So this is it. After 37 Premier League games, Blackpool’s top flight fate lies in the hands of the eleven tangerines picked to face Champions Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The Seasiders need a win to secure safety, but either a draw or even a narrow defeat could also be enough to preserve their status.
Wigan Athletic, who are below Pool, travel to Stoke City, whilst Birmingham City play Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. If two of the three most-threatened teams pick up points then the loser of Wolves v Blackburn becomes embroiled in the scrap.
But Ian Holloway and co won’t be too focussed on results elsewhere, given that it is all still in their own hands. A win and Pool are (almost virtually) guaranteed to be safe.
In truth, you could talk about the permutations of ‘Survival Sunday’ all day long, but others have been busy doing that for us and I’m sure you’re all acutely aware of what is what.
Jamie Redknapp and Lord Alan Sugar have both come out today and stated that they believe Blackpool will beat the drop. Redknapp himself favoured Birmingham and Wigan to sink to the Championship.
Whether or not they know the team Sir Alex Ferguson is fielding we don’t know, but the United boss has said today that some of his big hitters will be getting game time in the final fixture of the 2010/11 season – where the Champions will be parading the winners trophy.
A point of note: the game is on May 22nd – one year after the Seasiders’ promotion at Wembley and two years after the appointment of Ian Holloway as manager. Just thought you should know!
Ollie says he’s taking heart from the 3-2 defeat to United earlier in the season: ‘I take great motivation from the way we played against them earlier this season.
‘For 70 minutes we were absolutely magnificent. Then they brought on Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernandez and we ran out of steam.
‘It scares me just saying that. But this is an opportunity for us to achieve the best thing we could ever have dreamed of – keeping a club like ours at this level.’
Fergie on the relegation dogfight: ‘This game on Sunday is not the kind of game you actually enjoy.
‘You are talking about one point separating five teams.
‘It is very tight down there and you could sense what was coming with the way the league was shaping.
‘Losing a couple of games can put you right back in the mire and Sunday is going to be a very important day for the futures of these clubs, which means it is not the easiest game for me to pick a team in.’
Manchester United Team News:
Goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar will make his final Premier League appearance after asking to play.
He’ll be joined by Anderson, Scholes, Fletcher, Berbatov and Patrice Evra – who all play for differing reasons.
Wayne Rooney said he wants to play, but it’s thought that he won’t be risked ahead of the Champions League final next week.
Player to watch: Dimitar Berbatov
Berbatov is joint top scorer alongside Carlos Tevez on 21 for the season and will no doubt be looking to add to that in order to make the crown his.
Ian Evatt and Alex Baptiste have a mighty job on their hands.
Blackpool Team News:
The Seasiders are likely to name an unchanged side to the one which beat Bolton Wanderers 4-3 last week at Bloomfield Road.
That means Baptiste and Evatt partner eachother in the heart of defence. It also sees contract rebels David Vaughan, Stephen Crainey and Matt Gilks all start.
Marlon Harewood will again be on the bench after impressing since his return from Barnsley.
Player to watch: Charlie Adam
Journalists up and down the land must be sick of typing the name Charlie Adam alongside ‘dangerman’ for Blackpool.
However, in this instance it’s completely right. If Charlie Adam plays well, Pool have an almighty chance of upsetting the odds and staying in the division. The stage is made for him, let’s see how it pans out…
Match Facts & Stats
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Who knows? Could be Chelsea or Coventry; Manchester United or Middlesbrough.
Whatever happens, the Seasiders have been a credit to the Premier League throughout the season and deserve all the plaudits for a fantastic fight against the big wigs of English football.