Archive for May 2016

Bi-weekly match previews – Jason Pettigrove

So, here we are then, at the end of another season. And what a season it’s been!
Who would’ve really had any clue as to how 2015/16 was going to unfold. Not just the total collapse of Chelsea but the rise of Leicester’s rag tag army.

There has been more narrative this season than most, what a shame it has to end.

10 fixtures close out the campaign, all of which can be seen via

Let’s take a look at four of them in a little more detail. See you next season….!

Chelsea v Leicester City

The irony won’t be lost on anyone at Stamford Bridge.

Claudio Ranieri, the former Chelsea manager who Jose Mourinho said would never win a title, will stride out on the pitch to a guide of honour from the Blues players, and a standing ovation from the supporters.

Regardless of the result, there’ll be a part atmosphere in west London.

The cheer that enveloped the ground once Chelsea had held Spurs to a 2-2 draw, thus confirming Leicester as champions, tells you all you need to know as to the esteem that Ranieri is still held in, in these parts.

Robert Huth is suspended for the final game of the season so the Foxes will be light at the back, but whether the hosts are able to raise themselves from their season-long malaise is open to debate.

With nothing at all to play for, it will be interesting to see how much genuine effort is put in. Antonio Conte might also be a keen observer.

John Terry’s final game will be littered with emotion as he bids farewell not just to his club, but to the league.

China or America and one final payday beckon.

Don’t expect too much from this 90 minutes, but frankly who cares?!

Swansea City v Manchester City

Depending on how well Manuel Pellegrini’s side played against Arsenal in the previous league game, their entire season could hinge on this fixture.

And the Liberty Stadium isn’t an easy place to go at the best of times.

Manchester City can’t afford to not be in the Champions League next season. Pep Guardiola would never have countenanced the same before agreeing to sign for the club.

Indeed, the incoming manager may find it extra hard to motivate an overpaid group of players if they’re playing their trade in European football’s second-tier competition. He may find it hard to motivate himself.

Vincent Kompany is likely to be out, again, and David Silva is already missing. Any more injuries in the lead up to this one could seriously hamper City’s effectiveness against a team with little to concern themselves with on the final day.

It’s been a strange season for Swansea. Three managers, and another one lined up for the start of next season…is it any wonder most of the players have underperformed.

Personal pride should ensure that the Welshmen are at least competitive. West Ham and Manchester United will be counting on it.

Andrew Ayew could do with a final day flourish to give himself some much needed confidence. He’s looked far from the prospect that Swansea thought they were buying.

Goals are virtually guaranteed, but which end will they come at….?

Arsenal v Aston Villa

As the Villains prepare for life in the Championship, they’ll want to go out with a bang, and where better than at a ground where the manager is already under severe pressure from the locals.

Arsene Wenger hasn’t known anything like this in the two decades he’s been at the club but as far as the Emirates faithful are concerned, enough is enough.

Aside from a couple of FA Cup triumphs, there’s been nothing to write home about for the Gunners.

Not good enough for a team with such an abundance of talent.

Something has got to give, and unless things change quickly, Wenger will find it difficult to hold on to his position.

Villa’s players have been a disgrace to the division and to their club and whomever comes in to take over has the biggest of jobs on their hands.

Unfit and not bothered, their record this season makes grim reading. Even though it’s wholly deserved.

Can they produce their best performance of the season in their last game, to give their long-suffering fans something to write home about?
Joleon Lescott, Alan Hutton, Gabby Agbonlahor et al, need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur

This could be one of the games of the season if the Magpies are still fighting for their Premier League survival.

In the short space of time that Rafael Benitez has been in the north east, he’s worked wonders, but Newcastle are still not out of the woods yet.

That they’re still fighting is testament to the great job the Spaniard has done after replacing Steve McClaren.

Tottenham arrive in great shape despite the obvious disappointment of losing out on the title.

Ultimately, they were just a little short but Mauricio Pochettino probably wasn’t expecting his young side to be in this position for another year or two.

It’s been fairly clear that Spurs have played some of the best football seen this season and if the Argentinian can supplement his squad with one or two big money signings, the north Londoners will certainly be there or thereabouts again next season.

Harry Kane will seek to add to his tally at a ground where he loves to score, and although Dele Alli isn’t there to supply the bullets., Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela will deputise with ease.

Newcastle’s fighting spirit needs to come to the fore, and Jonjo Shelvey in the centre of midfield is a must.

55,000 Geordies will be willing the ball over the line! What a way to end the season.

Other games available for you to watch on what is sure to be an epic final day in the Premier League are: Everton v Norwich, Manchester United v Bournemouth, Southampton v Crystal Palace, Watford v Sunderland, Stoke v West Ham and West Brom v Liverpool.

Amir Khan v Canelo Alvarez

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