And just like that, the season was over… It only seems like weeks ago that I was planning and strategising for the upcoming campaign on the back of England’s success at the World Cup finals in Russia.
For some, the final weekend still offers the chance of redemption, the opportunity of winning mini leagues, while for most, personal pride is all you can play for now.
My advice heading into the last game week is to minimise the risk. Choose players/teams who still have something to aim for – reduce the chance of rotation – and select wherever possible, home advantage. Players will want to put on a show for their supporters and offer the best chance of bringing big returns.
Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Manchester City
Kevin De Bruyne has trained for the last two days and providing he doesn’t suffer a setback, he “could” be involved. A knee injury will keep Fernandinho out, and Pep is unsure whether he can recover in time for next weekends’ FA Cup final. No official update from the club on Benjamin Mendy, although media reports suggest the full-back has returned to Spain due to inflammation in his knee.
Burnley – vs – Arsenal
Phil Bardsley is fit and available after missing the previous five games, although the 33-year-old, who has just signed a new twelve-month contract extension, may have to settle for a place on the bench given the impressive form of Matt Lowton. Aaron Lennon was hoping to feature before the end of the season, but the game looks to have come too soon. Steven Defour remains out.
Sead Kolasinac will be assessed after picking up a knock in Valencia. Otherwise, the Arsenal treatment room remains the same – Danny Welbeck, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding remain out. Aaron Ramsey confirms he will not be available for the Europa League final later this month as he continues his recovery from a hamstring strain.
Crystal Palace – vs – AFC Bournemouth
Roy Hodgson confirms the Eagles have “the same injuries as last week” although there was no specific mention of Christian Benteke who missed the win at Cardiff with a facial injury. Out are Pape Souaré, James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho and Jeffrey Schlupp while Scott Dann is being monitored after he left training on Friday with a slight strain.
Eddie Howe is not expecting any of his nine players currently sidelined to recover in time for Sunday. Dan Gosling (calf), David Brooks (ankle) and Dominic Solanke (hamstring) join long-term absentees - Lewis Cook, Charlie Daniels, Diego Rico, Junior Stanislas, Andrew Surman and Simon Francis in the Cherries treatment room. Asmir Begovic will not be a part of the matchday squad - he has been given the weekend off – so Artur Boruc will provide cover for Mark Travers who made his Premier League against Tottenham in week 37.
Fulham – vs – Newcastle United
Scott Parker has been rewarded with a two-year contract after impressing during his short tenure as caretaker boss. The Lilywhites are preparing for life in the Championship, but a victory on the final day could make it four wins from five. Denis Odoi (concussion) is the closest of those who missed out last weekend, and if he is cleared to return, then Cyrus Christie could make way.
"We have more or less the same problems as before,” confirmed Rafa Benitez. Sean Longstaff, Florian Lejeune and Miguel Almirón are all out while DeAndre Yedlin went under the knife this week to remedy a niggling groin problem. “The kind of injuries they have, they will not be ready." The Magpies will also be missing the creativity of Ki Sung-Yeung because of a minor knee problem. "It is not very serious, but we don’t want to take the risk.” Jonjo Shelvey could start at Craven Cottage.
Leicester City – vs – Chelsea
No new concerns for Leicester who have Daniel Amartey and Matty James still sidelined. “The players, their availability has been great,” said Brendan Rodgers. “They are all fit and ready. Amartey has been out for a period of time, but other than that, everyone is ready.”
With Antonio Rudiger injured, and Andreas Christensen suffering a setback in the Europa League on Thursday evening, Gary Cahill could be handed a rare start at the King Power. There may also be a chance for some of Maurizio Sarri’s other fringe players with N’Golo Kante hamstrung and Ruben Loftus-Cheek struggling with fatigue.
Liverpool – vs – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Mo Salah has been running outside following his concussion on Tyneside and he will re-join the group ahead of the game. “He looks good for Sunday,” confirmed Jurgen Klopp. However, Roberto Firmino will miss out again, although the problem is only short-term. "Bobby [is] not [available] for the weekend, but we have time [before the Champions League final], and that should be enough." Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain trained as normal at Melwood – Andy Robertson (calf) wasn’t pictured with the squad, but he "should be fine" after a scan on Thursday cleared him of serious injury.
Nuno Espírito Santo claimed his squad had 99 per cent availability this season, a remarkable figure given the rigours of Premier League football. Only three players have missed more than one game due to injury, and one of those - Jonny (MCL knee) – actually suffered a setback while representing Spain. So, it won’t surprise you to know that this weekend Wolves, once again, have a full complement of players to choose from.
Manchester United – vs – Cardiff City
Angel Gomes, Mason Greenwood, James Garner, Tahith Chong, Dylan Levitt and Arnau Puigmal have all trained with the first team and could feature on the final day. Valencia may also return to the matchday squad in what would be his farewell appearance. "I spoke to Antonio yesterday, he has not been fit the six or five months I’ve been here, but he feels he can play a part. I hope he gets through today and tomorrow and we can give him a nice send-off. It is only fair," said Solksjaer. Jesse Lingard (knee inflammation) has a chance for Sunday, but doubts remain over Alexis Sánchez (ankle), Romelu Lukaku (hamstring) and Anthony Martial. Eric Bailly is ruled out.
Neil Warnock is "hoping" Víctor Camarasa can recover in time for Sunday. "It’s a nasty dead leg. I was gutted when he went off last week. He just looked back to himself [in] that first 10 minutes. Whatever will be, will be and I’m sure he’s got a bright future ahead of him." It looks like Arter may have played his last game for the club. The Bournemouth loanee has been struggling with a calf injury in recent weeks. Joe Ralls, Sol Bamba, Callum Paterson and Matthew Connolly are focussed on a return in the Championship next season after injury curtailed their campaign prematurely.
Southampton – vs – Huddersfield Town
Ralph Hasenhüttl reveals he is likely to rotate on Sunday. "We may have a few changes and change back to the shape we were playing before, with the players that played before. That means that Angus (Gunn) is playing at the weekend again." Maya Yoshida will miss out due to illness. “It was a very, very strong virus and so he is still not more than ten minutes on the bicycle, and that’s enough for him. I know he has to go to the national team in June, so I give him the chance to rest completely. It doesn’t make any sense to take any risk.” Jannik Vestergaard and Alex McCarthy remain sidelined.
“Nearly the same squad [as last weekend] will travel to Southampton," said Jan Siewert, although the Terriers will be without Erik Durm (glute). "He couldn’t train [and] he won’t play." Mathias Jorgensen (illness) has not been able to train properly, and Chris Löwe has had a small problem. Back-up goalkeeper Joel Coleman is poised to make his Premier League debut. “I am glad we have this last game, it’s a chance for him to play. We spoke with him and Jonas – I have to look at Joel, he will start. He deserves a chance.” Matty Daly could feature as well as one or two other youngsters.
Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Everton
Harry Kane (ankle) and Harry Winks (groin) have stepped up their rehabilitation, and the pair are now working outside. Heung-Min Son must serve a three-match ban after the Football Association rejected his appeal against the red card he received at the Vitality. Juan Foyth is also suspended. Spurs are struggling in defence - Davinson Sánchez (thigh) and Jan Vertonghen (ankle) have already been ruled out while Danny Rose (hamstring) is expected to miss the game as well. Victor Wanyama (thigh) is being assessed following the win in Amsterdam. Erik Lamela is back though; he returned as a second-half substitute midweek following a recent hamstring problem, and Serge Aurier is in contention after missing the last six weeks.
Everton forwards Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have been ruled out of Sunday's season finale at Tottenham. The Brazilian has a rib problem while Calvert-Lewin took a kick in training - the problem won’t keep him out of the upcoming European Championships. "Dominic is injured at this moment, he will not play this match, but he will be in good condition to play in June," said Marco Silva. Seamus Coleman (groin) faces a late fitness test, but Yerry Mina and André Gomes come back into contention.
Watford – vs – West Ham United
Étienne Capoue has managed to shrug off the minor groin complaint that kept him out last weekend, and he is set to return on Sunday. “He will be available,” said Javi Gracia. “Everybody knows he’s an amazing player, but I think this season he was able to keep consistent." Sebastian Prödl (knee) and Domingos Quina (shoulder) remain out. The Hornets Head Coach will not consider resting players with one eye on the FA Cup Final. “You can’t think like that,” he said. “It doesn’t help. Players get injured all the time but what can I do? We have to do the same behaviour as we have always done. There is no other way to prepare, no better way [than] to play well in this game [vs West Ham]." Miguel Britos (wisdom teeth) is available.
"Samir Nasri is fit, he doesn't have any problems and is part of the squad. Except for Andy Carroll, Winston Reid and Andriy, everyone is fit," Manuel Pellegrini confirmed. "Yarmolenko is working with the squad, 100 per cent, but he is not ready to play." Anderson and Declan Rice have recovered from illness. Robert Snodgrass returns after his one-match suspension. "Jack [Wilshere] is ready to start, and he will be involved in the squad list. In the last game, he did very well."