The turn of the screw


Arsenal @ 8/15
Spurs @ 11/4
Man Utd @ 7/2
West Ham @ 16/1
Wolves @ 40/1
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Yes!  The Premier League’s March Madness Weekend™ is finally upon us!

What?  You’ve never heard of the March Madness Weekend™?  You thought it had something to do with basketball?  You think it’s simply a marketing slogan I’ve just come up with in a desperate attempt to create a hook for this weekend’s action?  A marketing slogan that is simultaneously twee, shameless, and thoroughly bereft of value…much like John Terry’s NFT collection?

Well, if you thought any of these things you’d only be partly right.  Because while the banner may not exist (though I would be willing to sell it to SKY for £5 if anyone from their marketing department is reading?) literally every one of this weekend’s fixtures is loaded with significant ramifications.  And in this instance, I’m using ‘literally’ in the literal sense.

I mean, take Saturday’s Premier League matches, for example.  A mere three of them on first glance.  A malnourished trio.  But look closer…

The games begin with Brighton v Liverpool at 12:30pm.  Obviously an important fixture at the top of the table, where a Liverpool win will put them back within three points of Manchester City; with a slightly superior goal-difference, and a crucial one-on-one clash against City to come.  With Brighton currently nursing a four-match losing-streak, it is hard to foresee Klopp’s relentless title charge falter on the South Coast.

Saturday’s solitary 3pm kick-off is Brentford v Burnley.  Though unlikely to be viewed by many as a glamour fixture, it is nevertheless botoxed right up to its dyed, receding hairline with sexy intrigue.  Because while a victory for the home side is another vital stagger towards Premier League survival; a win for Burnley not only airlifts them out of the relegation zone, it plummets Everton straight down into it at the same time.  Gulp!

And it is difficult to move for fulsome ramifications in Saturday’s final episode, where Manchester United host Tottenham Hotspur in a 5:30pm bout.  Spurs have the opportunity to overtake United if they ensnare all three available points, but a bounce-back win for the home side also puts them back into the top four; even if for just a few hours.

The remarkable thing here is that two sides whose seasons have been characterised by occasions of fathomless ineptitude are still in the hunt for genuine prizes.  But – hey! – that’s what March Madness Weekend™ is all about, folks!  Every year it delivers the goods!  Woo!

And the woos don’t stop on Saturday.  No, Sir!  They carry on right through Sunday’s fixtures too.  Beginning alphabetically with Chelsea v Newcastle – a fixture that might collapse under the weight of its manifold strata of fascination.

The situation at Chelsea is moving so fast, that by the time you read these words the only thing associated with the club that possesses any value at all might just be, well, John Terry’s NFT collection.  A slip-up against a resurgent Newcastle could see them get dragged back into a bruising top four scramble.

Because Arsenal’s young guns are firing and lurking with intent and games in hand.  They play Leicester with a firmer foothold in the top four at stake.  West Ham might still harbour aspirations of Champions League football too, but have a tricky claret clash against Aston Villa to swallow.

Unusually for this stage of the season, no team is already, for all intents and purposes, relegated.  Norwich are most definitely bottom, but play a porous Leeds side in a pivotal endzone 6-pointer.  And 2nd bottom Watford are away to a Southampton outfit who might just have run out of things to play for.

In short: it could be an especially tight, twitchy, and hard-to-grasp bottom by the end of play this weekend.

So get your over-sized foam March Madness Weekend™ hands ready!  Because the tension is building!  But who will maintain their sanity?  Who will make progress towards their Premier League goals?  And for whom, ultimately, will the screw continue to turn and tighten?

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