Well we're nearly at the final hurdle in the Premier League, but will we leap it gloriously into tenth position, or will we fall miserably and end up in 14th position. It's very, very tight at the minute, and with the current prize money in the Premier League estimated to be worth between £750k and £800k per place, a fall of four positions could cost the club near to £2m. A very useful sum which could help boost Martin O'Neill's coffers this summer.
So how can we finish in tenth? And how is it possible we could fall all the way to fourteenth? We've looked over the weekend fixtures and tried to find out all the possible ways the season could end for us...
So headed into the final day of the season, the fixtures which concern us are as follows;
Reasons To Be Hopeful...
Looking at the fixtures, they can all be interpreted in different ways depending on on how full your cup is. Arsenal need to win to secure a very important 3rd position since 4th may not be enough for Champions League football, if Chelsea win the tournament. Bolton's destiny is in their own hands (pretty much), and a win at Stoke will see them escape relegation, hopefully that can galvanise them to victory. Aston Villa have been awful this season, but are capable of the odd result here and there, and could easily nick a draw. Similarly Swansea face Liverpool, and you've no idea which Liverpool side will turn up. Hopefully it's the quite good one who've been absent for a number of weeks.
Reasons To Be Miserable...
For the pessimists among us, Arsenal have recently failed to beat Wigan, Queens Park Rangers and Norwich, so there's nothing to suggest winning at West Brom, in Roy Hodgson's final game, is a foregone conclusion. Bolton have struggled all season, and after a heartbreaking set of results last weekend they could be mentally shattered when coming up against a solid at home Stoke side. Similarly Aston Villa have been pretty cack all year, while Norwich are buoyed by their great performance against Arsenal. Swansea also have good form, and Liverpool seem dead set on ending the season with a whimper. Not to mention that in the eyes of Brendan Rodgers, Swansea are the best team ever, ever, ever.
The Premier League table currently has our little middle band of teams sat like this;
|10.||West Bromwich Albion||-6||47|
Sunderland Will Finish 10th If...
We BEAT Manchester United + West Bromwich Albion LOSE or DRAW with Arsenal. Results for Swansea, Norwich City & Stoke City would become inconsequential. This would seem highly unlikely, but stranger things have happened, and maybe, hopefully, United have taken their foot off the gas and given up on an unlikely title win.
Sunderland Will Finish 11th If...
Results involving ourselves, West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City, Norwich City and Stoke City are all THE SAME. For example, we all win, draw or lose. This to me would seem equally unlikely, given the various qualities of opposition we all face this weekend.
We could also finish in 11th if we DRAW and everyone else below us (Norwich City, Stoke City, Swansea City) lose.
There's also the possibility we would stay in 11th position if we LOSE against Manchester United, while the three teams below us DRAW given our better goal difference than all three.
Sunderland Will Finish 12th If...
We LOSE or DRAW against Manchester United and any of the following situations occur... ONE of Swansea City OR Norwich City OR Stoke City WIN against their respective oppositions. This seems actually quite possible, sadly.
Sunderland Will Finish 13th If...
We LOSE or DRAW against Manchester United while two of the teams below us (Norwich City, Stoke City, Swansea City) win. This could well happen.
Sunderland Will Finish 14th If...
We LOSE or DRAW with Manchester United, while Stoke City BEAT Bolton Wanderers, Norwich City BEAT Aston Villa and Swansea City BEAT Liverpool. Possible, certainly possible, but I for some reason don't see all the teams below us winning. That would be quite the headache.
Where do you think we'll finish in the league? Cast your vote, or comment below if we've made a major balls-up, which is entirely possible to be honest.