampton earlier this week.
Image: Nick Potts

1. The improbable 10-goal swing needed to save Swansea

THE PREMIER LEAGUE’S final day has a sense of anti-climax about it.

There is a distinct lack of tension, with most of the key league positions already decided.

There is potential for drama, of course, but it would require scenarios that seem rather far fetched at this stage.

With West Brom and Stoke already consigned to the Championship, Swansea are the only bottom-three team not mathematically assured of relegation.

But so hopeless is their situation, following the loss to fellow strugglers Southampton earlier this week, that the club have already reportedly opted to part ways with manager Carlos Carvalhal.

The Swans have gone eight league games without a win, and not only do they require a victory over Stoke and a Southampton loss to champions Man City, but they also need a 10-goal swing in their favour as a result of the Saints’ vastly superior goal difference.

Should that actually happen, it would constitute final-day drama on a par with Sergio Aguero’s famous title-clinching goal against QPR, but it seems even more unlikely to occur.

2. Chelsea require a minor miracle

Chelsea’s chances of Champions League qualification have been looking slim for a while now, but after the events of midweek, it seems virtually certain that they will have to settle for fifth place.

Had the Blues beaten Huddersfield as expected, they would have simply needed to better Liverpool’s result on the final day to seal a fourth-place spot — a scenario that is far from inconceivable.

However, their latest setback means they trail the Reds by two points. Given that Jurgen Klopp’s side boast a significantly superior goal difference to their rivals, a draw or better at home to Brighton would surely get them over the line, while they could also reach next year’s Champions League the hard way (by beating Real Madrid in this year’s final).

Even if Liverpool are defeated — something that is difficult to envisage given how they have yet to lose at Anfield in the league this season — Chelsea will still need to overcome Newcastle away to seal fourth, which is far from a certainty on account of the inconsistency Antonio Conte’s side have displayed all season.

3. Can Tottenham seal third?

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Premier League - Wembley Stadium Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane (second right) celebrates scoring against Newcastle during the week. Source: Nick Potts

It’s been an interesting campaign at Spurs.

There have been a number of dizzying highs — beating Real Madrid, overcoming Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the first time since 1990 — coupled with some big disappointments, such as the relatively meek surrenders in key fixtures against Manchester United and Juventus.

Since Mauricio Pochettino has taken charge, their Premier League finishes have been as follows in chronological order: fifth (64 points), third (70 points) and second (86 points).

Come the final whistle on Sunday, at best their record for this season will read: third (77 points).

Consequently, it is the first season under the Argentine boss that there has not been statistical evidence of progress in the Premier League.

Yet to perceive the campaign as a failure would be unfair. The club have lost an important player in Kyle Walker, while other key stars such as Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose have been unavailable for a considerable portion of the campaign amid growing uncertainty surrounding their future at the club.

So with this turmoil in the background, for Tottenham to continue their recent habit of qualifying for the Champions League while enjoying a few memorable nights along the way at the expense of better-resourced sides is a feat that should not be underestimated.

4. Man City on course for 100 points

A win over Sourthampton will see Man City achieve another landmark and become the first Premier League side to reach 100 points.

A victory also means they will break a record for most wins in the English top flight set by Tottenham 57 years ago.

The prospective record is all the more impressive when you consider that Spurs achieved their feat during a 42-game season.

While City have invested heavily and money is undoubtedly a major factor in their phenomenal form, Pep Guardiola and the players still deserve enormous credit for making the most of a very good situation.

Similar sums have been spent by Jose Mourinho and Man United with nowhere near the same levels of success.

5. Will Premier League clubs regret VAR decision?

Arsene Wenger was not happy after seeing his side lose to Leicester midweek.

He felt a few bad decisions went against the Gunners, and while there is normally a level of self-interest in making such complaints, Wenger’s words were offset by the fact that he is on the verge of leaving Arsenal, which consequently gave his argument a greater sense of authenticity.

“I think the Premier League has voted against VAR and it is upsetting,” he said. “It destroys me because we were in front of the rest of the world, and now we want to be behind.”

According to reports last month, a decision to defer the introduction of VAR was passed by “a two-thirds majority at a meeting of the 20 Premier League clubs”.

No one is disputing that the technology is imperfect and has encountered some hiccups during its brief lifespan.

But it’s hard to disagree with Wenger’s assertion that such an action represents a backwards step.

As flawed as VAR is, it at least will decrease the likelihood of officiating mistakes being made during big games and therefore surely embracing its introduction would benefit all those who seek to make the game fairer and less error-ridden at the top level.

Premier League fixtures on Sunday (all games kick off at 3pm)

Burnley v Bournemouth
Crystal Palace v West Brom
Huddersfield v Arsenal
Liverpool v Brighton
Man United v Watford
Newcastle v Chelsea
Southampton v Man City
Swansea v Stoke
Tottenham v Leicester
West Ham v Everton

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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