Even though the final day of the league isn’t until Sunday, I’m still sticking to the usual schedule. Predictions today, Liverpool preview tomorrow. Because it’s early enough in the day, I’m including a prediction for Spurs/Blackburn for good measure.
As all the Sunday fixtures are at 10am US Eastern time, there are going to be a lot of disappointed fans who usually get to see their team live, but won’t due to the glut of games. And unfortunately, it looks as if Liverpool fans are in that group. As of right now, it looks like the first chance to see the game on television will be on GolTV, which carries Liverpool TV, on Tuesday afternoon. Ugh.
Tottenham v Blackburn, 3pm Thursday, Setanta: Tottenham played Monday and will play again on Sunday, giving them 3 games in six days, but I can’t see them resting very many players with European qualification still up in the air. Blackburn may have won two on the trot and finished the season stronger than they started it, but I can’t pick against Spurs at home with that much more to play for. Spurs 2-0
Manchester Utd v West Ham, 10am, FSC: I think we’ll see a stronger line-up for United than the one that went out against Chelsea yesterday. Ferguson will want to have players match-fit for the final next weekend, and will be less worried about revealing his cards than he was at Stamford Bridge. West Ham may only need a point to assure safety, but I’d be surprised if they got it, and they’ll have a close eye on the Wigan/Sheffield scoreline. United 2-1
Portsmouth v Arsenal, 10am, Setanta: With a win and Bolton and Reading losses, Portsmouth could still qualify for the UEFA Cup. I may not have the strongest fondness for Harry Redknapp, but that says a lot about what he’s achieved since he took over last season with Pompey amongst the relegation places. However, despite this incentive, Fratton Park being a difficult place for away teams, and Arsenal’s struggles on the road, I think Arsenal’s kids will have enough impetus in wanting to cement their future that they should be able to earn at least a draw. 1-1
Sheffield Utd v Wigan, 10am, Setanta Xtra: Easily the match of the day. If Sheffield win or the game is drawn, Wigan are relegated. If Wigan win, West Ham will be relegated unless they win against United. If both Wigan and West Ham win, Sheffield will probably be the ones to go down. This is what relegation is all about. And although I could do without seeing Paul Jewell’s team drop a division out of fondness for the brash Scouser, I can’t bet against Sheffield at home, especially with Wigan’s current form. Sheffield 1-0
Blackburn v Reading, 10am: While I’ve been quite pleased with Reading’s style of play and the fact they’ve stayed in the top half of the table all season, I don’t think they’d be too aggrieved at losing this game and/or a European place. And even though I’ve picked against Blackburn for today's match, I can see them finishing the season with a win in front of the home fans on the form they’re in. Blackburn 2-1
Bolton v Aston Villa, 10am: If Bolton plays like they did last week, I don’t know how long Sammy Lee will be sticking around, as much as that bothers me. I can’t imagine they’ll be as dire as against West Ham, but they certainly looked a different side than the one managed by Sam Allardyce. And with that said, I’ve grown accustomed to picking Villa draws, even though they’ve only drawn 2 of their last 6 matches. Trust me, that’s an improvement for them. 1-1
Chelsea v Everton, 10am: Just on a personal level, I’d like to see Chelsea bounce back from losing the title and drawing their last four league outings. They still have all the usual injuries they’ve suffered recently, will probably play a number of reserves, and the main focus will be on the FA Cup, but here’s hoping anyway. I realize that Everton is probably assured a UEFA Cup place regardless, but I am a petty, petty man. Chelsea 2-0
Middlesborough v Fulham, 10am: I can’t begrudge Fulham their win last week, and if anyone on that team had to score, I’m glad it was Dempsey, but I don’t see a repeat occurrence. They got the points that secured safety against Liverpool, and their away form is far different than at Craven Cottage. That said, as with Aston Villa, I’m still going with the easy draw prediction. 0-0
Tottenham v Manchester City, 10am: Even though City’s been marginally more prolific on the road of late, I can’t see anything else but a Tottenham win, assuring them a UEFA Cup spot. So far, Spurs have taken advantage of their games in hand (we’ll see if that holds true today), and the City camp, with the Joey Barton fiasco, can't be in the best of mindsets. Maybe they’ll take revenge after losing a Manchester derby they should have drawn, but I doubt it. Spurs 1-0
Watford v Newcastle, 10am: With Watford relegated and Newcastle ensconced in their usual midtable position (albeit a little further down than normal), the focus of this match will be on Sam Allardyce and Michael Owen’s fitness. I’m still hoping Allardyce turns Newcastle down cold. Freddy Shepard would resort to Sven Goran Eriksson after Alan Shearer also refuses the job, and the two of them trying to co-exist, while Newcastle’s fans demand an attacking style of play (under Eriksson? Yeah, right) would be utter hilarity. But you’d think Allardyce has to take the helm after resigning from Bolton due to tabloid talk. Oh, and the game? Normally I’d assume the Geordies would win this one, but with the drama and recent form from Newcastle, a draw in Watford’s last game in the Premiership, in front of their home fans, seems a more likely result. 1-1
For those who were wondering, yes, I have been keeping track of the results from all these predictions, although I probably shouldn’t have bothered.
Since I started this charade of predictions in November, I went 114-125, with 26 scores spot on, forgetting to pick very few games, in addition to not doing Liverpool games. In what little defense I have, it’s harder to pick predictions when there are draws to take into account, and out of superstition, I refuse to predict Liverpool games even though I’m probably far more qualified to forecast those matches.
Oh well, the goal for next year is plus .500.