There are few broadcasters capable of generating such levels of unalloyed anticipation than Sky Sports. Their unique ability to bill an event as being of such importance to their audience is what has made football on Sky Sports so compelling.
Whether it’s a Super Sunday, Hat-trick Sunday or even a Helicopter Sunday, as witnessed last weekend in the Scottish Premier League Showdown between Rangers and Celtic in which, in which a helicopter was drafted in to escort the SPL Trophy to the victors destination, Sky Sports never fail to deliver. If Sunday was once considered a day of rest, the same can’t be said for Sky Sports’ employees who spring into action come the end of the week.
This weekend Sky Sports is preparing itself to not only televise the crowning of Manchester United, but they will also be responsible for airing all of the day’s relegation action, dubbed Survival Sunday. Sunday marks the final day of the Premier League season and with five clubs still facing the prospect of life in the Championship, it should make for a pulsating afternoon of action, unless of course your a fan of Wigan, Blackpool, Wolves, Birmingham and Blackburn, in which case you’ll be spending most of your Sunday with one eye on your beloved team and the other on the results elsewhere in the country.
The fixture computer has arranged some fascinating game’s due to be played this Sunday, with Blackpool heading to soon to be crowned champions Manchester United, they will need to cause a major upset if they are to keep the destiny of their Premier League survival in their own hands. Fellow relegation contenders Wigan and Birmingham both face difficult away trips to Stoke and Tottenham respectively, whilst Wolves and Blackburn will go head to head in a bid to avoid slipping into the relegation zone which would prove fatal for either club. It has been calculated that there are a total 81 possible scenarios in which any five of the aforementioned teams could either be relegated or survive be it through points accumulated, goals scored or goals conceded.
Manchester United (1st) vs Blackpool (18th):
With the prospect of relegation looming, the last ground that you would hope to visit is Old Trafford. Manchester United are undefeated on their home turf this season and have dropped just two points during that time. So for Blackpool, the odds of survival are against them. However Ian Holloway must instill belief in his side and he will no doubt of recognised the achievement of West Ham a few years back when they travelled to Old Trafford on the final day of the season needing to win to stand an chance of survival. A sole Carlos Tevez goal that day was enough to see the Hammers avoid the drop.
Blackpool are also likely to play a largely second string United side given that Sir Alex Ferguson is preparing his team for a third Champions League Final in four years. A victory certainly is not beyond Blackpool, but should they fail to pick up three points they could still survive, but their fate will be out of their hands as goal difference will decide which league they will be playing in come what August.
Stoke City (9th) vs Wigan (19th):
After Roberto Martinez and Wigan pulled of a remarkable victory over West Ham, which saw then manager Avram Grant and his side relegated, the Latics have given themselves hope of survival. Three second half goals saw Wigan overturn a two goal deficit and pick up a vital three points. They will head to the Britannia Stadium in a buoyant mood and with Charles N’Zogbia in fine form they will look to capitalise on a Stoke City team still ruing their FA Cup Final defeat. Like Blackpool they ideally need a win, a point will leave them reliant upon results elsewhere.
Tottenham (5th) vs Birmingham (17th):
Birmingham have the unenviable task of trying to beat, or at the very least draw with a Spurs side still with a Europa League position to fight for. Birmingham’s defeat at home to Fulham has left the clinging to their Premier League status, if they fail to beat Tottenham it may be case of damage limitations for Alex McLeish’s side, they can ill afford to concede two or three goals at White Hart Lane otherwise they will open the door for Blackpool and Wigan to escape the drop zone.
It is highly unlikely they will get any favours from Harry Redknapp, he may not be enthralled with the prospect of having to balance Premier League commitments with the Europa League but Spurs need to qualify for Europe, if not just for the financial gain.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (16th) vs Blackburn (15th):
All eyes will be on Molineux come Sunday as both teams are separated only by goal difference. Blackburn have a goal difference of -14 whilst Wolves are lurking precariously above Birmingham with a goal difference of -19. A victory for either side will ensure they remain in the top flight, whilst the defeated side may remain should results go their way. Should the game end in a draw it would mean that victories for Wigan, Blackpool and Birmingham would relegate both teams.
At the risk of being embarrassed by my inability to correctly predict the outcome of a football match, I am steering clear of declaring which teams I think will be spending Sunday evening coming to terms with life in the Championship. Although I’ll give you a hint as to one of the teams I expect will wave goodbye to the Premier League…
After a roller-coaster season, a recent dip in form has left this team with sand between their toes.