It all comes down to this.

Whether you're flying high at the top of your local leagues, battling for the top 100 nationally or just desperate not to lose face with friends, matchday 38 of the Premier League is a decisive moment for fantasy football players the world over.

Amid last-minute transfers, wildcards and triple-captaincies, it can be difficult to find true value in selections that could give you the edge over your rivals.

That's where we come in.

Using Opta data, we have compiled a final selection of seven recommended players to draft in for this most dramatic of weekends...

 

MARTIN DUBRAVKA

If you were considering a Newcastle United goalkeeper but just didn't have the guts previously, now is the time to be bold.

Martin Dubravka kept his first clean sheet of the season last time out as the Magpies beat Sheffield United 1-0.

Next up, they face another relegated side in Fulham, who have scored a league-low nine goals at home in the whole of 2020-21 – and only one since February.

 

AARON CRESSWELL

West Ham's unlikely quest for Europe looks set to end in success, and Aaron Cresswell has played no small part.

The full-back has recorded eight assists this season, the most of any defender in the division. The last time a West Ham player assisted more was when Dimitri Payet set up 12 goals in 2015-16.

The Hammers conclude their campaign at home to Southampton, who haven't beaten David Moyes' side in their most recent six attempts.

STUART DALLAS

Only Patrick Bamford (16) has scored more league goals for Leeds United this season than Stuart Dallas (eight).

On Sunday, Marcelo Bielsa's men host West Brom, who have the leakiest defence in the whole of the division, conceding 73 times in 37 matches.

Leeds are also unbeaten in four against the Baggies, winning three of those games by 10-0 on aggregate, while they have not lost a league game at home to this weekend's visitors since January 2007.

JESSE LINGARD

Part of the reason Jesse Lingard found getting regular football tricky at Manchester United was the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, so it's fitting he should be chasing a record held by the Portugal star.

Last season, Fernandes set a Premier League best by registering 15 goal involvements (eight scored, seven assisted) despite not appearing in the competition until as late as February.

Lingard, who made his Hammers debut on February 3, has recorded nine goals and four assists for Moyes' men, a tally bettered only by Kelechi Iheanacho (12 goals, two assists) over the same time frame. Two more direct goal involvements against Southampton would see Lingard match Fernandes' exploits in 2020.

 

JOE WILLOCK

With his midweek winner for Newcastle against Sheffield United, Joe Willock became the youngest player to score in six consecutive Premier League appearances.

Remarkably, the Arsenal loanee – who is being tipped for a permanent move to the Magpies – has the best minutes-per-goal rate (127) of any Newcastle player in the league this season with at least three goals.

Should he net against Fulham, Willock will become only the second player for the club to score in seven Premier League games in a row, after Alan Shearer in 1996.

HARRY KANE

Whether he stays at Tottenham or not, Harry Kane will be eager to get on the scoresheet at Leicester and boost his chances of claiming the Golden Boot.

His record against the Foxes is promising. Kane has managed 14 goals in 11 Premier League meetings with the team now bossed by Brendan Rodgers, more than he has scored against any other opposition. Those goals have come at an average of one every 65 minutes.

He has hit seven of those at the King Power Stadium, including four in one game in May 2017.

 

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE

Could Liverpool's top-four hopes be dashed by a former Reds player?

Christian Benteke has scored 10 league goals this term, his first double-figure return since he got 15 in 2016-17.

That season's haul included a double away to Liverpool in April and, throughout his career, Benteke has enjoyed facing his old employers: only Andy Cole (eight) has scored more Premier League goals as a visiting player at Anfield than Benteke (five in four games).

Manchester City great Francis Lee said a move for Harry Kane would be "very difficult" as he questioned whether the England captain would be a long-term option.

Kane has given his strongest indication yet that he wants to leave Tottenham at the end of the season, stating his desire to play for a trophy-winning side.

Premier League champions City would fit that bill, while Kane has also been linked with the likes of Chelsea and neighbours Manchester United.

Kane, who will turn 28 in July, is level with Mohamed Salah at the top of the Premier League scoring charts heading into the final weekend of the season.

That suggests he remains in the very top bracket of Europe's top strikers, but Lee needs convincing that Kane would be capable of being a force for City for longer than a handful of seasons.

"There's three or four players who would suit us down to the ground and another three or four others who could slot into the team and probably be a sensation as well," Lee told Stats Perform.

He pointed to reports linking 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish with City, before adding Kane's name to the list of possible candidates for a close-season move.

"It'd be very difficult for Harry Kane to move to Manchester City because it would be big money for ... not a short period but maybe two or three years, something like that," Lee said.

Lee, who starred as a City forward from 1967 to 1974 and had a spell as the club's chairman from 1994 to 1998, knows there are plenty of prolific strikers who could potentially step into the City squad and replace Sergio Aguero, the record scorer who will leave on a free transfer at the end of this campaign.

Whether they are the right age and have the right qualities is a question for City manager Pep Guardiola, with Lee suggesting Romelu Lukaku, the 28-year-old former Manchester United and Everton forward, now at Inter, may have what it takes.

"There's a lot of players, there's quite a few players who would fit the bill," Lee said.

"Lukaku would fit the bill. But he didn't fit the bill when he played in the Premier League before. With Pep, a lot of it is attitude. If your attitude is right, and your training is right, and your fitness is right, everything is going on within the Pep plan, you get there."

Since Kane became a Tottenham regular in the 2014-15 season, he has scored 162 goals in 230 Premier League games, with Aguero managing 130 in 187 appearances over the same period.

Kane has managed a marginally better conversion rate when presented with what Opta defines as 'big chances', scoring from 54.77 per cent of such openings, compared to 51.48 per cent by Argentine frontman Aguero.

Aguero's minutes-per-goal record is better though, with one every 105.78 minutes to Kane's one every 120.83 minutes.

But ostensibly, they are well matched, in both being highly prolific. Their total shot conversion rate over the last seven league seasons is almost identical, with Kane netting 18.39 per cent of his efforts on goal and Aguero sticking away 18.34 per cent of his attempts.

That suggests it would be a near like-for-like replacement operation if Kane – five years younger than Aguero – came in from Spurs.

Lee is certain that City must replace Aguero. Although they have had success without him in their starting XI lately, and when deploying a 'false nine' system, Lee, 77, has no doubt Guardiola has to bring in a recognised goal-getter.

Lee said: "I think with the retirement of Sergio, that we definitely need one big striker. I'm not talking in size, I'm talking in reputation and ability. But who could it be? Because if you can't play in this team, you can't play in any team."

Fernando Santos is confident Diogo Jota will be fully fit for Portugal's Euro 2020 campaign, despite the Liverpool forward's troublesome foot problem.

Jota sustained the injury in last week's 4-2 win over Manchester United  at Old Trafford – a game in which he scored – and has missed the Reds' subsequent two games.

However, Klopp revealed on Tuesday that the 24-year-old has a small chance of returning for Liverpool's final match of the season at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

After naming him in Portugal's 26-man squad on Thursday for next month's rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament, Santos confirmed Jota is on course for a swift return to action.

"The information I have is that he is clinically fit and that on the 27th he will start training with his colleagues," Santos said at a news conference on Thursday.

"Those in charge of the clinical department got in touch with me after seeing his tests. I wanted to make sure every player was analysed. That's something I had to weigh up.

"I fully believe in the reports the health and performance department have showed me."

Jota made an excellent start to his Liverpool career following a reported £45million move from Wolves, but he has struggled with injuries in the second half of the campaign.

A knee problem sustained in December kept him sidelined for nearly three months, though his value to the Reds when available is clear.

He has nine goals for the Merseyside outfit in 18 Premier League appearances, 12 of which have been starts, outperforming an xG of 6.4 from 46 shots.

That cutting edge could come in handy for Portugal if they are to match their achievement of five years ago and retain their European Championship crown.

The big surprise in the Selecao's squad is the inclusion of Pedro Goncalves, who has yet to be capped at senior international level.

The 22-year-old scored 23 goals in 32 Primeira Liga appearances for Sporting CP this term to finish top of the scoring charts en route to ending his side's 19-year wait for top-flight glory.

"I may not have seen him in the national team, but I have all the necessary information on him," Santos said when asked to explain his decision.

"I have taken into account everything he has done this season. He is here because of the obvious quality he has.

"He's someone we considered when he was at Famalicao and we continued to watch him at Sporting. I went to the stadium to observe and he was close to being called up before.

"One of the criteria to consider was, beyond quality and tactical knowhow, picking players who can provide different characteristics.

"It took me hours to make the final call with regards to the squad. Yesterday I still had 30 players. It's about finding the right qualities and assembling the puzzle."

Portugal are among the favourites to go all the way in this year's rescheduled tournament, which has been delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of familiar faces are included in the squad, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix.

Ronaldo will be 37 by the time next year's World Cup comes around, but Santos is adamant Euro 2020 will not be the last tournament to feature the Juventus forward.

"It is always very difficult to think like that with him," Santos said. "He is a machine. He takes great care of himself.

"Cristiano, the way he takes care of himself and treats himself, we can never say no. There are many factors and it will depend a lot on his motivation.

"I believe he will be at the next World Cup. As for the next Euros, I think it depends a lot on how he will be prepared psychologically and physically."

Portugal begin their title defence against Hungary in Budapest on June 15, before facing Germany in Munich four days later.

Santos' side round off their Group F campaign against fellow heavyweights France on June 23.

Portugal Euro 2020 squad:

Rui Patricio (Wolves), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Silva (Granada); Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Nelson Semedo (Wolves), Jose Fonte (Lille), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Pepe (Porto), Nuno Mendes (Sporting CP), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund); Danilo Pereira (Paris Saint-Germain), Joao Palhinha (Sporting CP), Ruben Neves (Wolves), Joao Moutinho (Wolves), Renato Sanches (Lille), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Sergio Oliveira (Porto), William Carvalho (Real Betis), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City); Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Rafa Silva (Benfica), Andre Silva (Eintracht Frankfurt), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Pedro Goncalves (Sporting CP).

Liverpool have announced plans to create a new supporters board to give fan representation at executive levels of the club and put them "at the heart of its decision-making processes".

The plans, which will be formalised before next season, come in the wake of fan-led protests over Liverpool's involvement in the failed European Super League.

Reds owner John Henry signed the club up for the breakaway project last month before they backed out, with the American later issuing an apology where he acknowledged fans had been "let down".

Subsequent talks between Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan, the Spirit of Shankly (SOS) group and official supporters' trust members has seen the creation of a "new engagement model".

According to a club statement, this promises "deeper consultation with supporters on fan-facing strategic decisions".

The Reds said the consultation process will be enshrined in the club's Articles of Association and a legally binding memorandum of understanding between the club and the Official Liverpool Supporters Trust will be entered into.

"The supporters board will hold regular meetings with the club and the chair will be invited to attend LFC's main board meetings when fan-facing strategic matters arise," the statement posted on the club's website said. 

"The existing fan forums structure will remain in place but will be reshaped into three main working groups to cover ticketing, matchday experience and equality, diversity and inclusion.

"This will ensure operational issues and projects continue to be discussed by club officials and supporters. When appropriate, these matters will also be represented at the supporters board level."

Liverpool made the announcement on the same day they revealed their new kit for the 2021-22 season.

Hogan said: "The focus over the last few weeks of dialogue has been to find a long-term solution that is in the best interests of Liverpool and its supporters – one that we firmly believe is not only meaningful but also wholly in keeping with the values and aspirations of the club.

"While these changes are significant, it is important to stress that the current fan forums have also worked incredibly well since they were introduced four years ago and it is crucial that they continue in addition to the supporters board in order to give us a range of engagement options.

"There is still a lot to discuss with representatives of the Liverpool Supporters Trust in the weeks ahead but having these principles in place is a great step forward and we look forward to formalising the details of the structure."

Joe Blott, chair of SOS, added: "After discussions of the past weeks, we believe this is a unique deal and recommend its acceptance. 

"We see this as a chance to help shape the future of our club and put us at the forefront of changing football in general."

Chelsea and Leicester City have been charged by the Football Association (FA) following a scuffle between both sets of players during the closing stages of Tuesday's Premier League match.

Tempers flared in added time at Stamford Bridge after Ricardo Pereira caught former team-mate Ben Chilwell with a bad challenge near the touchline, sparking a melee that also involved some members of the coaching staff.

Three Leicester players – Ricardo, Nampalys Mendy and substitute Daniel Amartey – were booked by referee Mike Dean for their part in the incident, which came three days on from Leicester's 1-0 win against Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

Amartey was at the centre of controversy following that triumph at Wembley after footage emerged of the midfielder – again an unused substitute – throwing a Chelsea pennant to the ground.

Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger admitted his side used that perceived act of disrespect as motivation in the midweek league encounter, the Blues coming out on top 2-1 to keep their top-four hopes in their own hands.

The fallout from that latest meeting now continues, with the FA charging both clubs with failing to control their players.

"Chelsea FC and Leicester City FC have both been charged with a breach of FA Rule E20.1 following their Premier League fixture on Tuesday 18 May 2021," a statement from the FA read on Thursday.

"It is alleged that both clubs failed to ensure their players and/or club officials conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behaviour during the 93rd minute. 

"Chelsea FC and Leicester City FC both have until Tuesday 25 May 2021 to provide their respective responses."

Chelsea are third in the Premier League heading into their final game of the season away at Aston Villa, one point better off than Liverpool in the final Champions League qualification spot.

Leicester are level on points with Liverpool but require a five-goal swing on the final day if they are to finish above the Reds.

Dennis Bergkamp has warned Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and a group of legendary former players "are here to stay" in their bid to buy the club.

Swedish billionaire Ek declared an interest in buying Arsenal, whom he has supported since he was eight, in the wake of the European Super League collapse last month.

The 38-year-old has the full backing of Gunners icons Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, but he revealed last week that his initial offer to purchase the club was rejected.

Ek is not giving up hope of persuading Kroenke to sell, however, and Bergkamp – echoing previous comments made by Henry – accepts it will be a long process.

"We can't force anyone to sell. I understand that," Bergkamp told Voetbal International. "In addition to that offer, Daniel has now reached out twice to Josh Kroenke and his bankers. 

"Whatever Kroenke's intentions are, it would be good if we at least have a conversation with each other, in the interest of the club. 

"Regardless, Daniel is not a quitter and neither are we football boys. We are here to stay. The crazy thing is that we cannot imagine how the current players feel. 

"We have always played for the championship ourselves. We know how the fans feel. We have already had a meeting with a supporter delegation. 

"We sense more and more enthusiasm on their side. That is very stimulating."

Since the Kroenkes secured majority ownership of Arsenal in April 2011, the club's only major trophy successes have been four FA Cup triumphs.

Their best league finish was second in 2015-16, but they have not placed in the top four since and could be without European football next season for the first time in 26 years.

With Arsenal fans expected to protest against the current regime ahead of Sunday's home match with Brighton and Hove Albion, Bergkamp can understand their frustration.

"I played an important part of my career at Arsenal and had a testimonial there," said the Dutchman, who won three Premier League titles with the Gunners, including the famous 'Invincibles' season of 2003-04.

"The club is in my heart. I have become a fan of players, just like Patrick and Thierry. I recognise the Arsenal from our own time less and less.

"The ambition to win top prizes is in Arsenal's DNA. Never accepting loss. That mentality has slowly disappeared. 

"I sense resignation about the current situation. That is serious. As if, given the financial situation, it is normal for Arsenal to end in the middle bracket. 

"That does not belong to this club. Arsenal's DNA must be restored."

Ek's personal fortunate is believed to be worth around £3.4billion, making a takeover viable should Kroenke be talked into walking away.

"Daniel has been an Arsenal fan all his life and has been worried about the downturn at the club for some time," Bergkamp said. "When the Super League dominated the news for days, Daniel just about exploded. 

"That was when he wanted to continue and contact us. During a Zoom meeting with Thierry, Patrick and I, he shared his concerns and plans with us. That made an impression from the first moment. 

"It immediately became clear to me how deep Daniel supports the club. I think that's important: Daniel doesn't see a takeover as buying a nice toy. On the contrary.

"He understands the passion of a football fan because he is one himself. He also wants to significantly increase the influence of the fans. Among other things by giving them a place in the club management. We think that is very important. 

"We want to get close to the supporters. Daniel likes transparency anyway. Just look at how he communicates about this, via Twitter, clear to everyone. 

"Another important point is that Daniel understands that Arsenal's problems cannot be solved just like that. Pumping in some extra money and firing the manager, for example, will not get you there. 

"Structural changes must take place. This is the backbone of Arsenal. This is a far-reaching, long-term project. 

"No matter how much money is involved in English football, Arsenal is and will remain a football club, which must also be managed as such, at all levels."

Tottenham star Harry Kane wants talks with chairman Daniel Levy after admitting he is considering his future with the club.

Reports emerged in England this week that Kane was considering a move away from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after the club's deeply disappointing season.

Spurs are seventh in the Premier League after Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Aston Villa and could find themselves without European football next season should they lose to Leicester City on the final day.

Tottenham were Champions League finalists two years ago under Mauricio Pochettino but will spend another season out of the competition in 2021-22, while they again failed to win a trophy this term, losing the EFL Cup final to Manchester City in April.

Their poor performances have been in spite of Kane's best efforts. The England striker is joint-top of the league's golden boot standings with 22, level with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, and has provided a league-high 13 assists.

Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea have all been credited with an interest in Kane and the 27-year-old has now confirmed he is questioning whether Spurs can match his ambitions.

After agreeing he had reached a "crossroads" in his career, Kane told former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville on The Overlap: "I think there's definitely a conversation to be had with the club. I want to be playing in the biggest games, biggest moments.

"This season, I'm watching the Champions League, the English teams in there doing amazing and they're the games I want to be involved in.

"It's a moment in my career where I have to reflect and see where I'm at and have a good, honest conversation with the chairman. I hope we can have that conversation.

"I'm sure he'll want to set out the plan of where he sees it but, ultimately, it's going to be down to me, how I feel and what's going to be the best for me in my career.

"He's always rewarded me with contracts. He's been fair with me, never just held me to a contract, so we've always had a good relationship.

"I don't know how that conversation is going to go, to be honest. He might want to sell me! He might be thinking, 'If I get 100million for you, why not?'. I'm not going to be worth that for the next two, three years.

"I've been there 16 years of my life, so I hope we can have a good, honest conversation."

Kane has lost three finals with Spurs, who were Premier League runners-up in 2016-17, but he has yet to win a trophy with the club he joined back in 2004.

While he admits "it's hard to hear" suggestions Spurs too often lose their nerve in big games, Kane does not wish to look back on a career of near misses.

"We've been so close and things could've been a lot different, but I understand we haven't got over the line as a club," he said. "We haven't won things, we haven't been dominant when you could say we've had the best team we've had for a very long time.

"For sure, you hear those comments and they eat at you a little bit inside. They almost get you going a little bit, trying to prove people wrong, and that's been my whole career in all aspects, really, getting called a one-season wonder and all stuff like that.

"When you hear stuff about your club, it's never easy. I know what it's like working day in, day out with the players, working hard in training, in the gym to try and win trophies. It hasn't happened but it doesn't mean we're not working as hard as everyone else.

"There have been some amazing moments, some amazing years for the club, so there are some positives there, but my profession is about winning. I want to win.

"I don't want to come to the end of my career and have regrets. I want to be the best I can be. I'd never say I'd stay at Spurs for the rest of my career; I'd never say I'd leave Spurs.

"People might look at it and say, 'He's desperate for trophies'. I still feel I've got almost another career to play. I'm not rushing anything; I'm not desperate to do anything.

"I feel like I can be even better, produce better numbers than I'm producing at the moment. I'm not afraid to say I want to be the best, to try to get on the level [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi got to. That's my aim: winning trophies, scoring 50, 60, 70 goals season in, season out. That's the standard I want to set myself."

Manchester City centre-back Ruben Dias has been named as the Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers' Association (FWA).

Dias, signed from Benfica last year, pipped team-mate Kevin De Bruyne and Tottenham talisman Harry Kane to the award. He was one of nine players from Pep Guardiola's title-winning team to be included in the shortlist, with the City contingent accounting for over half of the votes cast.

The 24-year-old, who has marshalled a defence which has conceded just 32 goals in the Premier League this season, is the first defender to win the prize since Steve Nicol in 1989. 

He has also become only the third player to win the award in his first season in England, after Jurgen Klinsmann and Gianfranco Zola did so in 1995 and 1997 respectively.

In addition to being integral to a fifth Premier League title charge, Dias has helped City to an EFL Cup win – their fourth in a row – and reach their first Champions League final, which will be played against Chelsea in Porto on May 29.

FWA chair Carrie Brown said: "Ruben Dias turned heads soon after his arrival in Manchester, a 23-year-old belying his age with fortitude, steel, a relentless drive for perfection and an almost superhuman ability to read and anticipate phases of play.

"This, while commendable, would not alone qualify a player to win the FWA Footballer of the Year award. One of our founding members, Charles Buchan, prescribed the award to recognise and celebrate a player who 'by precept and example' is considered to be the footballer of the year.

"Pep Guardiola improves players, shapes them but at no point, has a new signing arrived into one of Pep's already trophy-laden teams and exerted such influence.

"Dias has demanded the highest standards which have resulted in the swiftest of upturns in fortune not solely for Dias himself, but team-mates to his left, right, front and centre.

"Perhaps, in this of all seasons, Dias is the leader we all need."

Dias has made 31 league appearances for City this season, helping Guardiola's men keep 14 clean sheets, ranking him behind only Aston Villa's Matt Targett (15) among Premier League defenders.

His tally of 88 clearances puts him top in terms of City defenders, while no team-mate at the back has made more headed clearances (47) than the Portugal international.

He ranks fourth among City defenders for tackles attempted (23), boasting an impressive success rate of 56.5 per cent, with a duel success rate of 59.3.

No City defender has contested more aerial duels (98), with Dias winning 61 of them. He has scored one league goal so far.

Dias will be able to play in front of his own club's fans for the first time on Sunday, when City welcome Everton to the Etihad Stadium.

Harry Kane looks set to be the centre of rumours and speculation this off-season after reportedly informing Tottenham he wants to leave the club.

The England international forward, who has scored 22 league goals this season, is contracted for another three years at Tottenham.

However Kane has not hidden his desire to win silverware, which has gone unfulfilled at Spurs.

 

TOP STORY – SKY BLUE PREFERENCE FOR KANE

Harry Kane has nominated Manchester City as his preferred destination and believes he has a verbal agreement with Tottenham to allow him to leave, claims The Times.

It is understood that Kane was convinced to remain with Spurs last year but as part of that he struck an agreement with chairman Daniel Levy to allow him to depart upon interest from City.

Kane will make renewed efforts to convince Levy and the Tottenham hierarchy to sell him this off-season. Spurs lost 2-1 to Aston Villa on Wednesday, and they may well miss out on Europe altogether.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are willing to offer up Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard as part of a move for Kane , claims Football Insider.

- The Red Devils are also ready to make a move for Southampton forward Danny Ings as they look to strength their front line reports The Telegraph.

- Another United target, Jadon Sancho , is being pursued by Chelsea , who have launched an £80m bid for the Borussia Dortmund talent according to The Sun.

- The list of suitors for United goalkeeper Dean Henderson is long according to Sky Sports, with Tottenham, Chelsea, Dortmund and Milan among those interested.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports that veteran Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud could be set to link up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Milan .

- Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu has attracted interest from Qatari club Al Duhail according to Sky Sport Italia.

Nat Phillips may have scored his maiden Liverpool goal in Wednesday's 3-0 win at Burnley but says he took more joy from his goal-line clearance.

The Liverpool defender produced a Man of the Match display in the crucial victory which boosts the Reds' Champions League aspirations as they move into the top four on goal difference.

Phillips scored Liverpool's second goal, his first for the club, but he also made a vital goal-line clearance from Ben Mee's effort.

"Clearance off the line – every time," Phillips said when asked which he preferred post-game.

"It’s my job to stop the ball from going in the net, to stop goals. If I can get on the scoresheet, happy days, a bit of a bonus. But I’d much rather have a clean sheet."

The 24-year-old Bolton-born defender was making his 14th start of the league campaign, where he has been used more frequently following injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Ozan Kabak, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.

Phillips was delighted with the three points which maintains Liverpool's top four push ahead of their final day match against Crystal Palace.

"Obviously the pressure is on, there’s no room for inconsistency or being lax with our performances at this stage," Phillips said.

"We know we have to win every game, so we’ve had to take it up a level and make sure that we’re performing consistently – and if not performing, at least grinding results out."

He added: "I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be a good weekend. I’m excited. What we’ve got to do now is recover, rest up, prepare ourselves – one last push and hopefully finish in that Champions League spot."

Liverpool took a huge step towards a top-four finish on an action-packed Wednesday in the Premier League.

Jurgen Klopp's men beat Burnley 3-0 and, with every team in the division now having played 37 games, they head into the final weekend in fourth – ahead of FA Cup winners Leicester City on goal difference.

There were also away wins for Arsenal and West Ham as two former England managers bade farewell, while the current Three Lions captain saw Tottenham's season take another turn for the worst.

Joe Willock also claimed a piece of history for himself and here we look at that and some of the other best facts as the last midweek round of a condensed campaign came to a close.

Burnley 0-3 Liverpool: Klopp's men go fourth and prosper

Liverpool needed goalkeeper Alisson to head home an improbable last-gasp winner at West Brom last weekend, although this latest victory was more comfortable and arrived via conventional means.

Roberto Firmino became the second player to score in three consecutive Premier League games at Turf Moor after Anthony Martial. Following a difficult season, the Brazil forward's past three league appearances have yielded as many goals (three) as the 19 before.

Three days after Alisson, Nat Phillips also headed his first goal for Liverpool, while Andy Robertson claimed his second assist of the game when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wrapped up the points two minutes from time.

Scotland left-back Robertson has 35 assists since the start of the 2017-18 season. Only Kevin De Bruyne (49) has more in that period.

Crystal Palace 1-3 Arsenal: Gunners late show ruins Roy's farewell

Roy Hodgson was given a guard of honour and a rapturous reception for his final home game in charge of Palace and Christian Benteke continued his recent hot streak to keep hopes of a memorable victory alive.

The Belgium striker cancelled out Nicolas Pepe's opener after the hour, meaning he has scored in four consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time since April 2013.

Benteke is also on to double figures for the first time since he netted 15 times in 2016-17, although stoppage-time goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Pepe stole the points.

The strike from the 19-year-old Martinelli means the Gunners are now 60 matches unbeaten (W50 D10) in Premier League games where a teenager has scored.

West Brom 1-3 West Ham: Moyes sends Allardyce through exit door

Arsenal will not finish in the top six, though, as West Ham's brilliant season continued with a 3-1 win over relegated West Brom – after which Sam Allardyce announced he will leave the Hawthorns.

West Ham's 31 points away from home are their most in a top-flight season since they compiled the same amount in 1985-86, even if victory did not necessarily look likely when Declan Rice recorded the earliest penalty miss in Premier League history after two minutes and four seconds.

Matheus Pereira put the Baggies ahead. His 17 goal involvements (11 goals, six assists) are the most in a single campaign since Romelu Lukaku in 2012-13 (21).

Tomas Soucek's 10th goals of the season levelled matters and Angelo Ogbonna headed in from an Aaron Cresswell corner – the full-back's eighth assist of the season – before Michail Antonio made sure David Moyes enjoyed his eighth consecutive win over the departing Allardyce.

 

Tottenham 1-2 Aston Villa: Spurs slide again

Harry Kane was warmly applauded by the Spurs faithful despite reports of his desire to leave, something a sixth home loss – their most since 2014-15 – did plenty to explain.

All four of Steve Bergwijn's Tottenham goals have arrived as opening goals on home turf, but Sergio Reguilon's own goal brought Villa level.

It was the 1,000th own goal in Premier League history, 41 of which Spurs have been responsible for.

A familiar face proved to be Villa's matchwinner. Ollie Watkins' 14th goal of the season means he has the most by an Englishman in a Premier League debut year since Charlie Austin for QPR in 2014-15 – something that is unlikely to have escaped Gareth Southgate's attention.

Newcastle United 1-0 Sheffield United: Six of the best for Willock

Willock headed the only goal in first-half stoppage time for Newcastle, becoming the youngest player in Premier League history to score in six consecutive games at 21 years and 272 days.

The Arsenal loanee is the third player to complete the feat for Newcastle in the division after Papiss Cisse in 2012 and Alan Shearer in 1996.

It was not for the wont of trying on the part of Allan Saint-Maximin that Steve Bruce's men were unable to add to their advantage. The winger completed 15 dribbles, the joint-most by a player in the top five European leagues this season alongside Lionel Messi against Celta Vigo.

Sheffield United will hope to avoid an unwanted record of their own when they host Burnley on Sunday. This was their 29th defeat of the season, matching the hauls suffered by Derby County (2007-08), Sunderland (2005-06) and Ipswich Town (1994-95). No side has ever lost 30 games in a Premier League campaign.

Everton 1-0 Wolves: Richarlison lifts Goodison Park blues

Richarlison's winner ended a poor home season on a high for Everton.

Their 22 points amassed at Goodison Park in 2020-21 is their lowest in any league campaign in their history when converting to three points for a win.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was a familiar provider from the corner. Since his debut in the competition in January 2012, only Chris Brunt (25) and Christian Eriksen (24) have managed more set-piece assists.

Everton's 14 headed goals are the most of any Premier League side this term.

Jurgen Klopp felt Liverpool overcame a tricky start to pass a tough test against Burnley after claiming a win that moves them into the Premier League's top four.

Goals from Roberto Firmino, Nathaniel Phillips and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain secured the Reds a 3-0 triumph at Turf Moor, though the final score did not do justice to how hard they were made to work for the points.

Burnley kept their opponents at bay until the 43rd minute and had chances of their own in the contest, though they were unable to avoid slipping to a 10th successive home game without a victory.

In contrast, Liverpool have now won four on the spin. This latest success on the road sees Klopp's side leapfrog Leicester City on goal difference as they bid to clinch a place in next season's Champions League heading into the final day this weekend.

Defender Phillips doubled the visitors' lead when he headed in a cross from Sadio Mane for his first goal for the club, then later cleared one off the line in his own penalty area.

"I can't remember an easy game against Burnley," the Liverpool boss said in his post-match interview for Match of the Day.

"The way they play is so tricky to defend. They were smart, they wanted to go for the centre-halves with (Chris) Wood and (Josh) Brownhill, little shadow runs here and there.

"There was quite a nervy start, passing wise, we played the majority of the balls in their feet in the beginning, and we had to adapt a little bit to the atmosphere inside the stadium.

"After that, we played really good football. We had two massive chances early, scored then a wonderful goal, super football.

"Second half they started again with the high intensity and we had to be ready. You cannot deny them all the time, but you have to score in the moments when you have chances.

"Nat, with the header, a really great header, then Oxlade-Chamberlain with a nice little football skill, really convincing. Very important for him, he's been out a long time, then in and out (of the team). I was really happy for that."

Liverpool are in the top four for the first time since the middle of February, while Leicester have not sat outside the Champions League qualification spots since early December.

Such a situation for the 2019-20 top-flight champions looked unlikely in recent weeks, but a season that has seen the squad left shorthanded in certain positions could finish on a high.

Phillips has been integral to the late push too, playing alongside fellow centre-back Rhys Williams. It is a partnership that, according to Klopp, could change the long-term outlook for both players, particularly as they were so far down the pecking order before injuries opened the door to the first team.

"In our season, apart from the finish now, there are not a lot of good things," Klopp said. "But the chances they've got – and how they've used it – these types of things create careers."

On Phillips, he added: "I don't think a lot of people would have thought he would be a big starter for Liverpool this year, now he's scored a goal. It's really nice."

Liverpool host Crystal Palace on Sunday at Anfield and while in a strong position for now, Klopp made clear the job is far from done.

"We have one more game to go and do not have the biggest squad, particularly in certain positions, so we have to wrap them in cotton wool and go again," the German said.

"We need to be ready again, nothing is decided yet. We have our final, that’s all we could get tonight."

Mikel Arteta described Arsenal's form in the last six months as "an incredible run" after a 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace kept their hopes of qualifying for Europe alive.

West Ham's win at West Brom means that the highest Arsenal can finish, should they beat Brighton and Hove Albion on the final day of the season and both Tottenham and Everton fail to win, is seventh.

That would earn them a place in the Europa Conference League play-off round, with West Ham's result ruling Arsenal out of both major European club competitions for the first time since 1995-96.

But Arteta recalled a run of seven winless Premier League matches towards the end of 2020 as he reflected on the improvement in their season.

"If somebody would have said to us in November or December when we were in the position that we were in that we were going to have the chance to qualify for Europe, we'd have said you are crazy," the Gunners boss said. "But we've done it.

"I think with the results and the number of points we have managed to get in the months, we have earned the right to be in that position. Now it's time to deliver on the final day but unfortunately, it's not in our hands."

Arteta praised Nicolas Pepe for his role in the win at Selhurst Park and in helping to revive Arsenal's campaign.

Pepe opened the scoring with a close-range volley and capped the victory with a mazy dribble and finish for his side's third.

Arteta said of the 25-year-old Ivorian: "It's my feeling and it's everybody's feeling in the coaching staff, and his own feeling that he's come a long way this season.

"He hasn't had the consistency sometimes in the gametime, but I think in Europe he’s been terrific and in the Premier League he's started to show much more what he's like, and he's very hungry. 

"I think he's changed a lot in his mentality and his willingness to do much more."

Roy Hodgson admitted that the occasion of his final home game in charge of Crystal Palace somewhat overshadowed the football as his side lost 3-1 to Arsenal.

Christian Benteke looked to have salvaged a proud point for Hodgson's men when his diving header cancelled out Nicolas Pepe's opener. But Gabriel Martinelli and Pepe netted in injury time to keep Arsenal's European qualification hopes alive with a win.

Hodgson, who was given a guard of honour before the game and gave an emotional speech to the Selhurst Park crowd afterwards, said that it was not easy to concentrate on the match as his managerial career neared its end.

"It's been a very long journey," he told BT Sport.

"It was an emotional night tonight. I think the players have done exceptionally well to deal with the circumstances.

"It was a bitter disappointment that we couldn't at least go away with the draw because I thought our second-half performance merited that.

"It was probably the strangest feeling I've had in a dugout for a long, long time. We're all human, we try to make the best of situations and say the right things and do the right things, but you can't get away from the fact you're a human being with emotions."

Hodgson spoke about the experience of taking charge of the club he watched as a young boy, having been born and raised in Palace's locality of Croydon.

He replaced Frank de Boer as Palace manager in September 2017 before steering the club to 11th place in the Premier League in his first season, despite them having lost their first seven games.

"It's been very special," added Hodgson.

"It's been not an easy ride; keeping Palace in the Premier League is certainly not one of the easier jobs around, but it has been a real privilege to do it.

"It's quite strange that the circle that has lasted so long ends up here now with the club of my boyhood."

Sam Allardyce will leave his role as West Brom's head coach at the end of the Premier League campaign, the Championship-bound Baggies have confirmed.

Allardyce took over from Slaven Bilic in December, but despite a mini-revival which included a 5-2 win at Chelsea, he was unable to guide West Brom to safety and their relegation was confirmed with a defeat at Arsenal earlier this month.

It is the first time Allardyce has suffered relegation from the Premier League during his managerial career, and the former England boss will not be at the helm next season.

Allardyce's assistant Sammy Lee and first-team coach Robbie Stockdale will also leave The Hawthorns.

West Brom suffered a 3-1 home defeat to West Ham on Wednesday, after which the club confirmed that, despite hoping to keep Allardyce in charge, the 66-year-old will be leaving after Sunday's match at Leeds United.

"Sam, Ken (chief executive, Xu Ke) and I have discussed at length our plans for the future and we very much hoped to have Sam in charge for next season and beyond," said sporting and technical director Luke Dowling.

"Sam and his coaching staff have been excellent to work with and I would like to thank them all for their efforts.

"Sam has given his reasons for leaving and we respect his decision. He has been brilliant to work with and I wish him, Sammy and Robbie all the very best in the future."

Allardyce said: "West Brom made me a generous offer to stay at The Hawthorns that shows the commitment of an ambitious club. After serious consideration I have decided not to accept that offer.

"If I were to stay and achieve promotion next season the expectation would be for me to continue for at least another season and, sadly, that is not a commitment I feel able to make at this stage of my career.

"I believe the club now needs stability and continuity and this would, in my opinion, best be provided by a young and ambitious manager who can get us back to where we should be as an established Premier League football club."

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