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Hammers no threat to City

We provide our verdict on the final day of the Premier League season and back Manchester City to take the title with a simple win.

Last Updated: 11/05/14 at 15:22 Post Comment

Manchester City will be lifting the Premier League trophy

Manchester City will be lifting the Premier League trophy

Ben Coley and David John provide game-by-game verdicts for every game on the final day of the Premier League season.

Cardiff v Chelsea

We begin the preview with one of several matches involving sides with little incentive to perform to their absolute best. For very different reasons, both Cardiff and Chelsea end the campaign extremely disappointed and that may turn this game from very straightforward to most unpredictable. Were this a few weeks ago with Jose Mourinho's side in prime position to win the title, an away win to nil would look a fine bet at 17/10 given that we've the meanest defence taking on the bluntest attack, but I'd want to know that Chelsea are ready to apply themselves for every second of this game as one moment's lapse in concentration could spell the end of the wager. I'd like to think that the Cardiff players will also be busting a gut for their fans and some may consider this game a final chance to advertise their skills and hope they can secure them Premier League football next term, even if Cardiff will be playing in the Championship. I can't find any reason to bet on this one.

Verdict: Cardiff 0 Chelsea 1 (BC)

Opta facts:

Cardiff City have not beaten Chelsea at home in the league since February 1963, drawing one and losing four since.

Cardiff City have failed to score in more games than any other Premier League side this season (19), while Chelsea have kept the most clean sheets (18).

Chelsea have conceded a league-low 10 goals in the first half of matches this season.

Fulham v Crystal Palace

Superlatives to accurately underline the achievements of Crystal Palace and their manager Tony Pulis are hard to find, and there's little doubt in my mind that most punters will want to be on an away win here. However, as with the above game we have a relegated side against one whose work is done - Palace need to win and hope Stoke lose with an eight-goal swing to climb to 10th so their obvious incentive is pretty much zero - and when you throw in the fact that this is a London derby the picture only gets more confusing. Dwight Gale impressed for Palace against Liverpool and certainly doesn't look a bad bet at 7/2 to score, particularly given how poorly Fulham have defended, but if pushed the bet would be both teams to find the net. However, at a best price of 8/13 I'm not the only one who thinks there could be a few goals here and I can't advise a chunky bet at that price in a game that means little, especially given that, contrary to popular belief, both teams to score has paid out in only half of the final-day matches over the last five seasons.

Verdict: Fulham 2 Crystal Palace 2 (BC)

Opta facts:

Fulham have won five and lost just one of the last seven league matches against Crystal Palace.

Fulham and Crystal Palace have the worst records in Premier League London derbies this season, averaging 0.67 and 1 point per game respectively.

Fulham have conceded 83 goals in the Premier League this season - the only team to have conceded more in a 38-game season are Derby County in 2007-08 (89).

Hull v Everton

Three defeats in four quickly put an end to Everton's Champions League bid but fifth is a fine achievement, and they can crown it with victory at Hull. I've written a lot about incentive so far and there's admittedly little of that here, but when you've been as successful as Everton have the aim is surely to cap the season with another three points, particularly as it'd see them over the 70 mark which is just outstanding with their resources. Recent defeats are also just about excusable one way or another and only rivals Liverpool have lost fewer games on the road this season, which shows how difficult they are to keep down. Hull meanwhile will have eyes on the FA Cup final and Steve Bruce has admitted that it's been hard to keep his players motivated in the league, where survival was virtually assured with some outstanding displays throughout the first three months of 2014. Since reaching the cup final Hull have taken just one point from a possible 12 and that came courtesy of a big helping hand from Fulham, who should've put them to bed when 2-0 up well into the second half. Providing Everton - who have a good record against Hull - are up for this, they should show odds-against quotes to be pretty generous.

Verdict: Hull 1 Everton 3 (BC)

Opta facts:

Hull have lost five of their last eight Barclays Premier League home games (W2 D1).

Hull have failed to score in their two previous Premier League matches on the final day of the season.

Everton have won five of their last six Premier League games played on a Sunday (L1).

13 of Everton's goals this season have come from defenders; a league-high.

Liverpool v Newcastle

Here we have a match between a team in Liverpool who know they must win to hold any chance of snatching the title from Manchester City, and one in Newcastle who have been abysmal since January bar one or two fleeting moments of quality. Liverpool's superiority, outstanding home record and the fact that Newcastle last won this fixture some 20 years ago further underlines how one-sided this looks on paper and I'm quite sure Liverpool will feature in just about every accumulator across the country. I find it difficult to point you away from a home win, but all value has been taken from the handicaps and other sub-markets to the extent that Newcastle almost become tempting. Almost. The fact of the matter is, Alan Pardew's side are in disarray and haven't scored in any of their last four away games since somehow winning 4-1 at Hull so I simply can't recommend them. However, the one market that may offer value is the time of the first goal, with punters and bookies seemingly convinced that an early strike for Liverpool is inevitable. It's easy to see why - Liverpool have no option but to go for broke with the most prolific first-half attack in Europe, and it's very possible that Newcastle are unable to cope with wave after wave of pressure. But, for all their inadequacies, the Magpies have generally taken a while to break down regardless of the test faced with. It took Arsenal 26 minutes, Stoke 42, Southampton 45 and Fulham 48 in those four away defeats referenced earlier while they held on for 27 minutes at Chelsea, 22 minutes at Everton and 39 when host Manchester United. None have Liverpool's attacking prowess but I can't escape the belief that the market has gone overboard and that the value now lies in opposing what's become the common consensus. There's also the possibility that Manchester City go in front early - perhaps even by a couple - which would subdue Liverpool, surely. Either way, BetVictor's 15/8 that the first goal comes after the 28th minute looks too big - ordinarily we'd be looking at 10/11. William Hill quote 9/5 about 31 minutes or later as a reasonable alternative.

Verdict: Liverpool 2 Newcastle 0 (BC)

Opta facts:

In 39 Barclays Premier League meetings between Liverpool and Newcastle United, there has never been a goalless draw.

There have been 126 goals in Barclays Premier League games between Newcastle and Liverpool, the joint-most of any fixture in the history of the competition.

Newcastle have scored just four goals in seven games against the current top four sides in the Premier League this season.

Newcastle have not won any of their last 18 Premier League trips to Anfield (L15 D3).

Manchester City v West HamA couple of weeks ago, some of the key of Manchester City protagonists felt that their experience down the stretch would be the crucial factor in the title chase against Liverpool - and so it has proved. What has been a gripping race is now in their own hands with a draw good enough to regain the crown in front of their own fans at the Etihad. City may well have got themselves into pole position but the 4-0 victory over Aston Villa in midweek did require plenty of patience against some stubborn resistance before the floodgates eventually opened. It was 0-0 at the interval and a Draw-Manchester City outcome in the HT-FT market can be backed at over 4/1 with one firm, which potentially looks reasonably tempting. But punters will require West Ham to play their part. A West Ham that is now safe after defeating Tottenham on the penultimate weekend. Manager Sam Allardyce came out with a telling quote in the build-up, stating that we must "approach this game in as professional manner as we can muster". That last part says it all really and you would have to question from a betting perspective whether the Hammers will even have the motivation to stick around until the interval. They may have a few demons to exorcise in Manchester after a humiliating 6-0 drubbing at the start of the year in the Capital One Cup but I honestly can't see anything bar Manuel Pellegrini's outfit and their slick passing and superior firepower getting on top early and staying there.

Verdict: Manchester City 3 West Ham 0 (DJ)

Opta facts:

Man City have lost just one of their last 13 Barclays Premier League meetings with West Ham (W9 D3).

The Hammers have won just two of their last 25 away league games against Manchester City, losing 20 and drawing three.

City have won more points at home than any other Premier League team this season (49).

This is the first time that West Ham have played away from home on the final day of a Premier League season since 2006-07 - on that occasion they won 1-0 in Manchester against City's rivals United.

Norwich v Arsenal

Arsenal have been well backed here but even at 10/11 a degree of appeal. My perception of Arsene Wenger's side is that they're at their best when the pressure is off completely and with that in mind they could prove much too good for Norwich, who are condemned to life in the Championship and always struggle against the division's best sides. In contrast, Arsenal do well in this type of game - no side has taken more points against teams in the bottom half - and spirits are high even if it's another campaign in which they've failed to really contend at the business end. Next week's FA Cup final can be seen as a positive in that Arsenal have to keep the wheels turning, but ultimately it will mean changes are made and that those who do start may be less inclined to give all for the cause. It's that which puts me off an away win but those who snared the early evens should feel on good terms with themselves. Team news will be vital in dictating where the scorer value lies but Kim Kallstrom looks a big enough price at 8/1 (he's as short as 33/10 in a place) if awarded just a second league start. Abou Diaby is another who could make a full return for Arsenal and at 6/1 will tempt some, but not me.

Verdict: Norwich 0 Arsenal 2 (BC)

Opta facts:

Norwich have won just one of their six Barclays Premier League home games against Arsenal, but that was last season. (W1 D3 L2).

Arsenal have won six and drawn two of their last eight Premier League games on the final day of the season.

Arsenal have won five and lost one of their last six Premier League games to be played on a Sunday, keeping a clean sheet in each of those five victories.

Southampton v Manchester United

This may or may not be the last game in charge for interim boss Ryan Giggs and he could make it three wins from four after taking over from David Moyes. The curtain comes down on a turbulent season then for United and already Sir Bobby Charlton has ramped up the pressure for next season by guaranteeing they will be the top team in Manchester again. No pressure then with 20 points to make up on City. They travel to the south coast with no Wayne Rooney or Phil Jones and meet a side that could achieve its highest ever points total in the top flight with a draw. A motivational tool perhaps then as Mauricio Pocchettino has asked his players to finish with a "flourish" which means every chance this could turn into a something quite watchable keeping in mind United's finale last season when they drew 5-5 at West Brom. The layers are finding it tough to split the pair as the money comes in for the hosts to go out on a positive note but I think that they will settle for an entertaining stalemate in all likelihood.

Verdict: Southampton 2 Manchester United 2 (DJ)

Opta facts:

Southampton have already achieved their highest ever Premier League points tally (55).

Manchester United (63 points), on the other hand, will finish the season on their lowest ever points tally in a Premier League campaign regardless of the result in this game (previous lowest was 75 points in 2003-04 & 1996-97).

However, should Manchester United win this game they'll finish the season with more points away from home than any other side (currently 33 from 18 away games).

Sunderland v Swansea

Although it's job done at the Stadium of Light, there's got to be every chance Sunderland are right up for this and at odds against they rate the outstanding bet on the coupon. Gus Poyet's side have won four on the bounce since drawing 2-2 at Manchester City - a game they almost won - and there will be a great atmosphere for Gus Poyet and his squad who've done remarkably well to avoid the drop in a season which has also seen them take the lead in the League Cup final. It's possible that they breathe a sigh of relief and coast now that it's job done, but I anticipate that the players will be keen to give their fans even more reason for celebration. Swansea have won just once away from home since November and that in smash-and-grab style at Newcastle, and have failed to score in both Premier League trips to Sunderland. They were very poor against Southampton last time and from a form perspective this is no contest. Indeed, were this a must-win game for Sunderland they'd be odds-on but a lack of perceived incentive means we get some real value about a side who've scored six without reply in their last two home games and are one of the form sides in the country. Surely, their cause is stronger than Swansea's and I rate their prospects much better than 7/5.

Verdict: Sunderland 2 Swansea 0 (BC)

Opta facts:

Sunderland have won their last three Premier League matches to be played on a Sunday - all of which have been at the Stadium of Light.

Swansea have not won any of their last 11 Premier League games played on a Sunday (L7 D4).

Only Man City (16) have won more Premier League points since the start of April than Sunderland (13, level with Palace).

Tottenham v Aston Villa

Anyone who cares to take a glance at the form book will probably be keen to add Spurs to their calculations on Sunday such is their record against this rival. Their last four encounters in all competitions have amounted to a 12-0 winning aggregate for the hosts while a more general overview has seen Villa manage two draws and nine defeats since a victory way back in September 2008. The issue is how much of an effect the end-of-term atmosphere will have in what is more than likely Tim Sherwood's final game in charge before another change at the top in the summer. They produced a pretty limp effort last week against West Ham while Villa played well for two-thirds of a defensive rearguard against Manchester City in midweek before capitulating at the champions elect. They had done the hard work though last weekend with a 3-1 success over Hull catapulting them to safety so the outcome here comes down to the old cliche of who actually wants it more. The likelihood is that Sherwood will at least go out in blaze of glory but I won't be having a wager.

Verdict: Tottenham 2 Aston Villa 1 (DJ)

Opta facts:

The Villans are without a win in 10 league games against Spurs, drawing three, losing seven and scoring just five times.

Tottenham have won on the final day of the season in each of the last three Premier League campaigns - all of which have been played at White Hart Lane.

Should Spurs win this match, they'll equal their highest number of wins in a single Premier League season (21 in 2009-10 and 2012-13).

Spurs are the only side to not score in the opening 15 minutes of a Premier League game this season.

West Brom v Stoke

The Baggies will play in the top flight next season thanks to their superior goal difference compared to Norwich but Pepe Mel has hardly shone under pressure down the stretch as they have managed just one win in their last five games. It has turned out to be enough though but I don't anticipate them improving on the situation against a side that has caught the eye on more than occasion since March. They have strung together some good displays and stand on the brink of a maiden top-10 place in the Premier League with a point or better. The pivotal figure who may well put the cat amongst the pigeons though is former West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie and I have a feeling he might just help the Potters along the way. He is just under 3/1 to feel the ire of the home fans and score anytime following his acrimonious departure from the Hawthorns. It would be remiss to tip him based solely on the his past connection with the opposition but he has five goals in 14 appearances under Mark Hughes and looks a likely candidate against a leaky backline.

Verdict: West Brom 1 Stoke 2 (DJ)

Opta facts:

There have been just 13 goals scored in the nine Barclays Premier League meetings between these two sides.

Stoke have kept a clean sheet in seven of their previous nine Barclays Premier League games against West Brom.

Stoke City have never won on the final day of the Premier League season (D2 L3).

West Brom have drawn four and lost one of their last five Premier League games played on the final day of the season.

Stoke need a point to make this season their outright best in terms of points (currently 47, tied with 2009-10).

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