Premier quintet face nervous finale
The battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League will go down to the final day with five sides still at risk of dropping down to the Championship. Wigan's 3-2 defeat of West Ham last weekend relegated the Hammers and moved Roberto Martinez's side level on 39 points with Blackpool and Birmingham.
The Latics and the Tangerines currently sit in the drop zone behind the Carling Cup winners due to a marginally inferior goal difference, while Wolves and Blackburn - who meet this weekend - sit only a point further up the table.
On paper Blackpool face the toughest task as they face champions Manchester United at Old Trafford. However, with the UEFA Champions League final only six days later, Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to field a drastically changed line-up from the one that faced Blackburn last Saturday.
Blackpool boss Ian Holloway, though, has rejected any suggestions that his side will come across a United team lacking in motivation. "I am so annoyed," he said. "Sir Alex Ferguson is a winner. He would never dream of not being interested in winning any match."
Ferguson rested a host of first-team players recently for the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Schalke - a match United won 4-1. Should he do the same on Sunday the club could face a fine under Premier League rules for fielding a weakened team. "Ask Schalke if they think Manchester United have a weak team," said Holloway. "On Sunday, we have to try to do the impossible. It's got to be perfect. No-one else has beaten them. And if we do, they might get fined because we are rubbish."
Birmingham, who have only taken one point from their last five matches, visit a Tottenham side in need of the victory themselves to make sure of fifth place ahead of Liverpool. The Blues' preparations have been far from ideal with manager Alex McLeish criticising a group of his players for participating in a drinking session after an end-of-season dinner on Monday night.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I told the players it was a gross error of judgement. They've taken it on the chin and have to give a big performance. Sometimes you can't defend the indefensible.
"It wasn't the right timing and I have every sympathy with the fans but we realise we have a big battle at the weekend to have one of the greatest seasons in Birmingham's history. Technically they didn't break the rules but this week is a sensitive one having lost the game on Sunday [2-0 at home to Fulham] and going into the last game fighting to retain Premier League status."
Wigan travel to FA Cup runners-up Stoke knowing they almost certainly need something from the game to survive. The equation is slightly easier for Wolves and Blackburn as they face off at Molineux with matters in their own hands.
Away from the relegation dogfight, Manchester City can secure their place in the group stage of the Champions League for the first time with a win at Bolton. Arsenal's recent poor run of form allowed the FA Cup winners to leapfrog the Gunners with a 3-0 win over Stoke on Tuesday night. Should City fail to win at the Reebok Stadium, though, Arsenal will be able to reclaim third place with victory at Fulham.
Liverpool could also be in Europe next season if they can better Spurs' result against Birmingham away to Aston Villa. Everton can secure seventh position with at least a draw at home to Chelsea, while Newcastle and West Brom conclude their first season back in the Premier League at The Hawthorns.