Huzzah! The final day of the season is upon us!
Beyond all of the usual bravado the likes of Sky put forward, let’s be honest it’s been a pretty poor season and the final day reflects that quite accurately with nothing to really play for. Yes, there is still a final Champions League spot to play for but it’s hard to see the current positions changing with the fixtures taking place today.
It might just be that this season was always going to be a massive anti-climax after the excitement of last season, but this season has failed to live up to all of the usual hype.
Chelsea have been good and Conte has shown that a bit of tactical nous takes you a long way in England, Guardiola failed to live up the new Messiah reputation, Arsenal looked weaker than ever and their fans became an even bigger laughing stock, Mourinho’s negative approach looks ever more dated and out of place, Marco Silva proved the ‘jobs for the English boys’ pundits wrong and David Moyes’ motivational masterclass saw Sunderland play some of the worst football their fans have ever seen, which is saying something, as they finished bottom. There were plenty of talking points, as ever, but it was all just a bit average.
With little to play for there is the obvious danger of games resembling a Sunday stroll around the park and thus it’s difficult to read too much into form. However, there is still some value out there and we have a couple of picks to close the season on.
Swansea to Win at Home to West Brom – Best Price 13/10
This is a game that really could live up to the potential of a Sunday stroll. With both sides safe and objectives achieved for the season there is the danger that both sides will switch off and just go through the motions, and let’s be honest West Brom have been doing that for the last month or two.
Paul Clement has done a tremendous job at Swansea in saving them from what looked like certain relegation. After a bit of a blip they have finished the season strongly with three wins in four to secure their status in the top flight. They haven’t had the ideal preparation for this game with the whole squad going on a jolly to Ibiza, but Clement had his team back in training on Wednesday which should give them enough time to shake off their exertions and focus on this game, and surely they’ll want to finish the season on a high in front of their own fans.
After securing the magic 40 points at the back end of February, West Brom have spent the best part of the last two months on wind down in typical Tony Pulis style. To be fair to West Brom and Pulis particularly, it must be difficult to remain motivated when your key objective has been achieved so early and Pulis sides appear more liable to do this due to the fact they are generally safe well ahead of time. They have been pretty poor of late and results reflect this, and I find it hard to believe they’ll suddenly spring back into action on the final day when players’ minds are likely to be on other matters. They could have a sudden revival in a bid to make a top-ten finish certain, but I think Swansea are fairly good value for the home win.
Crystal Palace to Win Away to Manchester United – Best Price 23/10
I have a feeling that this could well turn into the dullest game of the day with two of the worst managers for aesthetically pleasing football coming together for a game of little importance.
As much as I dislike Sam Allardyce and his approach to the game, his habit of blaming everyone else when something goes wrong and taking all the credit personally when it goes right, and everything else associated with him, he must take some credit for turning Crystal Palace around. They should of course have been performing better than they were before Allardyce came in given their squad and the amount they spent, but they were a bit of a mess under Alan Pardew and ‘Big Sam’ appears to have fixed that. They head into this game with little to play for but a win at Old Trafford will still be a big thing for a club of Palace’s stature, despite it not being quite the scalp it once was, and I think they’ll be up for getting the three points and potentially moving up a place or two in the table.
Jose Mourinho’s approach to this game can be fully understood given they have a game of far greater importance on Wednesday, however, his overall approach this season (and last) has been pitiful. The style of football on show has been turgid, the usual antics and negativity are tiresome and his overall approach to the game looks more and more out of date United have been poor for large parts of the season and rarely look like overwhelming opposition, particularly at home where they have drawn over half of their fixtures. Mourinho has already said he will play a second string and any of those who are in with a chance of playing in the Europa League Final on Wednesday, who line-up here, will surely have eyes on that game and looking to protect themselves.
If Palace are fully focused on this game and do not take it easy on their hosts, they look very good value to beat what is likely to be a United second string.
Swansea – 1pt @ 13/10 (Betfair)
Crystal Palace – 1pt @ 23/10 (Betfair)
Swansea & Crystal Palace – ½ Pt Double @ 7.59