This has been a crazy week when football’s soul was almost sold out to greedy, crazy men representing 12 of European’s elite football clubs. Even when the house of cards folded dramatically within 72 hours of the Super League being launched, at least two clubs – Real Madrid and Barcelona – still had their heels dug in.
Fortunately for the sport, the fans managed to rip control back to near “normality”. Football is a sport for the working class; in some countries it’s more religion than sport and to think that 12 “super clubs” thought they could break away from the English Premiership, La Liga and Serie A all in the name of making more money, is the highest insult to those fans possible.
We could go on for hours discussing the few pros and many cons, but there’s a round of football to discuss. As a Chelsea fan I was disgusted that my club signed up for the Super League, but when fans prevented the team bus from entering Stamford Bridge for their midweek game against Brighton, I was proud that this action led to the club, along with Manchester City, being the first to admit the whole idea was a mistake.
A distracted Chelsea went on to share a point in a goalless draw with Brighton, a result that made the race for the top four even more interesting.
Here’s this weekend’s menu for a shortened round of 8 games:
Arsenal 2 Everton 1: I’ve expected more from Everton, but they’ve been weakened by injury and it’s hard to believe they were the EPL leaders after the first 4 games of the season. They haven’t won for 5 matches and will find it difficult against a similarly inconsistent Arsenal side. Everton won the reverse fixture 2-1.
Liverpool 2 Newcastle 0: The Saturday lunchtime kickoff often throws the upset and Newcastle have clawed their way out of the relegation scrap with 2 big wins. In fact, they’ve only lost 1 of their last 8. But Liverpool have overcome their wobble and are right in the hunt for that last Champions League spot.
West Ham 1 Chelsea 1: Glued together on 55 points in the chase for a Champions League spot with Tottenham and Liverpool 2 points behind. Both will have seen the earlier Liverpool kickoff result which will add more pressure to them getting 3 points here. It’s these type of situations that often throws up a draw.
Sheffield United 0 Brighton 1: Sheffield United have already been relegated and have only pride to play for. Brighton are 7 points clear of the other relegation spots but are this season’s club “too good to be relegated”. Their problem has been in front of goal. But, they should create enough chances to make one stick here.
Wolves 1 Burnley 1: The visitors have lost their last 3 and are now 17th, only 6 points clear of Fulham. They beat Wolves 2-1 in the reverse fixture but this won’t be easy getting the maximum poiints here. I may well be wrong but I think the bet here is the under 2.5 match goals.
Leeds 1 Man United 2: It’s hard to back against Manchester United right now as they seem to have second place wrapped up and have won their last 5 games. But Leeds have beaten Man City and drawn with Liverpool in their last 2, but the reverse fixture ended 6-2 to Man United, so the mental scarring has to be there.
Aston Villa 2 West Brom 0: Just when West Brom looked to be mounting a last-gasp relegation escape, with 8 goals in 2 wins against Chelsea and Southampton, they lost 3-0 to Leicester on Thursday night. Villa have suffered without Jack Grealish for a big chunk of games, but have enough quality to win this.
Leicester 2 Crystal Palace 0: Jamie Vardy got back on the scoresheet against West Brom and Leicester are firmly in control of their Champions League qualifying destiny. The reverse fixture ended 1-1 but you have to think than Leicester can smell that Champions League spot and won’t lose the scent at this late stage.