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Sunday, May 22, 2011

EPL: Survival Sunday

With the premier league title already won, all eyes would be on the fight for 3rd and 5th spot and most importantly the spots in the dropzone. Only one game left, the battle is no doubt hotting up and the teams are feeling the heat and so are their managers.

3rd place is direct entry into Champions league and Manchester City are the news boys in this game. Arsenal with already a barren run wouldn't want to miss out on this consolation prize. However City at the Reebok Stadium would try to strengthen their chances by winning against Bolton which would add to their FA cup title.

Tottenham would have wanted to reclaim 4th spot and once again prove that they aren't one timers in Europe. However a defeat to Manchester City washed away those dreams. 5th place would have been guaranteed if not for Liverpool's resurgence under Kenny Dalglish. A home game for Spurs is a boon and 5th spot is in their hands except if they wish to gift it to Pool for their outstanding comeback this season.
5 Teams..Only 3 Survive..
A spot in the relegation zone is always dreaded and there are not less than 5 teams who are trying to avoid ending up there. Blackburn, Blackpool, Wolves, Birmingham City and Wigan will try to give their all for an extended stay in the Premier League. Staying up is important not only in terms of playing against better teams and a chance to fight to be the best in England but also what comes along, which include a bunch of incentives like sponsorship and income from television rights. Better placed the team is at the end of the season better are the chances of increasing the income is what drives clubs to fight for a place in the Premier league. Lets see which team has a better chance of surviving tomorrow.

Blackburn Rovers:
v Wolves (A).. Since winning the title in 1995 Blackburn's fortunes have been on the decline. They have been relegated once in 1999 and tomorrow they face Wolves who themselves are fighting relegation. Against a team which has the motive of staying up and also has had a decent last 6 games scoring 8 of the available 18 points,  it's gonna be a tough one. Steve Kean has a big job at hand and only a win will keep his head from rolling..
My prediction: Blackburn 2 -1 Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers:
v Blackburn (H).. A home game is an advantage, but 8 points in their last 6 against Blackburn's 6 points in the same number of games will surely add as an added boost.  However even with 2 points more than their previous campaign they find themselves still with a chance of going down. Mick McCarthy will consider himself unlucky if  that does happen and a sack will be awaiting him.
My prediction: Wolves 1 - 2  Blackburn

v Manchester United (A).. Do I need to mention that Blackpool will be playing their last game against the Champions of this season. Blackpool would be happy that Manchester United have already secured the title, else it would have been only destination for them, back to the championship. With a relaxed oppostion Blackpool should try to get their points, however even after resting a lot of players Manchester United will be far too strong for them. I see them going only one way, going down.
My prediction: Manchester United 3 - 1 Blackpool

Birmingham City:
v Tottenham Hotspur (A).. Birmingham's last few games have been disastrous with one draw and 4 losses in their last  5 and Tottenham would be in no mood to do them any favours tomorrow after having lost their Champions League spot and now with Europa league qualification spot on the line. However Spurs have been scratchy lately and this cannot have come at a better time for Birmingham who had a good campaign last year just like Blackburn but now are trying to save their skins. Relegation is not new to them but hopefully for them they can scrape through tomorrow.
My prediction: Tottenham 2 - 2 Birmingham

Wigan Athletic:
v Stoke City (A).. Wigan were tipped to be relegated even before West Ham but a few games with character has given them a chance of staying up.. For Wigan survival sunday began on 15th May when they faced West Ham who went up 2-0 in the first half. But just like Wigan of the recent, a show of courage got them back not only in the game but also in the survival race sending West Ham to the championship. On 22nd May it's gonna be a full circle for them if manage to survive at Stoke. Of late they have managed to hold on and I don't see any reason why they can't do it tomorrow.
My Prediction: Stoke City 0 - 1 Wigan

Final day always has it's share of drama and I don't expect that to lessen one bit tomorrow. The excitement is building up and for a few teams the whole season is down to tomorrow, down to one final game. It's make or break time. Special mention about Martin Skrtel(Liverpool) and Leighton Baines(Everton) who have played every minute of this Premier league season and are expected to play the full 90min on Sunday. Speaks volume of their strength, both physical and mental.

38 games, 9 months, 1 Premier League title ends on Sunday. It's time to say Adios to this season with the wait for next already having begun...

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