Sunday, 13 May 2012

Nerves, nails and underpants: all you need to know about the final round of Premier League action today

Gunner be tough: How I may look on eTV tomorrow morning
For those frantically chewing nails before the Premier League finale, some facts:
1 If QPR hold Manchester City to a draw today and United win, Sir Alex takes his 13th title.

2 If QPR fail as expected and Sunderland lose to United, City take it on goal difference.

3 If both Manchester giants win (or lose), City win the title for the first time since 1968.

4 If Arsenal beat West Brom, they take third and a guaranteed Champions League spot.

5 If Spurs finish fourth, they must wait and see if Chelsea win in Munich.

6 The Blues will qualify for Europe if they lift the Champions League against Bayern.

7 Robin van Persie needs one goal to equal Alan Shearer’s record of 31 goals.

8 If Bolton win and QPR lose, the Hoops are relegated with Blackburn and Wolves.

9 If Spurs and Arsenal lose and Newcastle win, Alan Pardew completes his dream.

10 If Arsenal lose, I will wear underpants on my head on eTV Sunrise tomorrow.

Yes, d-day has dawned. At the top, middle and bottom of the most watchable football league in the world, fans are currently gathering with frayed nerves around the world.

In Manchester, as Nick Hornby might say, things are at fever pitch. Roberto Mancini’s expensive gathering of international stars, spearheaded by Yaya Toure, must win against QPR at the Etihad Stadium to guarantee their first championship since 1968, when Santa Claus was a lad.

Anything less than that – a draw or an unthinkable defeat – will leave the door wide open for United and Sir Alex Ferguson, who has won 12 of the 19 Premier League titles since the old First Division succumbed in 1992.

This morning, the BBC carry these quotes from City’s Argentine full-back Pablo Zabaleta: "We're only 90 minutes away from making history. If we succeed it is probably the start of a new era for this club."

More worrying than my underpants, Robert Mancini has promised to get a tattoo if City succeed.

United have dominated the Premier era, with Arsenal and Chelsea winning three each and Blackburn one since the dark, distant days of football highlights and terrestrial television coverage.

QPR are, of course, managed by one Mark Hughes. Sparky thrilled Old Trafford in his playing days and will be intent on producing the ultimate spring surprise against City, the club responsible for his unjust sacking and replacement by Mancini.

If the former United striker and City reject does the job and wins a point against City today, it will be perhaps the greatest shock in modern footballing history. But don’t bet against it.

A point will also secure Premier League status for QPR, who change managers more often than I change my Spiderman underpants.

If Bolton win against Stoke and QPR lose, the Hoops will join hopeless Wolves and Blackburn in League One next season.

Then we come to the battle for Champions League qualification, where a point could mean R200m today.

Arsenal are in poll position to take third place despite their woeful 3-3 draw against Norwich last week. Arsene Wenger has been unable to shore up his dodgy defence at the squeaky bottom end of the season and he faces a West Brom side saying farewell to new England boss Roy Hodgson today.

To find out my views on my old coach Woy, simply google “Neal Collins Roy Hodgson”. It’s gone global.

My desperate attempts to call Woy, who coached me when I was 13, have failed. He has no idea what a Baggies win will do to me. As a sideshow, Robin van Persie needs just one more goal to equal the Premier League record of 31.

And of course, if Spurs beat Fulham – and they should at White Hart Lane – Harry Redknapp and the Gooners’ arch-rivals will snatch third if Arsenal draw or lose. Lurking behind the pair of North London wannabes are Newcastle, who could take that third spot if they win at Everton and Spurs and Arsenal lose.

It’s all too much for some. I have promised to wear my nearly-unique and often-admired Spiderman underpants on my head tomorrow on eNews Sunrise’s Classic Play if Arsenal fail. If Mother’s Day prevents you from watching the action this afternoon at 3pm (4pm in South Africa) tune in tomorrow at 7.30am, DSTV channel 134 to find out. The underpants will be on my head. And I will be thoroughly miserable.

Should you miss that, try eNews and Collins Corner at 8.15am on DSTV 403. And read Neal and Pray in The New Age on Tuesday for the full extent of my misery. Arsene Wenger, please don’t do this to me.

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