Bar Man Utd, the table is so tight that crunch clashes happen most weekends
All eyes are on Aston Villa versus Man City tonight. It’s second against eighteenth – the two positions in the Premiership that gee up players most as they promise parties or P45s.
I’d argue, however, that the beauty of the clash is that it isn’t particularly special. By which, I mean that, bar Man Utd, the table is so tight that crunch clashes happen most weekends.
Take Saturday and Sunday. Spurs against Arsenal had a pungent effect on fourth, Stoke versus West Ham saved two low-budget teams from relegation, and Southampton against QPR made it five sides in imminent danger of the drop.
Sure, the fluctuations are not as violent as 2011-2: when, on March 4, there were two points separating first and second and two points parting the bottom five.
But it shines compared to La Liga. There, Barcelona sit pretty on 68 points followed by Athletico Madrid on 57 and Real Madrid on 55: fourth, can you believe, is Malaga on 43 points.
With such gulfs, supporters must get achingly bored as the final positions are decided by December. So, can it be any surprise that average attendance is 6,000 lower in Spain than the Premiership’s 34,600?
I sincerely hope that it’s a battle royal tonight between Villa and City – but I’ll be equally pleased that my eyes will soon be diverted by another of Sky’s ‘season deciders’.