As this year’s Premier League season draws to a close, fans are left feeling that this is one of the dullest conclusions to an EPL season in recent memory. The title is wrapped up and headed to West London with Chelsea. Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United have secured the remaining Champions’ League spots. At the top, there is really nothing left to play for. However, there is good news for EPL fans. The race to avoid the bottom is hot as ever. While Burnley and QPR have already been relegated to the Championship, one spot remains for the dreaded second division in England. Here’s two teams who will stare down the barrel of relegation on Sunday.
The Tigers currently occupy the final relegation spot and face by far the toughest test of the three teams as they take on Manchester United this weekend. While Steve Bruce’s side has looked tough at times this season, their form over their last few games has been nothing short of deplorable. Hull have lost three straight, including a defeat against relegated side Burnley and have managed just one goal over those three games. Bruce will have to hope his side can muster some goals against a United back line that has come under major criticism, though outlook is unlikely.
The key for Hull will be the play of their top scorer Nicika Jelavic, a Croatian international with the quality to break down United. If Jelavic can manage a goal early, it will incense the home fans at KC Stadium, and hopefully create an atmosphere that intimidates a United side with nothing left to play for. An early goal (or two) will be key for Hull’s relegation battle, as they are massively overmatched against a United side that may look to prove they will challenge for the title next season by absolutely drubbing Hull into oblivion.
Hull have never beaten Manchester United with Bruce as their manager, and I don’t think that changes this weekend. Of all the sides battling for their Premier League lives, I see Hull as the most likely to play in the Championship next season.
Native Geordies and Newcastle fans around the globe have faced some serious punishment at the hands of their football club over the past few weeks. Despite manager John Carver’s claims that he is “the best coach in the Premier League,” his side has not won a game since the end of February. With an incredible freefall from the middle of the table, the Newcastle players have clearly given up on Carver, who is likely to be fired at season’s end, and have one final match against West Ham to keep their spot in the Premier League.
The player to watch on the Newcastle side will be Jack Colback, a midfielder who has shown incredible efforts, despite the struggle of his club. Newcastle will rely on Colback to create chances for their forwards, and hopefully secure their first win in months, thus narrowly avoiding relegation. I expect Newcastle to come out guns blazing, pressuring West Ham on the ball and getting forward as much as possible, in an attempt to save the club from Championship turmoil. While the team has looked uninspired for months, maybe a relegation fight on the league’s final day can light a fire under the Newcastle squad.
Because of goal differential (Newcastle currently sits seven goals behind Hull) the Geordies almost certainly need a win on Sunday to protect themselves from relegation. While they haven’t won much lately, if there’s one game this season for Carver to rally his boys, it’s the contest against West Ham. Fans across Newcastle will hope that a little Geordie magic can help keep this struggling side afloat.