So after 37 match weeks of one of the most roller coaster Premiership seasons the final day has arrived. Although it will seem pale in front of the rest of the season it will still have some if not a lot of nerves showing. Life of the Premiership post a Fergie Manchester United has been anything but predictable or consistent. It has been one of best seasons especially from a neutral’s point of view. We have seen fortunes come and go and basically come crashing down as well. And the goals have been mouth watering and a plenty! Both Liverpool and Manchester City play their final games with chances of breaking Chelsea’s record of most goals scored in a single season. It has been insane.
That most things have already been decided either in theory or by math as well is sort of a disappointment from an overall point of view. It would have made for an even more intense finale had Liverpool not drawn with Crystal Palace. Or if Norwich would not have given up the relegation battle to a mere draw with Chelsea (they didn’t fight.. they just parked the bus which was not a characteristic of a team fighting for survival. 4th place is no longer a contest and Arsenal will remain consistently in the top 4 and claim their place in the champions league for a 17th consecutive season (albeit disappointing to finish 4th after much better promise at the start of the season – they were top till Christmas – and very much in the hunt for the title till the end of February). 2 teams are already relegated. One Europa spot is already decided. In theory just the top 3 positions remain to be seen off (I cant stress enough the in theory bit), Norwich’s official relegation and the 2nd Europa position between Manchester United and Tottenham.
So as we are about to head into the kick off of the final game week, the Liverpool fans will be hoping their terrific trio (Suarez, Sturridge and Gerrard) hit the the back of the net more times then the Magpies and that somehow the footballing Gods take pity on them and Gerrard the most and somehow bring out the worst performance from a Manchester City side who are ahead on points and need only draw their game to ensure they still win the title on goal difference against a West Ham side they have already comprehensively beaten 3 times this season. So in all probability the 24 year wait for a league title for the Reds will translate into year 25 years. However I would rather have preferred Liverpool to win it for Gerrard (it is my personal and humble opinion that the guy deserved to get there for all his loyalty to his boyhood club).
Liverpool have had a massive season despite that. Suarez has had a fantastic season, one which has been much beyond than just merely re-establishing his image from all the damage inflicted from the eager bites at the end of last season. 30 goals in 32 games is phenomenal. He has surely etched himself into the hearts of the Liverpool faithful and will be one of the players to watch in the upcoming world cup in Brazil. Brendan Rogers must be given absolute credit for driving the Reds to their fantastic season and managing Suarez as well. Yes that they have not had Champions League football on the side has helped and definitely something for which they will have to work accordingly for next season if they are to continue the gains from this season.
City have not really had any dip in form throughout this season apart from when Yaya Toure was injured (who has been fantastic this season) and the initial parts of Aguero’s absence (very little). The depth in their squad thou has more than compensated for such injury absences. Their front line has been a power house of scoring especially at the Etihad and also in some away games. Their premier league focus grew stronger after their exit from the Champions league thus further (further proving the point mentioned above for Liverpool). They should easily bag their second title on the final day and this time probably on points. Pellegrini and the Sheikh will be happy men.
Chelsea have had a good season given Mourinho was working with half a squad which was ageing, which has seen a flurry of Managers come and go over the last 7 seasons and that they were involved in the champions league up till the semi finals. It will be disappointing thou to finish the season without any silverware. The special one has again proved this season that when it comes to tactics and strategy, there are few who can match him in the game (as of now). He will have to enforce the squad for next season to bring silverware next season and again mount a sustained run for the league title and champions league both (which would be a bare minimum requirement for the boss).
Arsenal – they have in the end had the exact same kind of season as they did last year, and the one before and the one before and the one before etc etc (need I continue). It however started very differently this time (apart from that first game). Arsenal led the league for a good part of the season. In fact between Arsenal and Liverpool they have led the league for perhaps 90% of the season. However the gunners faced uphill tasks once the injuries started flowing in. Ramsey who could potentially have had a brilliant ‘complete’ season went to injury. Walcott was out in January. There were absences in between for Ozil (our record breaking signing), Koscielny, up front etc. The season has ended more or less the same with just one hope that they might win the FA Cup against Hull and end 9 trophy-less years. And perhaps Wenger feel a little vindicated in his unwavering belief of keeping an ‘economical but quality squad’. However if they suffer any sort of collapse in the FA Cup final it will be yet another season without any sort of real positives or indication towards a move forward. And despite having consistently been in the top 4 and champions league qualification for 17 years – it is not enough. Not for the fans and most definitely not enough for sustainability as an ambition. The competition is getting tougher in the Premier League (it is by far one of the most competitive leagues). Everton almost beat them to the 4th place. Wenger needs to either reinforce heavily or he needs to say sayonara even if they win the FA Cup (which I doubt will happen). I feel it is perhaps time for a new thought process at the Emirates. And I say this as a fan who has been very supportive of the Professor’s way of management and results with the resources we have had. But now time has come to move forward and aim higher.
And continuing on the same vein as being a Gooner – Manchester United have had by far the worst possible season. It has been their worst in many years. They have let teams come and win at Old Trafford who haven’t won in 20, 30 or 40 years. Or even those who have NEVER won at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. Moyes will not be remembered well by the United faithful. He has had to endure a squad which has not nearly hit anywhere near the type of quality they are capable of. They have been utterly disappointing at home and have recorded their lowest points table in their Premier League history. I for one have thoroughly enjoyed their season, their fans journey from ‘Moyes is the chosen one’ to ‘Go home Moyes’. Sir Alex didn’t do him any favors either by leaving him a squad which was not really well equipped for this season and especially without the great Scot at the helm of affairs. It will be very interesting to see how they respond next season without Champions League and probably under the leadership of Louis Van Gaal. In all fairness a club like Manchester United need a big manager who is capable of managing big players and big squads along with big expectations of the fans and board alike. Moyes for all his endurance and achievements (albeit of mediocrity as shown by Martinez’s Everton) in the preceding years with Everton was never going to be successful in filling Fergie’s shoes. But the expectation might have been a far 3rd or 4th. To miss out on Europe altogether has been a culture shock for everyone at Manchester United that goes well beyond the term ‘in transition’.
So as I finally wrap this blog we are at half time of the final gameweek and as things stand:
United are missing europe completely losing to Southampton and with Spurs winning at Villa
Chelsea and Liverpool are both trailing while City are leading.
So as it would seem – there are no twists left for the season. But then again you never know. Kudos 2013-14 – a fantastic season you have been, from a neutral’s point of view of course.