SUPER SUNDAY

SUPER SUNDAY

(Premier League Logo: Getty Images)
With the 2021/22 Premier League season coming to an end, it will be a day with arguably the most implications at the end. With all seven European positions sorted out, two of three relegation positions confirmed, and achievements such as the title winners, the final Champions League place, and the final relegated team to be decided, we take an in-depth look at the positions up for grabs.
TOP 4 RACE

(Heung-Min Son of Tottenham, center, going past Arsenal defenders Kieran Tierney, 3, and Ben White)

The top seven teams have been confirmed but the final top 4 spot has not been secured. It is an all London affair for the 4th spot between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur with Spurs having the edge heading into the final day. Spurs are on 68 points, 2 clear of rivals Arsenal with a win enough for 4th. Arsenal had it to lose and it seems they will after being in a commanding position before the North London Derby against Tottenham.

Losing that game 3-0 gave Arsenal a minor setback to their Champions League chase, however, win the final two games and they are safe. After a 1-0 win against Burnley on Saturday, Tottenham took what seemed to be a brief time in 4th place, with Arsenal tussling with Newcastle the following Monday.

What was supposed to be a simple victory turned into a nightmare for the Gunners when they went behind 1-0 to a Ben White own goal. Things got worse when Newcastle’s talisman Bruno Guimaraes made it 2-0 on the night, shattering Arsenal’s top 4 hopes. It doesn’t get any easier as on the final day Tottenham faces the bottom team Norwich City, and Arsenal takes on Everton who still have to try and avoid relegation.

FINAL EUROPA LEAGUE PLACE

(Manchester United Forward Cristiano Ronaldo, 7, involved in a challenge with West Ham defender Kurt Zouma)

Another spot waiting to be secured is 6th place which is being contested by Manchester United and West Ham United. Disappointing as the season was, Man United still has one more game and an important one as well. They will face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park where a win is needed to lock in 6th and a Europa League place for the Red Devils and incoming manager Erik ten Hag.

In the other corner, we have West Ham United facing Brighton, who has just beaten United 4-0 in the last game week. Brighton is enjoying arguably their best season by points, position, and playstyle under Grahame Potter and could look to end it on a high. The hammers though are desperate to make the top 6 to persuade their captain and hot commodity Declan Rice to sign a new contract at the club.

Reports last week stated that he rejected their latest contract offer of £200,000 per week for eight years amid he wants to be playing for the biggest trophies on show. The clubs that have made their interest known in the English midfielder are Manchester United and his boyhood club Chelsea. If West Ham can beat Brighton and United get a negative result against Palace, then they could show Declan that they’re in the bigger competition, and in regards to Chelsea, are a more stable club.

RELEGATION

(From Left: Burnley head coach Mike Jackson, Everton head coach Frank Lampard, and Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch)

With Everton securing safety after a come from behind 3-2 win against Crystal Palace, it now leaves 2 to battle for one position. Leeds United led by American Jesse Marsch is floundering in the final relegation place in the league with only a win good enough to stay up because of their horrible goal difference [-38]. They are in this fight with Burnley, who after sacking Sean Dyche appointed U-23 coach Mike Jackson to the head coach position of the senior team, and Ben Mee moving from club captain to assistant coach.

Burnley drew 1-1 with Aston Villa on Thursday to edge further away from the drop. On Championship Sunday, Burnley host in-form Newcastle United while Leeds go to Brentford to close the season. Everton was in the relegation fight and would’ve had the toughest final day clash to stay up versus Arsenal, however, heroics from Dominic Calvert-Lewin kept the Toffees up for one more season.

Calvert-Lewin netted the winner in the 85th minute leading to jubilant celebrations as some fans ran unto the pitch at that point to celebrate. Burnley and Leeds are both on 35 points, meaning if both win Leeds still go down because only Norwich [79] has conceded more goals than Leeds this season [78].

TITLE CHARGE
(Man City boss Josep Guardiola, left, and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp)
The Premier League title is coming down to the wire as heading into the final day leaders Manchester City are ahead of Liverpool by only a solitary point. This means if Liverpool can better City’s result on Sunday, they would be champions completing the domestic treble [FA Cup, Carabao Cup, EPL] with eyes on the quadruple when they face Real Madrid in the final in France on the 28th. What makes this title race an intriguing one, is that Liverpool was 14 points behind City at Christmas, and closing that lead has been a stupendous task.

Liverpool takes on Wolverhampton at Anfield, while City will take on Aston Villa, managed by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard. He had a chance to win the Premier League during his playing career, but that infamous loss of footing that gave him the name “Slippy G” he will be looking for some redemption even if he won’t lift the trophy for the Reds. Villa is in a tough spot being managed by a Liverpool legend and could decide the title. Last summer they sold Jack Grealish to City for a British record £100 million and included a clause in his contract where if he was to win the domestic title they would receive £15 million from City.

GAME SEVEN

GAME SEVEN

(Giannis Antetokounmpo embracing Jayson Tatum after the game [Getty Images])
There will be two brand new teams in this year’s Eastern and Western Conference Finals in the NBA, with defending champions Milwaukee Bucks and west champions Phoenix Suns both being eliminated in their respective game 7’s on Sunday.

The Bucks started their game against the Celtics in Boston the stronger, going out to an early seven-point lead in the 1st quarter after a Brook Lopez three. Boston took over mid 2nd quarter and never looked back. Giannis Antetokounmpo as usual had to be the driving force of the team, scoring or assisting on each of the team’s first 22 points.

(Grant Williams [Getty Images])
Then the Celtics caught fire. Setting a game seven record in regards to 3-point field goals made (22) with Grant Williams leading the way with a record-equaling 7 threes. Williams joined an illustrious company who have accomplished that feat such as Marcus Morris and Stephen Curry, who did it twice.

Williams led the team in scoring as well notching 27 points, a career-high. Jayson Tatum had 23, with Payton Pritchard contributing 14 points and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.

Giannis, even though being on the losing end, became the 1st player in NBA history to record 200 points, 100 rebounds, and 50 assists in a single series. The Greek freak finished the game with a team-high 25 points and game high 20 rebounds, falling one assist short of a triple-double stat line. The game though ended 109-81 blowing out the Bucks and sending the deer into extinction.

(Jayson Tatum throwing down [Getty Images])
In the Western Conference, a shock occurred in the valley as the Phoenix Suns were humiliated by the Dallas Mavericks, not playing like the team with the best record in basketball. After a mild start to the game, Dallas went out to a 29-15 lead in the first quarter, and how this series has been going you expected the Suns to eradicate that lead.

(Luka Doncic had 35 points eliminating the Suns [Getty Images])
Never have I ever seen a single player have the same amount of points as an entire team in a half of basketball. The first half ended 57-27, the same amount of points Luka had in the half (27).

Chris Paul and Devin Booker ghosted one of the biggest games of the season at home as well. The lead kept ballooning as high as 45 points. The game ended 123-90, making the “Sun-set” in Phoenix from. Luka was fantastic, however, Spencer Dinwiddie had himself a night. Something Brooklyn should see that he stepped up in a massive elimination game, something they could have used.

(The Suns did not have a clue of what to do [Getty Images])
Both Conference Finals are set. Boston vs. Miami in the East, with Golden State vs. Dallas in the West. Some people don’t want to see it (Laker fans) but the Celtics are looking to break that championship tie. I say for all the good defensive play the Heat have it won’t be enough to contain the Celtics, Boston in the final in 6. In the West, it will go the distance. Another game seven with Golden State using their experience, not talent or skill, to win the series.
CUP WINNERS

CUP WINNERS

(Manchester United U-18 team celebrating their cup triumph on Wednesday)
Even though it is not a major trophy for the fans, it was a heartwarming moment to see the club winning some sort of silverware. On Wednesday, May 11, 2022, Manchester United’s U-18 team played their counterparts from Nottingham Forest in front of a record attendance at Old Trafford.

There were 67,492 fans seated inside the Theatre of Dreams to cheer on both United and visitors Forest with arguably the most evenly matched FA Youth Cup Final in a long while. After some sustained pressure, United took the lead through their captain Rhys Bennett in the 13th minute to the joy of the Red Army.

Forest was not to be done and after a howler by Manchester United’s goalkeeper Radek Vitek, a long-range shot from Josh Powell crept under the custodian. This put a halt to the momentum of Travis Binnion’s side and into the halftime break; it’s 1-1.

(Nottingham Forest players celebrate the equalizer)
For the first half, the headliners were unable to affect the game positively. The likes of Kobbie Mainoo, Isak Hansen, Charlie McNeil, and Alejandro Garnacho were ineffective for the half.

In the 2nd half, it was Forest who started the brighter causing Vitek to be off his line very frequently. Goalscorer Josh Powell aimed to deliver some sumptuous crosses into the box, but to no one in particular. These wasted chances could be costly later in the game.

It wasn’t until the 77th minute, after some pressure high up the pitch, United’s winger Garnacho benefited from a heavy touch from defender Zach Abbott, and after he was taken down the only question was; was that in the box? On replay it shows that the foul occurred outside the 18-yard-area, however, the referee pointed to the spot after consulting with the linesman on the nearside.

(Alejandro Garnacho with the Trophy after the game wrapped in the Argentine flag)
Unfortunately for Forest fans, there was no VAR to help the official recognize he made a mistake. Nevertheless, Garnacho stepped up and coolly dispatched the spot-kick, calmly doing Cristiano Ronaldo’s iconic celebration as well.

This is when the Warren Joyce knew he needed something to claw their way back into the final, and he made some attacking substitutions to go for it. This was countered by his opposing manager who swiftly replaced Sam Mather for defender Sony Aljofree.

The 4th official raised the board to display eight minutes of stoppage time. Eight minutes for United to hold on. Eight minutes for Forest to draw level for a second time. When going for it, you are vulnerable to counterattacks, and in the 3rd minute of stoppage time, it was all over.

A missed control from a Forest defender had the ball running through to Alejandro Garnacho who was off. The Argentine sprinted away from the defenders but took the ball too wide. After some trickery cutting in from the left to then cut back onto his left foot before firing his shot in via a massive deflection.

(Garnacho celebrating the 3rd goal)

3-1 was the final score with the youngsters as ecstatic as they could be. This is United’s 11th cup win extending their record by two over Chelsea whom Forest beat to make the final. Speaking of Forest, they made the city of Nottingham proud. Fighting from behind for the majority of the game is never easy, but they can hold their heads high after that performance.

The future of both sets of players will be examined over the next five or so years, seeing as they played in the youth cup final. Whether Nottingham or Manchester, we are all eager to see who comes out on top in terms of career from that final.

FIGHT ON THE ICE

FIGHT ON THE ICE

(The NHL Playoff bracket)
The National Hockey League [NHL] playoffs are in full swing, and even though the 1st round isn’t halfway through, there have been some spills and thrills. The defending champions Tampa Bay Lightning already have their work cut out for them against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it doesn’t get any easier when MVP candidate Auston Matthews is playing as good as he ever has after scoring the winner on Tuesday night to give the Leafs a 3-2 series lead. It may be an upset on the cards there as if the Leafs can get the defensive act together, they’ll be a hell of a force.
(Maple Leafs Center Auston Matthews)
The Colorado Avalanche made the lightest of work possible sweeping the Nashville Predators like they were the Brooklyn Nets. I mean Nashville is nice, warm, and sunny in the Summertime so it is not all bad for the Predators. The Sydney Crosby-led Pittsburgh Penguins are up by three games to one in their series with the New York Rangers, even when the Rangers goaltender, Igor Shesterkin.
(Rangers Goaltender Igor Shesterkin)
The Russian had the highest save percentage in the regular season [.935], and the fewest Goals conceded on average [2.07]. That was hard to notice when he conceded five goals in the 2nd period of play [6 overall], having to leave the ice for reserve goaltender Alexandar Georgiev to close out the 7-2 loss on Monday night.

A series to keep an eye out for would be the Florida Panthers vs. the Washington Capitals with a nail-biting OT win for Florida to even the series at 2. They do look to be a strong team, however, you can never count out the greatness of the 3rd highest goal scorer in NHL history, Alex Ovechkin. If Ovi gets his way and takes control of the series then it would be pointless to watch the rest of it, but for now, he hasn’t and it’s shaping up to be an actual best of seven series.

(Former Stanley Cup champion [LW] Alex Ovechkin)
The Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars is a tie that could go either way after the Flames thrashed Dallas 4-1 on Monday. On Sunday, the Edmonton Oilers were shut out 4-0 by the Los Angeles Kings to level that series. The Kings could do with some well-needed momentum after that 8-2 clobbering on Friday, and as long as you go to center ice and see points leader Connor McDavid on the other side, this is not over.

Patrice Bergeron scored an important goal for the Bruins against the team with the best defensive record in the regular season the Carolina Hurricanes, and in other news, the water is wet. This man helped level the series at two, which does show how much more exciting the NHL playoffs are compared to the NBA. Unfortunately for them, in game five they lost 5-1 and are now facing elimination.

(Bruins Center Patrice Bergeron)
The 2018/19 Winner St. Louis Blues are looking to try and take the series away from the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, looking to hopefully make another Stanley Cup run since their first and only title four years ago. That took a massive step when they held off the Wild 5-2. The question remains, who will win it all? Will there be a new champion or a returning set of Kings?
(Lightning Center Steven Stamkos)
FINAL HURDLE; 14 OR 7?

FINAL HURDLE; 14 OR 7?

(The UCL Trophy)

The stage is set. May 28, 2022, in the Stade de France in Paris. Liverpool vs. Real Madrid, La Liga vs. The Premier League, Klopp vs. Ancelotti, Benzema vs. Salah, we are in for possibly one of the greatest UEFA Champions League (UCL) finals in history. How did both teams conquer an array of European oppositions to make it to the pinnacle of cup competitions? Let’s take a look.

Liverpool began the campaign in group B of the 32-team competition, going up against the likes of Atletico Madrid (Spain), Porto (Portugal), and AC Milan (Italy). Historically, the names of the teams would make it seem to be the group of death, but this was far from the case. Liverpool made light work of the oppositions, winning all six of the games with an aggregate score of 17-6.

(Liverpool players after a goal against Atletico Madrid)
For Real, it was a bit more challenging, with a loss to FC Sheriff (Moldova) by 2-1 in Spain. Apart from that blemish, Los Blancos went unbeaten in their other group games against Inter Milan (Italy) and Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine), with an aggregate score of 14-3. Defensively more sound when it comes to the concession of goals, however, that one loss tarnished that reputation

When the knockout stages began, Madrid drew Paris Saint-German (France) in the round of 16, while Liverpool got Inter Milan. It was a PSG vs Madrid clash in France for the 1st leg, with the Parisians coming out on top by 1-0, scored by future Real forward, Kylian Mbappe. They were dominated. Marco Verratti ran the show, stifling Madrid from starting/continuing attacking build-ups, but it was all to play for at the Bernabeu.

(Kylian Mbappe celebrates with teammate Neymar Jr)
Liverpool on the other hand made light work of Inter dispatching them 2-0, and were by far the better team, with Inter not even registering a shot on goal. Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino got the goals in Milan and the tie never looked in doubt for the reds. In the reverse fixture on Merseyside, Inter was victorious 1-0, however, when the Italians were pushing for an equalizer, Alexis Sanchez got sent off for two yellow card offenses, leaving his team a man down and less likely to produce an attacking outburst.

What happened to Madrid after being outplayed in the previous encounter? Karim Benzema. After going behind again in the game to another Kylian Mbappe goal, things got tense. After an inspired substitution by Carlo Ancelotti to replace Toni Kroos with Eduardo Camavinga, everything clicked. Karim Benzema scored a 15-minute hat-trick to turn the tie on its head. The final whistle blew to the delight of the Spaniards winning the match 3-1, and 3-2 overall.

(Karim Benzema)
Into the Quarter Finals both teams go, Liverpool has drawn against Portuguese team Benfica, while Real was drawn against defending champions, Chelsea. Both the Reds and Los Blancos ran out 3-1 winners, making the 2nd leg much easier. Real however were shocked by Chelsea as they ran out to a 3-0 lead, but when Luka Modric played the assist of the season to Rodrygo, we had an extra thirty minutes. In extra-time it was that man again; Karim Benzema scored to give the Madridistas the overall lead, which eventually gave them the victory.

In the game at Anfield, Benfica scored 5 goals. Unfortunately for them, two were offside which meant they were disallowed. Liverpool never gave up and scored three of their own to give an end to an enthralling game. Next up: the semifinals. Liverpool vs. Villarreal in one and the other consists of English champions Manchester City against the newly crowned Spanish champions Real Madrid.

Villarreal, or as they are commonly known as, the Yellow Submarine, was a pushover losing 2-0 to Liverpool for them to have one foot in the final. In the other semi, it was end-to-end, leaving fans, pundits, and commentators breathless alike. City ended up with the advantage of 4-3, but as previously shown in the competition, Real Madrid is never out.

As expected Liverpool put both feet in the final with a come from behind 3-2 win. A bright start to the game was not capitalized on by the Yellow Submarine as they crumbled in the 2nd half and conceded three goals in 12 minutes, crashing out of the final four.

(Villarreal’s Francis Coquelin rises to score a header)
The game of the tournament between Madrid and the Citizens lived up to the anticipation. More of a chess match than the 1st leg, Man City kept most of the ball, while Madrid had chances few and far between. It wasn’t until the 73rd minute where Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez slotted home past a busy Thibaut Courtois to apply added pressure to the home team.

When it was looking like the comeback was not possible this time, that man Karim Benzema had his say. In the 90th and final minute, a deep cross from Camavinga was diverted by Benzema into the path of the onrushing Brazilian Rodrygo to give some hope for Ancelotti’s side.

A quickfire 91 SECONDS later the Brazilian got his second to level the tie and send it to extra-time. At the start of the additional period, a mistimed challenge by Ruben Dias gave Real a penalty. Karim face-to-face with shot-stopper Ederson coolly dispatched the penalty into the bottom corner to give his team the lead and the eventual win.

(Rodrygo scoring his second goal via header against Man City)
Now the final has been set with Real Madrid chasing title number 14, and Liverpool chasing number 7. With the talent both teams have, form comes into the selection of both teams for the final. The fireworks will be set off in France when both teams take the field, and viewership to quite possibly beat last year’s total of 700 million viewers.
PREDICTED TEAMS
REAL MADRID
Thibaut Courtois
Ferland Mendy
David Alaba
Eder Militao
Dani Carvajal
Luka Modric
Casemiro
Toni Kroos
Federico Valverde
Karim Benzema ©
Vinicius Jr.
(Real Madrid XI)
LIVERPOOL
Allison
Andrew Robertson
Virgil Van Dijk
Ibrahim Konate
Trent Alexander-Arnold
Jordan Henderson ©
Fabinho
Thiago Alcantara
Luis Diaz
Sadio Mane
Mohammed Salah
(Liverpool XI)