Welcome to the second to last edition of Nuclear Wessel for the season, folks.
Well, the champion and top four (minus some sorting) are all secured and locked up. Not very dramatic. But relegation! Don't forget about relegation. Quite possibly the most exciting part of the season. QPR is dead and five others are fighting are fighting to not have to join them in the second tier next season. NBC is showing three matches at once that all have massive implications on relegation. Details are below.
I feel for NBC a bit. They spent a ton of money on these rights and do a great job with them but there has been next to no drama at the top of the table in the final weeks the last two seasons.
On to the matches!
No. 1: Southampton vs Aston Villa at St Mary's Stadium
When: 6:45AM on NBC Sports Network
Last year: Villa got the money 3-2 last season at St Mary's Stadium.
If you wake up and watch this you have problems.
Southampton still have the matter of Europa qualification to play for. If they even deem it worth it. I wouldn't want it if I were them. But I am not them. So we'll see.
Villa are basically guaranteed safety but a point or three would take the basically out of the equation.
No. 2: Relegation Breakaway Show!!!
When: Saturday at 9:00AM on NBC Sports Network
This is going to be awesome. Three matches at once shown in whip-around Red Zone Channel-style coverage of three teams fighting for their Premier League lives.
Sunderland (16th on 36 points) vs Leicester City (15th on 37 points)
QPR (20th – already relegated) vs Newcastle (17th on 36 points)
Tottenham vs Hull City (18th on 34 points)
NBC has done this before and it is a lot of fun. They keep updating the live tale after every goal is scored. Tons of drama and I feel for the supporters of Leicester, Newcastle and Hull. I hope they have plenty of cigarettes, whiskey and paper bags to breath into.
Sunderland and Leicester City will be a dog fight. QPR have nothing to play for but Newcastle has been playing like they want to get relegated the last few months — all bets are off in that one. Spurs can still finish anywhere between 5th and 9th in the league so there is still plenty of pride on the line for them against a desperate Hull City.
Should be an amazing two hours of sports.
No. 3: Manchester United vs Arsenal at Old Trafford
When: Sunday at 10:00AM
Last year: United won this fixture last year thanks to a — who else? — Robin van Persie goal in the 27th minute.
Arsenal were the last team to have a chance of catching Chelsea a few weeks back. Now all of a sudden United could overtake them for third in the table, sending Arsenal back down to their favorite 4th place spot.
A United win would put them temporarily one point ahead of Arsenal while the Gunners play their game in-hand against Sunderland on Wednesday. The difference between second and third in the league doesn't mean a whole lot but the difference between third and fourth does. The fourth place finisher has to play a Champions League qualifier in August to even make the group stage. The team from England almost always qualifies, but it is a two match affair that nobody needs to deal with at the start of the season.
This is one of the better rivalries in English football but has simmered a bit in recent years with the rise of Manchester City and Chelsea. Also, Sir Alex having retired takes some of the fun out of things as well. But these two always play close (that 8-2 United win in 2011 notwithstanding) and it should be an excellent match. They have met twice already this season with United winning 2-1 in the league and Arsenal winning 2-1 in the FA Cup.
If nothing else, it is the last match between two big clubs of the season. The final matches next week (and remember, they are all played at the same time) are all pretty tame.
Alright folks, only one more week of Premier League football after this weekend. Enjoy it while we've got it.