LONDON, May 9: The 2013-14 Premier League season concludes on Sunday with a number of issues, including the destination of the title, still to be decided. (English Premier League 2014 Points Table)
Here, AFP Sports poses 10 questions that will be answered on the final day:
1. Can Manchester City hold their nerve?
After overwhelming Aston Villa 4-0 on Wednesday, Manchester City effectively require only a point at home to West Ham United to claim a second title in three years. If City draw, Liverpool would need to win at home to Newcastle United by at least 13 goals to take the title. But if City lose, Liverpool will be crowned champions for the first time since 1990 if they beat Newcastle.
2. Will City or Liverpool break the scoring record?
City’s win over Villa took their goal tally for the season to 100 and Liverpool are only a goal further back on 99. Both teams are therefore within sight of Chelsea’s Premier League (post-1992) goal-scoring record of 103 goals, set under Carlo Ancelotti in the 2009-10 season. If Liverpool score, it will be the first time since 1960-61 (Tottenham Hotspur, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Burnley) that more than one team finishes the season with 100 league goals or more.
3. Can Luis Suarez break new ground?
With 31 goals to his name this season, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has already tied the record for the number of goals scored in a 38-game Premier League campaign, which was jointly held by Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo. He can break the record by scoring once, while a hat-trick would seem him equal the record for goals in a 42-game Premier League season (34), currently shared by Shearer and Andy Cole.
4. Will Tottenham pip Manchester United to a Europa League place?
Tottenham need to avoid defeat at home to Aston Villa to claim the last remaining Europa League place. If they lose and Manchester United win at Southampton, United will move above them on goal difference.
5. Can Ryan Giggs sign off with a victory?
After a disastrous season in which they meekly conceded the title and failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1995, United will look to end the campaign on a positive note by winning at Southampton. With Louis van Gaal expected to be appointed as the successor to the sacked David Moyes shortly, it will be veteran player-coach Ryan Giggs’s last game as interim manager.
6. Will anyone succumb to World Cup heartbreak?
Manchester United defender Phil Jones was the latest player to suffer a World Cup injury scare after damaging his shoulder in his side’s 3-1 win over Hull City on Tuesday. His England team-mates Phil Jagielka (Everton) and Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) are among the players who will be hoping to prove their fitness in time for Brazil on the final day.
7. Can Norwich City go out with a bang?
Sunderland’s 2-0 victory at home to West Bromwich Albion in mid-week means that Norwich City have been all but mathematically relegated, as they now trail fourth-bottom West Brom by three points with a vastly inferior goal difference (-32 to -15). The final game of their three-year stay in the top flight will be at home to Arsenal.
8. Where will Stoke City and Crystal Palace finish?
Stoke City are already assured of their highest top-flight finish since the 1974-75 campaign, when they came fifth. Barring a mathematical improbability, they are on course to finish 10th and could leapfrog Newcastle to ninth if they win at West Brom and Alan Pardew’s side do not beat Liverpool. Crystal Palace, 11th, are already certain to record their highest top-flight finish since they came 10th in 1991-92.
9. Who will be saying goodbye?
Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic is in line to make his final appearance before leaving for Inter Milan, while team-mates Giggs, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand will shortly be out of contract. Chelsea’s trip to Cardiff City could see club stalwarts John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole play their final games for the club. Both managers at White Hart Lane could be taking charge of their teams for the last time, meanwhile, as uncertainty surrounds the futures of Spurs head coach Tim Sherwood and his Villa counterpart Paul Lambert.
10. Can Cardiff City avoid the wooden spoon?
Cardiff go into the final day on the bottom of the table, but they can avoid the ignominy of the wooden spoon by bettering Fulham’s result at home to Palace.