Arsenal go into the last day needing a win to stand any chance of stealing second place from arch-rivals Tottenham as the Gunners welcome an Aston Villa side who will be grateful to see the back of their dreadful campaign.
The Gunners go into the final weekend on a nine-match unbeaten run having claimed a point at the Etihad last time out, and are they are aiming to get five consecutive wins over Villa for the first time in their history.
Arsene Wenger’s position is under scrutiny from sections of the Emirates faithful, but the Frenchman has secured Champions League football for the club for the 19th consecutive season, and if they can claim second spot it would be their highest league finish since 2005.
The hosts have a strong recent record on the last day in recent years – they have won their final fixture in seven of the last eight seasons. Whether they continue that strong record this weekend or not, there is a definite sense that this season should have brought more success for the north London side.
Villa bring their abysmal season to a close having ended their 11-match losing streak with a goalless draw against fellow relegated side Newcastle at Villa Park last weekend.
Remarkably, the visitors have not won on the road since the opening day of the season at Bournemouth, whilst only Derby County in 2007/08 have won fewer games overall than Villa’s three this campaign.
The Midlands outfit are also the only side not to have scored more than two goals in a game throughout 2015/16; a summer overhaul is needed as the club prepare for their first season outside the top flight in nearly three decades.
In a blow for club and country, Danny Welbeck has picked up a knee injury which will see him miss Euro 2016 and a large part of next season. Jack Wilshere could make his first Arsenal start since the last day of last term, whilst Mesut Ozil is also likely to feature.
Aly Cissokho served his one-match suspension last weekend and is available for selection, but Rudy Gestede – who scored the winner in the club’s only away win this season – is out and Kieran Richardson and Jordan Veretout are doubtful.
League Position: Arsenal – 3rd (68 pts); Aston Villa – 20th (17 pts)
Previous Meeting: Aston Villa 0-2 Arsenal (December 13, 2015)
Form: Arsenal – DDWDWD; Aston Villa – LLLLLD
Key Men: Arsenal – Mesut Ozil; Aston Villa – Jordan Ayew
Shoot Says: Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa