Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The End is Nigh

No, the world isn't ending, well for some of us it feels that way. Every year millions of grown men around the world bemoan this weekend that is coming, it signals the end of weeks of anguish, excitement and glory, it's the last weekend of the English Premier League. While this year saw Chelsea secure the title with 2 games to spare, it wasn't plain sailing from the 5 times winners of the trophy. They started off the season on a bit of a shaky note with loses at home and dropped points against silly teams but Antonio Conte and his men then put their heads down and while focus wasn't so much on them anymore went about their business notching up 3 points every weekend and slowly started building momentum for their title charge. While many tried but fell away, there was no denying that Chelsea deserve their title. After a small stumble towards the end of the season, well more like a sudden surge from fellow London club Tottenham Hotspurs but a loss to Westham a week ago saw that one put to bed.

While Chelsea will are in celebrations mode, it will have to be cut short for the final league game as well as the final of the FA Cup which they will be facing another London rival, Arsenal. While on the subject of the Gunners, over the last decade, Arsenal's claim to fame is finishing in the top 4, in fact in the 2015/16 season they celebrated finishing in the top four as though they won the title. This year however saw many other clubs push their way into their seat, with the resurgence of Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino men making progress from last season to nudge into second place, this season could see Arsene Wenger's team finish outside a Champions League place. There is however a small chance that Arsenal still could get fourth place, with the Top 3 places almost already decided with Manchester City's win over Westbrom last night, Liverpool have to win their last game against Middlesbrough to guarantee they Merseyside club a return to Champions League football. 

Having had a terrible second half to the season, most of the damage was done in January, Jurgen Klopp's men have found a last bit of fight in them to end the season on a high, following a triumphant rout at Westham over the weekend, spirits are high in the camp and they hope to transpire this onto the field on Saturday when they end their campaign at home in front of the Anfield faithful. Anfield normally being a good hunting ground for the reds was the scene for many disasters this season, goalless draws against minnows and even defeat from teams who were fighting relegation. The Reds have found themselves being complacent at times and other times, looked like the best team in the world. It's a Jekyll and Hyde complex that Klopp needs to figure out and fix before the start of the new season as this team has potential to go on and win trophy's. Obviously there needs to be some changes in the team, our defence isn't the best and it's become a problem for us with teams knowing how to exploit this issue.

One can't do a season wrap up and not talk about the teams from Manchester, lets give the Red side a break and talk about the Blue side for a bit. There was much fanfare at the start of the season with the appointment of Pep Guardiola as their manager, he is undoubtedly one of the best in the world and given the kitty City have at their disposal, we were all expecting big signings and a strong City challenge but Pep quickly learnt that the English league isn't like the Spanish or German one, he didn't make any notable signings apart from Jesus in January who gave his team that spark which kick started them and helped finish 3rd, I feel if he didn't get injured City would have been there with Spurs fighting Chelsea for the title but alas it wasn't to be. 

Now the Red side, well with the leagues favourite manager taking charge at the most successful club in the Premier League, you know everyone's eyes would be cast onto Old Trafford checking their transfers, results and what colour tie Jose is wearing. And Jose is one to never shy away from the media, so that coupled with his breaking of the transfer record fee by acquiring Paul Pogba at an astronomical price, he was only heaping more pressure on him and the team. Suffice to say, while they didn't do as badly as previous seasons since Alex Fergurson departed but they didn't do that great either with them pretty much cemented in 6th place, even after their long stint of unbeaten games that saw them move no where. They have a lot of work to do but are still holding on to their hopes of reaching the Champions League by winning the Europa League where they will face a very tough Ajax team. Knowing Jose thought, he'd park the bus and hope the game goes to penalties so you never know. 

Never the less, this season was great entertainment as always, it provided us with much to talk about, whether it be bad refereeing of which we saw plenty of, or great games such as Monday nights 7 goal thriller with Chelsea and Watford. One thing we can be sure of is next season is going to be a whole lot more interesting with teams back in the Champions League and competing for the title. It's going to be a busy summer and the Confed Cup coming up in Russia should seal the void that we might have over this break period. 

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