Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

Weekend football. Why City? Why Arsenal?

Football OlyBet 17.05.2024

This is it. The big moment. The decider. Grande finale. Manchester City and Arsenal will not meet each other, but everything will be on the line. So why should they get their hands on the title – and why not?

After a peculiar 2-0 win over Tottenham which both sets of supporters celebrated, City are two points ahead going into the final weekend. Due to their marginally worse goal difference (+60 for City vs +61 for Arsenal), a draw will not be enough if Arsenal win. To put it in plain terms: Arsenal need a win no matter what and should they get it, City need one too.

Manchester City have been outstanding in the final stretch once again. There will be no Treble this time around, but City are going for a fourth straight title – something no team has managed in English football history since the first season 1888-89. They are, quite simply, the deepest, most talented squad not only in England but the world. Maybe ever.

But has City achieved success in a fair way? They have been charged with 115 breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP), but the trials are not set to begin before autumn 2024 with a decision likely in the summer of 2025. It would be a bit naive to expect that they are now playing by the rules; if any club feels plastic and out of place, it is City.

Arsenal have not won a league title since the 2003-04 Invincibles despite getting close numerous times. Points-wise, this is already their best season for the last 20 years, and marking the anniversary by reaching the top once again would feel wonderful. They have been accused of bottling it when it matters, but not this time as they are a perfect 5/5 over the last month to keep City under pressure.

But do they really have what it takes? The first one is always the hardest for a manager and his group of players. They have done well in the big games this season (they have a head-to-head advantage against both City and Liverpool), but straight losses to West Ham and Fulham to end 2023 are the reason they are two points behind.

Who will celebrate on Sunday and which other games to enjoy over the weekend?

All times listed below are in Eastern European Summer Time (GMT+3).

Fiorentina – Napoli

Friday 21:45

Serie A will go on for another week, but Matchday #36 answered a lot of questions. One still up in the air will be between Fiorentina (8th, 35 games, 53 points) and Napoli (9th, 36, 51); whoever finishes eighth will get a spot in the Conference League, although Fiorentina could yet win it this season and reach the Europa League instead.

Napoli will not get another chance and even this one will be almost certainly gone if they can not get all three points from Florence. The Napolitans have not won in their last five games (3D, 2L) and will finish outside of the top seven for the first time in 15 years. After celebrating the title just 12 months ago, it is quite a fall from grace.

Union Berlin – Freiburg

Saturday 16:30

At least Napoli are not facing relegation like Union Berlin. After finishing fourth last season and reaching the Champions League group stages (remember, they were twice close to taking points off Real Madrid!), they are now winless in their last seven (2D, 5L) and holding the relegation play-off spot with automatic relegation still possible too.

Unfortunately for them, Freiburg need a win to have any hope of getting back a Conference League spot from Hoffenheim and will be saying goodbye to long-time manager Christian Streich. This will be the German’s 489th and final game in charge of the team and such events tend to motivate players further.

Arsenal – Everton / Manchester City – West Ham

Sunday 18:00

Arsenal have done all they can, but City have not flinched for a second. The team from Manchester has won their last eight games, all by at least two goals. Arsenal was the last team to take points off them on March 31st (a goalless draw); Aston Villa the last team to get all three on December 6th. Come spring, they seem unbeatable.

Tottenham could not help (or did not want to help) Arsenal and at home, both are heavy favourites. West Ham will finish ninth with Everton either 15th or 16th; neither has something to play for. On paper, Arsenal have the tougher assignment as Everton has been flying high lately, earning 13 of a possible 15 points in their last five games (with four clean sheets!).

The Betis Babble

OlyBet is the proud betting partner of Real Betis.

Next game: Sunday 20:00 vs Real Sociedad

As expected, this will be the most important game of the season (so far). With Sociedad holding a one-point advantage, the Europa League spot could be decided on Sunday.

Betis got the chance last weekend with Sociedad losing to Barcelona, and a narrow win over Almeria (3-2) was enough to take a one-point lead. But on Thursday, both teams returned to the pitch, and Betis settled with a 2-2 draw vs Las Palmas despite taking the lead twice. As Sociedad won, they are now back in sixth.

There is another issue – Betis’s star playmaker Isco had to be taken off in the 39th minute on Thursday due to an ankle injury. It was nothing too serious, but Sunday might be a little too soon …


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