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Don't blame us, we voted for Karl Pilkington.


The end is nigh

GOAT
Another one of those weeks for me. Not a lot of time -- or focus -- beyond pithy tweets on the EPL. Hopefully I'll muster the energy for some year-end wrap next week.

Saturday:

* Arsenal v. Norwich City -- (Live, ESPN2, 7:30 a.m.) The summer vacation for Arsenal is on hold for another two weekends, at least. The grasp on third place is down to a mere point over Tottenham and Newcastle United, so with Mikel Arteta on the shelf, the Gunners have to find another gear to grind out a result here and avoid a massive -- MASSIVE -- collapse. It's not panic time, since Norwich have lost three straight being out-scored 11-1 in the process. The trick for Arsenal is going to be on the last day of the season at West Brom when both sides are already eying the golf course. One way or another, Gunners should find a way here. ... Arsenal 2, Norwich City 0

* FA Cup Final, Chelsea v. Liverpool -- (Live, 12:15 p.m., FSC) For non-partisans almost an impossible game to watch or root for either, since a tie can't happen. Factor in these teams have played somewhere in the range of 30-odd times in the last six years and it's tough to stomach.

Liverpool are setting up a classic, #youreawinnerandaloser scenario. Sure you won both English domestic cups, but you probably are going to finish below Everton in the table. If I were a Liverpool fan, the cup glory wouldn't override a season that was a total failure in league play.

That said, beating the scum from Chelsea -- denying the Blues the trophy -- would almost offset the dreadful league campaign.

Since we avoided any controversy, be it from refs, goal lines or whatever in the Manchester Derby, this game figures to be fraught with all the ridiculous stuff we hate about English soccer.It would only make sense, too, for both Andy Carroll AND Fernando Torres to score in this one -- or launch penalty kicks into row ZZ at Wembley.

The game itself, hard to see anyone from Liverpool tracking the in-form Ramires, who's quietly maybe been the Blues best player all year. Their dip in form earlier can easily be equated to his injury.

Luis Suarez could easily have a day where he's unplayable up top for the Red, making David Luiz look like an even bigger fool than usual. That's probably Liverpool's only hope. If I'm Kenny Dalglish I through caution into the wind and go for it early, instead of waiting for the inevitable slow death from Drogba or Lampard. ... Liverpool 0, Chelsea 2

Sunday:

* Newcastle United v. Manchester City -- (Live, FSC, 8:30 a.m.) No hyperbole here. The EPL title this season comes down to this match. Seriously. For reals, y'all.

Absolutely impossible game to predict here since we don't know how much of a letdown either team will have after their riveting wins during the week. Is City going to have anything left after holding off Manchester United on Monday night? Can Newcastle, or specially Papiss Cisse top what he did in a win over Chelsea?

The game might play into City's hands since Newcastle, still chasing a Champions League place, is going to need to open up and play for all three points. Granted, with Cisse and Demba Ba up top, City will be cautious, but you'd have to think eventually David Silva and Co. are going to find that one movement to cross up the Magpies defense.

Certainly must-see stuff. The script would be here, for City to beat United only to stumble at Newcastle, gifting the title back to Sir Alex Ferguson. That's almost too perfect a scenario, though, isn't it? ... Newcastle United 1, Manchester City 2

* Aston Villa v. Tottenham -- Fun fact: Aston Villa have the second-fewest wins in the EPL this season at  a paltry seven. Only team worst is last-place Wolves. If there's a team that's given up, it's Villa. Now, Spurs aren't exactly a club that make it easy, even if it looked that way in the second half of Tuesday's rout at Bolton. Two road wins in a row for Tottenham though? Naturally, without the England job to worry about, it should be as easy as kidney pie for Redknapp's boys, right? ... Aston Villa 0, Tottenham 1

* Bolton v. West Brom -- Fabrice Muamba's miracle return to the Reebok Stadium on Wednesday wasn't enough to inspire a very mediocre team to a victory. Bolton finish with West Brom -- which is a bonus since the team probably won't care too much now that Roy Hodgson's been hired to coach England. Bottom line, if Bolton -- at home -- can't find a way to be better than West Brom over 90 minutes in its home stadium it doesn't truly deserve to stay up in the Premier League. ... Bolton 1, West Brom 1

* QPR v. Stoke City -- (Live, FSC+, 9 a.m.) Say this about QPR, they haven't been boring. From the red cards to the managerial change, to the insane players like Joey Barton coming to Loftus Road, it's been ... interesting. Through it all, the Hoops top two league goalscorers? Heidur Helguson and Jamie Mackie, with eight and six respectively. Interesting, since both were part of the team's promotion and Championship-winning side. Is too much change a bad thing? Should QPR go down, it'll serve a warning to any other promoted clubs to be prudent and stick to their own vision. Granted, QPR with new owners and playing in London had a different set of expectations than most other promoted teams, but trying to overhaul on the fly hasn't quite worked. QPR is just lucky three other teams are going to be worse than they are. ... QPR 1, Stoke City 1

* Fulham v. Sunderland -- I'll just go on record, unless somebody makes Fulham a deal they cannot turn down financially, think Clint Dempsey sticks around at Craven Cottage. The club can't replace him. As nice as it would be for an American to be playing, regularly, in the Champions League what Dempsey is doing now -- staring on a weekly basis for a top-half EPL team is none too shabby. At Dempsey's age, unless he forces the issue, figure he rides it out at Fulham for the long haul. ... Fulham 2, Sunderland 0

* Wolves v. Everton -- Meaningless game? Not for Everton as it tries to finish ahead of Liverpool in the table. Incredible. ... Wolves 0, Everton 1

* Manchester United v. Swansea City -- (Live, FSC, 11 a.m.) Tough to "handicap" this one since it'll all going to hinge on the City/Newcastle match. That said, it has been the kind of season where United losing at home to Swansea wouldn't be all too crazy. The pride Ferguson instills in this team, trumped up or not, should be enough. ... Manchester United 3, Swansea City 0

Monday:


* Blackburn Rovers v. Wigan Athletic -- (Live, ESPN2, 2:45 p.m.) Depending how results break, too, Blackburn could essentially be done-and-dusted. That means QPR and Bolton both have won, basically finally dooming Steve Kean's team and setting off a riot at Ewood Park. Shame. When I started really getting into the EPL circa 2004 Rovers, mainly because of Brad Freidel were a team I liked to root for. ... Blackburn 1, Wigan 1

Tuesday:

* Liverpool v. Chelsea -- If there's justice, Martin Sktrel knockouts Jon Obi Mikel out here, not the FA Cup final, for his cheap elbow on Chieck Tiote. But there isn't. ... Liverpool 2, Chelsea 0


Last round: 2-3
Season: 167-198

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