It’s tight at the top and it’s even tighter at the bottom. This week, resurgent football follower Jen Offord plays the role of Mark Lawrenson as she predicts how the weekend will unfold in the Premier League.
I’ve been reminiscing of late those halcyon days, back in 1998, listening to 5 Live and watching Teletext with my brother, as we charted Charlton Athletic’s “meteoric rise” up the First Division table. It was a great time, leading to Charlton’s stunning play-off victory against Sunderland at Wembley, and gave me things to talk about with my brother’s friends who I was probably ineffectually trying to flirt with. I’m remembering that this is the exciting bit of the season, if I can put to the back of my mind that Charlton are pretty close to relegation themselves this year.
There are some potential kingmakers and err, kingundoers(?), this weekend. With Man City having inexplicably drawn against Sunderland in the week and lost to Liverpool last weekend, it looks like the title is Liverpool’s to lose. Personally, and controversially in much the same way as I feel about Marmite, I have no strong feelings about Liverpool either way. That said, with the Hillsborough inquest on-going and a long history of just missing out, it is Liverpool I’ll be rooting for this weekend. They take on Norwich, who I don’t really want to get relegated, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. Sorry, Norwich.
Meanwhile, Chelsea who are hot on Liverpool’s heels, are playing Sunderland. Both of them need to win this game, but let’s face it, it’s not going to be Sunderland, who are quite clearly done for, with six points lodged firmly between them and safety.
A win against West Ham in the week for Arsenal, and Everton’s inexplicable defeat by Crystal Palace, puts Arsenal on stronger footing for the fourth Champion’s League place. Arsenal play Hull this weekend in a matchup that will mimic the FA Cup final. Also on Sunday, a grudge match between Everton and former boss David Moyes’ Man Utd ensues at Goodison Park. Albeit with a game in hand, Man Utd are 10 points away from a Champion’s League place, but with fixtures against Norwich, Sunderland and Hull in their final five games of the season, it’s not inconceivable that they could claw something back.
Fulham and Cardiff have both managed to cobble a few points together in the last week, leaving the bottom of the table looking as yet, unpredictable. 14th place Aston Villa are only four points above the relegation zone, and I’d be looking nervous at this stage if I were them. I really don’t want Cardiff to get relegated either, and an upset for 10th place Stoke on Saturday would give the Bluebirds (that’s Cardiff, FYI) a much needed boost. However, having just Googled Cardiff to find out their nickname, I’ve discovered that the “Baby-Faced Assassin” – former Red Devil Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is their boss and I almost immediately feel unsure about where I stand on the club, now. I never trusted him.
Still, He’s trying to swipe three points from Crystal Palace for their contentious victory (apparently someone from Palace knew someone else was trying to get hold of Cardiff’s starting line-up, or some equally tenuous basis) against Cardiff earlier this month and I always like to see Crystal Palace suffering, so it’s not all bad.
Elsewhere, Newcastle continue to be rubbish, and fans have taken to venting their frustrations via the simple but effective medium of a bedsheet and some black paint, decreeing “Pardew is a Muppet”, which must cut pretty deep.
And that’s all this week. The moral of this story is don’t trust people who look like babies but are actually very good at football/write strongly worded letters that they share with the BBC.
What are your predictions for the Easter Weekend? Could Aston Villa face relegation? And are Manchester City now out of the title race?
Read more from Jen Offord here!