Frantic final day saw Premier League the real winner

by Nicholas Godden

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Dramatic. Unpredictable. Captivating. The season concluded in exhilarating fashion at the weekend, epitomizing everything that is great about the English game. The day dubbed ‘Survival Sunday’ certified the Premier League as the world’s best, undeniably most competitive. An unprecedented five teams – separated by a single point, goal differences so similar that a play-off was perfectly conceivable – battling to escape the clutches of the two remaining relegation places.

With more permutations than Blackpool’s goals against tally the battle to beat the drop produced more twists and turns than a game of blackjack. For the fans of the teams involved an afternoon of agony ensued as their club’s Premier League status hung precariously in the balance, but for any neutral it was the beautiful game at its unpredictable best. Atmospheres changed like the Great British weather as news of other scores filtered through the grounds. Jubilation to despair – one end of the emotional spectrum to the other – and back again.

Wigan miraculously beat the drop with victory at the Britannia to cap a fine run of form. The Latics’ survival came at the expense of Carling Cup winners Birmingham who were defeated at White Hart Lane while Blackpool’s relegation fate was confirmed after the seasiders relinquished a second-half lead to eventually succumb to a 4-2 loss at Old Trafford.

Rollercoaster was, perhaps, the most used word in the English language on Sunday afternoon and it is certainly one that can be used to characterize the season as whole. It is exactly this, the Premier League’s capricious nature, that sets it apart from the rest.

Any suggestion that the quality at the top-end of the Premier League has deteriorated in recent seasons undermines the steady improvement of the ‘smaller’ clubs. The gulf in class is continuously shrinking making the division competitive and inconsistent.

In a league that has become almost as fickle as its fans the old adage ‘there are no easy games’ has never been so congruous. Wolves, the very team that narrowly eluded the drop, a team that flirted with relegation all season, beat the top three at Molineux. An explicit indication of the strength in-depth the Premier League boasts.

As events unfolded at the weekend there was a stark reminder of the admiration and attention the Premier League commands. For entertainment, unpredictability and competitiveness it simply can’t be matched. United were crowned champions. Wolves, Wigan and Blackburn retained their place among the country’s elite, but the real winner on ‘Survival Sunday’ was the Premier League. The best league in the world.

by Nicholas Godden
Twitter: @nicholasgodden

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