May 03, 2022 4 min read
This week sees the second leg of the semi-finals of European competition, which is also the subject of Wednesday’s piece on this site. Looking at the history of the game which decides the finalists, there have been plenty of exciting and invigorating matches and Manchester City have added their name to the rollcall.
City take a one-goal lead into Wednesday’s away leg (with away goals no longer in play) at the Bernabeu in Madrid. Liverpool are two goals to the good against Villarreal and play in Spain on Tuesday as they chase four trophies; squad rotation will be vital to the Reds as they try to keep legs fresh for a busy rest of May 2022. They fly back to play a game on Saturday night live game at Anfield against Tottenham.
West Ham, Rangers and Leicester City all have work to do to get to the finals of their respective competitions. The first two clubs are Europa League semi-finalists; both are a goal down, but Rangers will have home advantage in the second leg against RB Leipzig. West Ham go to Frankfurt, who knocked out Barcelona in the quarter-finals and will have their own home fans cheering them on. As for Leicester, if no goals come in the second leg at AS Roma then the clubs will need extra time and possibly penalties to separate them. Roma’s away goal in the 1-1 draw will not see them through.
The Premier League trundles on to its conclusion with the third to last week of matches. Crystal Palace welcome back Croydon-born former manager Roy Hodgson. Alas it could be the week that sees Watford join Norwich City in falling back into the Championship again; the Canaries host West Ham on Sunday and are playing for pride having been relegated last weekend.
Also on Sunday, Arsenal play Leeds United in a match which pits the 1991 First Division winners with the 1992 champions. This season the Leeds podcast The Square Ball is chronicling the season where they became ‘the last champions’ of the old division. In the equivalent fixture at Highbury in the 1991/92 season, a Lee Chapman goal for Leeds was cancelled out by a Paul Merson strike. At the time Arsenal had Alan Smith, Ian Wright and David Rocastle – who would have turned 65 today (May 2) – as fan favourites, with David Seaman in goal after Leeds had re-signed goalkeeper John Lukic from Arsenal. The late Gary Speed played out of position at right-back that day, with Eric Cantona starting too in one of his memorable appearances before he was sold to Manchester United.
Manchester City and Newcastle United also play each other on Sunday afternoon. Fans of both sides can order a club-branded bottle of gin or vodka from their respective areas on this site. In 2022, the clubs are owned respectively by investment funds representing Abu Dhabi and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Back in 1992 when Leeds took the title, City finished fifth and so both sides were among the 22 First Division sides who broke off from the English Football League to form the Premier League. The goals that season came from Academy product David White and Irishman Niall Quinn, while Keith Curle impressed in his first season at City since moving from Wimbledon for £2.5m.
As for Newcastle, they were deep in debt and needed local businessman Sir John Hall to rescue the club. They finished 20th in the Second Division, which was the lowest in their history, and avoided relegation thanks to the steady hand of Kevin Keegan, who was appointed mid-season. Academy product Kevin Scott played 50 games at centre-back, his tally only bettered by Gavin Peacock’s 51. Newcastle soon bounced back to the top tier and almost took the title in 1995/96.
Sir John, who is now 89, told the Times that ‘anyone running Newcastle will find out that people live their lives through the club. When Newcastle played at home when I was young, everything stopped…I did what I could to help.’ He reckons his club could be challenging for the Premier League in the next five years thanks to the recent investment.
The days of dropping to the second tier are probably over for the Magpies, and this weekend sees the finale of the Championship season. Barnsley, Peterborough United and Derby County are all tumbling into League One next season. Tuesday night’s game at the Vitality Stadium sees the delayed fixture between second place Bournemouth and third place Nottingham Forest. If the Cherries win, they bounce back to the Premier League at the second attempt to potentially meet former manager Eddie Howe, now at Newcastle. Forest can cement a third-place finish with a win away at Hull if they can’t go up automatically. You can hear how Andy Satchwell did when he represented Forest in the Bohemian Vodkast here.
Finally, the fixtures in Scotland are the third in the post-split section of the season. Celtic play Hearts on Saturday lunchtime in front of their own fans. Rangers face Dundee United and Hibernian welcome Aberdeen in a tie which brings together another two clubs with club-branded drinks available on this site.