There are weekends that can define a season and these weekends can occur at any point in the year, but there is always one weekend that is guaranteed to be packed with drama more so than any other. That is the weekend of the final week of Premier League fixtures, plus the three Football League playoff finals, all of which take place at Wembley Stadium.
In this week’s article, we are going to have a look at what the final weekend of Premier League action has in store, before taking a look at each of the three playoff finals with hopefully a few tasty tips along the way for anybody who fancies a flutter on any of these crucial and likely dramatic games.
So without any further ado, let’s begin on Sunday 24th May, when at 3pm in the afternoon, all 20 teams in the Premier League will kick off their final games.
Of course, we are looking at these matches with an eye toward placing wagers on Bet365, and will give tips accordingly. Not a customer? Join up today to receive your free sports bets at Bet365.
Premier League Final Fixtures – Who Is For The Drop?
The final weekend of Premier League games sees only one main issue to be sorted. With the Champions League qualifiers and Europa League qualifiers now sorted, the key issue is which other team will join Burnley and QPR in being relegated into the Championship.
Three teams face that, Hull City, Newcastle United and Sunderland, although if Sunderland win or draw their game in hand against Arsenal in midweek, they will be safe.
Steve Bruce’s Hull City lie in the relegation spot at present and they must get three points at home to Manchester United in what looks like a very tough game for the Tigers. However, if they could take three points here, they may stand a chance as Newcastle United, who face West Ham at home, have lost eight of their last nine fixtures and are in a state of disarray on and off the field.
My belief here is that it will be Newcastle fans sighing their relief at the end of 90 minutes as I fancy the Toon Army to get a point from their game with West Ham. You can back that result at a very tempting 13/5 with Bet365.
Playoff Finals – Six Teams Chasing Three Promotion Places, Who Will Be The Victors?
The three playoff finals take place on Saturday 23rd, Sunday 24th and Monday 25th May respectively, with all games taking place at Wembley Stadium. The League One and Two finals (Sunday and Saturday) will kick off at 17:30, while the Championship Playoff on Monday kicks off at 3pm.
Let’s take a quick look at each of the games
League Two Playoff Final (Saturday 23rd May 17:30) – Southend United v Wycombe Wanderers
Two teams who narrowly missed out on promotion on the final day of the season will, perhaps deservedly, face off at Wembley for the right to join Burton Albion, Shrewsbury and Bury in League One next season.
Southend start the game as the slight favourites as they are the form team in League Two over the last couple of months, but with two wins in the playoffs, Wycombe Wanderers will be more than confident they can upset the bookies and take the win.
Defence could be a key asset in this game. Southend are one of the strongest sides defensively in League Two and their success this season has been built on that. Wycombe are arguably a better balanced outfit, but they do tend to concede goals at time. Arguably the key factor in this game will be how Wycombe’s powerful attack fairs against Southend’s very tight defence.
You can get Southend to win at 6/4 with Bet365 Sport inside 90 minutes, with Wycombe 13/8, but in playoff games, I always think the “To Lift Trophy” market is a better option than the 90 minute result market, due to the unpredictability of the game.
As such, my tip here is to back Wycombe to surprise the bookies and earn promotion and you can back them to Lift the Trophy with Bet365 at even money.
League One Playoff Final (Sunday 24th May 17:30) – Preston North End v Swindon Town
24-hours later, it is the League One playoff final as Swindon Town face Preston North End in a race to see which of the two teams makes it into the Championship this season.
For Preston, who came through their playoff final with Chesterfield with relative ease, a victory here would end many years of frustration in the playoffs. In striker Jermaine Beckford and Joe Garner, they have two players who are certainly more than capable of finding the net against any team in the Championship, let alone League One.
That could be problematic for a freescoring Swindon side, who rattle in the goals but can concede them too at times. Their stunning 5-5 draw with Sheffield United in the second leg of their play off tie indicative of how poor defensive play allied with great attacking players can provide huge excitement.
At the moment, because of their far greater defensive resilience, Bet365 Sport have Preston as the 11/10 favourites to win inside 90 minutes, with Swindon 12/5 and it is also 12/5 on the draw at the end of full time. Preston are 8/13 to lift the trophy at any point.
My tip here would be to back both teams to score allied with the result of the game inside 90 minutes and my choice is that I think this game will go into extra time and as such, I think the both teams to score – yes bet and the draw at 90 minutes (7/2 with Bet365 Sport) is a great option here.
Championship Playoff Final (Monday 25th May 15:00) – Middlesbrough v Norwich City
A game that is worth an estimated £150m in revenue to the winning club, the Championship playoff final has become known as the richest single game event in football, dwarfing the riches bestowed even on the Champions League winners and this year it is Middlesbrough and Norwich City facing off to decide who makes the Premier League.
Both came through their semi-finals relatively easily and in the two league clashed between the teams this season, Middlesbrough have emerged with two wins, 4-0 at home and 1-0 when they visited Carrow Road in April.
Aitor Karranka’s team are in good form heading into the game and are a very strong squad, especially defensively where they are ranked as the best defence in the Championship. Norwich though are no mugs and are arguably a better balanced side with the 3rd ranked defence and attack in the league.
Key men in this game will be Middlesbrough’s skipper Grant Leadbitter, strikers Jelle Vossen and Patrick Bamford and talented Ghanaian winger Albert Adomah. For Norwich the likes of Nathan Redmond, Gary Hooper, Johnny Howson and Sebastian Bassong will be key.
Middlesbrough may have the edge in terms of league games this season but they start the game as the 15/8 second favourites here. I think that is a huge price for a team that has played Norwich twice this season, won both games and scored five goals, conceding none in the process.
However, I think a more sensible option may be to take the even money available on Middlesbrough lifting the trophy at any point with Bet365.
Whatever the outcome of each game, these are sure to be amongst the most dramatic and exciting games of the entire league season. Don’t miss out.