The race for the title in the Premiership seems to be between two teams, league leaders Manchester United and champions Arsenal, who lie three points behind their rivals but have a game in hand.
The most significant game for both clubs comes with Wednesday’s summit showdown at Highbury in what looks like a title decider. Whoever wins the match looks likely to win the league.
Arsenal appear to have the easier run-in of the two sides, with strugglers Bolton and Leeds still to play and a last day game against already relegated Sunderland.
United, however, have to make a trip to Goodison Park to face Everton on the last day of the season. They also have to face tough clashes against Blackburn on Saturday and potentially tricky fixtures against London clubs Charlton and Spurs.
After losing 6-2 at Old Trafford on Saturday, it seems Newcastle will have to be content with third spot and a place in the Champion’s League. They are currently one point ahead of Chelsea and five points clear of fifth placed side Everton. All of Newcastle’s remaining games are against sides in the bottom six, including games against the bottom two West Brom and Sunderland, so they will be confident of qualifying for next season’s competition.
Chelsea still have to play Liverpool and Everton in matches that will certainly determine who gets the final Champion’s League spot. They also have a difficult London derby against struggling West Ham in their run in.
One of the biggest games of the Easter weekend is the Merseyside derby. As well as local pride at stake, both Liverpool and Everton need to win to keep in touch with Chelsea, who Liverpool play on the last day of the season.
With Liverpool already qualified for the UEFA Cup after winning the Worthington Cup, another European spot could be available in the league. Everton currently occupy the UEFA position with Blackburn currently leading the chasing pack and are five points clear of eighth placed Tottenham, whose European dreams have faded in recent weeks.
Blackburn have tough games against Manchester United and Bolton, who are fighting for their lives as well as a match against Leeds, who still need one more win to guarantee safety.
With their appearance in the FA Cup Final, Southampton are already assured of a place in the UEFA Cup due to Arsenal’s expected qualification for the Champion’s League.
At the bottom of the table, Sunderland are already relegated and West Brom will join them if they lose against the Black Cats on Saturday. The final relegation spotlooks like it willbe a straight fight between between Bolton and West Ham, who meet each other in what is a massive game at the weekend.
Bolton are already heavily in debt, and relegation could have terrible consequences for the Lancashire club. The Trotters also have an extremely tough run in and still have to play cup finalists Arsenal and Southampton. Moreover, Sam Allardyce’s side also have to face an in-form Middlesbrough side on the last day of the season.
West Ham have been buoyed recently by the arrival on loan of experienced players such as Les Ferdinand, but they still have the derby clash against Chelsea coming up and face a potentially massive final day game against Birmingham, whose safety is not yet guaranteed. Despite winning against Sunderland on Saturday, Birmingham are only six points clear of the drop zone and they still have to play the north-east duo of Newcastle and Middlesbrough.
Of the mid-table teams sliding down the table towards the relegation zone, it looks as if Fulham are the most vulnerable. After informing coach Jean Tigana that his contract was not going to be renewed in the summer, Fulham have only gained five points from their last eighteen. They also have arguably the toughest run in of all the struggling teams. They still have to play Newcastle, Leeds, Chelsea, Everton and Charlton.
In Division One, a win at home to Burnley tonight will guarantee automatic promotion for Portsmouth. Leicester will join them if the beat Brighton on Saturday. The play off places are currently filled by Sheffield United, Forest, Wolves and Reading. All sides are three points clear of East Anglian duo Ipswich and Norwich, but sixth placed Reading have two games in hand over both sides.