Some Arsenal supporters will be munching sour lemons as their city neighbours in West London will be crowned Champions on Sunday at home after the match against Crystal Palace. After 34 games, Chelsea have amassed 80 points and are 13 points clear with only four games to go. The Blues are effectively champions-elect no matter what happens.
In last week’s game against Chelsea, Arsenal supporters tried to undermine Jose Mourinho’s team, chanting boring! Boring! However, the irony did not escape the tongue-in-cheek free-speaking Mourinho who responded by saying boring is when you go 10 years without a trophy (in reference to Arsenal’s dry run without the league title).
I may not be a big fan of Mourinho and his overtly defensive methods, but one has to admit that his style often brings the desired results. Of course, there are moments such as the one against PSG when Mourinho methods spectacularly backfired when they were booted out with PSG reduced to 10 men. That was a bitter lesson for Mourinho.
However, his dynamism and tactical shrewdness in shuffling his line-up to outwit opponents cannot be questioned. It is what makes him different from the rest. It is the reason Chelsea will be celebrating on Sunday afternoon while those who value purposeless stylish football will once again be condemned to groaning and envy singing the bitter song of ‘what ifs’ for the 10th season.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s chance of securing a champions league position appears over after they lost to Hull City which left them stuck on 58 points and seven points adrift of fourth -placed Manchester United who are on 65 points. Unless a miracle happens, Chelsea will be joined by Man City (67), Arsenal (67) and United in the elite league. Remember, the top three qualify automatically while the fourth-placed team qualifies via play-offs. So, the battle for automatic qualification is still on for the remaining four games.
United who play today against West Brom have a rare chance of climbing to second position if they win as City and Arsenal do not play until Sunday and Monday in that order. City visit Tottenham tomorrow in a late kick-off that could be trick for City given their bad form lately. Arsenal play on Monday against Hull City.
In Spain, the league is not yet won because Barcelona who are on 84 points from 34 games are only separated by two points from their closest rivals, Real Madrid. Athletico Madrid who were champions last season can forget about the league because at 75 points they are seven points adrift. However, Real Madrid have a tricky fixture this afternoon as they visit fifth-placed Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan. Sevilla are a tough opponent because they are also chasing Champions League finish and have the same points as fourth-placed Valencia at 69.
Barcelona have an easier task this week against Cordoba. However, both Barcelona and Real Madrid have a daunting task as they are still involved in the Champions League. Barcelona face Bayern Munich while Real Madrid face Juventus in the semi-finals. Fatigue could be a key factor in determining who wins the league for the two Spanish giants.
This entry will not be complete without saying something on the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout. It is the biggest bout of the century that pits two of the best pound for pound kings. The last big match I witnessed that comes close was way back between Mike Tyson and Lewis. I was in college then-but I remember very well that before the match there was bitter exchange of words between rival supporters resulting in scuffles and near bouts. Such is the amount of passion boxing commands among supporters.
I am for Pacman not just because of his speed and timing but for selfish reasons that have nothing to do with boxing talent. He has a beautiful personality and may his modest manners guide him against the Money Man. This bout will also settle a longstanding debate on who is the best between the two. I know George Kasakula and Edem Djokotoe have been sparring on this issue for years.