Had Arsenal found a way past Brighton last weekend, it would have been a finale of note in the English Premier League but the situation at the top means we have a final of exhilarating effect on our hands, it’s down to the wire, down to the last blast of the whistle, across grounds, some for pride and some for what they might not experience in a long while. For Cardiff, Fulham and Huddersfield, it’s been real, they’re down, out and uncertain as to when they’ll ever kick the round leather in the Premier League context, they have been relegated, some quite long before the final day but strong credits to the Lily Whites, they have been a beauty to watch since they went down at home to Watford, then you’d ask where all the heroics were when they were piling up losses.
Up there, Liverpool are home to a very stubborn Wolves, but one thing that will come to the top of everyone’s mind is the comeback win over Barcelona in midweek, Liverpool overturned a 3:0 deficit to dump the Catalan giants out of the competition, it was a night to remember and they can draw inspiration from that as they chase City down the corridors up until the final seconds of the 2018/2019 league campaign. Isn’t it a huge surprise that a team would get well over 90 points in the league and not be champions? Incredible stuff in the English Premier League this season as Liverpool would have done everything possible but a few dropped points after January means they have to hope on Brighton while they do their own business at home, they don’t know if Salah and Firmino would be available, but one thing that is certain is the fact that they know what to do and they have to do it, just the way they did on Tuesday night.
Manchester City lost to Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) and now have the league and FA Cup to focus on, they are away at the Amex and anything that equals whatever Liverpool does at Anfield lands them the title, their second in as many years and the first time a champion would successfully defend the title in a decade, great feat considering the uncertainties in their season at some points; City could be guilty of deprioritizing the league for the UCL but since they failed to get past Spurs, they can face the league where the advantage is theirs. Brighton could be a banana peel, if you disagree, you may have to ask Arsenal, UCL dreams via league position faded off for Arsenal when Brighton visited the Emirates in what was believed to be a routine win for the Gunners, but a moment of madness from Granit Xhaka handed Glenn Murray a penalty that he duly converted for his 200th goal in English football, Manchester City must be wary of such moments if they want to be champions. The Citizens also have a date with Watford in the FA Cup final which comes after the settling of the dust of the Premier League (May 18, 2019)
Huddersfield end their Premier League fairytale at Southampton, the Terriers knew from day one that it would be a very long season, David Wagner left the club mid-season and there was little anyone could do to salvage their situation regardless of who, they just never had the men that could to the job, whatever happens at St Mary’s Stadium on Sunday, they can hold their shoulders high, not in pride for the shambolic season, but for the heroic showings even with inferior quality; The Saints haven’t really been much better, the form of Cardiff and Fulham is the reason they were safe before the final two games, they have to come back next season with scoring boots and defensive quality, or they will have to go through the same relegation scares again.
Let’s talk about Manchester United, every tabloid coming out has a link to almost every player in Europe and then their fans watch same player sign new deals or hold shirts aloft for other serious suitors, United is now a joke on the pitch and in the market, something has to change next term. Without doubt, Ole Gunner Solksjaer is the right man for the job, but it can be argued that he got the job too early; before Ole was handed the interim job, Manchester United weren’t anywhere near the top four equations, fast forward few back to back wins, they were rooting for it, and then the manager got the job on permanent basis and the boys went back to their poor form, then the fans want the head of the manager, when Jose Mourinho said his biggest achievement was finishing second with the current United squad, many called him clueless, now they can relate, this current United squad isn’t just good enough and a big summer awaits them. Before the summer, United ends the season with the visit of Cardiff, the new United doesn’t offer fans any guarantee of victory, and they are the only team in the top six with no hope of silverware this term, what version of Cardiff would visit Old Trafford?
Arsenal will not make the UCL next season via the league after allowing Xhaka’s madness to rob them of three points last weekend but they can make it via the Europa league after dumping Valencia out of the competition on Thursday night. Over both legs, Arsenal went behind first but rallied to win, their victory, coupled with Chelsea’s penalty shootout win over Frankfurt seals All England finals in both European competitions.
Arsenal are away to Burnley, again there are no guarantees here, the players are only looking forward to the Europa league final against Chelsea, the Clarets will look to finish strongly at home and prepare for next season, their fans would love to end it on a high and a very inconsistent Arsenal shouldn’t stop them, but the fixture would be the last time Arsenal would see the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck, Petr Cech who is retiring and a few others who the fans are tired of seeing, a certain World Cup winning defender comes to mind.
Chelsea will be in the UCL next season regardless of what happens in Baku against Arsenal, they made sure with the 3:0 win over Watford last weekend, they of course had to dig deep to oust Frankfurt on Thursday with goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga at the center of their success with penalty heroics, they travel to Leicester to end the season on a high but as we’ve seen since Brendan Rodgers took over, it’s been a different story with the Foxes, Chelsea will do so much to earn a point at the King Power stadium.
The season is over after this round and we’ll have to find other hobbies in international football, thanks for being a part of what we call one helluva season, the highs, the lows, the hits and the misses, see you next season and always remember to gamble responsibly.
|Fixtures||Verdict||Player to watch|
|Brighton vs City||City to win and be champions||Sergio Aguero|
|Burnley vs Arsenal||Burnley to win or draw||Chris Wood|
|Palace vs Bournemouth||Palace to win or draw||Wilfried Zaha|
|Fulham vs Newcastle||Newcastle to win or draw||Solomon Rondon|
|Leicester vs Chelsea||Leicester to win or draw||Jamie Vardy|
|United vs Cardiff||United to win||Paul Pogba|
|Liverpool vs Wolves||Liverpool to win||Sadio Mane|
|Southampton vs Huddersfield||Saints to win||Shane Long|
|Tottenham vs Everton||Everton to win or draw||Lucas Moura|
|Watford vs Westham||Both teams to score||Gerrard Delofeu|
Strictly the writer’s opinion