Good morning and welcome to Saturday. We have some football today!!! Praise the lord!!! There are two games on, with one being the Championship play-off final and the other being the small matter of the Champions League final.
I’m not sure how interested you’ll be in the play-off final, which is Aston Villa vs Fulham at Wembley for a place in the Premier League, but it’s a game I’ll definitely be watching and it’s one I’m looking forward to. That one kicks off at 5pm if you’re interested. I’m not going to do a preview of that, but I will be for the Champions League final. I would advise you to watch the play-off final if you have a spare couple of hours though, because I think it’ll be a good game. It’s a nice warm up for the biggest game of the season, which kicks off at 7:45pm.
They call the Championship play-off ‘the richest game in football’ because the potential earnings if you get to the Premier League are unbelievable. They say the game could be worth up to £280m for the winners. It’s about more than money though. This is a chance for these players to play in the Premier League. That is absolutely huge for them, and they’ll be leaving everything out on that pitch this evening as they try to make their dreams come true.
We know both sides well, as they were both recently in the Premier League. There are plenty of players from both sides that you’ll know as well. I haven’t seen any Championship football this season because I’m just far too busy to watch it, but from what I’ve heard, Fulham were brilliant all season. They missed out on promotion by just two points in the end, with Cardiff finishing above them. Aston Villa finished fourth, so we have the third and fourth placed teams against each other. Sometimes I think it would be a bit unfair if the sixth placed team come up, as they could have been well behind the third placed team, but that’s how it is.
Anyway, it’s one to watch in my opinion, and I’m looking forward to it.
Understandably, most of the attention today will be on the Champions League final. Everybody is going to have build-up to it all day, including me. I hope to get a few things up about it, including the match preview. I won’t go into too much detail about it now because I’ll do doing that preview so I’ll keep it until then. I seriously can’t wait for it though.
There are a few other stories doing the rounds, but it’s mostly about the actual football that’s on tonight. But let’s have a quick look anyway.
Last night, Southampton announced that Mark Hughes has been given a three-year deal to continue as manager. It’s a good appointment, in my opinion, as he did extremely well to keep them up in the Premier League when they were really struggling. He saved them, and I think he deserves to be rewarded for that. People will look at the mess Stoke ended up in towards the end of his time there, but they forget that he actually did quite well there for a while. He had them in mid-table most of the time, and had them playing some good football.
In the end, things didn’t quite work out for him, but there could be more than one force at play there. I don’t think it all comes down to him, and some other people may be responsible for how the season went. Of course, he has to take a lot of the blame for it and I think Stoke’s relegation should go onto his record, but he could do really well down on the south coast. He’ll have a better squad of players than he did at Stoke and he could push the Saints up into the top half. That’ll definitely be the aim anyway, as that’s where they should be, so we’ll see if he can manage it.
There were also stories yesterday saying that Arsenal want to sign Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus. This seems to have real legs, and I think it’s something that looks like it’s likely to happen. The 34-year-old is out of contract so will move on a free. He’s a right-back, so he must be being looked at to provide competition and cover for Hector Bellerin. I think that’s something they need to be honest, as Bellerin needs a bit of a push. I’m not interested in criticising him, as he hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as people would have you believe, but he needs someone that’ll push him.
I’m not sure about Lichtsteiner, but he’s someone that has a great reputation as being a top player. He may be getting on a bit now, but if he can be brought in on a free for a year or two to provide cover and play a few games here and there, I think you could do a lot worse. Arsenal definitely need something else out there, and I would be surprised if they didn’t get this one over the line.
Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll be here throughout the day with build-up to tonight’s game, and the match preview will also be out at some stage. I’m not sure exactly when, but you’ll find it here at least a couple of hours before the game. Drop back in for that. Enjoy your Saturday and enjoy the game.
I will be here tomorrow, but the blog will be up at some stage in the afternoon because I’m in work.