We’ve really enjoyed this great Premier League season. There, we’ve said it. Here’s why, basically.
The title race that involves everyone
Liverpool and Manchester City have burned off all competition, setting an insane pace at the top of the table that makes every dropped point a mini-crisis and two games without a win a full-blown meltdown.
Horrifically nerve-shredding for fans of the two teams involved, but one of them gets a title to celebrate at the end of it. But what of the rest of us? If that triumphant set of fans is Liverpool, then all hell will break loose. Just think of the memes. Oh god, the memes. The country will be swallowed whole in the smugness vortex created in the city. The team considered both the neutrals’ choice and the worst possible outcome in the history of sport will have done it. It will finally have been their year.
If it’s City, then a Liverpool side that will have probably amassed something like the fifth highest points total in Premier League history can be safely dismissed as f**king bottlers and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief as the title is won on the back of iffy petrodollars as is only right and proper.
Manchester United fans, meanwhile, have been forced to compose various unpalatable best-case scenarios, and absolutely everyone who doesn’t support Manchester United can at least get a little bit behind that. They had it so good for so long, and at least their own team is no longer adding to their malaise.
So, where are we? Liverpool currently lead by two points having played a game more, and their fixtures look kind enough. Only two of the top six remain, both at home, and in Spurs and Chelsea very much the current flakiest pair among the big boys.
City on the other hand are chasing a quadruple and face a very silly run of season-defining games which requires them to play an FA Cup semi-final, Spurs three times and Manchester United away in the space of 18 days.
Christ, Liverpool might actually do it. Which would be absolutely brilliant. But also awful.
The top-four barney
Spurs’ slump means it’s now any two from four for the remaining Champions League places and again it’s all tremendous fun and happening at a mad pace. Some more daft points tallies are going to result in failure and disgrace here, with the cut-off for fourth looking like being north of two points per game, which is just plain nutty.
Everton finished fourth in 2004/05 with 61 points. Spurs have that many points now yet probably need at least another 15 from their eight remaining games.
Whatever happens, there are good storylines everywhere. Will finally moving into the new stadium rejuvenate Spurs for the final push or is its unfamiliarity a massive disadvantage? They haven’t played a proper home game in two years and it really could go either way. They do have five pretty gentle home games at White Hart Lane 2.0, though, plus a trip to Bournemouth. They’ve also got Liverpool and City away, but never mind that.
It’s been another daft old season at Spurs, happily settling none of the debate about where they stand. Are they a great success for punching through a glass ceiling or failures for spending three years stuck beneath a slightly higher one? Do they get any credit for coping with the at-least-partially self-inflicted handicaps of transfer paralysis and stadium uncertainty? Would another top-four finish on a far smaller budget than any of their now rivals be progress or standing still? Will they ever win a trophy? Dunno m8.
Plus they’ve still only drawn one game all season, and even that was only because of a last-minute penalty miss where one of their defenders was stood practically next to the taker.
Speaking of which: to Arsenal, where from the outside Unai Emery appears to have taken his team under the radar in a way that could never have happened under Arsene Wenger with his 20 years of Premier League baggage.
Victory over Newcastle on Monday night will take the Gunners level with last year’s final tally of 63 points with seven games to spare, yet plenty still suggest Emery hasn’t really done all that much.
Manchester United are in a fully-fledged banter of a season that seems to be a 35-year-old’s online fanfic come to life. The first half of the season’s narrative arc was a bit on the nose, a Jose Mourinho third-season special so cliched that it tipped over into self-parody long before he and they and us were put out of our misery.
What’s happened since barely seems real, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turning up and winning all the football matches – even the impossible ones – just by being a good sort and making the players smile/being a better coach and tactician than anybody gave him credit for and having managed to improve those abilities during five years away from English football, even though stuff that doesn’t happen in England (or certain parts of Wales) is surely meaningless.
Either way, great story. And if they ultimately finish fifth and don’t win the Champions League a tremendous head-scratcher for people to decide whether the renewed optimism of its second act means it’s a good season or ultimately still a bad one (there can be no in between, remember, for that is not allowed).
Then you’ve got Chelsea! Everyone loves Sarriball! For 10 games or so! Then it goes badly wrong! They’re still clinging on, winning impressively for a bit then losing a game in such a way you think they’ll never win again, then winning again. But they might well need 20 points from their last eight games just to finish fourth. Like we said, mental.
The dull mid-table sludge has been neither dull nor sludgy
There are five genuinely interesting teams for various reasons between seventh and 11th, any one of which could still finish best of the rest and two of whom meet in an FA Cup semi-final.
I’d have happily made this whole feature a section each on Wolves, Watford, Leicester, West Ham and Everton but Overlord Winty forbade it in her crazed pursuit of clicks.
Everyone has enjoyed Wolves’ work this season. They’ve taken points off every member of the top six with the exception of Liverpool, who they knocked out of the FA Cup. They’ve also lost home and away to Huddersfield. Absolutely sensational work. Their return to the Premier League has been an unqualified success.
Next in the current table come their FA Cup rivals Watford, who are arguably even more fun than Wolves having undergone a startling transformation to become one of the division’s most interesting teams. Their previous tactic of being seventh at Christmas and 14th in May, ensuring neither great excitement nor peril at any stage, has rightly been jettisoned in favour of glorious, chaotic unpredictability.
Sometimes they play football like the Harlem Globetrotters play basketball, sometimes they play football like the Harlem Globetrotters would play football.
Then you’ve got West Ham, Leicester and Everton. All of them way more interesting than in the last couple of seasons. The Hammers have started to show a bit of ambition again, and gave us all a good laugh by facing down Marko Arnautovic’s bungled escape bid.
Leicester finally look to have at last shaken off the understandable “did that just happen?” confusion that has engulfed them ever since the 2015/16 miracle and have a squad of enormously exciting young pups ready to be moulded by Brendan Rodgers. Any season that sees Brendan back in the Premier League is by definition is a good one, and he couldn’t be at a more perfect club. Leicester have the recent success and just the right squad profile to appeal to Brendan, but without the storied history that made him act the arse at Liverpool and Celtic.
Everton have lurched from very bad to very good and at their best give the appearance of a team at the start of the journey Spurs have been on for the last five years. At other times, they look like every Spurs team from the 90s. Which is also quite like most Everton teams of the 90s. Lads, it’s Everton.
And a final word in this section for Bournemouth. Directly beneath those five heroes and probably just a bit too far away to challenge for seventh now. But they’ve scored more goals than anyone outside the top six and conceded more than anyone outside the bottom five. Great effort.
A late-blooming tallest dwarf relegation scrap
Okay, this bit of the table hasn’t been great this season. So far. Huddersfield and Fulham are gone, and have been for a very, very long time. A moment’s reflection for their passing, please.
Right, so who’s going with them? Here’s where the greatness could yet be found. The table shows five teams separated by five points who could all potentially be in trouble, with Newcastle probably just about out of the mire now on 35 points.
The reality is that it’s probably going to come down to Cardiff or Burnley who currently sit either side of the line and face absolutely horrendous run-ins.
Cardiff still have to play four of the top six. Burnley end the season with games against Chelsea, Manchester City, Everton and Arsenal.
They also have to play each other on April 13 which is massively early for a relegation playoff but could easily amount to precisely that given their other fixtures. Did someone say crucial six-pointer?
Winning that April clash and literally one other game could be enough to keep either of them up.
It’s been a slow burner, and it might not actually get much quicker. It could be an excruciating, desperate scramble to something like 35 points for safety. Painful, yet strangely captivating viewing. And both teams play sh*thouse football, so for the neutral it doesn’t even really matter which goes down. Just enjoy the (sh*t)show.
Alternatively, one of them might produce a nonsense run of superhuman form that seemingly doomed teams have done so strikingly in the past when faced with apparent certain oblivion.
Or one of the teams directly above them could get dragged back in if they really sh*t the bed.
They’re all good scenarios.
Raheem Sterling has been its best player
We’re not even going to try and hide our glee. If we’re even remotely honest with ourselves, this is really the first, last and everything of why we lefty pinko feminazi snowflake libtard cucks at F365 have really enjoyed this season.
With due deference to the admirable magnificence of Virgil van Dijk and his role in nudging this Liverpool side from Very Good to Great, this is Sterling’s season.
Nobody has had a better 2018/19 English season for club and country, and he has achieved it all despite horrific and unjustified targeting from our friendly tabloid media that would have broken a lesser man. Great footballers don’t have to be role models and activists, but it’s nice when they are also that. He’s our hero.