With Chelsea already crowned as Premier League champions and the bottom three relegated, fans could be forgiven for seeing the remaining two matches as inconsequential. There are still some things at stake, however. Southampton manager Claude Puel is not guaranteed to remain in his post past this weekend after failing to adequately build on the sixth-place finish that Ronald Koeman achieved before leaving for Everton.
Murmurs of his departure have been ongoing for some months and, despite taking the Saints to the EFL Cup final – losing against Manchester United at Wembley – a run of one win in six has left the club in ninth. The highest that they can mathematically finish is eighth, though it would require bettering West Brom’s final matches. Marco Silva, currently at relegated Hull City, has been suggested as a possible replacement for the Frenchman; the Portuguese has done a stupendous job at the Tigers in difficult circumstances, and nearly kept them up.
For United, Wednesday’s opponents, the game is something of a hindrance. The Europa League trophy has been their target for a while now. It is, of course, the only major trophy available to the club that they are yet to claim, and it has the massive bonus of guaranteeing Champions League football for next term should they see off Ajax in Stockholm. Before then, and with an injury-hit squad, Jose Mourinho has to navigate fixtures against Southampton and then Crystal Palace before the big match next Wednesday.
Mourinho has already intimated that he will make wholesale changes for the Palace match and it will be interesting to see which players get game time at St. Mary’s – particularly as consecutive defeats to Arsenal and Tottenham mean that United are likely to finish sixth.
With key men like Paul Pogba not certain to feature on the south coast, United are actually underdogs for this match in the football odds. Tipbet have them at 2.75, marginally less than their hosts’ odds of 2.70. A draw (3.25) is unlikely to help the causes of either side and Mourinho would probably consider it a success for his players to come away without any further injuries. All 101 markets can be viewed here.
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Odds 16.05.2017 – 12:00 PM (no guarantee for the accuracy of the statistics and odds, odds subject to change, livestreaming depends on the TV rights of the countries, there is no guarantee to activate streams in some countries)