TV View: Tremendous Tuesday shows there’s life in the season yet
Sky must be counting their blessings there is still something on the line in Premier League
Tempers flare at the end of Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Leicester City. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/Getty/AFP
Until that Alisson intervention on Sunday afternoon, Sky Sports were looking at a bleak enough climax to their Premier League season. Title already won, Champions League-qualifying slots pretty much sorted, relegation done and dusted. They were, then, anticipating a Super D-Day Sunday where the only issue left to be decided was whether West Ham could pip Spurs to the honour of narrowly missing out on qualification for the Europa League.
Quite how they’d have whipped the viewers in to a frenzy on that one - even if they produced a montage of slo-mo shots of a moody Harry Kane and a super determined Jesse Lingard, soundtracked by, say, Stormzy - it’s hard to know, but Alisson saved their bacon: the battle for third and fourth had been resuscitated.
Its latest chapter came on Tremendous Tuesday with the tussle between Chelsea and Leicester, who hadn’t met since last Saturday.
Before that, though, Kelly Cates tried to set Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s pulses racing by telling him that if Southampton beat Leeds in one of the early evening games, “there’s an opportunity for them to go in to 12th place above Wolves!”
Jimmy didn’t appear to have been left tingling by that permutation, but he’s never been a fella to lose the run of himself. Remember his response to Alan Shearer when the latter claimed scoring goals was better than sex? “He’s not having proper sex.”
Sky’s main early offering, though, was the clash of Manchester United and Fulham, a contest that would decide if one team already almost guaranteed to finish second would confirm they’d finish second, while also determining if the other team that was already relegated might finish 18th or 19th.
No more than Jimmy, Graeme Souness struggled to look excited by this, perhaps wondering why he hadn’t been given the night off. But you can imagine if Sky rang Roy to ask him to work on Tremendous Tuesday when the highest honour up for grabs for the featured teams was third place. “You’re being funny, right?” Click.
There was, though, some potential for excitement based on Sky positioning not one but two reporters outside Old Trafford as the 10,000 fans allowed attend the game ambled on up to the ground. While stopping short of wearing flak jackets, the embedded James Cooper and Frazer Dainton were wondering out loud if there might be trouble, in light of recent anti-owner events, but the best they could find was a very little fella holding a ‘Glazers Out’ sign, him so young he probably wouldn’t know a Glazer from SpongeBob SquarePants.
But happily, he was there when Edison Cavani scored that very lovely goal, which, admittedly, was offside, but down with the pedants. “That for me is a striker who is really feeling himself,” said a purring Jimmy at half-time, Graeme not knowing where to look.
And then Fulham equalised and the 10,000 were reminded of what they hadn’t been missing all season.
Any way, the night’s main event: Chelsea v Leicester.
“It’s all about the race for the top four… we don’t yet know who the third and fourth placed teams will be - it’s getting exciting, isn’t it Graeme,” said Kelly, refusing to give up on injecting some enthusiasm in to the lads. Graeme’s response was along the lines of ‘well…….’.
But after just 35ish minutes there’d been no end of excitement, by then Timo Werner on a hat-trick of goals disallowed by VAR. “It’s not football any more,” sang the disgruntled Stamford Bridge faithful, Alan Smith, in the commentary box alongside Martin Tyler, noting, a touch dryly, “well, handball was never allowed in football”.
“Unless you played for Argentina in 1986,” Martin chuckled.
“Or France in 2009,” said Ireland.
But look, we’ve moved on.
VAR finally allowed a Chelsea goal when Antonio Rüdiger glanced the ball home with his hip-bone, Martin not unreasonably observing how appropriate it was that a man in a mask scored a vital goal “in the life that we’re all living”.
And then VAR gave Chelsea a penalty, then Leicester pulled one back, then Ayoze Pérez missed a chance of an equaliser than SpongeBob SquarePants might well have converted, and then there was the mother of all scraps. And that was that. A quiet second half, then.
So, it’s all going down to the wire. Unless Liverpool slip up on Wednesday night, Burnley goalie Nick Pope, perhaps, scoring the winner with a 97th minute bicycle kick. Don’t rule out the possibility, stranger things have happened this season.