SportsNet - April 2012
The English Premier League heats up on Monday when defending champion Manchester United and second-place challenger Manchester City meet at Etihad Stadium.
Anyone who has followed the action this season knows that the match has enormous EPL title implications. Should United win, they will go six points clear at the top of the table.
Though the Citizens will not be mathematically eliminated, they would need to win there last two games, and have United lose both of their games. I think City will handle the games against Queen's Park Rangers and Newcastle United with little difficulty, but United have the easier go of it not just in terms of opponents, but also pressure as they would only need one point out of either contest to secure the title for a record 20th time.
Every point matters at this stage. There will be late goals, relegation battles and of course the biggest Manchester derby this weekend.
For a change this week, we leave the mid table teams. We look at matches where teams are fighting hard to survive in the league. We take a look at the title decider. But one thing for sure, this week promises to be a super exciting footballing weekend.
Here we go...
Stoke City vs Arsenal
Arsenals are very much in for the third place but Stoke always has been a tough opponent for the Gunners. With Theo Walcott ruled out for the season and Robin Van Persie not in the goal scoring form, suddenly things look certainly tricky for the Gunners. Stoke on the other hand have nothing left to play for but after a lifeless performance last week they might have something to prove to their fans. Predicting a 1-1 draw leaving Arsene Wenger sulking.
Wigan vs Newcastle
Pep Guardiola, the famed manager of Barcelona, resigned from the club on Friday, after winning 13 trophies with the Catalan club during his tenure.
The entire Barcelona team was present during this announcement for the the 41-year-old manager who spent several seasons with the club as a both a manager and defensive midfielder.
The press conference was a very emotional time for the entire team, as the departure of Guardiola followed the huge loss to Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday, as well as a defeat to Real Madrid in La Liga at Camp Nou on Saturday.
Guardiola has not announced any plans about his future yet. He also said he was very proud of his players and was confident they would do well without him.
Guardiola was replaced by Tito Villanova, has been appointed as his successor
Club president Sandro Rosell, also conveyed his fond regards for Guardiola.
"Thank you, Pep, for all the happiness you have brought us and for bringing a model of football that can never be questioned," said Rosell. "The thanks from everybody at Barcelona will be eternal for the best manager in the history of the club."
You know it's bad when the Providence Steamrollers can breathe a sigh of relief.
With Friday night's 20-point home loss to the New York Knicks, the Charlotte Bobcats are officially the worst team in NBA history. "Twenty three" had been synonymous with success for Michael Jordan. Now, as the majority owner of the Bobcats, the number is paired with futility as it was the 23rd consecutive defeat for the team whose playoff appearance two years ago is a distant memory.
The loss dropped their winning percentage - if you can call it that - to .106, "topping" the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers' mark of .110 and "beating" the 1948 Steamrollers' .125 percentage. The jokes were heard all season, and they'll continue in Charlotte.
Fans chanted, "Let's go, Hornets" during the season finale. If you booed the likes of Blake Griffin in the Time Warner Cable Arena, you might get some boos yourself -- from people with no ties to Los Angeles. Paul Silas's signature move all season was burying his face in his hands, and we would've understood if he threw a chair every now and then.
The New York Knicks have undoubtedly given New York fans both excitement and heartache in their up and down roller-coaster season.
From the early failures of their long losing streaks, to the rise of Linsanity and the rediscovered scoring rhythm of Carmelo Anthony, Knicks fans have been on the edge of their seats with their nails in their mouth all year. Fortunately, the Knicks have accomplished the task of finding a flow under their new coach Mike Woodson, just in time for the postseason.
With their new-found success in a tough, defensive system, the Knicks have set themselves up for a very unlikely postseason run. Under the tutelage of Woodson, and the efforts of defensive-minded players like Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert, it should not be a surprise to see the Knicks run very far into the playoffs this year, short of overcoming the large barrier that is the Miami Heat.