Premier League Saturday, Gameweek 34: Open Thread

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Manchester United could nail down the Premier League title with a win today. Not mathematically, but if they do win, they’ll open up a nine point gap at the top of the table. And I seriously doubt that Manchester United would drop that many points in their final three games of the season.

But before we jump to conclusions, Everton has a fighting chance against United. The Toffees have the second best form in the league currently. From their last six games, they’ve won four and drawn two. And despite their awful start to the season, they would leapfrog Liverpool into sixth position with a win today. Can they do it? If it was at Goodison Park, yes. At Old Trafford, where Man United have not lost all season? I don’t think so.

If the title race is dead and buried by the time the 10am ET/3pm GMT games are ready to kick off, then we at least have the battle to avoid relegation to contend with. Saturday gives us a must-win match for both teams between Sunderland and Wigan Athletic. Only Blackpool are on a worse run of form in the Premier League now other than Sunderland. Steve Bruce’s side have lost five of their last six matches (the other one being a draw). Wigan, meanwhile, will be brimming with confidence after their impressive win against Blackpool last week. While the match is at the Stadium of Light, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Wigan win all three points here.

The other relegation battle is between Wolves and Fulham. All Fulham needs is a win here and they should be safe for next season. But anything less will be worrisome for Mark Hughes’s side. Wolverhampton Wanderers, meanwhile, are sitting bottom of the table. But a win at home could lift them up three places and out of the drop zone depending on how the other clubs above Wolves do. If Mick McCarthy’s side will be in the Premier League next season, three points is a necessity today.

In the other 10am ET matches, Stoke City will be hoping for a win against Aston Villa to confirm their place in the Premier League next season. Blackpool will be praying for a home win against Newcastle United. Tottenham will have a chance to temporarily move into fourth place with a win against high-flying West Bromwich Albion. And last but not least, Birmingham will be hoping for some points when they travel to Anfield to face Liverpool.

In the last match of the day, Chelsea face West Ham United at Stamford Bridge. The Hammers are facing the Blues at the worst possible time. Chelsea have the best form in the Premier League right now based on the last six games. Plus, they’ve now leapfrogged Arsenal into second place. They have one eye on the Premier League title if United stumble. West Ham United would love to get all three points. But considering the circumstances, one point would be precious.

Before, during or after the games today, post your rants, raves, questions or observations in the comments section below. It promises to be an exciting day with so much on the line for so many Premier League clubs.

25 thoughts on “Premier League Saturday, Gameweek 34: Open Thread”

  1. On a completely different topic, anyone going to watch the premiere of the new Doctor Who season tonight at 9pm ET on BBC America? I know I am. Looks like it’ll be quite good. I’m not typically a Doctor Who fan, but when I do get time to watch an episode, I find it’s quite well done.

    The Gaffer

    1. I know I will. I will have to watch it on Space though since I do not live south of the 49th parallel.

      I have not been this excited since Kenny Dalglish was reappointed as Liverpool’s manager.

      By the way, you should REALLY become more of a Doctor Who fan. You are missing out on all the fun.

  2. What the commentator said got me thinking the was that kind of tention at the old trafford that was present at the emirates . Man Utd always seem to nick it at at death. I wonder what th thing that chelsea and arsenal are ,missing. I mean this is not the most talented side i saw

  3. Liverpool had it too easy against Birmingham who didn’t show up.

    Spurs draw again and that gives Manchester City a huge advantage provided they win on Monday.

    Sunderland finally get a win so they’re safe but Wigan are now in trouble.

    Blackpool needed a win so their draw is bad news for survival.

    Fulham’s draw with Wolves means both teams are going to have to fight for survival.

  4. Bad result for Spurs. City now in pole position to get 4th and Liverpool live in hope to maybe get 5th at the expense of Spurs. That means Spurs may not even get a Europa League spot.

    1. Doesn’t look good for Spurs at all. They have to play away games against Chelsea, City and Liverpool. I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished 6th. Time for Redknapp to move on … to English national team job?

      1. Why do people think Harry Redknapp, a man with one FA Cup trophy, a First Division (now Championship) title and a Third Division title (now League Two) to his name would be better at managing England than a guy with 7 scudettos, 2 La Liga titles and a Champions League victory on his CV?

        1. Because such statistics do not matter at all with the national team. Capello hasn’t been better than Sven, despite his titles et al.

          1. Actually those things show a manager has pedigree.

            Before Sven was appointed England’s manager he at least won league titles in three different countries, made the finals of a European Cup and had been to multiple UEFA Cups finals as well.

            There is absolutely nothing about Harry Redknapp’s resume that suggests he would be better at the England job than Fabio Capello nor Sven Goran Eriksoon.

  5. Because it is fashion nowadays to be exited about anything related to Spurs? If Bales makes it to become PFA player of year why not Redknapp for English team job?

  6. Torres finally breaks his duck with a goal against West Ham. He got lucky as the ball stopped on the water-logged pitch for him. At least he got the monkey of his back. He is now tied with Joe Cole for the number goals scored since he joined Chelsea :) .

  7. Chelsea are finally getting their act together but unfortuantely it’s too little too late as United’s win today means they will be hard to catch.

  8. I know the title race in reality is pretty much over and that the following scenario is unlikely as hell, but it would spectacular if:

    April 24: Arsenal beats Bolton
    April 30: Chelsea beats Tottenham
    May 1: Arsenal beats Manchester United
    May 8: Arsenal beats Stoke City
    May 8: Chelsea beats Manchester United

    United, Arsenal, and Chelsea would all be level at 73 points heading into the final two match days.

  9. I agree that it would be nice if all 3 teams were level with 2 games to play and the above scenario materialises. However, I just cannot see United losing to both Chelsea and Arsenal. Arsenal are too soft in the back and United will take advantage of that and I think the best Arsenal will do is draw. Chelsea have it in them to beat United but it will be difficult for them to win at Old Trafford. But who knows. That’s why they play the games.

    1. I agree, it’s extremely unlikely. Manchester United have kept it together this long, and it would truly uncharacteristic, epic collapse for them to lose it at this point. The below commenter is right, Schalke need to win that first CL leg for Arsenal to have a chance. But it’s still Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal and their track record this season is these must-win games has been abysmal.

      I actually think Chelsea can probably win that second fixture, as they beat United in March and if Torres is finally coming on for the Blues, he will be a lot for Man U to handle. Still, it’s Old Trafford, and they haven’t lost there all year.

      Anyway, it’s nice to want things.

  10. The only hope for Arsenal and Chelsea is for United to lose the first leg of the CL in Schalke. That will have United worrying about the second leg and will give Arsenal an edge. Then if United have tom exert themselves in the 2nd leg it could give Chelsea a boost and they could win. I think both are unlikely. United already have a firm grip on the title. Too little, too late for the others.

    The more interesting race is for 5th. Liverpool are 3 points behind Spurs who have a game in hand but since Spurs have to play Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool and all away there’s an outside chance for Liverpool to get that 4th spot. Spurs are favorites for 5th but they could be undone easier than United can for the title.

  11. I meant “Liverpool to get the 5th spot”. Then again, the scousers will be hoping for a miracle and Liverpool getting 4th. Not likely.

  12. United have wrapped up the title. They also play Schalke in the CL who are 10th in the Bundesliga and lost at home today. So United will probably win easily at Schalke and then will concentrate on holding on to their lead in the league. Its all over for Chelsea and Arsenal. Better luck next year.

    The relegation battle is the only thing that is undecided and could go down to the wire.

    Manchester City will get 4th place and Spurs will get 5th place. Liverpool will fall just short of overtaking Spurs. Not making it into Europe could be a blessing in design for Liverpool as they will be able to concentrate on the league next year and will be a force to reckon with given the new lease on life for the club under Kenny Daglish. Arsenal will probably be the team next year who will drop out of the top 4 and Liverpool will get back in.

    1. You’re absolutely out of your mind if you think this race is over. United have to go to the Emirates, play chelsea at home (never ever easy), and they have to go to Ewood Park in week 37. That’s where the United title challenge realistically came to a crashing end last year. That’s where United almost let the 07-08 title slip out of their grasp.

      The title isn’t won yet. I really wish it was, I can definitely see a worn down United dropping 7-8 points over these three fixtures. Is it likely, no. Is it possible, absolutely.

      And by the way, Schalke have been proving time and again that their league form does not matter in the CL. They just crushed Inter. Inter!

  13. Being a nerdy mathematician/engineer, I ran some calculations on the probability that United win the league this season (using Monte Carlo simulations if any other nerds are on here). I set everything up very conservatively and even assumed that Arsenal and Chelsea would have a better GD than Utd if we were level on pts. The calculations are based on the following simple and fixed match probabilities:

    These are the following 4 games left for Top 3 teams (note: I assume Arsenal win tomorrow vs. Bolton):
    Utd: Arsenal (a), Chelsea (h), Blackburn (a), Blackpool (h)
    CFC: Tottenham (h), United (a), Newcastle (h), Everton (a)
    AFC: United (h), Stoke (a), Aston Villa (h), Fulham (a)

    And here are the fixed probabilities (in %) that Utd (win, draw, lose) each game:
    Utd vs. Arsenal (40, 30, 30)
    Utd vs. Chelsea (30, 40, 30)
    Utd. vs. Blackburn (40, 45, 15)
    Utd. vs. Blackpool (50, 40, 10)

    And here are the fixed probabilities (in %) that Chelsea (win/draw/lose) each game:
    CFC vs. Tottenham (55, 25, 20)
    CFC vs. United (30, 40, 30)
    CFC vs. Newcastle (70, 20, 10)
    CFC vs. Everton (50, 30, 20)

    And here are the fixed probabilities (in %) that Arsenal (win/draw/lose) each game:
    AFC vs. United (30, 30, 40)
    AFC vs. Stoke (40, 30, 30)
    AFC vs. Villa (50, 30, 20)
    AFC vs. Fulham (50, 40, 10)

    Using those probabilities above (which I think are conservatively biased against United), I get the following results:

    The probability that United win the EPL title is 74%
    The probability that Chelsea win the title is 16%
    The probability that Arsenal win the title is 10%

    That is really good considering the pessimism I built into the model.


    Note also how Chelsea are 60% more likely than Arsenal to win the title, which agrees with most commentators on the subject.

    PS: For the nerds on here, I used 100,000 samples in my Monte Carlo run.
    PPS: Any recommendations on the fixed match probabilities?

  14. No matter how you dice it Manchester United will win the title. I’m sory to Chelsea and Arsenal fans but you’re just clinging on fantasy and not reality. As Fergie said it will be all over in two weeks after United get the points against both Arsenal and Chelsea.

    Arsenal are already losing to Bolton so they are on their way out of the title race.

  15. Arsenal just equalised but Bolton should have been two goals ahead if they didn’t miss the penalty. Once again the Arsenal defence shows their true colors in giving away the penalty. Manchester United will hammer the Gunners with that defence.

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