The Strangest Final Day For Years
Friday, 10th May 2019 09:52
This year virtually everything that needs to be decided in the Premier League is done and dusted before the final day, well all apart from one thing !
Most final days of the Premier League season see the title already won, but plenty of other issues to keep the interest going, the top four, who will finish 7th and these days usually get into Europe because the FA Cup winner is a top six club and a scramble to get clear of the relegation zone, an issue that we had to content with last season, albeit a remote chance of going down.
But this season there is only one issue to be decided, the top four is just about nailed on, Arsenal would require a plus 8 goal difference swing in order to leapfrog Spurs, 7th is settles Wolves are 4 points clear of Everton and at the bottom Huddersfield and Fulham have been down for weeks and Cardiff were relegated with three games to go, all this probably shows how polarised the Premier League has now become.
The Big Six are getting stronger both financially off the pitch and by doing so on the pitch, put bluntly a Manchester United team that has spent much of the season in so called disarray, is still strong enough to finish in sixth spot not even having to look over it's shoulder and by the time the day is done the gap is likely to be 12 points.
All that is left to play for apart from one thing is around £2 million for each place a club jumps up or drops down.
In our case the we can only possibly drop 1 place and that if Brighton beat Manchester City and we lose or perhaps draw to Huddersfield, in fairness if we were picking the fixtures then these are probably the two we would choose.
Conversely we can only go up one place as well, if Burnley fail to beat Arsenal at home then a win at St Mary's should be enough to see us jump above them.
Not an exciting day looking at their phones for the supporters of most clubs as let's face it the kids on the park next week are not going to be firing the ball into the net and shouting and Danny Ings scores the goal that sends Saints above Burnley and wins them an extra £2 million are they ?
So for most of the table it is a fairly mundane day at the office, virtually every club can only go up or down only one place, except that is for two, Manchester City and Liverpool.
If it is the most mundane final days for most it is perhaps the most exciting at the top of the League with the title still to be decided, this is a fairly rare occurrence and in the 26 seasons completed so far in the Premier League only 7 have gone to the final day, the last of those being 5 years ago when City & Liverpool were ironically both involved, that was the year of the infamous Gerrard slip and then Liverpool blowing a 3-0 lead at Palace to draw 3-3.
Those two games virtually handed Manchester City the title, but although it was all decided on the final day , City had the upper hand they could afford to draw at home to West Ham and they would still win it, but thye cruised to a 2-0 win with Liverpool beating Newcastle at Anfield.
This year it is far more exciting, if Liverpool beat Wolves at Anfield then Manchester City can afford no slip ups at Brighton, they have to win a draw will not be good enough.
Liverpool will hope that Brighton can perform a miracle and keep the visitors at bay and there is some evidence that they might just be able to do that.
Firstly Brighton are defensive, in the second half of the season they have completely closed up shop and they look to not concede and then snatch a goal.
This is not the type of game that City like to play against, they are at their best when the opposition try to come out and play football, then they can use their pace and carve open defences, they do not like teams camped in theor own penalty area where there is no room to use their pace.
Secondly City themselves have been struggling to score goals of late, although since drawing at Newcastle on 29th January they have won every Premier League game since, a total of 13 straight victories, they have struggled to score.
Their last two wins over Leicester and Burnley were both 1-0, as have been three other of the games and they have rarely turned over a side as they did earlier in the season, perhaps partly due to the fact they try to walk the ball into the net and these days seem to be more about getting the job done than the manner of doing so, I can't argue with that it will probably win them the title.
Thirdly Brighton due to their aforementioned defensive qualities have fared well against City in their two previous games this season, back in September Brighton only lost 2-0 at the Etihad despite 80% possession for City, a goal in each half doing for them.
At Wembley for the FA Cup semi final they lost only by a single goal scored in the opening minutes and they had a full 30% possession and a couple of shots on target as well.
Finally there could be the tiredness factor, City will be fired up of that there is no doubt, but since that FA Cup semi on 6th April five weeks ago, City have played 7 times including the epic Champions League semi final against Spurs and that took a lot out of the mentally and physically, three out of the four games played since that second leg have ended 1-0 and the fourth at Old Trafford 2-0.
But having said all this it would be strange for anyone to put too much money on Liverpool being Champions come Sunday evening, City are a great side that there can be no doubt and their run of wins to make this final day of destiny possible cannot be underestimated.
However the fact that the Premier League winners will likely finish a full 40 points ahead of the 7th placed club Wolves, perhaps tells you a lot about where Football in England is at these days, the rich are getting richer and stronger and the rest of us falling well behind.
For those who point at the ex Saints playing in the Champions League final and say what if, the answer is dream on, this is the Premier League, few great players stay at a club outside the Big Six for very long anymore, money and the chance of winning things put paid to that, Saints sold a lot of players, that did not make us a selling club it merely made us a club who were unearthing some serious talent at a far greater rate than the rest of the league and paying the consequences.
So this is the strangest final day for a while, but get used to it the gulf between the Big Six and the rest is widening !
Photo: Action Images
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