The final day of the English Premier League is almost upon us and it will be a glorious day of football (soccer). All 20 teams will be in action with every game starting at 11 AM EST. Liverpool has already clinched their first league title in 31 years. It is their 19th league title overall, bringing them within one of Manchester United’s 20. There is still plenty to play for, though.
Race for the Top 4
Liverpool has first place wrapped up and Manchester City will finish second, but Manchester United, Chelsea, and Leicester City (pronounced “lester city”) are all jockeying to finish in the coveted top four. The top four finishers qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League, to determine the best club in Europe. Playing in the Champions League brings a huge pay day. Simply qualifying for the Champions League
brings a 13 million euros windfall for the team, at minimum! The winning team can make up to 80
million euros! Note that Manchester City’s two-year Champions League ban was overturned by an appeal last week.
Here is a look at the top of the table (wins are worth 3 points, draws 1 point, goal difference is the tiebreaker)
Leicester City vs Manchester United Sunday 7/26 at 11:00 AM NBC
Leicester plays Man United in what is a de facto play in game, with the winner guaranteed to finish in the top four. A draw guarantees also guarantees a Champions League spot for Man United. Leicester City captured hearts from around the world when they won the Premier League as a 5000/1 longshot in 2016. Jamie Vardy is still a goal scoring force for LC. For United, keep an eye on 18-year old Mason Greenwood.
Chelsea vs Wolves Sunday 7/26 at 11:00 AM USA Network
Chelsea will finish in the top four with a win or draw, OR a Leicester loss. If you are looking for a reason to be optimistic about the future of USA soccer, tune in to catch the pride of Hershey, PA suit up for Chelsea. Christian Pulisic is 21-year-old attacking player that is pegged as the future of USA Soccer. He may be the best USMNT player ever when all is said and done. Check out this wonderful goal last week verse Liverpool.
Christian Pulisic is unstoppable. He has one goal and one assist in 13 minutes of play and Chelsea (+260) now trails Liverpool 4-3.
— Barstool Bets (@barstoolbets) July 22, 2020
Keep an eye out for Wolverhampton Wolves player Adama Traore. He is the most muscular football player I have ever seen. He is built like an NFL linebacker.
You know how in the USA teams near the bottom of the standings sometimes tank for lottery picks? Well the exact opposite happens in European soccer. In fact, the bottom three teams are kicked out of the
Premier League and sent down to the English League Championship, which is the equivalent of the bottom three MLB teams moving down to triple A next season to play the Durham Bulls. Aston Villa, Waford, and AFC Bournemouth are all in danger of relegation, with Norwich City already headed for the minor leagues next season.
Aston Villa vs West Ham Sunday 7/26 at 11:00 AM NBCSN
Aston Villa simply needs an equal or better result than Watford to remain safe. Since the Premier League formed in 1992, this proud franchise has spent all but 3 seasons in the Premier League. Both Aston Villa and West Ham are known for having passionate fans that are not to be messed with.
Arsenal vs Watford Sunday 7/26 at 11:00 AM Golf Channel
Watford needs a better result than Aston Villa in order to survive. The are currently tied with Aston Villa but trail on goal difference.
Everton vs Bournemouth Sunday 7/26 at 11:00 AM CNBC
Bournemouth is a long shot to avoid relegation. They need to win and hope for losses by both Aston Villa and Watford.
Avoiding relegation and staying in the Premier League brings a huge financial windfall. In fact, when Crystal Palace beat Watford in a playoff game in 2013 to earn promotion to the Premier League, that win was estimated as being worth 120 million euros to the winner!
I can’t emphasize enough how crippling relegation can be on a fanbase and team. I have a friend who supports Crystal Palace (Palace fans are among the most loyal) and he says to me every year the goal is to finish mid-table and just don’t go down. The goal isn’t to win an FA cup or even dream of a league title, it is simply to avoid relegation at all costs. Fans constantly live in fear of going down and can’t breathe a sigh of relief until their team is clear of relegation. Some fans even prefer to get knocked out
of domestic cups (tournaments) early so the players can stay fresh in order to win enough games to
avoid relegation from the Premier League.
The financial impacts of relegation are terrible. Staff employees and coaches lose their jobs, cities lose economic revenue and players suddenly no longer want to play for the franchise. Just watch Sunderland Til I Die on Netflix and you will get the picture. If you are looking for a new Netflix show, I recommend it!
The last day has produced plenty of drama, including Manchester City scoring 2 goals in stoppage time to snatch the title from their bitter Manchester rivals, in 2012, ending a 44-year title drought. Still my favorite memory in Premier League history.
— Man City Xtra (@City_Xtra) May 30, 2020
Would you be for US pro sports using relegation (though it will never happen)?
What do you think about a league champion being decided by regular season results and not playoffs?
Who is your favorite soccer club and why?
Let us know in the comments.