EPL's Craziest Possible End-Season Scenarios
With 10 games to go before the 2012-13 season winds to a close, and excitement scales tilting to the max, there has never been a better time to watch the English Premier League.
However, Manchester United’s 15-point lead at the top of the table more or less settles the debate of league champions, meaning the city of Manchester will be painted Red come May.
That is, unless a miracle sets in motion a chain of events leading to the craziest possible finish to the season.
Martin Tyler screaming “AGUERROOOOO!!” at the top of his lungs as Manchester City wrested the title back from the clutches of Manchester United last season still remain fresh in our memories.
So, keeping that in mind, here is a list of craziest possible end-season scenarios.
Tottenham Finish 2nd
A Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham, dismantling and swatting aside oppositions for the 12th straight game, overcame an Arsenal side ho-hum at defending, that they arose, in the process, to third in the league table and just two points behind defending champions Manchester City in second.
Manchester City’s erratic form, together with the lacklustre displays put out by certain players, has all but meant that Roberto Mancini had to concede defeat in the title chase.
Andre Villas-Boas, meanwhile, with a young squad at his disposal, has made the most out of a second life in the Premier League since his tumultuous reign at Chelsea FC.
Intent on rubbing the noses of his former employers in dirt, Villas-Boas would now hope that Bale continues his hot streak and help propel the club to a second-place finish.
The idea of finishing above close rivals Arsenal FC, if it happens, would appeal very well for Spurs supporters, who would be witness to the event for the first time since 1995.
Liverpool Finish 4th
It has been a long-running melodrama.
Champions League regulars Liverpool have found it tough to mount a sustained challenge in the Premier League. For the last three years, they have either found themselves in the Europa League or completely deprived of European challenges.
This season, Zenit St. Petersburg knocked them out of the Europa League on away goals rule, taking away the last chance of winning a piece of silverware.
Liverpool currently sit 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea and with back-to-back wins against an understrength Swansea side and a wayward Wigan, Brendan Rodgers can look forward to better things from his side in the future.
Imagine a scenario where Liverpool, having to win the last game to ensure Champions League qualification, hosts an already relegated QPR side.
Despite falling behind to the visitors, a late Steven Gerrard screamer from range wins it for the Reds and the Kop erupts in joy.
On to the crazier scenarios on the list.
It would take nothing short of a miracle for Harry Redknapp to inspire a turnaround of fortunes for the London club.
Former Swindon Town manager and onetime player under Harry Redknapp, Paolo Di Canio had suggested immortalising the QPR manager with a statue were he to save QPR from relegation.
Imagine QPR beating Liverpool at home, costing the former European a berth but, in the process, securing another season in the top flight for themselves. The R’s supporters would faint in jubilation.
If indeed Redknapp has a statue commissioned, what would be the pose?
We all know, exactly.
Stoke Regain Relevance
Stoke City and Tony Pulis, following their commendable display against Liverpool on Boxing Day (a game won comprehensively), have kind of lost the plot since.
The score line read 3-1. "Hip hip hurray," said the papers the next morning.
Since then, Stoke have needlessly spun into an endless pit of oblivion, going on a losing streak, getting beat by West Ham and Fulham in the process.
Tony Pulis would now be hoping that his team of body builders regain a bit of composure and concentrate on putting a few points up on the board before the end of the season or risk losing their identity until next time Ryan Shawcross or Robert Huth deem it fit to end a player’s career.
Arsenal Gain Champions League Qualification
Arsenal’s woes compounded with the loss to Tottenham away at White Hart Lane.
Stranded at 47 points and the fifth position, with Everton and Liverpool breathing down their necks, Arsene Wenger’s misery has never been so clear.
An eighth season without a trophy and clearly we have a problem, skip.
However, certain sections of the Gunners’ support hope that Le Professeur can wave his magic wand and once again secure Champions League qualification in order to keep the cash reserves healthy.
It’s crazy enough if Wenger manages to achieve that, but it is even crazier if he manages that at the expense of Chelsea.
Chelsea End Season Trophy-less
Chelsea’s season began with much fanfare.
Defending champions of Europe, the arrivals of Eden Hazard and Oscar and a flying start to the top of the pile on the Premier League.
Then, misery followed.
Roberto Di Matteo sacked, the “interim” one arrives. A fall from grace for the team culminating in a group-stage exit from the Champions League and getting knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Swansea.
Chelsea can still win the FA Cup and the Europa League. However, their backstage troubles, as manifested by Rafa Benitez’s rant, will ensure finding that winning spirit remains a tough challenge for the players and the manager.
Such craziness—one moment at the top, another moment, the laughing stock of the world.
Are you listening, Mr Abramovich?
Aston Villa and Wigan Relegated
It is very much a possibility given the current state of affairs at Villa Park.
Although there are a large number of hopefuls who are optimistic about the Villains' chances of staying afloat, with each passing day, that percentage of support seems to be dwindling.
One of only seven clubs never to have been relegated since the inception of the Premier League, Aston Villa’s precarious position puts them in danger of losing that status.
Wigan, famous for their end-of-season push-back, will hope that lady luck continues to shine on them for a fourth consecutive season.
However, if they continue to put out performances such as the one against Liverpool, they are highly unlikely to stay up.
Given the nature of the business of football, it would automatically signal an exodus of players on a free transfer, which would then severely weaken the club.
Swansea Finish Above Liverpool
Two seasons back, if you had told a Swans supporter that they would be competing toe-to-toe with Liverpool in the English Premier League, chances are that they would ask you to check the loose nuts up there.
Two points behind Liverpool in eighth position, the Swans are a legitimate threat to Liverpool’s quest of European competition.
The Swans’ incredible season under Michael Laudrup also saw them lift their first major piece of silverware in the club’s history, when the club beat Bradford City 5-0 to win the Capital One Cup.
With 10 games to go before finish, the Swans would hope to better last season’s league tally of 47 points and if they continue their winning form, they stand a great chance of overhauling Liverpool and move up top.
Luis Suarez Not Voted the Player of the Year
Forget the rest. This one seems more likely to happen than the rest.
Luis Suarez, who has been in scintillating goal-scoring form, having notched 21 goals in the Premier League (and 28 to the season) so far, is rivaled in his attempt to capture the PFA and the Football Writers’ Association’s Player of the Year award by Robin van Persie and Gareth Bale.
Robin van Persie, on 19 league goals, is Suarez’s closest rival whilst Gareth Bale, on 16 league goals, has seen his stock rise considerably following a flurry of goals.
The media interest in Bale has enabled him to shoot ahead to the front of the queue and emerge as a front-runner for the honours.
Suarez needs to sustain his goal-scoring form until the end for him to stand a chance of winning the honour. However, even if the Uruguayan manages to plunder more goals, his reputation goes before him.
The Patrice Evra scandal may eventually come back to haunt him, as it may cost him his award—especially if United go on to lift the title and van Persie is the top scorer.
Suarez’s contributions to an understrength Liverpool squad have been largely underestimated and not been appreciated enough.
The mother of crazies would see Luis Suarez miss out on the Player of the Year honour to Robin van Persie or, even worse, Gareth Bale.