The only real issue to be resolved in the final round of Premier League fixtures centred on the top four and qualification for the Champions League; although Manchester United’s midweek defeat in the final match at the Boleyn Ground, basically meant that a point for Manchester City away at Swansea would all but exclude United from the Champions League for the second time in three years. A bizarre evacuation of Old Trafford brought about by the discovery of a dummy bomb left behind following a security training exercise and the postponement of United’s game against Bournemouth meant that despite being held to a draw, City’s qualification was all but mathematically confirmed.
Elsewhere Arsenal’s largely routine dispatching of bottom club Aston Villa, combined with Tottenham’s almost comic 5-1 capitulation at already-relegated Newcastle, who were even reduced to ten men as a result of Mitrovic’s terrible tackle; ensured that we Gooners were at least able to raise a glass in tribute to another St Totteringham’s Day (the day when it is mathematically impossible for Spurs to finish above Arsenal), at the end of what has been a largely frustrating and disappointing season. There will however be few Arsenal supporters that would even begin to try and claim that this makes up for the way the title challenge fell apart from January onwards; or try to claim that is a sign of better things to come.
With the Premier League season concluded there are two intriguing finals to focus on this week; first up Liverpool face Sevilla in the Europa League Final this evening in what should prove to be a fascinating match. Liverpool probably go into the game as very slight favourites based on the teams they have eliminated on the way to the final; but Sevilla have the pedigree having won the previous two finals and are looking to become the first team to win the trophy three times in a row. It has the feeling that this one will come down to a small detail or a key decision; for the good of the game I hope the match is decided by a piece of skill rather than a controversial moment; and as I will be watching with my Dad and Our Kid, that it is Klopp’s side that emerge triumphant.
The FA Cup Final follows on Saturday and despite us constantly being reminded that the competition has been devalued, having been fortunate enough to watch my own team win the last two; I am still firmly of the belief that the famous old trophy and the final at Wembley are still an important part of English footballing culture. Despite the ridiculous 5:30pm kick-off time and the scandalous distribution of tickets, both of which serve to deny real fans of the two clubs the chance to see their team in a Cup Final; I will be glued to my TV come kick-off on Saturday evening. Wigan’s victory in 2013 and appearances by Hull City and Aston Villa in the last two Finals, have rekindled at least a little of the ‘magic of the FA Cup’; and it will be interesting to see if Crystal Palace’s pacey widemen can cause United’s defence problems.