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Premier League: Six talking points ahead of the final day

Six talking points ahead of the Premier League’s final day, featuring a title race that will go down to the wire and farewell to a Liverpool legend.

History against Arsenal in title bid

For the 10th time, the Premier League title race has gone down to the final day. Arsenal have again emerged as the nearest challenger to Manchester City’s supremacy, though head into the final weekend two points behind the division’s dominant force.

Whatever the outcome, Arsenal can be proud of their performance this season, with the Gunners continuing their upward arc under Mikel Arteta. However, few expect Manchester City to err ahead of a final-day clash with West Ham at the Etihad, where three points will secure a record-breaking fourth consecutive Premier League title.

Any slip could allow Arsenal to overhaul them and a win for the North Londoners against Everton will be enough if City fail to do so, given their superior goal difference.

That said, it’s the hope that kills you and history is against Arsenal this weekend. Of the previous nine times the title race has been decided on the final day, the team starting top has been crowned champions.

Manchester City will want to avoid final-day drama

For Manchester City, this is not their first rodeo. The Citizens have contested the Premier League title on the final day four times previously and each time have come out on top. However, that flawless record has not come without drama.

Only in 2013/14 did Manchester City claim the title on the final day amid limited fuss, as a 2-0 win over West Ham ensured the title at Liverpool’s expense.

Two stoppage-time goals, including that Sergio Aguero goal, rescued the title in 2011/12 just as it appeared to be slipping away, while City also came from behind to win on the final day in 2018/19 and 2021/22, the latter seeing Pep Guardiola’s side overhaul a 2-0 deficit against Aston Villa to be crowned champions.

City will hope for a professional performance and to avoid the nerve-jangling afternoons of past seasons.

Auf Wiedersehen, Jurgen Klopp

Expect an Anfield ovation like nothing seen in recent years this weekend. For the final time, Jurgen Klopp will take charge of Liverpool with this weekend’s fixture with Wolves concluding his decorated tenure at the club.

The German inherited a team tired of mediocrity and across eight-and-a-half years has restored the Reds to the top table of English and European football. Klopp has won it all with Liverpool, and while competing against the behemoth of Manchester City for good measure. City’s dominance, even excluding the elephant in the room, has been used by some as a stick to beat Klopp with, a suggestion that he has underperformed when the truth is the opposite. Arsenal, right now, are learning just how hard it is to compete with the blue beast from the Etihad.

Klopp is the man who ended Liverpool’s league drought, won their sixth European crown, and has done so as one of the most colourful personalities in the Premier League. He might not be to everyone’s taste, but the league will miss him.

Nkunku keen to make up for lost time

As Christopher Nkunku celebrated in trademark fashion in midweek, a balloon inflated in front of the celebrating crowd, it was hard not to envisage how Chelsea’s season could have been different with him this season. Nkunku was arguably the marquee arrival of a window of big investment last summer but has seen his debut campaign wrecked by injuries.

A pre-season knee issue delayed his start before a hamstring problem saw him sidelined again in the spring. He’s made just two league starts for the Blues and will miss Euro 2024 as a result of his limited action, though the summer provides a chance for the Frenchman to get his body right and start again.

There have been glimpses of the player who scored 58 goals across the previous two seasons for RB Leipzig, including the sharp movement and finish against Brighton this week. He will hope to end the campaign on a high as Chelsea look to confirm their place in Europe for next season.

Luton can bow out with heads held high

Barring a minor miracle, Luton’s time in the Premier League will come to an end this weekend. Only a win for the Hatters and a defeat for Nottingham Forest, alongside a 13-goal swing in goal difference, will preserve the top-flight status of Rob Edwards’ side.

Luton, however, can bow out of the top division with their heads held high. An unexpected promotion saw Luton thrust back into the top level for the first time since 1992, with a squad containing some players who had risen through the leagues after their fall to the fifth tier amid financial difficulties.

Edwards has cultivated a fighting spirit at Kenilworth Road and Luton have at least gone down swinging in comparison to the other promoted sides. Wins over Newcastle and Brighton will be remembered at a ground that has added a unique feel to the division this season.

Can anyone gatecrash Southgate’s England squad?

Gareth Southgate will name his squad for Euro 2024 on Tuesday and the England manager will be almost certain on his selections ahead of the announcement.

The Three Lions will be hoping there are no unforeseen injuries to impact plans ahead of the Premier League’s final weekend, while those on the fringes will hope an eye-catching last-day showing can catapult them into late contention.

The goalkeeping contingent is one area that looks uncertain behind first-choice Jordan Pickford, with Crystal Palace’s Dean Henderson pushing for inclusion in the absence of Nick Pope, Sam Johnstone, and Aaron Ramsdale’s lack of football at Arsenal. Henderson’s club teammates Adam Wharton and Eberechi Eze are in-form options hoping to impress Southgate, while Marc Guehi will want to prove his fitness to the England boss.

Elsewhere, Dominic Solanke has 19 goals in the Premier League this season and the Bournemouth forward could be in a straight shootout with Ivan Toney, who has gone off the boil at Brentford, for a place on the plane. Similarly, Jarrod Bowen will hope his goal return at West Ham is enough, despite fierce competition for a wide role.

Read – Four things to look out for in Europe’s top leagues this weekend

See more – Five Premier League players who need more minutes next year

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