Analysis

Premier League final-day preview: What (definitely) will and won't happen

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger waves goodbye for the final time at Arsenal, while Swansea need a miracle and Chelsea a huge favour from Brighton

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Burnley vs Bournemouth (Sunday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Burnley's lap of honour. Forget what happened at Arsenal last weekend, because Sean Dyche has achieved something truly admirable this season. Discounted as an anomaly after a good start and dismissed on account of unfavourable defensive analytics, the Clarets rode a long dip in form during winter to record a league position which shames many of the managers beneath Dyche.

What will happen: A general dropping of standards. Bournemouth have been on the slide for a while and Eddie Howe's focus will already be on the summer, while Burnley's approach depends on a level of intensity which will be very difficult to maintain. This will be a loose game of football, which will likely make it extremely entertaining or completely unwatchable.

What won't happen: Chris Wood will be absent for Burnley and, unfortunately, Tyrone Mings is back on Bournemouth's treatment table. Tom Heaton might return in goal to make his long-awaited comeback.

Crystal Palace vs West Brom (Sunday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Like several other sides, this will be a day for Palace to celebrate their security. Not so for West Brom, obviously, who were relegated by virtue of Southampton's win over Swansea on Tuesday evening.

What will happen: You'd hope for some compassion from the Palace supporters - after all, they know exactly what it's like to be managed by Alan Pardew, and also how demoralising Premier League relegation can be. This is not a day for taunting, so hopefully Selhurst Park takes a day off from the tribalism.

What won't happen: Don't expect West Brom to roll over, though. They're down and have nothing to play for, but that's really been the case for some time. Additionally, these players seem to enjoy playing for Moore and his relationship with them appears to have them looking beyond the short-term. There will be departures from The Hawthorns over the summer – the wage bill demands it – but the bulk of this group seems to have already recommitted themselves mentally.

Huddersfield vs Arsenal (Sunday, 3pm)

The big talking point: A day in the sun for Huddersfield and, more obviously, the final Premier League game of Arsene Wenger's career. Holds hands and take a bow.

What will happen: According to David Wagner, his players decided against taking a chartered flight back to Huddersfield, opting instead for a long coach journey with a well-stocked fridge. Given the titanic effort at the Etihad and Stamford Bridge, it would be a surprise if they got beyond second gear (and some presumably fuzzy heads).

What won't happen: Mesut Ozil won't be involved, having been ruled out with a back problem, while Laurent Koscielny is lost for up to six months with that nasty Achilles injury. Konstantinos Mavropanos serves a suspension after his red card against Leicester.

Liverpool vs Brighton (Sunday, 3pm)

The big talking point: Simple enough: Liverpool's goal difference is so superior that they need only a draw to claim the final Champions League place ahead of Chelsea.

What will happen: They'll do it, too. Jurgen Klopp will have one eye on the Champions League final, but don't expect any reckless rotation a full two weeks before the final. One of the club's victories this season has been in improving their record against lesser sides at Anfield and, safe and with nothing to play for, Brighton shouldn't prove too stubborn.

What won't happen: However, don't expect Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané to stay on for too long if it becomes comfortable. Fantasy football owners beware: Liverpool have other priorities on the horizon.

Manchester United vs Watford (Sunday, 3pm)

The big talking point: The point won at West Ham - or 'mined' perhaps - secured second place for United, so their sole aim now is the FA Cup. Eight, perhaps nine spots in that team are already decided, but this will be a chance to contest those remaining few. 

What will happen: Given how dreadful that performance at London Stadium was (United really do sterile football better than anyone else), a performance might be needed here just to generate some momentum - or at least positivity. It's a cliché but it's true: pragmatism isn't the Manchester United way, and until Jose Mourinho makes certain concessions he'll be surrounded by this palpable unease.

What won't happen: Romelu Lukaku remains a doubt for Wembley, so obviously won't feature here. Eric Bailly won't be included in the final either, so should start at Old Trafford, while Luke Shaw might even get a final chance to make a very late case for World Cup inclusion.