Thursday 10 May 2012

The final day: What is up for grabs?

Plenty is still to be decided in the epic 2011/12 Barclays Premier League season

The 2011/12 Barclays Premier League season has been a campaign to remember

Sunday sees the climax of what has undoubtedly been a vintage season in the Barclays Premier League.

And there are many outstanding issues to be decided during the final round of matches.

The Barclays Premier League title is still up for grabs, there is still plenty of uncertainty about who will qualify for Europe and the final relegation spot awaits one unfortunate club.

This is what will be settled on May 13th, as the dramatic campaign reaches its conclusion (all matches kick-off at 3pm UK time).
View the current Barclays Premier League standings >

THE TITLE

KEY MATCHES:
Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers
Sunderland v Manchester United

For the sixth time in Premier League history, the title race has gone to the final day.

DID YOU KNOW?
The Barclays Premier League title has never previously been decided on goal difference

If that was not dramatic enough in itself, there is local rivalry in the mix for the first time as Manchester City aim to beat neighbours United to the prize.

City are looking for their first Premier League title - they will become the fifth team to win the competition - at the expense of their neighbours, who are looking for their 13th crown.

The final day shake-up is fairly simple. Both clubs have 86 points, but City lead as they are eight goals better off in terms of goal difference.

So, if Roberto Mancini's men match or better United's result they will be champions - unless United make up that goal difference with a highly-unlikely demolition of the Black Cats.

If United better City's result they will be champions.

EUROPEAN QUALIFICATION

KEY MATCHES:
Everton v Newcastle
Tottenham v Fulham
West Brom v Arsenal
UEFA Champions League final - Bayern Munich v Chelsea (May 19th)

Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United will occupy third, fourth and fifth in the Barclays Premier League - but the order in which they finish is crucial.

DID YOU KNOW?
Since 2004, there has only been one UEFA Champions League final not featuring at least one Barclays Premier League club

Third place will guarantee a place in next season's UEFA Champions League Group Stage.

Fourth place usually guarantees a place in the competition at the Play-Off stage (with the winners of the two-legged Play-Off entering the Group Stage).

However, the fourth place team this season will have a nervous wait to see who wins this season's UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich in Munich on May 19th.

If Chelsea win, they enter the competition at the Group Stage as defending champions, and the fourth and fifth-placed teams in the table go into the UEFA Europa League.

If Chelsea lose, the fourth-placed team enters the Play-Off as usual, with the fifth-placed team and Chelsea (who will finish sixth regardless of this weekend's results) entering the Europa League.

Arsenal (currently third on 67 points) are in pole position, ahead of Tottenham (fourth, 66) and Newcastle (fifth, 65). Should goal difference come into play, Newcastle (+7) are at a disadvantage compared to Tottenham (+23) and Arsenal (+24).

THE DROP

KEY MATCHES:
Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers
Stoke City v Bolton Wanderers

Queens Park Rangers will be fighting for their Barclays Premier League lives when they visit title-chasing City.

DID YOU KNOW?
Aston Villa could become only the second team after West Brom to win fewer than eight matches and stay up in a 38-match season

With Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers already relegated, Mark Hughes' side are battling with Owen Coyle's Bolton to avoid the drop.

(Although Aston Villa could mathematically be dragged into the matter, the chances are remote as goal difference would need to swing by an astounding 17 in Bolton's favour on the final day - along with QPR picking up something in their fixture.)

So, the equation is simple. Bolton have to win at Stoke or they will be relegated.

If they win, they will stay up if QPR lose at Man City. If QPR draw, they are safe (unless Bolton beat Stoke by at least nine clear goals).

AND FINALLY...

There have been 1,034 goals to date during the 2011/12 season - 30 more on the final day of this Barclays Premier League campaign will set a new record for a 38-match season.

The current record of 1,063 was set during 2010/11.

Goal fans can also keep an eye on Arsenal's Robin van Persie who needs one goal to match the record of 31 in a 38-game season, jointly held by Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo. Van Persie leads Wayne Rooney (26 goals) in the race for the Golden Boot.

Given the dramatic twists and turns of this campaign to date, there is every chance of seeing a new benchmark by Sunday evening.

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Key Points

  • Barclays Premier League title race goes to the final day of the season
  • European qualification is yet to be decided
  • The final relegation spot will also be filled in a dramatic finale to 2011/12 campaign
Tags: 20 Seasons