Sunday crunch


Arsenal @ 1/2
Spurs @ 5/4
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It feels like it has been a while since Super Sunday fully justified its title.

Sure, there have been big, super matches – Manchester City v Liverpool from just a few weeks ago was about as sizeable as they come – but, whilst satisfying, they have been isolated meals.  A decent, well-executed roast; but no protracted wine prelude, and no sticky toffee pudding and ice-cream addendum.

This Sunday, however, is the real deal.  The long lunch.  The giga bite.  Three extraordinary courses; featuring a Yorkshire pudding as big as your head, a Nebuchadnezzar full of gravy, and a dessert so unbelievably thick and rich it just bought Myspace for $45 billion.

The stakes are as high as they are perfectly cooked.

Our afternoon of gluttonous indulgence begins with the watery scrag end stew that is Everton, who entertain Chelsea at Goodison Park.

Frank Lampard’s attempt to instil some niggardly resilience into his side has, to some extent, been a success: Everton are now a bit more niggardly and resilient.  But when your fixture list features some of the best club sides in world football, and you have been decidedly awful for large swathes of the season, the end result is still likely to be the same.

Thomas Tuchel has impressively held Chelsea together and seems to have solidified their top four status, despite the incessant rumble of off-field uncertainty.  And they are unlikely to be too sympathetic towards the plight of their club hero and former manager.

One relegation slot remains untaken; and Everton, Burnley (whose sacking of Sean Dyche has thus far succeeded in generating a short-term boost) and Leeds (who will do well to get any points from their three ominous, forthcoming fixtures) currently lie exposed on the chopping block.

Looking at the respective run-ins, Burnley appear to have the most easily digestible menu – including, curiously, due to a previous cancellation, two dates with a wilting Aston Villa.  But at this stage of the season, certainties are as hard to come by as points.  Whoever finds a way to get those points onto the board – however rudimentary – will survive.

Also kicking-off at 2pm is Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester, a clash that is similarly laced with consequences; though the point of impact will be a little further up the Premier League table.

The race for the last available slot in the top four now looks to be down to just two teams; and, with a win over Leicester, Tottenham can replace their local rivals, Arsenal, in that exclusive berth…even if just for an hour or so.

Antonio Conte has lived up to his billing as one of the best managers in football.  Although it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, he has ultimately re-upholstered the frazzled and threadbare outfit he inherited back in November.  The downside for Spurs is that, if anything, he has been a little too impressive, and now the sharks of PSG are rumoured to be circling around him.

Our Sunday feast will be concluded with a potentially piquant combination of West Ham v Arsenal.  The Gunners will be eyeing a third straight win to help fully dismiss the bitter memory of three straight defeats.  But after scoring a fine goal last week, Granit Xhaka is surely due a moment of madness, and West Ham are unlikely to pass up the chance to fatally disturb his chips and light his blue touch-paper.

In short, be warned: this one could get tasty.

West Ham, like Leicester, will have lingering hangovers to dispel following their difficult  Thursday night of shots in, respectively, the Europa League and Europa Repechage.

So make yourselves comfortable, loosen your belts – in fact, maybe best to wear something with an elasticated waistband, or possibly a kimono – it doesn’t matter if you overindulge a tad, it is a Bank Holiday after all…

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