Friday, May 11, 2012

FINAL DAY OF THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE: WHAT TO EXPECT by Cosmos Chukwuemeka Akisi


Wow, This is the final weekend of the Premier League and Roberto Mancini's side Manchester City are within touching distance of the title.

The Abou Dhabi backed team are level on points with their city rival Manchester United at the top of the table but their superior goal difference means a win over London club QPR at Eastlands will be enough to claim the trophy this season.


However, QPR will give everything they have to avoid relegation to the Championship.

One place in the bottom three is yet to be decided and it will be either Mark Hughes' side or Bolton Wanderers who occupy it come Sunday evening.

Elsewhere, the battle for Champions League football could take a final twist with the north London neighbours Arsenal and Tottenham as well as an impressive Newcastle side all hoping to finish in the top four.

It has been a campaign of ups and downs in the Premier League, with the Manchester clubs dominating proceedings at the log. Tottenham briefly flirted with the idea of mounting a title challenge initially, but the two serious contenders for the throne were City and United. 

Roberto Mancini saw his side produce a landmark 6-1 victory at Old Trafford but the champions then clawed back a sizeable deficit before taking an eight-point lead, which has since been squandered. 

So on this final weekend Manchester City knows a win against QPR will secure the title, following their victory against Newcastle in a crucial title decider.

However, Mark Hughes, on his return to the Etihad Stadium, and Queen Parks Rangers will have other ideas.

A draw would see them stay up but defeat and a Bolton win against Stoke City at The Brittania Stadium would spell the end of a one-year stint in the top flight for the London club

Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Manchester United are relying on a 'stupid' result at Eastlands for a 20th league title to be possible but it sure looks like being an unusual trophy-less season for United. 

On Sunday Ferguson takes his team to Sunderland, hoping they can find motivation and forget what the blue half of Manchester are doing. That may be impossible though, with away fans at the Stadium of Light sure to be tuned in to radio transmitters and online updates for the latest from the Etihad stadium.

But a Rejuvenated Sunderland coached by Martin O' Neil, could finish in the top half with a surprise win, which considering their terrible start to the season would be an impressive turnaround.  


In the battle for champions league place, a draw for Arsenal at West Bromich Albion would secure their place in the top four this season, but Arsene Wenger will be focused on a top-three finish to guarantee their spot in next year's UEFA Champions League.

That would ensure that they would not have to go through the qualifying rounds to enter the tournament, and also mean they would not have to cheer on Bayern Munich against city neighbours Chelsea (Even if most Arsenal fans will still support Bayern anyway)  in the final of this season's competition next Saturday.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger insists his players will get the job done at The Hawthorns but newly appointed England coach Roy Hodgson will want a big send-off in his last game in charge of Albion before taking the Three Lions reins full-time ahead of Euro 2012.

Birmingham coach Chris Hughton is reportedly a leading candidate to replace Hodgson, who has steered West Brom to a respectable 10tth and also hope that they can to finish the season in the top half.

Tottenham will be hoping their North London rivals slip up in the Black Country while they host fellow London club Fulham at White Hart Lane.

It has been an eventful season for Spurs and especially for their manager Harry Redknapp, who will be desperate to at least finish in the top four.

Newcastle only trail them by one point, however, and anything less than a win on Sunday could result in huge disappointment. Spurs have picked things up in recent weeks and are finishing strongly, although will have to be wary of a dangerous Fulham side. Martin Jol could steer his side to a seventh-placed finish in his first year at Craven Cottage, and Clint Dempsey, who is injured, has undoubtedly been one of the players of the season.

Alan Pardew has done a fine job at Newcastle following his surprise appointment, and even if the Magpies do not finish in the top four they can be justly proud of a fantastic season. All is still to play for, though, going into their clash with Everton at Goodison Park. 

Whether Pardew can keep hold of his key players in the summer is yet to be seen, but the likes of Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba,midfielder Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote have taken the Premier League by storm. 

Only a win will do against the Toffees, who have once again enjoyed an impressive year under David Moyes, despite their trademark slow start.

Everton will hope to finish above city rival Liverpool and claim the local bragging rights on Merseyside.

In the relegation decider, Bolton Wanderers need a big performance at Stoke City to save them from relegation.

Only a win will do for Owen Coyle and three points should be enough, that is if  Manchester City get their job done against QPR. 

But the Britannia Stadium is not a welcoming place to go knowing that anything less than victory will mean dropping out of the Premier League. One thing that may work in Bolton's favour is that Stoke could have one eye on the beach, Tony Pulis' side sitting comfortably in the bottom half.

They can finish no lower than 14th but if results go their way this weekend an 11th-placed finish is a possibility. The onus will be on Bolton, though. Can they deal with the pressure? That is a billion Naira question.



Relegated Blackburn Rovers are in absolute disarray and the operations of Venky's are coming under increased scrutiny.

Deputy chief executive Paul Hunt has left the club although the owners insist it is nothing to do with a letter calling for the departure of Steve Kean, who remains as manager despite Rovers' relegation.

Blackburn will bow out of the Premier League against Chelsea in the capital, with Roberto Di Matteo  concentrating on next weekend's Champions League final.

Chelsea rested players against Liverpool in midweek and were duly punished - will they do the same again?

Another side preparing for life in the Championship are Wolves, but they have already moved to appoint a new manager, with Norwegian Stale Solbakken, who incidentally tinkered Bundesliga side Cologne to relgation to take the reins at Molineux from 1 July.

Their fans will wave farewell to the top flight at Wigan and it may be a difficult afternoon for the Wanderers faithful, given that the Latics could be gloating after their survival.

Roberto Martinez has worked wonders yet again and Dave Whelan will hope to hold on to the Spaniard for another year.

So Let's wait and see.

All in all, it has been a very interesting and action packed season in the premiership. I can hardly wait for next season.

Wriiten by Cosmos Chukwuemeka

Reference from Sky Sports


Cosmos Chukwuemeka Akisi is a sport analyst/presenter who loves talking about sports, especially football even from his childhood. U can listen to him on top sports on top radio mostly on Thursdays and other sports shows on Nig.Info and Brila fm. He presently works temporarily in Superscreen television and also writes and manages the best sport blog in Nigeria, Premiumsportscenter.blogspot.com with his partner, Adenike Adegbite.
 

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