Stoke City-Swansea City Preview
There remains a glimmer of hope for Premier League survival for Swansea City, but they need some extraordinary things to take place on Championship Sunday to avoid heading to the Championship next season.
The Swans (8-9-20) currently sit in 18th place with 33 points, three adrift of 17th-place Southampton, but merely beating already relegated Stoke City at the Liberty Stadium in the season finale will not be enough. Indeed, the first step is taking care of business, but they also need to win by a large margin as Swansea has a goal difference of minus-27 while Southampton has a difference of minus-18.
They can also hope that Manchester City beats the Saints by a large margin to decrease that goal difference. Still, the more likely scenario is that Swansea City will play their final Premier League game on Sunday and try to bounce back up next season.
Swans manager Carlos Carvalhal insists his side will do its part to deliver victory in front of the home fans on the season's final day.
"It was not an easy situation when we came in. We discovered some gaps in the squad and we covered them in January," Carvalhal said. "It was very difficult for us to get players. Not because the chairman did not do the maximum and not because the investors did not do the maximum, but the reality was that players didn't want to come to Swansea because we were last in the table and nobody believed we could jump positions.
"At the end we are not in a good position, but we have a tiny chance to stay in the Premier League and we will do our best. But at the end, the problem is not the 20 points we got but the 13 points we had when we arrived.
"We are breathing badly, but we are still alive so we will look to do our bit on Sunday," he added.
"We respect Stoke City, but we will try to win. If we can win with goals then that's better and better. Realistically it will be very, very difficult, but we must fight until the last minute. We maybe only have a 0.1 percent chance, but we must fight for this."
For Stoke City (6-12-19), the Potters enter the final match of the season having already been relegated to the Championship for next season, ending a run of 10 consecutive seasons in the top flight.
Paul Lambert's team could finish as high as 18th if things go their way with regard to goal difference, but that is unlikely to dull the pain and disappointment of going down. What's left for the club now is to try to go out on a winning note against Swansea on Sunday.
"We have everything to play for on Sunday, everything," Lambert said. "We will have thousands of fans who have paid their hard-earned money to support us and we have to be ready for it. We certainly don't want to finish last.
"We have to win the game, we need to go out there, be aggressive and earn the right to take the three points. I will go as strong as I possibly can to get the points - we owe it to the fans, and everyone else at the club to win the game. Once the season finishes then the real hard work begins."
Eric Choupo-Moting has been in training with Stoke but is unlikely to return from a long-term groin problem this season, while Bruno Martins Indi has also been ruled out with a groin injury for the Potters.
Recent history in this fixture favors Swansea, as the home team have won nine of the last 13 Premier League meetings between these clubs. Stoke City's 1-0 triumph at the Liberty Stadium in October 2015 is the only away win in that period.
This is also the first final-day Premier League meeting between two teams starting the day in the bottom three since Derby County faced Reading in 2007-08. Reading won 4-0 but were relegated.
Updated May 11, 2018