First up is Leicester City, the champions of England (and the world). Unfortunately I put my money in the wrong place last summer. Who wouldn’t bet on Kim Kardashian becoming president over Leicester winning the league, given the decline of common sense and propriety in our society? The fairytale came true on Monday night however, (for Leicester rather than Kim Kardashian thankfully), and the team with odds more against them than a Hunger Games tribute triumphed in surely the greatest footballing achievement of all time.
It was somewhat of an anti-climax as they could have won the title on the pitch at Old Trafford but an Eden Hazard wonder goal on Monday night sealed it for the Foxes who celebrated at Jamie Vardy’s long-awaited party. Whether this is a one-off or sparks a trend of increased competitiveness in a Premier League which has for so long been dominated by money is irrelevant right now as the last few weeks of the season should be dedicated to celebrating this remarkable achievement.
They are champions of England but their victory warms the hearts of people all over the world celebrating the ultimate underdog. The Champions League awaits them next season and a chance to establish themselves as a team here to stay if they handle themselves correctly in the summer.
Tottenham’s ugly collapse
With Leicester’s victory came inevitable defeat for Tottenham in a game of incredibly heightened emotions at Stamford Bridge that ended in violence – a great shame after a disciplined and incredibly successful season for Spurs. There was a significant lack of emotional control displayed in the game by both sets of players and no doubt retrospective punishments will be dished out in addition to the nine yellow cards shown to Tottenham players.
There could be some concerning ramifications of the actions of these players as Tottenham are only three points ahead of their North London rivals Arsenal with two games still to play. With retrospective punishments likely to occur, Spurs could be without some key players (most likely Dembele for a sickening eye gouging incident) for their games against Southampton and a Newcastle side fighting for survival. A bigger concern is whether tensions over the results of this season could spill over into the Euros with Leicester, Tottenham and Chelsea players all likely to feature for England. One would hope that professionalism and national pride would overcome any animosity and see England achieve the success they’re capable of.
Arsenal have their own problems
Across North London, Arsenal have their own problems and having been at the Emirates on Saturday I saw first hand the division between Arsenal fans. ‘Time for Change’ placards were distributed before the game to be held up in the 12th and 78th minutes and when these minutes came it was very clear that this was not a widespread protest. Pockets of these placards went up but were met with ‘there’s only one Arsene Wenger’ chants and fans arguing with eachother. Perhaps the bigger display of displeasure at Arsenal’s current situation was the sheer number of empty seats; almost 10,000, and I think protesting with your wallet is far more effective in modern football than with placards.
On the pitch they have problems too. They struggled against a very mediocre Norwich side that probably had better chances than Arsenal did. Olivier Giroud was absolutely dire, despite his assist, and Welbeck’s presence was the only redeeming factor of the performance. They were lucky to come away the win and on another day could well have lost. Performances need to pick up if they want to stay in the top four.
Who’s going down with the Villa?
Norwich were unlucky against Arsenal but still look the most likely team to go down with Aston Villa. Sunderland managed a point away at Stoke after a very late equaliser from Jermain Defoe who is the player that gives them they edge over the likes of Norwich. Having a natural finisher and a relegation battle veteran in manager Sam Allardyce gives them a good chance, as does having a game in hand over rivals Newcastle. The Magpies have picked up their form drastically and Rafa Benitez has turned their season around in recent weeks, giving them a good chance to stay up. It will definitely go down to the wire and while I think Norwich will go down, Newcastle and Sunderland will have a very intense battle to stay in the league.
Who’s coming up?
The race for promotion in the Championship goes down to the final day; Burnley secured automatic promotion after a 1-0 win over QPR and with Middlesbrough and Brighton playing eachother on the final day, one will miss out on the second automatic promotion spot and join Hull, Derby and Sheffield Wednesday in the playoffs.
Burnley have had an excellent season and Sean Dyche has done a brilliant job to get them back into the Premier League and they now chase the Championship title. Middlesbrough are the favourites to join Burnley in automatic promotion while Brighton might have to overcome the disappointment of missing out in order to win the playoffs. It will certainly be an interesting final day and playoff tournament.