So here we are, another season about to close. No doubt Sky are, once again, a tad miffed that the Premiership has been decided before the final round of matches which at least, for the first time this season, all start at the same time.
I guess Sky’s ultimate scenario would be for two teams to be fighting it out for the title against each other on the last day just we did we did with Arsenal back in 1989. However those days seem to have gone and perhaps it’s a reflection on how the top of the Premiership has got too predictable, not mention polarised, that the title and the four Champions League places are sewn up?
So once again Sky will have to be content with the other end of the table and, at the end of today’s proceedings, training their cameras on distraught fans who have been unlucky enough to see their team relegated. Who knows may be they will be lucky enough to find an adult crying preferably someone who is either fat, old, a cute kid or a “fit” looking lady. Voyeurism or intruding on private grief is bad at the worst of times but even though it is only football, I still find Sky’s approach on these occasions a bit uncomfortable!
The final bun fight to stay in the top flight has even got a name now. “Survival Sunday” which now sits alongside “Super Sunday”. Sky are perhaps smug that they’ve now got a name for every occasion but I’m waiting for a time when on the last day of the season all the relegation places have been decided along with the title and all the European places. What will Sky call that? “Sod all Sunday” springs to mind! If they want to take up this suggestion they can have it for free!
Anyway, as we go into today there are still issues to resolve. For us there is “the race for fifth place”. Who will get that coveted final Europa League slot, us or Spurs? The tension will be unbearable as we play Villa at their place and Spurs play Birmingham at White Hart Lane! No? Come on, you know you will be on the edge of your seat stuff, it’s been in the national news all this week!
It is a reflection on the status of the Europa League, and how the Premiership has slowly eclipsed everything bar the Champions League, that our game will be well down the list and “grounds to be at”. I’m not anorak enough to quote exact figures but I wouldn’t mind betting that it’s likely that say Blackpool will directly earn more money through going down, and getting a the parachute payment, than any club that gets through to and wins the Europa League final? Time for UEFA to sort it out?
So to us. Now is not the time to review the season but, and I although hate the comparison, it’s been something to do with a certain fairground ride that goes up and down. Thankfully we appear to finishing on a plus point and should have high hopes for next season which is not something that you have thought we would be contemplating at Christmas?
The same can’t be said for today’s opponents Aston Villa. Their fans must be wondering what the future holds with Gerard Houllier’s health problems. Having finished in the top six for the last few seasons or so this campaign must be viewed as a set back. Add to that uncertainty about the future of players such as Ashley Young and Stuart Downing, who have both been linked with us, and I suspect tomorrow’s the final whistle can’t come quick enough?
Team wise it looks as if Raul Meireles will be fit having missed out against Spurs I expect him to play which will leave Dirk Kuyt free to push up and support Suarez and the Carroll.
Prediction? We beat Villa easily at Anfield earlier this season and that was when we were going through our bad spell. So logic dictates that we should win again? Of course life isn’t like that but I will go with it. 3-1 but Spurs to get the Europa spot and, at the same time, send Birmingham down.