Thursday, May 19, 2011

Preview of EPL Relegation Battle Sunday

With one week left in the 2010-11 EPL season, Manchester United has been crowned champion. But we're not here to talk about them. We're here to discuss the losers clubs in the league. Man U will field a squad of reserves to play a match this Sunday that is totally meaningless to them, yet profoundly important to their opponent, 17th place Blackpool. Blackpool is one of three teams tied for 17th-19th place with 39 points (others are Birmingham and Wigan Athletic). Two of these three teams will join West Ham and be relegated to the Championship League next year. In the event some teams remain tied in points, the first tiebreaker is goal differential. The three teams in the mix have goal differentials of -20 to -22. So all three of these teams will have to win big or cross their fingers they don't get dumped.

Our friend at the cyber-carcass once known as the Wheelhouse has discussed this process in more detail than me in the past, but it is worth repeating that the stakes are enormous for these teams. By keeping their membership in the EPL, the teams secure themselves a hefty revenue stream for TV rights, increased merchandise sales, larger-breasted groupies and all the other good stuff that comes from playing in a larger league.

So what do we have on tap this weekend? Here are the three matches affecting relegation. If you plan to watch any/all of these, be warned that all league matches will start at the same time (11 AM ET on Sunday) to avoid teams changing strategy based on prior results in the week.

Birmingham (-20 goal differential) @ Tottenham Hotspur. Unfortunately for Birmingham, this game has meaning for Tottenham, as it looks to lock up a 5th place finish and secure a place in next year's Europa League, the junior version of the Champions League. Despite possibly qualifying for this tourney, this year is disappointing for a squad that thought it could climb to the top four in the standings again and make a repeat showing at next year's Champions League tournament, after an impressive quarterfinals visit in this year's tourney. But the team still had an admirable year and will be playing in front of its home fans, who will likely be okay with the Europa League, where Spurs has the potential to dominate. Birmingham will need to sack up and show it belongs in the EPL. The squad has absolutely fallen apart to slide into the relegation zone. It has earned only 1 point in its last 5 matches. They will need to stop one of the best young players in the league, rising English star Gareth Bale. And they won't.
Prediction: 3-0 victory for Spurs.

Blackpool (-21 goal differential) @ Manchester United. Blackpool may have the toughest match-up of the teams in danger, but this game is merely a glorified exhibition for Man U. It has nothing to play for and will avoid exposing any valuable players to injury six days before the Champions League finals. But that said, Man U's reserves would probably be a mid-level squad in the EPL. And the match will be a rare showcase for some hungry youngsters auditioning for playing time next season. Blackpool has admirably fought over the last month to try to escape the cellar. It earned six points in its last four matches, including a 4-3 win last week against the (Michael) Bolton Wanderers. The team is showing some heart and some firepower, and we think it will hang in with the Man U back-ups.
Prediction: 2-2 tie.

Wigan Athletic (-22 goal differential) @ Stoke City. Stoke City is at the top of a log-jam in the middle of the standings, where the 9th-14th place teams are separated by only two points. They may have some financial motivation to hold down 9th place, but that would involve work on my end. And, as we know, this is difficult to do with the internet. And I am lazy. So we'll just assume they have little to play for. Stoke City has gone 2-2-2 in their last six, proving they are every bit as average as we think they are. Wigan Athletic, the worst positioned team facing relegation, has played pretty well recently, going 2-1-2 in its last five matches. It beat West Ham 3-2 last week to secure West Ham's relegation, which is like beating up a special ed kid to feel better about yourself. But Stoke City is no punching bag. It is more like Warren.
Prediction: 2-1 victory for Stoke City. Franks and beans, bitches.

Conclusion.Based on my inane and ignorant predictions, we have Blackpool edging out Birmingham and Wigan Athletic. So apologies to Birmingham, the city that spawned Black Sabbath, and Wigan, the city that spawned the World Pie Eating Competition. And Kajagoogoo. For reals.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Look for a Champions League preview post, which has a 40% chance of seeing the light of day.


T.J. said...

I of course love this post, despite its soccer content, because of the Michael Bolton Wanderers reference and the fantastic Captain Jack Sparrow SNL short.

Dave said...

nice post. from what i understand, i love this system-- but what american sport could adopt it with success?

football is too costly for every town to have a team, but how about basketball? relegation is such an awesome term, it's a shame we can't use it stateside.

Whitney said...

Limahl, perhaps the worst of the one-word rock stars?

In order:


Danimal said...

igor - you might be interested to know the following very random message followed by call...

lynch text: Wally V is sitting at Magerks right now

(lynch & Wally V never knew each other - they figured out the connections after WV mentioned W&M football - Lynch's 1st question, "do you know T Walt?")

5 min later - WV calls me who haven't spoken to since probably Apple Blossom 1993/1994 - i think you were present.

it's a crazy world. they oughta sell tickets.

rob said...

if anyone's in deecee tomorrow, the teej and i are having a working lunch.

zman said...

A nooner?

Google has a TV ad where a couple created a gmail account for their baby and sent emails to her as she grew up. My wife thought this was a cool idea so I tried to set up a gmail account for our son and apparently the FTC won't allow anyone under a certain age to have an email account. Nice fucking ad for google.

TR said...

Jesus H. Christ. The NYC area just showed the most disturbing commercial of a sickly baby wheezing in a hospital crib. Was an anti-smoking commercial and it was totally real.

How 'bout showing some young corpses next time? Jeez.

Jerry said...

Go Blackpool. They're plucky underdogs with great fans who actually try to play football and win games.

I'd love to see Birmingham and Wigan go down. Wigan has terrible fan support so it's not much fun watching their home games and Birmingham plays a dreadful style, so it's not much fun watching any of their games.

The last week of the first season of the EPL I watched was a really weird scene. Similar to this year, it was relegation threatened West Ham at Champions Man U. West Ham had been dead and buried a month prior, but rattled off a great streak behind Carlos Tevez. I think the game was a draw, which was enough to keep the Hammers up. So after the game, Man U was celebrating wildly with the trophy and West Ham was celebrating wildly because they avoided relegation. Never seen anything like that before.

Also Garreth Bale is Welsh, which is great. He gets the benefits of the media bias in favor of white British players, but he plays for a much more likable national team.

And they say that staying in the Premier League is worth something like 60 million GBP, which is obviously a lot, especially for these types of clubs which aren't that big.

Love the soccer posts.

rob said...

i'll work on a post about my daughter's u7 game this weekend.

also, dan bard, man. bad things. i blame danimal.

TR said...

Is that Bobby Baccala as the voice of a McLemon?

Mark said...

It is TR. Big night for Sopranos commercials. Booby as the Lemon and Christopher slinging shitty tequila.

rob said...

'whitney', coming to nbc on thursday. can't. pick. one. joke.

TR said...

Imperioli needs all the pennies he can get these days - Detroit 187 was just cancelled. He moved his family from NYC to Detroit because he believed in the show so much. It lasted one season. Whoops.

TR said...

And is that Ken Cosgrove and Roger Sterling in the LA Noire video game?

Jerry said...

Detroit 187 was easily the best new show of the year. And I watched them all. That sucks.

Shlara said...

Zman, I've seen that google ad and it made me cry.

And, I haven't said this in awhile...Sam Presti is the best GM in the business. This OKC team is fun to watch.

Whitney said...

Mother pusbucket. We just got done with the Whitney Houston era. There is a generation of people who don't know about her and don't say "Like Houston?" every time I don't introduce myself. And now this???