Fascinating finish to Premier League race
It's another fascinating finish to a Premier League season with the title to be decided, Champions League places up for grabs and a shootout for survival at the bottom all to come on Sunday.
Just how every neutral wants it.
I’ve spoken many times before about this division’s ability to throw up twists and turns when you least expect it, so this final set of fixtures should be full of drama, tension and hopefully a barrel load of goals.
However, I can’t see there being any sort of shock at the top of the table; Manchester City will be champions. They only need to match Manchester United’s result and you just have to look at their incredible home form - they haven’t lost in the league at the Etihad Stadium all season - to realise this QPR side won’t even threaten them.
People have spoken about nerves getting to Roberto Mancini’s men, but they’re all top internationals who will know how to get the job done. I was lucky enough to be in this sort of situation with Celtic before and, while you may feel the tension a bit, you’re so hyped up and driven to win that nothing can stop you from getting over the line.
City deserve a first top-flight title in 44 years.
They’ve got by far the best squad in England, their spine is superb with Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Nigel De Jong and Sergio Aguero, and in Yaya Toure they’ve an absolute beast of a player. The club had a small blip after Christmas, but before and after have been immense - the league’s standout.
And in contrast to the party atmosphere at the Etihad, there’ll be a despondent mood at the Stadium of Light, where Manchester United, despite beating Sunderland, will come up just short in the title race. And Sir Alex Ferguson will be kicking himself.
The champions could be home and dry by now having typically come on strong from March, but that 4-4 draw at home to Everton last month let City back in. I wouldn’t want to be a Red in Manchester this weekend!
At the other end of the table, although I expect QPR to lose, I can’t see Bolton taking advantage at Stoke and, unfortunately for my mate Owen Coyle, life in the Championship beckons. It’s a difficult one to approach, as Bolton need to go for the win and hope QPR get beat, but if they throw caution to the wind I think Stoke will pick them off.
It’s a shame to see them go down, yet the warning signs have been there since March last season and Owen has probably been given an easier ride because the focus has been on Steve Kean at Blackburn and former Wolves boss Mick McCarthy.
And that just leaves the battle for the final two Champions League places. I know Alan Pardew has done an amazing job at Newcastle, but he’d have bitten your hand off at the start of the season if you’d offered him fifth place. And that’s where the Magpies will finish. Arsenal and Tottenham should record the wins to keep them in third and fourth - which they deserve for the majority of their form throughout the campaign.
So there you have it. Unless this thrilling Premier League throws up one last twist...
Fans hold Kean’s future in hands
Blackburn's fate was finally sealed on Monday night when their defeat to Wigan saw them surrender their Premier League status, and the next question is: what happens to Steve Kean?
The Rovers boss has had an awful time from the fans this season but, all credit to him, he’s stayed really positive.
I’ve known Steve since he was 13 and he’s very thick-skinned, so there’s no doubt he’ll want to stay on at Ewood Park and bring Blackburn straight back up.
However, his future depends on the amount of influence the supporters have had on the owners.
Steve repeatedly tells me he has a great relationship with Venky’s, but money talks and, if the fans won’t buy season tickets due to Steve being there, I’m afraid he’ll be shown the exit door.
He would go with his head held high, though. Sure, the table doesn’t lie, yet Steve has taken an unbelieveable amount of abuse this season and I know it’s not deserved. He’s not just become a bad coach, it’s simply circumstances, such as a lack of money, have hurt him.
I hope he’s given a chance.
Chelsea v. Blackburn Rovers - 3-0
Everton v. Newcastle United - 1-1
Manchester City v. QPR - 3-0
Norwich City v. Aston Villa - 1-1
Stoke City v. Bolton Wanderers - 2-1
Sunderland v. Manchester United - 0-1
Swansea City v. Liverpool - 1-2
Tottenham Hotspur v. Fulham - 2-0
West Bromwich Albion v. Arsenal - 0-2
Wigan Athletic v. Wolverhampton Wanderers - 2-1
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