I contemplated doing this post before yesterday's match, but after a few weeks of doing relegation math and scenarios, I figured we could all use a break from complicated thinking. Here's the long and short of it: depending on what happens on Sunday, Aston Villa could find themselves in a variety of final positions in the Barclay's Premier League. Their worst outcome is 17th and their best is 12th. So what has to happen for them to get there?
If Villa beat Tottenham
Their worst possible finish would be 14th. There would be no way for West Bromwich Albion and Hull City to catch Villa. But, with Swansea and Sunderland playing each other on Sunday, only one of them could possibly surpass Villa's point total (41).
This is also the scenario is which Villa could take 12th. If West Ham lose to Manchester City (which seems likely), and Sunderland and Swansea battle to a draw, Villa would end the year decidedly mid-table. Also if Sunderland beat Swansea by two fewer goals than Villa beat Tottenham that would see Villa get 12th (because if the teams tied on differential, that would mean that Villa had scored more goals than the Black Cats and would thus get the higher position).
13th comes about if Swansea were to beat Sunderland or if Sunderland were to win in such a way that they kept their differential advantage.
If Villa and Tottenham draw
17th is suddenly possible. That would take West Brom and Hull winning (against Stoke and Everton, respectively) and Sunderland winning or drawing.
With a draw, Villa's ceiling is 14th, which would come about with a Sunderland loss and Hull and West Brom draws or losses.
In this scenario, the most likely outcome is probably 15th or 16th, which can happen in all sorts of different ways.
If Villa lose to Tottenham
We end the season on a sour note. Oddly, the ceiling here is still 14th, but it would require Sunderland losing by a lot to Swansea. More realistically, if Villa lose they're looking at 15th, 16th, or 17th. At 38 points, Hull City could leapfrog Villa with a draw or better, and West Brom could do it with a win.
Given what they're up against, though, I still think that Villa probably hit 15th, even with a loss.
There's not a lot of upside to be had in the end of the season, and that sort of puts a damper on Sunday. The real thing to play for at this point is simply leaving a terrible season on a good note.