Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho says lots of provocative things in post-match comments that are simply mind games or emotional overreactions. But one place where he is correct is in the rather odd situation that the Premier League has once again this season scheduled make-up dates in the last week of the league season.
“You look to the top part of the table and, some teams, they have more matches than others. You look to the relegation area and it’s exactly the same.
“In the top of the league, we cannot say we need X points to be champions.
“If you look at the relegation area, Fulham or Cardiff or Norwich, they cannot say ‘we need this number of points to survive’ because they don’t know, because Sunderland have matches in hand.
“This, in the best league in the world, I don’t think is the best image we are giving and it’s not the best situation.
“To play matches in hand in the last week of the season, I don’t think is adapted to this top football country.”
This situation caused by fixture cancelations due to cup runs or inclement weather has been a recurring theme of the past several seasons. During Mourinho’s final season at Chelsea, his side had matches in hand on leader Manchester United because of deep runs in three cup competitions. That season, the league decided to reschedule a potential title decider between Manchester United and Mourinho’s Blues into the final week of season, on a Wednesday. Problem was when Chelsea dropped points against Bolton the previous week, the title was decided.
Last season, Arsenal carried matches in hand until the very last week of the season complicating the classic race for the final Champions League spot. The same could very well happen this season with the title race and relegation fight as a critical match between Manchester City and Sunderland scheduled for May 7, the Wednesday prior to the conclusion of the season. Thus the table very well could be deceptive at the top and the bottom until the very final week of the campaign.