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Week 38 Premier League Preview: Season's End

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Championship? Clinched. Survival? Secured. So, what's left?

Which Manchester superstar will be celebrating on Sunday?
Which Manchester superstar will be celebrating on Sunday?
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Relegation Resolved

It feels like an even bigger punch in the gut to be relegated on the tails of a resounding victory, but that's exactly what happened with poor Norwich City today despite a 4-2 victory over fellow promotion team Watford FC. Sunderland's own resounding victory over Everton (a side perhaps more deserving of relegation on current form than either team sent down today) was enough to see them survive at the expense of Norwich and Newcastle.

We know that Aston Villa fell victim to the pull of The Championship due in large part to poor management decisions and the Magpies likewise fall by the wayside thanks to an injury-ravaged squad, but where did it all go wrong for the Canaries? In short, it appears to have been an inability to identify a reliable goalscorer. Cameron Jerome was, at his best, the caliber of striker you'd associate with a mid-table Premier League squad, and he's nowhere near his best at this stage of his career. The Patrick Bamford experiment never worked out, and Dieumerci Mbokani was woefully inconsistent. Had Alex Neil been able to call on Odion Ighalo or Benik Afobe or Jermain Defoe from the beginning of the season, it's hard to imagine his squad joining Crystal Palace as the most-relegated team from England's top flight.

European Expectations

What's done is done, though, and with the title race and survival scrap over, we finish the season with only one objective still up for grabs: European football. While Arsenal could still find themselves dragged down to their customary fourth-place finish, it seems far more likely to be a battle between the red and blue halves of Manchester for the final Champions League qualification spot.

That "final" spot in fourth may yet give way to a fifth team entering the Champions League next season, however, as Liverpool will claim a spot in Europe's top competition should they manage a victory over Sevilla in the Europa League final next week. Jurgen Klopp has a difficult decision ahead of the final match of the Premier League season, as the Reds could still earn a spot in next season's Europa League campaign if results go their way in the final match, but following the 1-1 draw against Chelsea it seems more likely that West Ham United and Southampton will battle it out on Super Sunday while the Reds rest their big names in preparation for Wednesday's final.

Fantasy Factor

With positions 3-7 in the table still up for grabs, our attention as fantasy managers should feature a strong focus on players from Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, West Ham and Southampton, especially as managers of teams with nothing much to play for run out experimental sides to give their best players time off to prepare for their summer exertions with their national teams.

If you're not a fan of players from these teams, though, you could always look for a few players who may be playing for a spot on a Euro 2016 team, a better contract or new club ahead of the summer transfer window. We've seen improved form from the likes of Christian Benteke and Eden Hazard lately, among others, and perhaps they're worth a look as well.

How are you planning on finishing out the season? Have you hit your goals? Is there a rival you're battling against? Share your thoughts in the comments as we close out this wild, wonderful season.