I think any self-respecting Arsenal, Spurs or City fan saw last night’s result a mile off, even if the nature of it was quite hard to watch. What a stinger of a goal from Rose on his debut for Spurs, though. What better way to introduce yourself? Normally swipes like that go for a throw in, or into the car park.
So it ‘effectively’ ends Arsenal’s title hopes, but it really spices things up in what’s become a two-horse and two-donkey race for fourth – thanks in no small part to frustrating draws for Liverpool and Villa. I think City v Spurs on 5th May might put several fans of delicate constitution in the hands of paramedics. Let’s strap ourselves in, and reckon on it going to the wire in the best Premiership side-show we’ve had in yonks.
You can bet there are more twists to the title race, too, even if the mathematical outcome doesn’t reflect the entertainment value. The nature of the run-in fixtures means however it plays out, it ain’t going to be boring. Spurs are quite capable of holding or edging past Chelsea, and City away is never an easy gig for United. Rooney might be the difference, and I have to confess I’d rather not see him on the team sheet come Saturday. And although it’s ‘effectively’ a two horse race for that last Champions League place, Aston Villa and Liverpool are still in with a shot, and will be praying for it to rain banana skins throughout April and May. ‘Effectively over’ for Arsenal might be fair comment, but it’ll be a red rag to the Gunners, and pundits have eaten many ill-chosen words already.
Saturday 24th April is also a massive day. Spurs at Old Trafford and City at the Emirates. I fancy City for this one, but maybe not Spurs. Yep, famous last words probably, but if we turn United over this Saturday, they’re going to be mighty pissed, and have a tendency to read Spurs’ game early on and turn the screw on them. Yet again, though, it’s unlikely anything will be confirmed, even at this late stage. While I fear Chelsea may sneak off with the title while eyes are on this side-battle – if it denies United, I couldn’t really care less. Okay, a City fan would say that, but over the season I think Chelsea deserve it more, and I only hate them slightly less than our red neighbours.
I said recently that fifth would be fair for City, at a time when our form was less than convincing. But spirits are high, and there seem to be far fewer nerves these days. To get fourth, we have to play like it’s already ours – and if we do, I think we’ll deserve it. And more the good if it’s the entertainment it promises to be for impartial onlookers.
It’s far too tight to call, and there are some juicy fixtures coming up. They’ve fallen beautifully for the neutral fan, and they’ll take a few more hours breathing time off every Spurs and City supporter that’s not already pale, jumpy and shot to bits. That’s the way we like it – bring it on.
P.S. Emotive images of legend Bert Trautmann at Eastlands for Sunday’s masterclass overpowering of Birmingham City’s renowned defence. If I knew I’d be spending half the game listening to Garry Cook talk shit, I’d start crying, too.
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