A week when ‛Super’ took on a horrible new meaning
The formation of the European Super League, which was to involve the “Big 6” in English football — Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham — was the big news in world football this week.
However, the idea wasn’t well received and died within a couple of days as the Premier League clubs all had a change of heart after supporters expressed their anger, some even going to their clubs to protest.
Even the firing of the controversial José Mourinho as Tottenham manager wasn’t as big a story, shocking though it was, given that it came six days before the Carabao Cup final on Sunday against Manchester City.
According to one report, Mourinho reportedly wanted to rest some key players ahead of the final, with chairman Daniel Levy insisting Spurs field their strongest team for their midweek game against Southampton in the hope of securing a top-four finish.
Spurs won Wednesday’s match 2-1 under interim manager Ryan Mason and are sixth, just two points away from fourth-placed Chelsea, but the teams around them have played a match fewer.
Leaders Manchester City hold an 11-point lead over Manchester United, but their hopes of landing four trophies this season were dashed last weekend when they lost 1-0 to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final.
Leicester City set up a meeting with Chelsea in the final after beating Southampton 1-0 in the other semi-final last weekend.
Arsenal v Everton
Arsenal still have plenty of work to do if they are to secure a top-four finish. Ninth at present, they can go level with eighth-placed Everton with a win tonight. In midweek, and at home to third-from-bottom Fulham, the Gunners needed a equaliser seven minutes into stoppage time to earn a 1-1 result when Eddie Nketiah scored from a corner to wipe out Josh Maja’s 59th-minute penalty.
Liverpool v Newcastle United
Liverpool were denied victory over Leeds at Elland Road in Monday’s clash between last season’s Premier League and Sky Bet Championship winner, when Diego Llorente scored an 87th-minute equaliser for the home team in a 1-1 draw. Victories aren’t as easy to come by for Liverpool this season but three points will be precious at home against a Newcastle side that beat West Ham 3-2 in a thrilling match last weekend to move eight points clear of the relegation zone.
West Ham United v Chelsea
West Ham will have their sights on Chelsea’s fourth spot when fifth hosts fourth in what should be one of the top matches of the weekend. West Ham are enjoying one of their best seasons in the Premier League, winning half of their 32 matches in the league to put themselves among the top teams. Chelsea beat them 3-0 back in December but it should be much closer this time at thee London Stadium where have proven to be a force this season, winning four of their last five matches there and scoring 13 goals in the process.
Sheffield United v Brighton & Hove Albion
It is now official, relegation is certain for bottom team Sheffield United after their latest defeat, by Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend. Now it is just a matter of salvaging some pride for the Yorkshire club in their remaining matches. Visitors Brighton are not clear from the threat of relegation, either, as they are only seven points ahead of the relegation zone. Three points would go a long way to securing their place in the top flight next season.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Burnley
Both teams have won just once in their past five outings but Wolves are more comfortable in twelfth place. Burnley, in seventeenth, are languishing just above the relegation zone and desperately need some points to keep at least three teams below them in the run-in. Burnley are six points ahead of Fulham and with a game in hand. These clubs are two of the 12 founding members of the Football League, Wolves founded in 1877 and Burnley in 1882, which makes them two of the oldest clubs in the Premier League.
Leeds United v Manchester United
Leeds have done well in their first season back in the Premier League. With no threat of relegation, they can play with the confidence of knowing they will be in the top flight next season. The 6-2 thrashing they suffered at the hands of Manchester United in December is their biggest loss of the season in the league, coming a week after Leeds had hammered Newcastle 5-2. Leeds sit tenth in the standings.
Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion
After back-to-back victories over Chelsea and Southampton, West Brom gave themselves faint hope of a late escape in the relegation fight. They were back to their losing ways last night when Leicester City beat them 3-0 and now it seems certain they will join Sheffield United in the drop to the Championship. This West Midlands derby with Villa could be close; then again, maybe not. That’s been the story of West Brom’s season in their first season back in the top flight.
Leicester City v Crystal Palace
Leicester should carry on where they left off, to strengthen their grip on third place, while Crystal Palace in thirteenth should have enough points to be safe from the threat of relegation. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in December. Leicester have won five of their past seven matches while Palace have just one win in five.
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