How the Premier League's 'furious 14' can take revenge on 'big six'
It’s the FURIOUS 14 versus the Big Six! How those clubs left behind by the European Super League rebels can have a huge influence in the top four race this weekend and hit Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal in the pocket by wrecking Champions League bids
- Premier League’s ‘big six’ made a doomed attempt to break away and join a money-spinning European Super League this week
- The move sparked a ferocious backlash from fans and other top-flight clubs
- Executives from the ‘big six’ are being removed from Premier League posts
- But the ‘furious 14’ left behind can also take their revenge on the pitch
- This weekend sees a number of pivotal matches in Champions League chase
- Super League fiasco will offer extra motivation to topple the top four hopefuls
The backlash against the ‘big six’ who sought to break away has already started in the boardrooms of the Premier League.
Now those European Super League rebels can be punished on the pitch as well in what looks set to be a pivotal weekend.
There will certainly be plenty of extra motivation for the top-flight’s ‘furious 14’ to demonstrate the absurd arrogance of the elite by beating them.
The 14 clubs left behind by the six European Super League rebels can take their revenge between now and the end of the season. Arsenal vs Everton is one of this weekend’s fixtures
Liverpool, whose American owners were driving the Super League plans, play Newcastle on Saturday as they look to strengthen their hopes of a top four finish
An extraordinary 48 hours saw a European Super League with 12 founder clubs launched and promptly dismantled again amid a furious backlash from all quarters of the game
And, even more sweetly, a win this weekend could ultimately hurt them in the pocket as well as the race to qualify for the lucrative Champions League enters its final stretch.
England’s self-styled ‘big six’ – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur – signed up to play in a new midweek competition designed to replace UEFA’s long-established tournaments.
With the promise of extraordinary riches from Wall Street financier JP Morgan, they jumped on board the gravy train with three Spanish and three Italian clubs.
But by Tuesday night, just 48 hours after the European Super League was born, the whole project had come tumbling down as all six Premier League sides withdrew.
The ill-conceived idea had succeeded only in uniting the rest of football and every football fan in opposition. Furious supporters made it crystal clear this ludicrous plan wouldn’t be tolerated.
Now the fall-out will begin. Already executives at the ‘big six’ clubs have been kicked out of key positions within the Premier League and its key committees and working groups.
How the top half of the Premier League looks amid a furious race to qualify for Europe
The six leading Premier League clubs who wanted to break away were forced to change their plans after an enormous backlash from other clubs and the fans
This weekend’s games
Arsenal vs Everton (8pm)
Liverpool vs Newcastle United (12.30pm)
West Ham United vs Chelsea (5.30pm)
Sheffield United vs Brighton (8pm)
Wolves vs Burnley (12pm)
Leeds United vs Manchester United (2pm)
Aston Villa vs West Bromwich Albion (7pm)
Leicester City vs Crystal Palace (8pm)
But fans of clubs in the ‘rest’ of the Premier League will delight even more if their teams can send them packing in matches between now and the end of the season.
There’s no better way to illustrate the farce of a closed shop competition, without risk or jeopardy, where only a chosen few can participate.
What a shame that stadiums aren’t full at the moment as the defiant atmosphere would be something to behold. Not that too many of the players at the clubs involved were keen on the idea.
It could all have a bearing on a thrilling race for the top four in the Premier League because just six points currently split Chelsea in the final Champions League spot with Everton in eighth.
The first opportunity comes on Friday night when Arsenal host Everton at the Emirates Stadium.
What’s daft is that Everton are actually a place above Arsenal in the table as it stands but obviously there was nothing meritocratic about the Super League.
Arsenal may be one of England’s traditional football powerhouses but recent seasons have seen a desperate decline.
But Everton’s Super League invitation presumably got lost in the post and the Goodison Park club came out with one of the most eloquent statements in opposition to the plans on Monday.
A message from the club’s board accused the breakaway six of ‘preposterous arrogance’ and ‘tarnishing the reputation of our league and the game’ by ‘acting entirely in their own interests.’
Carlo Ancelotti’s side were actually second in the table when they defeated Arsenal 2-1 at Goodison Park back in December, while the Gunners were languishing down in 15th.
Leeds United fans gathered outside Elland Road to protest against the ESL ahead of Monday night’s fixture against Liverpool
Liverpool fans were also present as their club’s owners signed up to the new competition
Should Everton complete the double on Friday night it will pretty much end Arsenal’s top four chances, meaning Mikel Arteta’s team would have to win the Europa League to return to the Champions League where obviously the club’s greedy owners feel they belong.
Next up, on Saturday lunchtime, will be Newcastle United’s visit to Liverpool, whose American owners were one of the driving forces behind the Super League.
It was a humiliating climbdown for John W Henry and his Fenway Sports Group, culminating in a video apology to fans who’d made no secret of their disgust.
It will take an awful long time for Henry to repair his fractured relationship with Liverpool’s fans, if it can be repaired at all.
But in the meantime, Jurgen Klopp’s side, who are two points off fourth place, know they mustn’t put a foot wrong against a Newcastle team not yet clear of relegation danger.
Everton, whose chairman is Bill Kenwright (left) and owner is Farhad Moshiri (right), were among the most outspoken of the ‘other’ 14 Premier League clubs
Again, it’s a real shame Anfield will be empty for this one because no doubt Liverpool and Newcastle fans would have made their feelings about the Super League abundantly clear.
The visitors will go in as underdogs but will be buoyed by the way they beat another Champions League chaser, West Ham, 3-2 last Saturday.
Talking of the Hammers, their Saturday teatime clash with Chelsea is arguably the highlight of the Premier League weekend.
Not only does this have the added edge of being a London derby, it’s a meeting of fourth versus fifth making it pivotal in deciding who makes the Champions League.
West Ham are dreaming of Champions League football next season and their home fixture against Chelsea on Saturday night will be enormously important
Now the Super League saga has added a whole new dimension though Chelsea and their owner Roman Abramovich deserve credit for realising the error of their ways and becoming the first club to pull out.
Chelsea weren’t among those spearheading the breakaway but that didn’t stop hundreds of fans making their feelings known outside Stamford Bridge ahead of their game with Brighton on Tuesday.
The protests proved successful but it won’t remove any of the tension from this fixture with West Ham desperate to beat them at the London Stadium.
The Hammers voiced their ‘unequivocally strong disapproval’ of the Super League with a statement on the club’s website playing up their working class foundations in east London.
‘These proposals go totally against the ethos and values – the West Ham Way – that have inspired us to unforgettable successes and will shape the next generation of Hammers, on and off the pitch.’
An old rivalry will be resumed again when Leeds United host Manchester United on Sunday
What better way to prove you’re in the right than by pipping Chelsea to a Champions League place, although the Blues may yet make it by winning this season’s competition.
Second-placed Manchester United look pretty set for a second place finish but Sunday’s trip to Elland Road to face Leeds United is a real grudge match.
The involvement of the Glazer family and Ed Woodward in setting up the breakaway league is really just another reason for Leeds fans to hate their rivals from over the Pennines.
And having been stuffed 6-2 at Old Trafford when they last met, it’s just another reason why Leeds will be fired up to take their revenge.
Victory over United will again underline the colossal arrogance of those who sought to break away and leave the rest of the Premier League behind.
The beauty of England’s top-flight is that, on their day, anyone can beat anyone. Now the ‘furious 14’ have even more reason to defeat the big boys.
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