One of the things I love about European soccer is how merciless it is. There’s no playoffs, which means there’s no real chance to redeem a lousy performance by stumbling into the playoffs like a drunken vagrant and then winning the whole thing. Nope, in England and Europe, it’s all about the relentless acquisition of points. Pile up enough points, you win the championship. Simple as that.
Arsenal, of course, did not pile up enough points to win anything at all this season (the FA Cup does not require points, so please discard your angry letters). There is still a very slim chance that they might sneak into the Champions League places, but the contingency that is dependent upon, Boro winning on the road, is so unlikely that it’s time to start pondering what games on Thursday nights will feel like -and more importantly, what games on the following Sunday will feel like.
And Harry Kane’s four goals yesterday made the Golden Boot race kind of a foregone conclusion, as well - Alexis would have to score four of his own and hope Romelu Lukaku doesn’t score at all in order to be the league’s top scorer.
Sports is all about the dream of the impossible. It’s all about “what if”. So in that spirit, I will watch Sunday’s game and hope for the nearly impossible, because it’s the last game of the season. No matter what happens, after this weekend, there’s no Premier League until August, and no matter where Arsenal finish this season, and no matter how they do tomorrow, that’s a sad thing indeed.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
7AM PT/10PM ET/3PM BT
Emirates Stadium, London
Fourth Place Trophy Watch:
The strawiest straws that ever strawed.
Ox and Kos are probably out, with a hamstring and a calf problem respectively.
Cech; Holding, Mustafi, Nacho; Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Gibbs; Walcott, Giroud, Özil
How to watch:
In the US, NBC Sports Network or NBC Sports Live Extra.
In the not-US, check livesoccer.tv.