Approaching the End

It’s down to two unlikely contenders: Don Claudio and Poch the Great.

The Title Race

Leicester will be at least five points clear after this gameweek with only four matches to go. Their next fixture is Swansea at home – the team that just got painfully beaten by horrendous Newcastle United squad. It seems that Claudio Ranieri’s lads are lucky again to encounter an opponent in the middle of a slump… but what’s next in the tank? Foxes are going to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge with an in-between home fixture against Everton. And even if they win the two remaining home games – it might not be enough to clinch the title.

Tottenham are set to face Stoke at Britannia Stadium today and, as usual in the few passing weeks, only a win prolongs their title hopes. Beside that, they’re scheduled to play West Brom, Chelsea and Southampton – three other teams that don’t have anything to fight for anymore. So in fact, the only remaining tricky fixture for them will be a visit to St. James’ Park on a final day of the season – unless, of course, Newcastle seals the relegation earlier. So, unless The Blues decide to show up in the derby – everything spells 15 points for Spurs.

The 3rd Spot Race

Manchester City have just caught their second wind. Undefeated in the last 5 games in all competitions, they suddenly found themselves in the Champions League semifinal and in the third place in BPL table. With De Bruyne and Agüero firing on all cylinders, the team should have no problem keeping the momentum against Newcastle (away) and Stoke (home). However, the absolutely crucial game for them will be a clash with Arsenal on May 8th, at Etihad. If they win that game – nothing will stop them from clinching the bronze medals.

Arsenal have just bottled another routine fixture against Crystal Palace and fell back to their customary fourth place. Four of their five remaining fixtures are looking laughably easy but the problem is that the team cannot wrap up the games they’re absolutely dominant in – which is fairly likely to repeat itself against West Brom, Sunderland, Norwich or (and?) Aston Villa. So unless The Citizens get too exhausted with their Champions League quest, The Gunners could be condemned to their cursed 4th place – leaving their fans livid all over again.

After 0-0 at Old Trafford, West Ham and MU are looking to meet again.

The 5th Spot Race

Manchester United are slowly but surely crawling to the 5th place finish – one spot and a handful of points lower than they were at the end of 2014/15 campaign. Let’s face it: it’s been a failure of a season for Louis van Gaal and his brand new team with £110 million worth of new signings. Apart from few lads like David de Gea, Chris Smalling and youngster Marcus Rashford, all Red Devils should be embarrassed of their performance. In these grim circumstances, a new boss like José Mourinho cannot be there soon enough.

West Ham have enjoyed a marvellous season so far and are set for a couple of fairly comfortable fixtures. However, the team has been winless for the last six competitive matches and their challenge for the 5th place looks dubious – especially since they’ve managed to toss away a victory at Leicester. To stay in the race, during the next two weeks, The Hammers have to make sure they stay within 3-point range with Manchester United. Then, on May 10th, it will be the time to beat van Gaal’s team at Upton Park – and win the Europa League spot that way.

Liverpool are the only team still capable of upsetting the odds at the very top of the league. With two games still in their hand and a very attractive schedule (four home fixtures and relatively comfortable visits to Swansea and West Brom), Klopp’s team could potentially finish fifth – at least as long as Europa League doesn’t interfere with their plans. Last Thursday, they’ve made a comeback against Dortmund; this weekend, they’ve won at Bournemouth despite played second-string team. Good days to be The Reds’ supporter…

 

The Relegation Dogfight

Sunderland have just soundly beaten Norwich at Carrow Road and immediately rose to the favourites for survival. After Sam Allardyce has finally settled for a consistent starting eleven, the team has repaid it, getting a 3-0 victory despite taking just eight shots to Canaries’ 19. However, they will still need at least one more win (or three draws) to secure any point margin over their rivals in green and yellow. Their home opponents are looking strong (Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton) and the team is notoriously awful on the road. Anything can happen.

Norwich, on the other hand, have only four games remaining – and two of them are against Arsenal and Manchester United. In view of that, it’s very likely that Alex Neil has just bottled his last chance for keeping the club afloat. Even a draw on Saturday would’ve secured a four-point edge over Mackems – and now, with 0-3 horror being the reality, The Canaries must look for more points in some of the toughest ties possible. And they will also have to do it without their excellent centre-back, Timm Klose, who’s just suffered a painful knee injury…

To complicate the matters even further, Newcastle have just woke up after providing us with a shower of shite in the past couple of months. The win against Swansea was an extremely ugly one, but it broke the run of 7 crap results and ended Moussa Sissoko’s atrocious streak of 31 Premier League games without a goal. It’s now time to pray that both Norwich and Sunderland lose their next two fixtures – because Rafa Benítez and his lads are now set to face Manchester City and Liverpool in back-to-back games. Will the light at the end of the tunnel be a train?

 

Player of the Season

At least this seems quite straightforward…

Player of the Season award must go to Jamie Vardy. Not just for scoring 22 goals. Not just for breaking van Nistelrooy’s record of goals in consecutive games. Not just for striking fear and doubt in the heart of all Premier League defences. Not even for breaking into the England’s team and scoring a spectacular backheel against Germany. No. Vardy has to win because his dedication and ruthlessness in front of the goal was second to none this season. He might have wasted his best years undiscovered in the lower leagues – but this season was all about him.

The second place belongs to N’Golo Kanté. As we speak, the former Caen midfielder remains the best Premier League tackler (4.5 challenges per game) and second-best ball interceptor (4.1 per game, only behind Idrissa Gueye from Villa). His utterly dominant, box-to-box performances against Chelsea or Man City will be remembered in years to come, as the man himself is now tipped to leave King Power Stadium and join PSG, Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham next summer. His recipe for this success? It’s simple. Never stop running.

In the third place, there’s Mousa Dembélé. He will certainly be omitted by the actual award panel, but it’s the Belgium international, who has secured Spurs’ rise to the status of title challengers. He’s the league’s fourth-best dribbler, sixth-best passer, he has contributed four goals (three in the Premier League and one in Europa League) and, on the top of that, he always shined when the opposition was tough – hence why his three best performances this season have been against Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City. An absolute boss.

Fourth place goes to Mesut Özil – the most frustrated player in England these days. The guy is still on course of breaking the assist record set by Thierry Henry; in the meantime, he’s already broke all records regarding the number of goalscoring chances created by a single player. And yet, his team is not winning the league – in fact, Gunners aren’t even close to it. All that while pretty much all of the BPL ‘usual suspects’ are having a sub-par time. For Arsenal, that is the norm. For the man in question – it must be a depressing story.

And for the fifth – Sergio Agüero. His season has been plagued by the injuries. He missed seven games. Out of the remaining 27, he only played eleven from the start to finish. And yet, he’s still up there with 21 goals to his name, just recently bagging a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge and aiming to wrestle the top goalscorers’ crown from two best English strikers. He has it all: dribbling, finishing, off-the-ball intelligence, shooting power… Sadly, the only thing he’s lacking is good health. Where he’d end up in life if only he had Messi’s legs?

Predictions

• Leicester City will win the title by the slimmest of margins – just 1 point.

• Tottenham are going to shed the critical two points at Stamford Bridge.

• Manchester City shall beat Arsenal and condemn Gunners to the 4th place.

• City will also crash out of the CL after being badly outplayed by Real Madrid.

• Liverpool will wrestle the fifth place from West Ham at the finishing line.

• However, Liverpool will proceed to lose the UEL final to Sevilla.

• Sunderland will save themselves on the final day of the season – by 1 point.

• Jamie Vardy will be the Player of the Season, with Mahrez coming second.

• Dele Alli will be the Young Player of the Season. (That was an easy one.)

• Claudio Ranieri shall become the first ever Italian Manager of the Season.

• 2016/17 season will see Middlesbrough, Burnley and Brighton joining the elite.

Time to settle this one…

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