As teams up and down the country battle it out for their final Premier League positions over the next few weeks, presenters Geoff Shreeves, Martin Tyler, Alan Smith, Niall Quinn and Graeme Souness shared their insights with The Morning Advertiser.
Former Arsenal and Manchester City player Quinn said: “It is a very exciting time. There are certain games where I like to be away from the house, usually the high-tension ones, and there’s no better place than my local.
“I hear opinions there that actually help me formulate what I need to be thinking about when I come here to work in Sky. Some aren’t broadcastable, but it’s important, it’s the nearest thing I have to ever being in a crowd again and listening to the topics, and what people are thinking.”
He added: “It’s a dose of the real world that I can take on board.”
At the time of publication, Chelsea were leading the table by seven points, followed by Tottenham Hotspur, and Liverpool in third. Battling to avoid relegation at the bottom of the league were Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sunderland. The season ends on 21 May after kicking off in August 2016.
Who will come out on top?
Tyler, who was voted FA Premier League Commentator of the Decade in 2003, said that pubs should be excited about the quality of the upcoming games “despite it looking like Chelsea will be crowned champions”, he added.
He said: “The fight for the other spots will go right to the wire. There are big names, big clubs and big managers. If you are sixth out of six, which Arsène Wenger might be, that is going to be a big talking point. Is Pep Guardiola going to be above Jürgen Klopp or Mauricio Pochettino?”
But he said there is a chance Chelsea could lose on Wednesday and Tottenham are certainly close enough for it to become a two-horse race.
Can’t get a ticket? Head to the pub
Shreeves said: “I think if you’re a fan of a team – whether it’s avoiding a relegation battle, or qualifying for Europe – if you can’t get a ticket for the away game, the next best place is a pub.”
He added if you can’t get to a game, second best is obviously watching it on Sky. And, if you can do it in a crowd, with supporters of your own team, in a pub – it’s the same sort of feeling. “People put on their shirts, go down the pub, and it is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.”
“You can always rely on someone being loud," added Quinn. “Shouts of ‘what’s the ref doing?’, it’s all that kind of stuff. Then the replay comes on and the ref was spot on, and that fella sips his pint and is quiet for the next few minutes.”
Quinn added that pub audiences encompass a wide range of characters. “Watching it at home is fine and you can, maybe, form your own studious opinion, and look at it from a tactical point of view. But, in the pub, the atmosphere it creates and the highs and lows of the game, you are witnessing that, and living that with a group.”
Predictions and upcoming games
The majority of the commentators suggest the top four are likely to be Chelsea, then Tottenham, followed by either Liverpool or Manchester City coming in third. However, Souness reckons Manchester United might manage to sneak into the top three.
Tyler said: “With both derbies, Manchester and London, there is a chance for one side to end the others’ top four chances.”
Presenters’ top games to watch
Tottenham v Arsenal (Sunday 30 April at 4.30pm)
Manchester City v Manchester United (Thursday 27 April at 8pm)
Manchester United v Chelsea (Sunday 16 April at 4pm)