Ten BIG questions for the FINAL DAY

By Alex Keble 17 May 2024
Keble 10 key questions

Alex Keble looks at the talking points for the last 10 fixtures of the 2023/24 Premier League season

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Alex Keble analyses where the final fixtures of the 2023/24 Premier League season could be won and lost, including:

- If West Ham can shock Man City
- Why Dyche's Everton will not be easy for Arsenal
- Brighton's poor finishing giving Man Utd a win
- Chelsea ending a superb 2024 in sixth place 
- Newcastle breaking Brentford's resistance to reach Europe 
- Liverpool putting on a show for Klopp
- Spurs avoiding a morale-damaging defeat to Sheff Utd
- Burnley entering the Championship in a positive mood
- Luton giving their fans one more home win
- Watkins and Villa ending their dry spell at Palace

Is there any chance of West Ham stumping Man City?

There’s a near-universal feeling that Manchester City overcame their final hurdle when they beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 on Tuesday evening. Nobody is giving West Ham United a chance.

The Hammers have lost every single Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium since Pep Guardiola arrived at Man City. They have also lost their last two away matches 5-2 at Crystal Palace and 5-0 at Chelsea.

If there is any hope for West Ham and Arsenal, it is that David Moyes’s side were 1-0 up at half-time in the reverse fixture, and if they can produce a similarly sturdy defensive display on Sunday they might just feed off growing anxiety inside the Etihad.

We know West Ham will sit deep, minimise space between the lines and look to soak up pressure before launching counter-attacks behind Man City’s high line.

But no matter how well Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta and Mohammed Kudus combine on the break, it is hard to see how West Ham keep their hosts at bay.

Throughout the campaign Moyes has been guilty of dropping his team too deep as the match wears on, retreating until the opponent’s comeback feels inevitable. To an extent that’s what happened in City’s 3-1 win at London Stadium back in September; West Ham held 36.5 per cent possession in the first half and 27.2 per cent in the second period. 

It wasn’t the main reason West Ham lost, however. City came back thanks to Jeremy Doku’s directness wide on the left, which gave Guardiola’s side a more traditional route around the outside of the West Ham blockade.

He completed more progressive carries, with 13, and attempted more take-ons, with eight, than anyone else on the pitch that day, and scored the all-important equaliser by picking up the ball on the left flank and driving infield beyond Vladimir Coufal.

Jeremy Doku, Twenty3

Doku is just one of a number of different weapons Guardiola has to force a way through West Ham’s retreating defence.

Sadly for Arsenal, it will take a minor miracle to prevent Man City from winning a record-breaking fourth consecutive Premier League title.

Will Dyche’s stubborn defence feed off a nervy atmosphere?

In fact, there is more chance of Arsenal dropping points than Man City.

Arsenal are the only team who have kept more Premier League clean sheets this season than Everton’s 13, and in what will surely be a nervy and tense atmosphere at Emirates Stadium, Sean Dyche’s superb defensive coaching is likely to make things very difficult for the hosts.

Then again, Everton aren’t so good on the road. They have won four of their last five Premier League encounters and all to nil – but all of them were at Goodison Park.

Everton haven’t won a single away match in 2024, and have scored just five goals in their last 10 away league encounters, picking up a meagre four points, which all came from draws.

Arsenal really should have enough, then, to ensure they end the campaign with 89 points, a total that would win the Premier League title in 15 of the previous 31 editions and finish joint-top in a further five seasons.

A single goal should be enough to ensure they get to that tally – and end the season with their heads held high, knowing they pushed Man City right to the end, forcing nine wins in a row from Guardiola’s side.

Title race

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
1 Man City MCI 38 +62 91
2 Arsenal ARS 38 +62 89
View More
Will Brighton’s poor finishing give United a typical Ten Hag win?

Manchester United’s 3-2 win against Newcastle United on Wednesday evening was a perfect summary of their season: 21 shots faced, wide open and a little chaotic at times, but a clinical edge to earn the three points regardless.

It was the seventh time this season they have won a Premier League match despite facing 20 shots or more, which is a joint-record, along with Charlton Athletic in 2003/04.

They might have to make it eight if they are to do enough to usurp Newcastle and finish seventh.

Man Utd need to better Newcastle’s result at Brentford in order to avoid their lowest ever Premier League finish and secure European football next season.

That surely means a win at Amex Stadium, and fortunately for them, Brighton & Hove Albion have become extremely profligate in front of goal recently. In their 18 matches since the turn of the year, only Everton, with 15, have scored fewer goals than Brighton's 17.

They also have the worst conversion rate of any side across this period (6.6 per cent), giving further hope to Man Utd supporters used to seeing their side concede lots of shots: 643 so far this season, the second-most in the Premier League.

But Brighton have won each of their last four Premier League contests against Man Utd and will be desperate to avoid dropping into the bottom half. Currently 10th, AFC Bournemouth, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace could yet finish above them.

Both Roberto De Zerbi and Erik ten Hag desperately need a win. The headline stories are elsewhere, yet this is likely to be the game of the weekend.

Can Chelsea complete superb 2024 with sixth-place finish?

Mauricio Pochettino’s first season has gone better than many people think. Their underlying numbers throughout 2023/24 have pointed to a bright future for Chelsea, and more recently they have had the results to match.

Chelsea have won nine of their last 11 Premier League home encounters, winning their last three by an aggregate score of 13-0, and since the beginning of 2024 have won more points, with 38, than anyone outside the current top three.

Victory at Brighton in midweek means they only need a draw at home to Bournemouth to secure sixth, which means UEFA Europa Conference League qualification or, if Man City win the FA Cup, UEFA Europa League qualification.

They should get it. This is a good time to be facing Bournemouth, whose excellent campaign has somewhat fizzled out, with a run of three defeats in their last five encounters, most recently falling 2-1 at home to Brentford last weekend.

For all the doom and gloom around Stamford Bridge this season, they are on the verge of a successful first season under Pochettino. By full-time on Sunday, they might even have finished the campaign in fifth, a position that at one time was set to mean UEFA Champions League qualification.

Race for Europe

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
5 Spurs TOT 38 +13 66
6 Chelsea CHE 38 +14 63
7 Newcastle NEW 38 +23 60
8 Man Utd MUN 38 -1 60
Will high-scoring Newcastle break Brentford resistance to qualify for Europe?

Newcastle’s chances of finishing above Chelsea look slim, then, but they are still hopeful of finishing above Man Utd and potentially securing Europa Conference League football – should Ten Hag’s side lose the FA Cup final.

It won’t be easy. Brentford have won three of their last five Premier League encounters and are unbeaten in their last five at home, keeping a clean sheet in each of their last three.

Newcastle will need to be at their free-scoring best to break through. They have scored 81 Premier League goals so far, which is already their most ever in a 38-match league campaign, and therefore you would back them to get what they need.

But is European qualification what’s best for Newcastle? After an exhausting campaign blighted by injuries, perhaps Eddie Howe would be better off with free midweeks next season if Newcastle are to challenge for a Champions League spot again.

On the other hand, West Ham won the Conference League in 2023 and Aston Villa reached the semi-finals this season. Newcastle haven’t won a major trophy since 1955. Twelve months from now, they could look back on a win at Brentford as the start of something special.

Will Liverpool put on a show for Klopp’s emotional farewell?

For most of the season, Liverpool supporters had this match down as a potential title-winning moment.

It turns out it will be a special day, but for very different reasons.

On Sunday, Anfield says goodbye to Jurgen Klopp, who by ending the club’s 30-year wait for a top-flight title has ensured his place alongside Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish as a true Liverpool legend.

It will be a sad day for supporters but also one of celebration, a complicated feeling that could make the match itself a little strange, just like Man Utd's 5-5 draw with West Bromwich Albion in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match.

Liverpool have had their fair share of chaotic encounters already this season. They’ve scored 12 goals in their last five league games and haven’t kept a clean sheet in any of the last 10 league contests.

And so, fittingly for a celebration of the Klopp era, it should be an entertaining and high-scoring finale.

Can Spurs avoid a narrative-shaping end of season defeat?

Spurs’ successful first season under Ange Postecoglou could end with a bitter taste in the mouth.

Five defeats from their last six Premier League matches has put Spurs in danger of finishing below Chelsea in sixth, and in the process the atmosphere at the club seems to have changed.

Postecoglou’s "the foundations are really fragile" comment was an intriguing moment, and should Spurs fall to an unexpected defeat at Sheffield United on Sunday, their mood over the summer might be darker than anticipated.

There is more riding on this than Spurs fans would have anticipated even a week ago. They badly need a victory to restore the feel-good factor as we enter phase two of the Postecoglou project.

Can Burnley enter the Championship in confident mood?

It was a case of too little too late for Burnley, but they will take heart from ending strongly and proving that, with more time, they could be good enough for this level.

On that note, Vincent Kompany could do with a victory against Nottingham Forest that would close the gap to 17th to just two points and potentially lift Burnley up to 18th.

It’s a small victory, of course, but it would at least add to the sense that Burnley came close – and could go one better if they are promoted next season.

Will Luton give their fans one more Premier League win?

It hasn’t been an easy season for Luton Town.

Kenilworth Road has witnessed only four Premier League victories, and after some early promise, Rob Edwards’ side dramatically fell away, winning just seven points from their final 16 encounters.

A visit from Fulham presents a good opportunity to give the fans one more Premier League win.

Marco Silva’s side have won only one of their last eight Premier League matches, while only Luton and Sheff Utd have won fewer away games than their three.

Can Villa and Watkins end dry spell?

There is nothing that could happen at Selhurst Park that would dampen Villa’s spirits. They have qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 1983, finishing in the top four despite limping over the line in this most exhausting of seasons.

Nevertheless, it would be the icing on the cake if Villa could end a three-game winless run and finish on 71 points, the exact same tally as the fourth-placed team in each of the last two seasons.

Furthermore Ollie Watkins – joint-top for combined goals and assists in the Premier League, with 32 – is hoping to end a four-game goalless run to become the first Villa player to reach 20 goals in the competition.

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