Saturday 2nd May
Liverpool v Queens Park Rangers
It’s been quite the brutal last few weeks for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool. Since boldly stating that the top four wasn’t the limit of their intentions prior to their match against Manchester United (no, the Regal of Reason stated that it was 2nd place that they were after), they have gone out of their way to pour sugar in the engine of Brendan’s dreams by claiming four points from a possible fifteen.
It seems an odd thing to say, especially in light of their barn-storming run of form from Christmas until near the end of March, but the Liverpool we are seeing now feels very familiar. There is a huge amount of guff spouted by people regarding a club’s culture, its identity and such but the spirit with which Liverpool are playing now puts one very much in the mind of the dark days of the Rafa reign, the wandering in the desert under Hodgson.
That is its own culture and doesn’t depend solely on players. They come and go but the tragi-comedy of Liverpool is like the air you breathe; it’s around all the time and not too easy to explain.
Notwithstanding last weeks match against West Ham and the match prior to that where they were desperately unlucky not to grab a point (Chelsea scoring a late winner courtesy of goal-keeping snarf), QPR were bagging goals if not always points they so desperately need. The bookies seem confident enough that they will fill one of the three berths heading south to the good ship Championship but at least they are putting up a good fight of it; not every team around them can claim the same.
In a match like this at the close of the season, sometimes it’s worth asking: whose need is greater? There’s no doubt that it’s the R’s who need it more and that fight coupled with Liverpool’s general absence of spirit might see the draw as a not unreasonable outcome. Boylesports are offering 17/4 for that outcome.
15.00 West Ham v Burnley
This column is sadly coming to the conclusion that its days of reviewing Burnley for EPL matches might be drawing to a close. Last month they were a point off 17th place and seven points ahead of bottom-placed Leicester. The Foxes have gone on a well-timed run to leave Burnley in their wake and sitting plum bottom of the pile, five points from safety and running out of road. This, then, is the match they need.
It hardly needs pointing out how poor West Ham have been lately but a quick look at the form table shows that they have taken a mere seven points from their last ten games. Mind you, that’s still better than what Burnley have managed but again, we must ask whose need is greater. Obviously the answer to that is Burnley and if they don’t get the three points in this match… Well, Irene goodnight. Might be your last chance to back an almost impossible dream, check Betvictor for a price of 5/2.
Sunday 3rd May
13.30 Chelsea v Crystal Palace
A flick through the sporting websites this week would have turned up a curiously modern tête-à-tête between fans with computers, opinions & typing fingers and journalists who really should know better. The source of the ill-will is that some people say Chelsea are boring whilst some journalists poo-poo the notion. Chelsea are boring and they ‘re killing football. No they’re not, you’re just not sophisticated enough to understand and on and on and on… All week this shit has been going on. Enough! Chelsea have been better than everyone else and, weirdly, that’s been good enough to just about seal the league for them.
Palace might give them a good run around here. Pardew is a man who is man and likes everyone to know that he is a man. A brave man and not one to shirk a challenge. He’ll be chomping at the bit to get one over on Chelsea here and he’s got the players to make Chelsea earn whatever they might get. If Bolasie and Puncheon click between the lines, Glenn Murray is the type of old-school striker that will relish a challenge with both of Chelsea’s centre backs and can put away chances the aforementioned two throw his way.
If nothing else, it should be an entertaining match but this column has grown tired of waiting for Chelsea to drop points and will break the habit of the last couple of months and back Chelsea to win. The best price that be found for that is from Paddypower at 4/11. However, given how often I get Chelsea results wrong (along with all the rest), Palace at 11/1 from Boylesports for the win has a nice ring to it. Probably not the ring of the bookies till opening, though…
Whose will is stronger, who needs it more?