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Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal Jostle for Two Champions League Spots in EPL Finale
With the Premier League title race settled in Chelseaâ€™s favour, Tottenham guaranteed to finish second and the three relegation places filled by Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull, it is the battle for the lucrative remaining two places in Europeâ€™s elite club competition that will command the attention today.
Arsenal against Everton is the pick of todayâ€™s final matches as the Gunners face the possibility of missing out on the Champions League for the first time in 20 years. The gunners are fifth, one point behind Liverpool and three adrift of Man City.
Arsene Wenger will be praying for an unexpected slip from either Man City or Liverpool as Arsenal try to salvage their troubled Premier League campaign by snatching a Champions League berth in todayâ€™s season finale.
Rocked by Arsenalâ€™s failure to live up to his expectations and battered by mounting criticism from furious fans, Wenger has been under fire like never before in his 21-year reign – and the lowest moment of all is likely to come at the Emirates Stadium today.
If Liverpool beat relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield and City avoid defeat at struggling Watford, then, even if Arsenal win, Wengerâ€™s side will be consigned to the indignity of Thursday nights in the unglamourous Europa League next term.
Having refused to confirm if he will accept Arsenalâ€™s offer of a new contract, Wenger this week said this will be settled when he meets the clubâ€™s powerbrokers after the Gunnersâ€™ FA Cup final date with Chelsea on May 27.
Reports suggest Wenger is planning to stay and if that is the case the 67-year-old could do with boosting his plunging approval ratings by somehow gate-crashing the Champions League party.
Asked on Friday if the Everton clash will be his last game in charge of Arsenal at the Emirates, he gave a sarcastic response.
â€œOf the season…yes,â€ he said. â€œI think what is the most important for us is to win the football game we play on Sunday. After that, what happens to me is less important. Iâ€™m here to serve the club and the best way to do that is to win the next game.â€
Meanwhile, a fourth successive City victory will see them hold on to third place and go straight into next seasonâ€™s Champions League, while a draw would also be enough to ensure a top-four finish.
However, City could still miss out altogether if they lose, Liverpool defeat Middlesbrough and Arsenal improve their goal difference by at least five in the process of beating Everton.
Calling for one last push after an underwhelming first season in charge, City boss Pep Guardiola said: â€œWe still have 95, 96 minutes to fight to do one thing thatâ€™s so important for the club and the future. Itâ€™s a crucial game for us. Itâ€™s a final. Every game has pressure, but itâ€™s in our hands.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t depend on Arsenal or Liverpool. It depends on us. We have to go there and win the game.â€
Liverpool will compete in the Champions League for the first time since 2014-15, and only the second time in eight years, as long as they match Arsenalâ€™s result.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is well aware the subsequent boost to Liverpoolâ€™s profile would be a major help in signing his top transfer targets.
â€œThe Champions League, for different reasons, is a wonderful competition. It would be the icing on the cake,â€ Klopp said. â€œIt is important for players because that is what they want to play in.
â€œWe will be successful in the future but for this we need the players, of course. We have very good players and we need a few more.â€
Already certain to finish sixth, Manchester United will send out a team largely comprised of youth team players as boss Jose Mourinho keeps his senior stars fresh for Wednesdayâ€™s Europa League final against Ajax.
If United win the Europa League they will claim a place in the Champions League, giving Mourinho the last laugh while his old rival Wenger faces a troubled future. Â