One of the more intriguing subplots on the final day of the Premier League season is the rather counterintuitive battle for seventh place between Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton.
Marooned between the Champions League spots and mid-table obscurity, all three risk being condemned to the upward-mobility-sapping powers of Europa League football in 2015/16.
Not even a concerted patch of sickly form on the part of all three parties has been enough to drag eighth-placed Swansea into the consolation competition reckoning.
Yet, the faint prospect of Aston Villa overturning 7/2 underdog status to lift the FA Cup means that finishing seventh still comes with the potential to avoid continental action next term – with the trio separated by just two points there’s all to play (badly) for…
Largely out of form and playing away from home with questionable motives, all three can be backed to lose in treble that pays more than 10/1.
Manchester City to beat Southampton @ 1/2
How City must regret the springtime lull which let Chelsea slip away with the Premier League title, they’ve claimed the laurels in their last five matches, winning ugly (Aston Villa), really ugly (West Ham), lucky (Tottenham) and swashbuckling (Swansea).
The Saints have lost all bar one of their last six road games and the contiuning absence of Fraser Forster will severely limit the effectiveness of any rearguard actions at the Etihad.
Everton to beat Tottenham @ 37/20
Tottenham haven’t won at Goodison Park since 2007 and their away form doesn’t suggest they’re about to buck that trend – only QPR and Newcastle have lost to the Lilywhites on home turf across the Londoners’ last nine away fixtures.
Everton are in rock solid form on Merseyside, obligatory ‘how did they manage to lose that?’ defeat to Sunderland aside, with that loss their only one in 12 and the sole match they’ve failed to win on home turf in seven.
Stoke City to beat Liverpool @ 23/10
Having already chowed down on fellow wannabe Europa League avoiders Southampton and Spurs at the Britannia Stadium in recent weeks the Potters have every chance of completing the hat-trick against a Reds side mired in a nostalgic and tactical funk.
One win in six is testament to their ebbing ambition, with even sending off their legendary captain Steven Gerrard with a victory insufficient motivation to muster a victory last time out.