Early Doors

Are you ready for Seismic Sunday?

Early Doors

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In a performance fit to rival that of Colin Firth's character in The King's Speech, Phil Brown summoned all the gravitas he could muster, took charge of a microphone and spoke to a spellbound nation. Summoned onto Sky Sports News on Monday, the tanned one cast his gaze towards the weekend's Premier League conclusion and sagely dubbed it 'Seismic Sunday'.

Such is the level of hyperbole that has infiltrated English football, there appears to be a real fear that the 90-minute process by which we reach Manchester City's easy victory over QPR on Sunday will cause actual tectonic tremors, threatening to turn the eastern fringe of the Irish Sea into a de facto Pacific Ring of Fire and covering the Trafford Centre in a flood of hot magma.

Or perhaps the word seismic was actually an allusion to the shockwaves that will surely sweep Owen Coyle's brain when he realises than instead of slavishly referring to the 'Barclays Premier League' on a weekly basis next season, he will have to be pedantically discussing the 'npower Championship instead'.

Either way, the phrase was, like the, pink-sweatshirt-wearing, Beach-Boys-singing, Humber-Bridge-suicide-counselling, outdoor-team-talking Brown himself, rather over the top. England's green and pleasant land is not being torn asunder just yet. Still, Brown's rather alarmist turn of phrase did draw attention to the fact that Sunday's football schedule could at the very least be pretty gripping indeed.

At the top of the table, only a cigarette paper - stylishly and nonchalantly discarded by Dimitar Berbatov presumably - separates Manchester City and Manchester United. If QPR get a goal at the Etihad Stadium then we could have a bona fide thriller on our hands, though admittedly City's far superior goal difference does put a bit of a dampener on things.

Two places down, Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle all have designs on third place and the automatic qualification for the Champions League that comes with it. Arsenal can kill off that particular race with an easy win at West Brom, yet routine victories are not hard-wired in Arsene Wenger's side.

Chaotic collapses are more their stock in trade, though if Tottenham are pinning their hopes of a bout of lasagne-based food poisoning and a repeat of the intrigue in 2006 that inspired more conspiracy theories than a few flashing lights over Roswell in 1947, they are likely to be disappointed. Arsenal will have submitted their chef for the weekend to a presidential level of vetting.

Though the relegation tangle cannot compete with the scenes of 2005 and West Brom's great escape - with Blackburn already condemned to the Championship, seemingly with the dastardly Steve Kean and Venky's still at the helm, to join Stale Solbakken's Wolves in being dumped out of the top flight - Bolton and QPR are vying to avoid the final relegation spot. Bolton must win and hope QPR lose at City if they are to retain their long-held place amongst the elite, and protect Coyle's ambitions of saying the word 'Barclays' more than any other living human, Bob Diamond included.

If all three scenarios deliver enough drama to keep ED from idly flicking over to 'Police Academy 2' on Channel 5, then perhaps we will have conclusion fit for a season recently voted the best in Premier League history.

This award - far more so than Wayne Rooney's overhead kick being named the best goal in the Premier League - was further proof that immediacy is king when it comes to these sort of polls. After all, we live in a society that permitted Craig David's 'Born to do it' to be named the second greatest album of all time in 2009.

Because though it has been at times thrilling, combustible and controversial, isn't every season?

What may set 2011-12 apart are some frankly outrageous games at the top of the table. 8-2, 1-6, 5-2, 3-5. ED bets it doesn't even need to tell you who was playing, such are the resonance of those scorelines. And in that respect this season has delivered more comprehensively than UPS.

But these scorelines are perhaps more indicative of another truth: the poor standard of elite teams in England.

Rather than being a showdown to rival Ali v Frazier, the title race in the second half of the season has more closely resembled Haye v Chisora: two bums throwing down in increasingly undignified manner. How good are City and United? Just look at their respective European campaigns.

Even more remarkable is the fact that Arsenal appear likely to finish the season as the third best team in England. Arsenal, who had their worst ever start to a Premier League season and were utterly humiliated at Old Trafford in the process. And what has inspired their rise up the table? The ineptitude of a flaky Tottenham side and a desperately poor Chelsea.

Arsenal haven't even been that good in the second half of the campaign, yet there they are, sitting pretty with 90 minutes remaining.

At this point ED will acknowledge the wonderful story that has been Newcastle, but it appears their intelligent approach to squad construction and positive philosophy of football will not be rewarded with the Champions League football it probably deserves, more is the pity.

Swansea and Norwich have also had laudable campaigns, while Wigan's stylish and daring march to safety has been heartening to see, but the fact it took ED this long to mention Liverpool tells you how irrelevant another of the established powers has been as a Premier League force this season.

When you factor in the spectre of racism that has hung over this season like a particularly acrid smell, then ED suggests it would be hard to describe this as a truly vintage year for the top flight.

However, if Seismic Sunday does shake the nation to its core as the great Brown predicted, and all three outstanding issues continue to be alive right up until the final whistle, then perhaps the hyperbole will be justified for once.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Clearly if the police ask us for information, we will co-operate with them. Nobody is suggesting that we have done anything wrong." - Manchester United play a straight bat to reports in the Guardian that the club will be questioned by Portuguese police over their £7.2 million signing of Bebe from Vitoria Guimaraes in August 2010.

FOREIGN VIEW: "The player has always shown maximum respect and sportsmanship towards his rivals, something recognised by fellow professionals. We are sure that any accusations to the contrary are well wide of the mark." - Barcelona respond to suggestions that Lionel Messi aimed a racial term at Everton's Rosyton Drenthe during the Dutchman's time in Spain.

COMING UP: We have the result of our Goal of the Week poll this morning, while Seismic Sunday gets the Jim White and Paul Parker treatment. We also conclude our three-part interview with Bryan Robson as well as conducting the final Fantasy chat of the season.

In terms of live football, we are treating you to the first leg of the League One play-off between Stevenage and Sheffield United which kicks off at 7.45pm. We will also be previewing all of Sunday's Premier League fixtures of course.

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