Saturday 11th March, 3:00pm
With just 12 rounds of fixtures left to play in the Premier League season, there is still a surprising amount for clubs to contest. All the key plates continue to spin.
Nothing has been fully concluded. No-one has been relegated, no-one has lifted a top four trophy; the fates of all the teams in the division remain tightly sealed inside large golden envelopes.
The narratives keep changing too. And with increasing celerity. Just when you think you’ve got a decent grasp on all the various existing storylines, and the direction in which they are heading, they wriggle free and disappear off down the street.
Within the space of one single game on Sunday; Liverpool, for example, were suddenly declared rampant – the preceding months of mediocrity dismissed with a simple finger-click; shaken-off in an instant, like the remnants of a bad dream.
Last week’s faltering, featherweight Fancy Dans, Chelsea; are this week’s Resolute Raheems – tenacious grafters grinding-out ugly wins to save the bacon of their poor, beleaguered coach. A humble, plucky herd of cloggers; each with nothing to work with but a pair of rolled-up sleeves, a few beads of cold sweat…and, well, about £500,000 per week…net.
Leicester City put four past Aston Villa and four past Tottenham Hotspur in consecutive games not too long ago. They were back! Then they lost their next four games in all competitions, and now suddenly find themselves staring straight into the eyeballs of a relegation scrap.
The Foxes just so happen to host Chelsea at 3pm on Saturday, in what could be Gameweek 27’s most intriguing clash.
The action continues to hurtle towards us: in all forms and from all angles; relentless, shape-shifting, and several times a week. And a tangled, unpredictable multiverse of potential outcomes could still emerge. It’s football that’s everything, everywhere, all at once.
So, while this weekend may see the end of the movie award season – culminating in the Oscars on Sunday night – football’s gongs will have to wait a bit longer before their recipients are announced.
Bruno Fernandes, however, does look nailed-on to win the award for Best Original Scream-Play. His outstanding, sustained achievements in the field of haranguing and whining at officials – of shrieking-infantile-petulance – put him in an unassailable position at the head of the pack.
He is a true master of his craft. Constantly pushing himself further – always finding new ways to deliver excellence within his chosen discipline; always leaving his fellow practitioners shaking their heads in weary, defeated, disbelief.
And, though we may have deluded ourselves to the contrary for about a month or so, there are only really two contenders left in the title race too.
Manchester City are very much the James Cameron of the Premier League: immensely rich, sleek and successful; but strangely joyless – the discorporate light blue avatars for the Abu Dhabi ruling regime. Despite never really sustaining a protracted run of brilliance, they still manage to overwhelm and swallow all before them with the inevitability of a spring tide.
Crystal Palace are the latest candidates to be submerged in Saturday’s late kick-off. But when will City begin to reel-in the division’s current table-toppers?
Arsenal are the closest thing to the film Everything Everywhere All At Once – the big favourite to win the coveted Best Picture prize at the 95th Academy Awards this weekend. Stylish, vibrant, intricate; directed by a youthful core, and very much the surprise package of the season.
Can The Gunners, also currently out in front, go on to bag the main prize too? Can they, similarly, convert their sizeable reserves of verve and goodwill into glory and accolades?
Or will they find themselves, like Chris Rock last year, in receipt of a hard and unexpected slap to the face before the parade has come to an end?
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