United we stand

Our experts expect good news for United, but bad news for Birmingham

By Stephen Mills & James Root   Last updated: 9th May 2008  

United we stand
PREMIER LEAGUE FINALE
Wigan v Man Utd
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Chelsea v Bolton
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Birmingham v Blackburn
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Manchester United will be lifting the Premier League trophy on Sunday evening.

That is the unanimous verdict of the Soccer Saturday panel who are all predicting that United will win at Wigan on Super Sunday to claim back-to-back league titles.

Chelsea host Bolton at Stamford Bridge, but they are relying on Steve Bruce's side to take points off United if they are to snatch the title away from Sir Alex Ferguson's men.

But it's bad news for Birmingham City with all 11 of our pundits predicting that Alex McLeish's men will be relegated along with Derby.

The Blues are one point adrift of safety and host Blackburn on Sunday afternoon bidding for survival, but they need results to go their way in other games if they are to survive.

Fulham should be safe if they beat Portsmouth at Fratton Park, while Reading travel to Derby hoping to beat the drop - and opinion is divided over which of those teams will make it.

See the views of our experts below and don't forget you can catch the games involving Manchester United, Chelsea and Birmingham live on Sky Sports this Sunday.

You can follow all of the games on a dramatic final day on Soccer Special on Sky Sports News.

Jeff Stelling

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- Chelsea will get the win they need against Bolton and as for the other huge game at the JJB, it's worth pointing out the fact that Wigan are on a good run, unbeaten in their last seven home games. I think it will be really tight there, but I think Manchester United will get the win they need to retain the Premier League title.

Who is going down with Derby?
BIRMINGHAM AND FULHAM
- Down at the other end I think Birmingham will go for sure. And I believe Fulham will join them as I can't see them winning at Fratton Park. Even though they haven't scored for six games I think Reading will have enough to beat Derby and survive against the odds. This is as exciting a final day in the Premier League as I can remember; mind you my memory doesn't go back very far! It could go down to the very last kick at both ends of the table. It's a blinding finish to the season.

Phil Thompson

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- I think both United and Chelsea are in a rich vein of form, although Chelsea are probably slightly ahead in the form stakes. They're not as attractive as United, but they've got more players on top form. However, I don't think the games in front of either of them are going to be a problem and I can see both teams winning their games 2-0. Wigan's players will be up for it because they are playing United, but an edge has been taken away now they are safe and I can see United taking the title.

Who is going down with Derby?
BIRMINGHAM AND READING
- The relegation situation is incredible because I thought Bolton and Fulham were both dead and buried but they have both have found a sprint finish as they approached the finishing line. Bolton are effectively safe and Fulham are in their best form of the season, so I can't see anyone stopping them. I think Reading and Birmingham will go because they've been dropping just at the wrong time. I think Birmingham will draw with Blackburn and I wouldn't be surprised if Derby-Reading was 0-0. Harry Redknapp said he'll play his best team but results aren't going their way, so I can see Fulham getting the draw that they need in that game.

Charlie Nicholas

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- I went for Manchester United at the start of the season and there's no reason to change my mind. I think it will be extremely tough for them at Wigan and I'm getting quite excited about the drama we're going to see on Sunday. I expect Chelsea to win their game comfortably and their fans will be tuning in to Soccer Special for news from the JJB and I think we might even have to wait for the last 10 minutes for United to seal it. We're in for an unpredictable afternoon, but I think the quality of United will come through.

Who is going down with Derby?
BIRMINGHAM AND FULHAM
- I think that Birmingham will probably draw with Blackburn. I wouldn't be surprised if they took the lead and then gave away a daft goal, so they'll go down. But it could go either way for Fulham and Reading and I think there will be lots of drama and changes throughout the afternoon. Even though people think Portsmouth have put down their tools ahead of the FA Cup Final, I can see Fulham having an awkward day there and that game could end up being a draw. I think Reading will narrowly win their game - 2-1 or something like that - because Derby will leave it very open and that will suit Reading. So I'm tipping Steve Coppell's men to survive.

Paul Merson

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- It will be quite fitting that they win the Premier League title on goal difference as of the two teams at the top, one team is an attacking, entertaining team and the other is pretty negative when they hit the front, so they will pay the price really. It should be an eventful afternoon though. It doesn't get much tighter than this.

Who is going down with Derby?
BIRMINGHAM AND READING
- I think Fulham will stay up. After last weekend's win over Birmingham, I can see them winning at Fratton Park as Portsmouth have got the FA Cup Final coming up. The only player who can stop Fulham from staying up is Jermain Defoe, as everybody else will be in Cup Final mode. I can't see too many of the Portsmouth players getting stuck in on Sunday. That really would be a double whammy if Reading lose to Derby and get relegated. I expect Reading to win though as I can never see Derby winning a football match! I think Birmingham will beat Blackburn as well, so I can see all three teams winning, but Fulham have done enough over the last couple of weeks.

Matt Le Tissier

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- Wigan's overall record against the big boys has been pretty poor since they came into the Premier League so it's all in United's hands - but stranger things have happened. Weird and wonderful things often occur on the last day as we saw in 1995 when United failed to beat West Ham. This is a similar scenario but while I expect Chelsea to beat Bolton 2-0 or 3-0, I think Man United will overcome Wigan 2-1. But it could come down to a late goal and there will be plenty of drama.

Who is going down with Derby?
BIRMINGHAM AND FULHAM
- Birmingham have got a home game against a team who aren't playing for much and I expect them to nick a win and be relying on results elsewhere. I also believe it will be too tough for Fulham to go and win at Portsmouth and I can see them getting a draw which won't be enough if the other two sides win. Having watched Derby several times this season, Reading will deserve to go down if they can't win at Pride Park. Reading's strikers have been poor but I think they'll get a tense 1-0 win and they'll be the ones to stay up.

Paul Walsh

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- I feel United are good enough, strong enough and mentally prepared to get a result at Wigan. I'm sure Steve Bruce won't do his old boss any favours, but I don't think he'll be sat in the dressing room before the game trying to rev his players up. He'd never admit it, but having achieved safety he'll simply tell his players to go out and enjoy themselves. It will be hard for Wigan to push themselves and while they might play some good relaxed football, I just think United will beat them and it won't matter what Chelsea do.

Who is going down with Derby?
BIRMINGHAM AND FULHAM
- I don't think Birmingham will get enough at home to Blackburn because Mark Hughes will want his team to finish as high up the table as they can. Fulham have got a good chance against a Pompey team who will rest players and have people trying to avoid injury ahead of the FA Cup Final, but I reckon that game will end up being a draw as well. Reading should win away at Derby and that will be enough to send the other two down.

Chris Kamara

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- I think both United and Chelsea will win their games comfortably. I just can't see Wigan upsetting United because they're safe and their players are in the comfort zone. If they needed a point to survive then the scenario would be different, but players' mentalities change if they know they are safe. We had a similar situation with Sunderland last weekend and it was one of my bets of the century that Bolton couldn't lose that game. The fear isn't there for Wigan and they can't wait for their holidays.

Who is going down with Derby?
TOO HARD TO CALL
- All roads lead to Fulham and most people are tipping them to stay up. Maybe that's not what Roy Hodgson would've wanted because it's easier to avoid complacency if people are tipping you to go down. Harry Redknapp has got to get Portsmouth back in good form before the FA Cup final and if I had to pick a result I'd go for the draw. I'd fancy Reading to beat Derby and it's tough to say what will happen between Birmingham and Blackburn. So I'll sit on the fence and say I'm looking forward to a fascinating final day!

Alan McInally

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- Wigan took a point off Chelsea and I keep wondering if they can do the same to Manchester United. But I don't think Steve Bruce will be that bothered about denying United the title and I think Sir Alex Ferguson will get the win he needs. Wigan have done really well to survive, but let's look at the facts: Manchester United simply need to beat Wigan and they will be champions of England - surely that is going to happen.

Who is going down with Derby?
BIRMINGHAM AND READING
- Scoring goals has been a problem for Birmingham and there's no way that Blackburn are going to the beach yet because Mark Hughes won't let them. So I'd say it's between Fulham and Reading to stay up. Reading have a chance against Derby in the game that I'm covering, but playing the cup finalists on the last day is a golden ticket for Fulham and I think they'll probably survive. If that happens I'll have to write a letter of apology - for the first time in my life - to Roy Hodgson because not long ago I said they were dead and buried. Whatever happens, it will be one of the most nail-biting days we've ever seen.

Tony Cottee

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- Without a doubt Manchester United are going to do it because the goal difference is such a big plus for them. Wigan have got nothing to play for and I just think United will be too strong. Very rarely over the years have they not got the result they've needed in this sort of situation and I can see both them and Chelsea winning their games 2-0. I can't see Steve Bruce winding his players up too much - I think we can all guess who he'd rather won the league!

Who is going down with Derby?
BIRMINGHAM AND READING
- If you'd asked me four weeks ago I'd never have said this, but I now think Fulham are going to survive. Portsmouth will have their minds on the FA Cup Final so I can see Roy Hodgson's team going there and getting the result they need. They'll deserve it too after their fantastic run in recent weeks, but unfortunately that means it won't matter what Reading and Birmingham do. I can see all three struggling to get results, but of the three I fancy Fulham more than the other two.

Tony Gale

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- Manchester United will beat Wigan and that means Chelsea's result will be irrelevant. I'm sure Steve Bruce will take the game totally honestly, but there's so much on it for Man United, they simply won't make any mistakes. The pitch will have an impact on the game, but I just think United are too good.

Who is going down with Derby?
BIRMINGHAM AND READING
- I think Fulham will go to Portsmouth and get the win. Roy Hodgson has to tell his team to go there and make the game as physical as possible in the first 20 minutes and if they do that then the Portsmouth players won't want to know. I'm sure Harry Redknapp will tell them they're playing for places at Wembley, but that won't matter if the game is physical because they'll want to steer clear of injuries. It doesn't matter what happens to Reading and Birmingham because I think Fulham will get the win they need.

Alan Smith

Who will be picking up the Premier League trophy?
MANCHESTER UNITED
- It might not be quite as straightforward as many people would imagine but I really can't see them slipping up, given Wigan are safe as well. Having said that, it will be a big game for them and they will play with freedom and could be dangerous, but I still think United will have enough. They would be more than worthy champions if they do it.

Who is going down with Derby?
BIRMINGHAM AND READING
- Fulham have to go to Portsmouth which won't be easy, there has been so much said about Portsmouth saving themselves for the Cup Final, but they will be a tough test for Fulham. But they have momentum and it's in their hands, which is a wonderful position to be in going into the final day compared to those around them. Reading have struggled to score goals recently, I'm not saying they won't at Derby, but I don't think it will be enough. And Birmingham might well win against Blackburn but I fancy Fulham to beat Portsmouth and stay up.

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