The Premier League is nearing season's end, making the final matches of the current campaign crucial for teams looking to secure one of the top four spots on the table.
One of the curiosities of this year’s Premier League is that despite Liverpool’s glorious spring offensive, despite Manchester City’s record-breaking goal glut, despite Chelsea’s persistent habit of snatching triumph from the jaws of crisis, none of them have actually qualified for the Champions League yet.
Champions League positions will likely begin to get claimed within the coming weeks, but it's clear which teams belong at the top. Week 35 will have implications on the top, however, as multiple teams are in contention.
Here are the matches that have the most potential to shake up the standings.
|12||West Ham United||34||10||7||17||-9||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||6||15||12||-11||33|
Chelsea vs. Sunderland
There are two interesting facts regarding Sunderland surrounding this match. For one, Sunderland have not won away since February's 3-0 win over Newcastle. That being said, Sunderland were also the last team to upset Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Are Chelsea a lock to win against Sunderland?
At No. 20 on the table, Sunderland are obviously in no competition for the Champions League. They can look to play spoiler, however. At No. 2, Chelsea are just two points behind Liverpool for the top spot. Liverpool take on Norwich City in Week 35.
The Blues can steal the top spot from Liverpool if they win each of their remaining fixtures. That all starts against Sunderland. Avoiding a slip-up against one of the lesser teams in the league will show that the Blues are ready to make a push at the end of the season.
Jose Mourinho will have his team ready for Saturday's action.
Everton vs. Manchester United
Gemma Thompson of manutd.com reports that Robin van Persie will remain sidelined with a knee injury, however. This is what manager David Moyes had to say regarding the injury (via Thompson):
"Robin is in Holland and improving but we always thought it would be four to six weeks. We'll have a better assessment in the next week or so. Our medical team is heading out there to see him this week to get a better feel as to exactly where he is."
United have nothing to play for with 57 points and a No. 7 standing on the table, but Everton are within striking distance of a Champions League berth. This will be a hard-fought match right from the opening.
United may be a little short-handed, but they'll still throw enough at Everton to keep this match close. Everton will have the motivation of a Champions League berth on their mind, though.
Hull City vs. Arsenal
Hull City are looking to avoid relegation, and one more positive result would likely end any fears they have of dropping out of the Premier League. Arsenal, on the other hand, are currently the No. 4 team on the table.
Arsenal are just one point ahead of Everton and four points back of Manchester City. This game has major implications for their side.
Arsenal are in a real battle for fourth. Again. Like last year. And the year before that. And...etc. Is this it? Is this all there is?— Alex Shaw (@AlexShawESPN) April 15, 2014
Despite winning just seven games at home all season, the Tigers haven't lost a home match in a month. That being said, Arsenal have not lost to the Tigers at KC Stadium since April 1915—yes, 1915. The odds are in Arsenal's favor.
With so much at stake for both teams, this match has the potential to be one of the top results of Week 35.