Paul Merson has made his predictions for the final day of the Premier League season, with plenty still to play for at both ends of the table.
Manchester City top the table going into their last game at home to Aston Villa, but Liverpool, who play Wolves at Anfield, are just a point behind them.
Although Arsenal legend Merson thinks Liverpool will beat Wolves, he is expecting a win for City too, which would secure the title for them.
‘You don’t come this far in a Premier League title race only to falter at the final hurdle, so I think Liverpool will win this one comfortably. I was shocked with the number of changes they made against Southampton, but the players Jurgen Klopp put out gave it everything they had to get all three points,’ Merson told Sportskeeda.
‘Manchester City should have beaten West Ham last week but ended up dropping two valuable points, enhancing Liverpool’s hopes of winning the title on the final day of the season. The narrative that is building up sounds like a bit of a fairytale, as Pep Guardiola and co prepare to take on Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa on Sunday.
‘The former Liverpool captain never won the Premier League with his boyhood club, but could he do them a massive favor and take points off Manchester City? Regardless of what happens in that game, Liverpool have to do what’s in their control, which is to beat Wolves and I think they will do that. Bruno Lage’s side have fizzled out in recent weeks, so I don’t see this one being too much of an issue for the Reds.’
‘I’ve been involved with the beautiful game for far too long to think of this as a foregone conclusion, but I genuinely don’t think Villa will have enough to beat Manchester City. Guardiola and his players shouldn’t have taken it until the last day, but they are still in control of their own destiny and should get the job done,’ Merson added.
‘That said, Manchester City have been guilty of leaving themselves open at the back in recent weeks. Villa have the likes of Ollie Watkins, Danny Ings and Philippe Coutinho, who are all dangerous players in their own right. City will have to bide their time and stay patient, like they did against Leicester City in 2019 when Vincent Kompany scored a worldie of a goal to effectively win the title for his team.
‘This has been an incredible season and in football, you never quite know what’s going to happen. Do we have more twists and turns in store as yet another Premier League season draws to a dramatic climax? Only time will tell.’
Tottenham are in the driving seat in the race for the top four after their win over Arsenal last week, and the Gunners’ following defeat to Newcastle United.
Antonio Conte’s side are two points above their north London rivals heading into their final game of the season away at Norwich City.
Arsenal, meanwhile, face Everton on Sunday knowing a defeat for Spurs and win for themselves is the only way they could get back into the top four.
‘The shackles are off for Arsenal after their calamitous 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United last weekend. They were absolutely atrocious, no two ways about it. Usually, you have games where certain players play well, but this is arguably the first time I’ve seen a team where each of their players was off color – it was one of the worst performances of the 2021-22 Premier League season,’ Merson continued.
‘Everton have done reasonably well in my opinion, but Jordan Pickford’s performances have papered over their cracks. He won them three points against Chelsea and Leicester City with a string of world-class saves, so I wouldn’t be going too far if I said that they’d have already been relegated without his crucial interventions.
‘At the moment, he’s England’s #1 goalkeeper and when push comes to shove, he usually steps up and performs. Aaron Ramsdale has been shaky in recent weeks, but you have to give credit when it’s due as Pickford has really come big for Everton in the run-in.
‘The pressure is off for Arsenal, they’ll win this one comfortably. Will that be enough for a top-four spot? Only time will tell.’
Merson’s Premier League predictions
Crystal Palace 2-1 Manchester United
Arsenal 3-0 Everton
Chelsea 4-0 Watford
Leicester City 3-2 Southampton
Brentford 1-1 Leeds United
Burnley 0-2 Newcastle United
Norwich City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Brighton 2-2 West Ham
Liverpool 3-0 Wolves
Manchester City 2-0 Aston Villa
On Tottenham’s clash away at Norwich City, Merson said: ‘It’s probably a strange thing to say because Norwich are rock bottom and were the first team to suffer relegation, but they always have their moments in football matches. They were battered 3-0 by Leicester last time out, but they had a lot of good chances to score in the first half. If they can put some of those away, there could be a bit of drama, but the way they approach games could play into Tottenham’s hands.
‘I’ll only say one thing – if Spurs can’t beat Norwich City on the last day of the season with a place in the Premier League top four at stake, what’s the point of them being in the UEFA Champions League in the first place?’
In terms of who could join Norwich and Watford in being relegated, midweek fixtures will play a pivotal role in the permutations for the final day.
18th-placed Burnley, who are a point off 17th-placed Leeds United with a game in hand over Jesse Marsch’s side, play Aston Villa away on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, 16th-placed Everton would secure safety with a win over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park – a game which also takes place on Thursday.
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