Saturday 12 May 2012

Premier League pundits predict final day

Alan Curbishley, Don Hutchison and Craig Burley look forward to a fascinating finale

Pundits Alan Curbishley, Don Hutchison and Craig Burley have their say on the final day

Sunday 13th May is one of the most eagerly anticipated days in the recent history of the Barclays Premier League, with several key issues going down to the last match of the season.

Ahead of a thrilling afternoon of action, pundits Alan Curbishley, Don Hutchison and Craig Burley tell premierleague.com what they expect in the title race, battle for European places and the relegation zone:

ALAN CURBISHLEY

"I can't remember a season with so many incredible scorelines and freak results. To get to the last day and not know who is going to win the League, be in Europe and go down is amazing.

"Obviously Manchester City are in a very strong position with their formidable home form and QPR's dreadful away form, and although we've seen unpredictable results all season I think City will win, which leaves QPR in all sorts of trouble.

"Bolton have got to win at Stoke. It's the same scenario as last year when Wigan had to win at Stoke to stay up and they did and that in itself will give Bolton great heart that it can be done.

"These weekends are much more stressful at the bottom than the top"
- Alan Curbishley

"We've seen last-day dramas where teams have stayed up and this could be another one. I think Bolton have got a chance because they go into the game knowing exactly what they have got to do.

"Man Utd know they have got to win and hope for something else to happen. You can imagine them going to the Stadium of Light and they hear a score from the Etihad that is in favour of Man City, will they start to lose heart?

"It's going to ebb and flow and different things are going to happen. Nerves will play a part, especially at the start, but Man City have got big-name players that are going to turn up on the day.

"These weekends are much more stressful at the bottom than the top. For managers, players and fans involved at the bottom the prize of staying in the Premier League is that great, financially, and teams that get relegated have to suffer the consequences.

"You have a normal week, as if it is a normal game. Obviously the hype and the media attention around it is different but it's not until morning arrives and you get to the ground that the nerves really kick in. Then you realise it is a totally different scenario."

Player of the Season: Robin van Persie (Arsenal). I have never seen a player carry a top four side all season. If Van Persie wasn't around I don't know where Arsenal would have been.

Manager of the Season: Whoever wins the League. For Roberto Mancini, it's all right having the money but you have to mould that into a team. And if Sir Alex Ferguson manages to win it and stave off the massive challenge from City...

Goal of the Season: Peter Crouch, Stoke (v Man City). He had a plan, had to manoeuvre it to get into position and then execute it.

Alan Curbishley's predictions:
Chelsea 4-1 Blackburn Rovers
Everton 2-1 Newcastle United
Manchester City 3-0 Queens Park Rangers
Norwich City 2-0 Aston Villa
Stoke City 1-2 Bolton Wanderers
Sunderland 1-3 Manchester United
Swansea City 2-2 Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham
West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Arsenal
Wigan Athletic 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

DON HUTCHISON

"You've got to say that this is the best season in the history of the Premier League. The whole standard of the League has improved and there's so much at stake going into Sunday.

"Man City v QPR stands out for obvious reasons at both ends and there's also Stoke v Bolton, because I think Bolton can go there and get a positive result - and if that happens, then QPR need something at City.

"If QPR concede early, that could be a big boost for Bolton at Stoke"
- Don Hutchison

"That, I cannot see. City will have far too much for QPR - put the Rangers players up against the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure and I can see City running up a big score, even with so much at stake.

"I might be ambitious saying 6-0, but it could easily be 2-0 or 3-0. It's a big, open pitch at the Etihad and City usually bang some goals in if they're playing well.

"If QPR concede early, that could be a big boost for Bolton at Stoke. That game's bound to be tight, but if news filters through of QPR losing that will help the Bolton players, give them a lift.

"Players definitely feed off fans when things like that happen. As a player you're concentrating on the game but you are aware of other stuff and you can tell by people's reactions.

"I played for West Ham against Man Utd on the last day of the 1994/95 season when we drew 1-1 at Upton Park and denied them the title, even though Blackburn lost 2-1 at Liverpool the same day.

"There were twists and turns that day and there will be more on Sunday. We had a bit of luck with a goalkeeper in Ludek Miklosko who was on fire that day and Andy Cole missed a hatful of chances, so anything can happen."

Player of the Season: Yaya Toure (Man City). He's a phonomenal athlete, a bit like Patrick Vieira, and I think he's an even better version than Vieira.

Manager of the Season: Alan Pardew (Newcastle). With the players they lost last summer, I thought they'd be bottom half. What he's done is incredible.

Goal of the Season: Peter Crouch, Stoke (v Man City). I don't think anyone thought he had that in his locker - especially against the best keeper in the League.

Don Hutchison's predictions:
Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn Rovers
Everton 1-0 Newcastle United
Manchester City 6-0 Queens Park Rangers
Norwich City 1-0 Aston Villa
Stoke City 1-1 Bolton Wanderers
Sunderland 0-1 Manchester United
Swansea City 1-2 Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Fulham
West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Arsenal
Wigan Athletic 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

CRAIG BURLEY

"It has been an incredible season. It's been so unpredictable. This weekend you'd think that Man City will hammer QPR, Man Utd will win, Bolton might struggle at Stoke...

"But with the way this season has gone you don't know that is going to happen. For teams like QPR who travel to Man City, it will have been sleepless nights all week for the players.

"For the teams at the bottom, it's life-changing. If your team goes out of the Premier League, who is to say it will ever make it back, who is to say there won't be financial problems around the corner?

"Not only could Man City win the title, but they could dominate for a few years to come"
- Craig Burley

"Manchester United had it in the bag but they tossed in away with conceding those two late goals against Everton.

"I would be worried if I was a United fan and City were to win this weekend. Not only could City win the title but it could set the trend for a lot of domination for a few years to come.

"City are going to have to be patient on Sunday. They have got better players than Man Utd, they have got quality players that can come off the bench. They should have enough to finish this job off.

"If you said to Man City, you are going to play a team that has just come up from the Championship, at home, to win the Barclays Premier League you would have that all day. If you can't beat QPR at home on the last day, you don't deserve it.

"As for the battle for the top four, Newcastle have not got any pressure. They are in the Europa League, have exceeded expectations and signed some good players. If they do creep into the top it will be a huge bonus for them. All the pressure is on the two north London clubs."

Player of the Season: Robin van Persie (Arsenal). He has shown this season that if he can stay injury free, he is a top-class footballer.

Manager of the Season: If he wins the title, Roberto Mancini (Manchester City). It's not been an easy ride this season and he's had quite a lot of mud thrown at him.

Goal of the Season: Papiss Cisse, Newcastle (v Chelsea). It summed up the club, the player and the League this year. That goal was so unpredictable. You never knew it was around the corner.

Craig Burley's predictions:
Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn Rovers
Everton 1-1 Newcastle United
Manchester City 3-0 Queens Park Rangers
Norwich City 2-1 Aston Villa
Stoke City 1-1 Bolton Wanderers
Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United
Swansea City 0-1 Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Fulham
West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Arsenal
Wigan Athletic 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Share this page

Key Points

  • Last day of Barclays Premier League on Sunday with key issues still to be decided
  • Craig Burley, Don Hutchison and Alan Curbishley give their views on the final day
  • Pundits predict the scores for all 10 League matches