As the Premier League reaches its penultimate weekend, issues could be settled at both ends of the table. Chelsea can be crowned champions at West Brom on Friday night while Sunday could spell the end of Hull’s stay in the top flight.
Here, we look at the main talking points over the coming d ays.
CAN CHELSEA CLINCH THE TITLE?
Chelsea will secure their fifth Premier League title if they win at The Hawthorns. Antonio Conte’s side have held on to top spot since mid-December and Monday’s win over Middlesbrough ensured they will travel to the midlands knowing victory will see them crowned champions with two games to spare. The Blues have responded well to their defeat at Manchester United just under a month ago by winning all three Premier League matches since, as well as perhaps scoring a psychological advantage in the title race by defeating nearest rivals Tottenham in the FA Cup. However, it might not all be plain sailing at The Hawthorns – a ground where Chelsea have lost on three of their last five visits.
CAN SWANSEA PILE THE PRESSURE ON HULL?
Swansea climbed out of the relegation zone last weekend when they capitalised on Hull’s surprise home defeat to Sunderland by beating Everton. Paul Clement’s side will be wary of also not falling foul of the already-relegated Black Cats as they look to put down a big marker at the Stadium of Light. Should Swansea win on Saturday they will move four points clear of Hull ahead of their game away at Crystal Palace 24 hours later, with the Tigers knowing that a defeat would see them go down. Should the matter remain unresolved this weekend, Swansea will still fancy their chances of staying up going into the final game of the season as they host West Brom and Hull host Tottenham.
WILL THE TIGERS ROAR OR WILL THE EAGLES SOAR?
Hull could be playing under tremendous pressure at Crystal Palace on Sunday, depending on Swansea’s result. The Tigers had been superb at home under Marco Silva, winning eight of their nine games at the KCOM Stadium in all competitions before losing their unbeaten home record under the Portuguese against Sunderland. Hull have yet to win away under Silva, though, losing eight of their nine matches in all competitions, with the recent goalless draw at Southampton the only point picked up during that sequence. If they could change that at Selhurst Park it would have huge implications for the relegation fight heading into the final day as Palace would then be dragged into it, leaving them just a point above Hull ahead of their last game at Manchester United. A draw on Sunday is enough for Palace to guarantee their survival.
CAN ARSENAL CRACK POTTERIES HOODOO TO MAINTAIN TOP FOUR CHALLENGE?
Back-to-back 2-0 wins against Manchester United and Southampton have propelled Arsenal back into contention for the Champions League qualification places and they can narrow the gap on Liverpool to a single point with victory at Stoke on Saturday evening, with the Reds not due to play at West Ham until Sunday. However, Arsene Wenger’s record at Stoke does not make for good reading. Since Stoke’s promotion to the Premier League in 2008, Arsenal have won only once in the Potteries – back in 2010 – and have lost on four of their previous seven visits. Wenger’s team have failed to even score on three of their last four trips to Stoke but Mark Hughes’ men are not in the best of form, having won just one of their last nine Premier League matches.
WHAT WILL JOSE DO AT WHITE HART LANE?
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was true to his word against Arsenal last weekend after saying he would rest key players at the Emirates and prioritise the club’s Europa League campaign. With a 1-0 lead from the first leg in Spain, United should complete the job against Celta Vigo at Old Trafford on Thursday night and advance to the final in Stockholm later this month. Should that happen, Mourinho could once again use a trip to north London to get some minutes into the legs of players returning from injury, such as Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Juan Mata, and blood more youngsters like Axel Tuanzebe and Scott McTominay. Elimination against Celta Vigo would be a disaster for United, who would then go into their game against Tottenham on Sunday needing a victory just to keep alive any chance they had of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.