Despite what you may think - there’s a world of football outside Aston Villa. Jake’s here to find his voice, air his thoughts and have a glance of the goings on outside of Villa Park.
Phew. A huge sigh of relief is about all I can do right now. Sorry guys for missing the past weeks, I got to watch some soccer in the background of my school-work, but honestly, I had negative time to be writing this! A lot happened, but since most of the season was already wrapped up by the time I wrote my last post, I figured you guys might need a break from me too (that’s not actually what happened, but I’ll go with that excuse too).
Anyways, as I’m now finished up with my final assignments of undergrad, I’m waiting. Waiting for results of my final grades, but also what’s going to happen in the finals this weekend. This whole season, even last season, was building up for this one game on Saturday. One game between us and a guaranteed season in the Premier League. Back up. We’re Aston Villa, we should be in the Prem! The amount of times I’ve listened to Don’t Look Back in Anger, watched pre-match hype, old highlights this past week is insane. One game, Villa.
Right after that, we’re bound to see something crazy happen. Either Real wins their unprecedented third straight CL title, or Liverpool pull off the upset and Mo Salah caps off his insane season with this. Personally, I don’t think Liverpool have the quality top to bottom to match with the likes of Ronaldo, Ramos, and everything in between them. Are you gonna tell me that 19-year-old Alexander-Arnold is shutting down the greatest goal-scorer of all time, Ronaldo (notice my wording)?? I’m all for it, but I genuinely don’t see it happening. If it’s gonna happen, Liverpool’s best form of defense (their offense) needs to shine and do what they did leg one against Roma. Real are a strong side, but I’ve said it all season, no one can prepare for the Liverpool attack and press, it’s something we’ve never seen before. Gonna be a good one, can’t wait.
I’m doing this week a little bit different, just because I missed a solid chunk of things, I want to make sure I get the majority of the stuff that there is to get, but I’ll try to make sure it’s not an overload! I’m just going league by league, rather than chronologically, to wrap-up the season!
The beasts did it. Yup, Pep and Man City hit the 100-point mark, for the first time in the league’s history. It’s also a longer season with more games than in the past with other dominant teams, but this is definitely not a number to ignore. 100 points in 38 games... 32 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses. Only 6 times all season (in the league) did their players and fans not have the feeling of winning. That’s insane, and I’m not jealous, I swear I’m not jealous (I’m kinda jealous). Congrats to one of the most fun teams to watch, and what a way for Pep to check another league off of his list.
Just making my way (sort of) down the table, Manchester United quietly finished second, with 4 points to spare, but still 19 points away from their city rivals. They ended their season with a tough, boring as hell FA Cup Final against Chelsea, with the Blues winning 1-0 off a penalty in the middle of the first half. Congrats on your hideous style of footy taking over a historical club, Mou.
Going off that, I’ll jump to Chelsea. After a one season return to the top 4 and CL, Chelsea miss out again for next season. Finishing fifth, it was almost certain Conte would leave. But after the FA Cup, things may be a little bit different than they usually are for Chelsea. Abrahmovic (the owner) usually dumps and brings in new managers like it is nothing, especially if they fail to win trophies. But with a PL title and now an FA Cup, the players seem to like Conte, some of them more than others, but still. Willian posted on his Instagram story, with the team photo post-FA Cup, and he covered Conte up with trophy emoji’s, and it’s also rumored that his future at the club will depend on if Conte leaves or not, so that’ll be interesting to watch as the season ends.
Arsenal send off their manager by bouncing out of the UEL in the semis to the eventual champs, Atletico Madrid. But they’ll be back next season. In the Europa League that is. Now it is just a matter of who they are going to bring in to manage the club, taking a role that has been filled by the same man for over 20 years. It looks as though Unai Emery from PSG will take over and he has to steer the club back in the right direction, which is Champions League football and more specifically, 4th place! They have a solid squad for next season for sure, just need some defensive patches, and hopefully for them a new manager will bring that as well.
Liverpool I’ve already touched base on, they had a great season, qualifying for CL again next season, having the golden boot and Player of the Season in Salah, and they’re in the CL final, which English teams have failed to do over the last few seasons! This is definitely a step forward for Liverpool, now it’s just time to see how legit they are on Saturday.
Honestly, that’s about it from the Prem, I’ll just touch base on who got relegated. The one Welsh club Swansea go down, but get replaced by Cardiff City, another Welsh side who finished in second of the Championship. Level on points with Swansea was Stoke, who will probably do well in the Championship next season, as long as all of their players don’t leave. Dead last is West Brom, who deserve everything they got, after their reaction when Villa were relegated. Hopefully we don’t see the Baggies down there next season, and we can leave them with Birmingham City.
Quickly going into this, I’m just focusing on the playoffs and who went up. I already said Cardiff finished second, so they’re up, along with Wolves, who won the league and guaranteed promotion weeks ago, which I already wrote about.
The playoffs is the same layout as the CL semi-finals and finals, basically. 2 legs in the semis, home and away matches, and then the winner of the aggregate score moves on. For the final, it is one game at Wembley between the two semi-final winners. Whoever wins that final gets promoted.
After a first leg saw Derby sneak a 1-goal-lead against Fulham, Fulham went home and dominated leg 2, earning them a spot in the final, playing for promotion. A high-flying side in this second half of the season.
With Villa, an early goal off a corner in leg 1 had us lock down our defense, and by God were we organized. James Chester is thriving next to John Terry, who is absolutely loving life at Villa it seems. Hopefully Elmo is back from injury, we missed him second leg. Second leg was comfortable for the most part, with Villa keeping Middlesbrough to no shots on target. Until Johnstone had a lapse. He gets caught in “no man’s land” right at the edge of the box, as Adama Traore gets to the ball first, and looks to slot it home from about 25 yards out, but NOPE denied by Johnstone, 19 yards out. “19 yards out” you say? Yup, Johnstone hand-balled it, and only got away with a yellow. A red would have been un-arguable, but would have also seen Johnstone sitting out of the final. The ensuing free kick by former Villa winger Stewart Downing hits the bar, so Boro still yet to register a shot, 80+ minutes into the game. Johnstone stays on, we have 11 men, finish out the professional performance, and we have our normal goalie for the final. Now it’s time to produce. C’mon Villa.
Over to Spain, we knew that Barca had clinched the title, but they had their unbeaten league record to hold on to. They didn’t. Barca’s defensive fluster shows as they let up 5 goals to Levante in the second to last game of the season, and cannot come back in time and lose 5-4. Then for their last game of the season, we saw Iniesta leave the pitch for the last time. Another GOAT leaving that Camp Nou midfield, we were truly honored to see the likes of Iniesta and Xavi side-by-side, for all those years. You’ll truly be missed, “Pale Assassin.” This picture truly captures what it means to be a footballer, especially for a club like Barca. It’s not a game, it’s a life to most.
Real eventually finish third, behind their Madrid rivals, Atletico, who end the season in second and with a Europa League trophy. Real may have seemed more focused on their third straight CL, rather than competing for the league most of the time, so now we’ll see if it pays off for Zidane on Saturday. It’s either a blank season with no trophies for Real, or an amazing one with their third straight, there’s no in between.
The race for the title was off a while ago, as Bayern sleep walk their way to another trophy. Once again, they get bounced by Real in the CL, but who hasn’t, right? The real race in this league was for the CL spots next season, and it was so close, separated by goal differential. Three teams end on 55 points, and third place to seventh place was separated by a mere four points. Dortmund make it in, despite a very mediocre season. Pulisic needs to do better, as does the whole squad, but we’ll see who stays and who leaves.
Honestly, I don’t know what to talk about here, PSG win it comfortably, and the only thing to note really are the potential transfers in and out of the club, and even as I’m writing this, I’m hearing that Buffon, after leaving Juventus, may sign with the French side.
Italy and France are in the same boat for this one (sounds like a start to a really bad joke but it isn’t, I promise). I don’t really have much to talk about in terms of the league itself, but when it came down to the race for the title, Napoli and Juve were neck and neck for awhile, but Napoli stumbled and couldn’t keep up, and Juve wins yet another Italian League title. Like I said, they’re losing the only goalkeeper I can personally remember playing for them, Buffon. When we’re talking legends, it’s impossible to keep his name out of your mouth. Part of me hates seeing him leave the club, but it comes to an end, and maybe he will join PSG and get that CL title that he has been chasing. I just wish Italy was in the World Cup so we could see him there one more time! Ciao, Gianluigi.
I’d dive into the MLS, but I’ll leave you guys with all of this stuff to try to take in! The next few weeks will be mostly MLS and World Cup previews, but as the league season ends, I thank you all for reading, and hope you still will! Hopefully now, I’ll have more free time and post more, let me know what you all think about everything! Feel free to comment/share! Thanks!