John Terry will say goodbye to Chelsea with the title, Jos Mourinho will pick his weakest team yet and Manchester City should tread carefully at Watford


1) A teary farewell from a Chelsea pensioner

The best team in the league face the worst team in the league in a match that will be played in a carefree atmosphere by everyone except John Terry, whose 717th and final Chelsea appearance will end with him together with Gary Cahill lifting the Premier League trophy, followed by a teary-eyed farewell speech to the fans. Sunday is the end of an era for Terry, his club and their opponents Sunderland, relegated at last after 10 successive top-flight seasons. Terrys beer-glass-emptying, disabled-bay-filling, rival-abusing, full-kit-wearing past means he gets little love from rival fans, but on the field his record for Chelsea has been one of astonishing consistency and achievement. This week he said he had still not ruled out Sunday being my last game and retiring from football, and having seen his England captaincy come to a sudden and humiliating end, and his international career follow it in short order, he must be sorely tempted to enjoy one loud, loving, self-determined send-off. SB

2) A new level of contempt from Mourinho for a top-flight fixture

Jos Mourinho has been treating Premier League matches with greater or lesser degrees of disdain since it became obvious that the top four were beyond his sides reach, and with the Europa League final only three days away he will create a special new category of contempt for this one. After the midweek draw with Southampton he listed a string of youth players who could get a look-in, with Joel Pereira, Demitri Mitchell, Matty Willock, Josh Harrop and Zachary Dearnley in line for debuts, Scott McTominay expected to add to the six minutes he played during the recent defeat at Arsenal, and Axel Tuanzebe, who made his league debut in that game, set to start a fourth successive domestic encounter. I hope the fans support the team, they forgive some naivety and I hope Big Sam shows hes a good friend and he goes slow, Mourinho concluded. I hope he tells Zaha to go slow, leaves Benteke at home. I hope he goes soft on us. Palace also ended last season with a game against Manchester United. This may be a lot less important than an FA Cup final, and neither manager was with these clubs a year ago, but perhaps this game and Mourinhos callow line-up will give Palace a chance to avenge that defeat. SB

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3) One first hurrah from Middlesbrough

Some months ago, this column pondered the pointlessness of Middlesbrough, outlining that, for better or worse, they were the only team in the Premier League that had done absolutely nothing remarkable all season. At the time it seemed likely theyd do enough to stave off relegation, so were happy to hold up a hand and say we got that one wrong, but at Anfield they have one last chance to do something memorable in a good way. On a day with little at stake across the top flight, football needs Middlesbrough already relegated Middlesbrough to take the fight to Liverpool and make the race for the remaining couple of Champions League places mildly interesting. All available evidence suggests they will do nothing of the kind, but as football fans we can only live in preposterously optimistic hope. BG

4) How many Arsenal fans will turn up?

Resist the urge to criticise the Arsenal supporters who skipped Tuesdays win over Sunderland. Admittedly the desire to do so is understandable. From the outside, Arsenal fans who are unhappy with the failure to win the league can appear annoyingly entitled given that they follow one of the best teams in the country and have experienced some wonderful times under Arsne Wenger. Wheres the gratitude, eh? Yet this is not about disloyalty. How can it be when ticket prices are so expensive at the Emirates? Instead, it is about ordinary fans who justifiably believe that Wenger should not be given a new contract trying to make the club listen to their point of view, demonstrating their dissatisfaction with Arsenals lack of ambition in the best way possible. Fans who hold up banners, rant on YouTube and hire planes to fly over stadiums can be laughed off as the most grotesque examples of modern societys impatience, but the reality is that Arsenal are on the verge of missing out on the Champions League before they host Everton and those large areas of empty seats at the Emirates during the Sunderland game sent out a powerful message. Even if they scramble into the top four, Wenger and the board must recognise that supporter apathy is a killer. JS

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There were plenty of empty seats at the Emirates Stadium during Arsenals 2-0 win over Sunderland on Tuesday. Photograph: Paul Marriott/REX/Shutterstock


5) Laps of honour, appreciation and shame

While amusing, the unedifying spectacle of West Hams bashful players reluctantly dragging their feet around a practically deserted London Stadium on a lap of appreciation for the benefit of the few remaining angry fans cant have been beneficial for anyone involved. Meanwhile, at the Stadium of Light, Sunderlands players came in for abuse for choosing to opt out of their now traditional shamble of shame, presumably for reasons of embarrassment and self-preservation. It is time to do away with these ludicrous charades for teams that have just disgraced themselves and an obvious alternative springs to mind. Just as the players of winning squads are called upon one-by-one to mount a podium to collect their medals in front of a full house, let those from under-performing squads do the exact same thing when its time to hand out the the end-of-season wages. BG

6) A fond farewell from Hulls fans

With Tottenham guaranteed second place and Hull City stuck in 18th and the relegation that comes with it, there isnt even an extra few bob on the line for whoever wins between the two sides. Their fortunes could scarcely be in more stark contrast: Spurs are efficiently run, on an upward trajectory and boast a following that could hardly be more content with their lot in life. Conversely, Hulls owners are unpopular and preside over an operation that is on the slide. Even more depressingly, Hull seem certain to lose Marco Silva, their version of the urbane, innovative continental manager currently masterminding the Spurs project. But while Citys short-term future might seem bleak, their footballers can embark on their lap of appreciation around the KCOM Stadium with their heads held high. Shortly before the season began they were managerless with a squad so comically threadbare the few players they did have were openly joking about it. Despite no one giving them a snowballs chance in hell of staying up, the final nail wasnt hammered into their coffin until a week ago. Hulls owners might be unpopular, but a set of players that almost certainly overachieved deserve plenty of praise. BG

7) Will City be stung in chaotic Hornets nest?

Manchester City will be far from content that they go into the final fixture unsure of a place in the top four, but in other respects they have been extremely fortunate. Watford have been horribly inconsistent this season but they have regularly troubled the top sides: Chelsea required 87th- and 88th-minute winners to take six points off them, Manchester United and Arsenal have both been beaten, and Liverpool came within one stoppage-time crossbars-width of leaving with only a point earlier this month. Now, though, the Hornets are in terrible form and in the midst of a hideous defensive injury crisis, further exacerbated by Sebastian Prdls suspension, and the manager has just been given the heave-ho. A point will probably be enough to secure Citys place in the Champions League group stage and a win will make it certain. We are third so it is in our hands to finish third, Pep Guardiola said earlier this week. We are going to play Watford and win the game. His confidence was a little surprising, but in the circumstances not at all illogical. SB

Watford
The Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes reacts after Cesc Fbregas denied the Hornets a point at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters


8) The end of a goal drought or two at St Marys?

Graeme Souness launched a stout and reasonably convincing defence of Claude Puels record as Southampton manager on Wednesday, but his appeared to be the opinion of a pundit who does not have to watch them play often. Saints fans see theirs as a progressive club and believe a team that has failed to score in four successive home games could perhaps do with a fresh, more charismatic and gung-ho guy at the helm. Southampton seem to be one of few teams capable of challenging the big-six hegemony, but whether or not Puel is the man to help them do so is debatable and another blank against Stoke City might suggest he will never find out. On the subject of goal droughts, Saido Berahino has yet to score in 13 appearances for Stoke and last found the net as a West Brom player almost 15 months ago. Will he kickstart a once promising career that has stalled in alarming fashion with a much-needed goal on Sunday? BG

9) A demonstration of mediocrity at the Liberty Stadium?

It is a damning indictment of almost three-quarters of the teams who make up The Best League In The World that in the mini-league of 13 sides who sit 15 points or more behind Everton, West Brom remain in second place despite having taken only two points from the past 24. While there is no disgrace in losing to Chelsea or Manchester City, doing so while playing six across the back when survival has long been assured demonstrates a stunning lack of ambition. As well-run as their club might be, regulars at the Hawthorns must pine for entertainment and can hardly be satisfied with seeing their team endlessly treading water. As for Swansea: high on the hog after securing their own top-flight status, there is likely to be quite the party atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium and one hopes both teams will put on a good show for supporters whove spent the season on a knife-edge. Formerly a shining example of how to run a football club, it could be argued that Swanseas apparently clueless new hierarchy got lucky in their maiden season. While they are entitled to be pleased with survival, not being among the worst three teams of a league so mired in mediocrity should not be a source of too much cheer. BG

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/may/19/premier-league-10-things-to-look-out-for-on-the-final-day-of-the-season

Premier League: 10 things to look out for on the final day of the season
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