Hope, torment and joy – it’s business time in the Premier League and WSL – The Guardian

Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!
First up, an apology to Arsenal fans and any others desperately wishing for a final-day Premier League upset. We just can’t see it happening. We’ve crunched the numbers, weighed up the matchups, scoured the history books for precedent – right from when football began 32 years ago – and can’t find any legitimate reasons to suggest Manchester City won’t claim a fourth consecutive league title this weekend. Their relentlessness over the last two months has been somewhat of a kill-joy to what, for a while, seemed to be a genuinely compelling conclusion. They’ve won eight league games on the bounce. They haven’t lost since early December. They are, once more, annoyingly great.
They also torment you at the end. On five occasions now City have entered the last day of the Premier League season on top, but with someone tugging their shirt from behind, eagerly awaiting to yank them to the ground. Twelve years ago it was Manchester United, lured into believing Djibril Cissé and Jamie Mackie were about to enter Old Trafford folklore before Sergio Agüeroooooooooooooo got in the way. Two seasons later City had their first run-in with Liverpool and kept their two-point lead intact with a 2-0 win over West Ham, the same side they’ll meet on Sunday. In 2019 they were back to being a tease, conceding first against Brighton before thumping four to leave Jürgen Klopp’s side second-best with 97 (!) points.
Three years later Steven Gerrard was on course to assist his beloved Reds, with the help of an old pal from the Class of 2014. Gerrard’s Aston Villa went 2-0 up at the Etihad thanks to Philippe Coutinho, while Liverpool – trailing City by a point – chased a winner against Wolves. Alas, Guardiola’s boys then decided to turn into cold-blooded killers, scoring three in five minutes to take gold again. Like an offer of gum that turns into an electric shock, City provide a glimmer of hope on the final day before roaring away with villain-like laughter. Arsenal may well have to settle for second spot with 89 points, their second-best total in the Premier League, just one behind 2004’s Invincibles. If John Lukic hasn’t already bagged the branding rights to “The 89ers”, David Raya should act quick.
The genuinely proper title race to rely on this weekend is in the Women’s Super League, with Chelsea and Manchester City both on 52 points and the former ahead on goal difference by just two. Pep Guardiola has been wondering what exactly squeaky-bum time is – it’s this, far squeakier than what his side have been experiencing. Emma Hayes will hope Manchester United, Chelsea’s opponents on Saturday, got carried away with their celebrations in the capital after winning the FA Cup; Gareth Taylor’s team will offer Villa little sentiment as Carla Ward bids farewell. Hayes has quickly gone from accepting a trophyless season to claiming it’s not [eff]ing over, and a Hollywood finish beckons before her move to USA USA USA.
Join Taha Hashim from 8pm BST for hot Championship playoff semi action, with updates from Southampton 0-0 West Brom (agg: 0-0, aet; 0-1 on pens).
“What we did with the people, we restored the belief and togetherness. People enjoy winning of course but fighting for it especially. It is part of our history here that we really get punched hard, get up and go again” – Jürgen Klopp channels his inner Chumbawamba with this signoff Q&A on his Anfield days …
… “I can confirm that I will become the trainer there next year” – Arne Slot jumps the gun a bit with his enthusiasm to fill a seat that is not even vacant yet.
Thanks to our friends at the Guardian Print Shop, we are giving away four David Squires cartoons over the next four weeks. To enter, just write us a letter for publication below. We will choose the best of our letter o’ the day winners at the end of each of the next four weeks and that worthy winner will be given a voucher for one of our top, top cartoonist’s prints. And if you’re not successful, you can scan the full archive of David’s cartoons here and then buy your own. Terms and conditions for the competition can be viewed here.
It’s all very well for you to make reasonable and considered points about the use of VAR in accuracy statistics (yesterday’s Football Daily), but there are those of us to whom schadenfreude is one of the few undiluted pleasures left in life, so VAR has to go. Just as the complaints of that over-opinionated, red-faced owner of a well-known British pub chain about the lack of cheap, readily available labour for his bars after Brexit was a source of much laughter to those of us who never wanted to leave in the first place, I would like to see the reactions of the assorted whingers and whiners who claim they are being persecuted by VAR when the inevitable awful/human refereeing decisions cost their teams in situations that VAR would have changed in their favour. Accuracy be damned. It’s mirth we need” – Colin Reed.
Can I make a very simple suggestion? Use VAR to correct only the most obvious mistakes. If you can tell there was a mistake after looking at it twice at normal speed, like we do at home, then great. If you have to slow it down, see it from five angles, and draw lines, then forget it. We fans can live with mistakes. They’re part of the fun, and there are never not going to be mistakes. But VAR is ruining the game by making every goal no more than a suggestion, every cross a chance for an appeal. Let the referees do their job” – Richard Kimberly Heck.
I can’t be to only ageing indie fan whose brain has been playing Wilco’s classic banger ‘War on War’ on repeat after reading the headline in yesterday’s Football Daily. Lyricist Jeff Tweedy seems to agree with your assessment of Wolves’ chances in their campaign, singing: ‘You’re gonna lose, you have to lose, you’re gonna have to learn how to die.’ Though later in the song, after repeating that verse, he adds the line, ‘if you want to want to be alive’, which is perhaps a more hopeful note for football clubs and fans watching VAR sluicing the joy out of one of life’s simple pleasures” – Kári Tulinius (and no other ageing indie fans).
I liked Rick Gaehl’s suggestion of a handicap system (Football Daily letters passim), but am thinking the approach should be closer to how they do it in horse racing. I wonder if Erling Haaland would be able to score 27 goals in a season if he had to carry a 12-stone weight on his back? Or – even better – a Tom Marquand?” – Mike Rice.
I want to have a go at winning one of the excellent David Squires cartoons you have on offer, despite not having anything either intelligent or funny to say about football. I started to write an academic paper on political cartoons in September of 2001, and while I have talked about the paper at conferences ever since, I have not actually finished it. Twenty-three years with no discernible end product … how much more Football Daily can you get?” – David Mutimer.
Send letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. Today’s letter o’ the day winner is … Mike Rice, who joins the other winners from this week for a chance to win a David Squires cartoon from our print shop. And our letter o’ the week winner is … Mike Rice. We’ll be in touch. Terms and conditions for all this can be viewed here.
This is an extract from our daily football email … Football Daily. To get the full version, just visit this page and follow the instructions.


Leave feedback about this

  • Quality
  • Price
  • Service
Choose Image