|We left Kevin home -- alone -- again!?!?!?!|
Well, well, well.
With barely a month and five (or six) matches remaining nothing is exactly settled in this wacky, wild sporting event we know as the English Premier League, or in American terms -- EPL.
After a crazy set of midweek results, two things are certain:
1. Arsenal is going to finish third, with ease.
2. Wolves are going to the Championship, without so much as a whimper.
Let's see, what else happened this week -- probably while you were working.
* Shaun Derry's red card vs. Manchester United wasn't overturned, but the Mario Balotelli Chun-Li kick on Alex Song went unpunished.
* Liverpool fired Damien Comoli after he spent roughly $200 million of John Henry's money on a collection of underwhelming players.
* Tottenham continued its swoon, losing to Norwich City at home.
* Newcastle United's roll continued, with Champions League now a realistic possibility.
* Clint Dempsey doesn't stop scoring, styming Chelsea's push for fourth.
* Oh right, Manchester United lost to Wigan 1-0 on Wednesday. The world didn't end, either. How about that!
* And the most amazing -- Andy Carroll scored a winner for Liverpool vs. Blackburn. That might mean the end of the world, however.
So as a result of all this, everything is still in play.
First place is down to Manchester United and Manchester City, with a five point gap and five games left. City has a chance since they play on April 30.
Fourth place and the final Champions League spot is a three-way dance with Tottenham and Newcastle United level on points and Chelsea chasing by two.
Finally the relegation merry-go-round is down to Aston Villa (yep), QPR, Wigan, Bolton and Blackburn for two spots.
Did I mention we have two great FA Cup semifinals, if you're into that sort of thing, this weekend, too?
* Norwich City v. Manchester City -- (Live, ESPN2, 7:30 a.m.) If I know Ian Darke, he'll mention that the collective cost of Norwich City's roster likely cost less than Mario Balotelli's monthly haircut and designer jeans bill. Ok, not exactly, but he'll likely mention hope cheap in comparison the Canaries team is compared to the oil-fueld City squad. United gave City a reprieve during the week, so let's see what happens. Carlos Tevez and David Silva each scored in the midweek against West Brom, so maybe after that month-long lull, the team has found its second wind. Norwich won't just roll over, especially at home. City can put massive pressure, if only for 20 or so hours on United with a win. Think they find a way to win it late. ... Norwich City 1, Manchester City 2
* Sunderland v. Wolves -- With the amount of bad vibes on Wolves this season, I'd be massively leery of poaching any players currently on its roster, even promising England winger Matt Jarvis. ... Sunderland 2, Wolves 0
* West Bromwich Albion v. QPR -- (Live, FSC+, 10 a.m.) QPR are playing better, but they haven't won a road League game since Nov. 19. After this match their final games include Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City. Mark Hughes still has a lot of work left to do to guide them to the finish line and survival. West Brom, though, have a way of playing spoiler. ... West Brom 2, QPR 1
* Swansea City v. Blackburn Rovers -- (Live, FSC, 10 a.m.) For a brief second, Rovers looked to have life. Now they've lost four straight to put their season on life support. There are players to pick off the carcass here, if relegation happens. ... Swansea City 2, Blackburn 1
* FA Cup Bonus: Everton v. Liverpool -- (Live, FSC, 7:30 a.m.) Everything about this game, points to Everton. Form. Confidence. The fact Liverpool has to play Brad Jones in goal. That said, Liverpool still have a certain player known as Steven Gerrard, who kind of, you know, rises to the occasions in these type of matches. Then again, with all the bad vibes coming from the owners putting a cloud firmly over Kenny Dalglish, something doesn't seem right. Unless Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel are on their game, Liverpool is going to be exceedingly shaky in defense. Throw in the 5-6 controversial refereeing decisions and this is going to have talking points galore. Seems almost a lock this game goes a 120 and needs to be settled in kicks. ... Everton 1, Liverpool 0(PKs)
* Manchester United v. Aston Villa -- (Live, FSC, 11 a.m.) Reason why United shouldn't panic, despite how listless the midfield looked without Paul Scholes vs. Wigan -- Alex McLeish comes to Old Trafford. The Scot likely spent the entire week practicing grabbing his ankles for whatever Sir Alex wants. If Villa could start Emile Heskey and a bunch of random defenders behind him, he would. Of all the teams in the division, Aston Villa strikes me as having the least amount of fight for a trip to the Theater of Dreams. Maybe there should be a concrete reason why, from a tactics standpoint this matters, but it doesn't. ... Manchester United 3, Aston Villa 0
* FA Cup Bonus: Chelsea v. Tottenham -- (Live, FSC, 1 p.m.) Tottenham had their moment of glory vs. the Blues a few years ago in the League Cup final. Unless Emanuel Adebayor has "one of those days" where he's unplayable, hard to see a way Tottenham wins this. Chelsea are relentless. Spurs are always a second away from collapsing. I'm guessing Fernando Torres scores the winner, spending me into a 24 non-stop vomiting scenario. ... Chelsea 3, Tottenham 1
* Arsenal v. Wigan Athletic -- Arsenal's 2011-12 season is exhibit A why fans (Piers Morgan, cough cough) don't know anything. Sure Arsenal won't win a trophy, but Arsene Wenger still knows what he's doing. Or at least enough to get back into the Champions League. One of these years (file away for this time next year) the Gunners will put it all together for a full season. Meanwhile Wigan is proving you don't even need a full season of good results to matter. Wigan wait until mid-March to do anything tangible and it's enough to survive. Roberto Martinez is a genius! ... Arsenal 2, Wigan 0
Last round: 3-7
Last season: 152-180