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Leicester City Are Champions But The League Goes On: This Weekend In The Premier League

Leicester tributes are becoming a bit tiresome, we’re taking Manuel Pellegrini for granted, and three clubs are drinking in the last chance saloon.

by Will Magee
May 6 2016, 2:45pm

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In a week where everyone has been talking about Leicester City's title triumph, it's easy to forget that there's a round of Premier League fixtures this weekend. Some of them could have interesting implications for the top four, some could define the relegation zone and some – Bournemouth vs. West Brom, for instance – mean absolutely fuck all.

Dead rubbers aside, there are still plenty of reasons to watch top-flight football this weekend. Off the top of our heads, here are five.

LEICESTER CITY: A TRIBUTE

Let's get this out of the way, then: Leicester City have won the Premier League. They've played wonderful football, hugely overachieved and defied the bookies, their critics and the vast resources of their major competitors to clinch their first ever top-flight title. Theirs is a historic triumph, a season that will go down in the dusty annals of footballing folklore. Their unthinkable success may never be replicated.

But seriously, can we all stop going on about it?

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With Leicester hosting Everton on Saturday afternoon, the plaudits are bound to pour in from all sides. We will hear a thousand superlatives from commentators and columnists, we will witness an unprecedented spike in the use of the word "fairytale". Pundits will laugh knowingly about the players' antics this week – what is that Jamie Vardy like? – and fawn over Claudio Ranieri as he comes out with a series of grammatically meaningless fripperies. Plus there will be an unbearable amount of banter about Gary Lineker having to do Match of the Day in his undies.

Banter about the sort of pants he's going to wear. Banter about his abs. Banter about Lineker needing to work out and not being as young as he used to be, even though he's probably in great shape and the whole thing's just an exercise in chummy bants. Banter about Lineker chatting shit, and ultimately getting banged for it. Banter about how he thought he'd never live to see the day, hence the likelihood that we'll now catch a glimpse of his knackers on BBC One.

Leicester deserve countless tributes, they really do. Unfortunately, listening to countless tributes is extremely tedious – especially when one of those tributes involves Gary Lineker's pants.

THE GHOST OF A TITLE DECIDER

When the fixture lists first came out, many predicted that the second-last game of the season would be momentous. With Manchester City hosting Arsenal – and both teams widely tipped to win the league – an epic late title decider seemed like a distinct possibility.

That possibility is no more. The promise of a grand finale at the Etihad is well and truly dead, with both sides slumping in recent months. They are shadows of their former selves, shades wandering an underworld of poor form.

It's not quite a dead-rubber, but Man City vs. Arsenal has precious little life about it this time around // STR/EPA

The match is now the ghost of a title decider, haunting the fixture list like a melancholy poltergeist. Perhaps Arsenal fans could attend the game wearing bedsheets over their heads in protest at their phantom of a season. Just an idea.

GOODBYE MY LOVER, GOODBYE MY FRIEND

Goodbye, Manuel Pellegrini. Farewell, old friend. After Manchester City's limp Champions League defeat to Real Madrid in midweek, any chance of the sagacious old Chilean leaving the club on a high has gone up in smoke. He can hardly have enjoyed the past few months, especially not after the announcement that Pep Guardiola would be usurping him in the summer. However – despite looking more and more like a nan at a funeral as the season has gone on – he has conducted himself with quiet dignity and integrity throughout.

These are uncommon character traits in the world of football, lest anyone need reminding of the fact. With the Arsenal match set to be his penultimate game as a Premier League manager, we should all show him a bit of appreciation. Pellegrini might have somewhat underachieved during his time in Manchester, but we'll miss him when he's gone.

Manuel Pellegrini: a decent man in an indecent business // Juan Carlos Hidalgo/EPA

He is polite in his press conferences. All told, he treats the opposition with respect. While he's not immune to throwing some shade at referees, he lacks the spiteful streak of Arsène Wenger, Louis van Gaal and the rest. Pellegrini seems like a decent bloke, a football manager blessed with a genuinely thoughtful, self-reflective attitude.

Will we be able to say the same things about Guardiola when his time at Manchester City comes to an end?

THE LAST CHANCE SALOON

Picture, if you will, the windswept American frontier. On a dustbowl plain stands a single, rickety building. Its windows hang by their hinges, its swinging doors creak loudly in the breeze. Inside, Sam Allardyce, Rafa Benitez and Alex Neil are engaged in a Mexican stand-off, each of them pointing Smith & Wesson revolvers at one another and wearing comically oversized cowboy hats.

For legal reasons, we must state that Alex Neil does not point guns at people, though he does own a massive cowboy hat. // Peter Powell/EPA

Allardyce, Benitez and Neil have been drinking in the last chance saloon for some time. They have tasted the poisonous liquor of potential relegation, and spat it back out in disgust. Each of them is prepared to gun down the others, if it will only ensure their escape from the Wild West of the Championship.

While Norwich and Sunderland host Manchester United and Chelsea respectively this Saturday, Newcastle travel to Aston Villa. At first glance, it appears that Benitez has the draw on his foes. But will he be able to pull the trigger? Christ, this is tense.

OUTSIDE BETS

In a good season for outside bets, it might be worth keeping an eye on West Ham this weekend. They welcome an erratic Swansea side to Upton Park on Saturday afternoon, and it will be a major surprise if they fail to take all three points.

Sean Dempsey/EPA

Naturally, it would be a far greater surprise if the Hammers go on to finish in the top four from here. Still, don't rule it out. Currently sixth in the table, they are a mere five points behind Manchester City in the fourth and final Champions League spot. What's more, they have a game in hand on the faltering Sky Blues.

Could Slaven Bilic and co. write a new Premier League fairytale? We're all for it, so long as it doesn't result in Russell Brand going on Match of the Day in his pants.

@W_F_Magee