Could MJ statue removal have doomed Fulham for drop?
Fulham’s relegation from the Premier League has prompted the conspiracy theorists. The west London club, who are 6/4 to beat Crystal Palace in their last game of the season, removed the iconic statue of Michael Jackson earlier in the campaign.
Something which former owner, Mohamed Al Fayed, has claimed caused the club’s 13-year stay in the top-flight to end. Shahid Khan, the club’s new proprietor, is hardly a smooth criminal, though, and will be looking to moonwalk back into the Premier League at the earliest opportunity.
John Heitinga, Giorgos Karagounis, Mahamadou Diarra and John Arne Riise are all out of contract in the summer, and are unlikely to renew, so it could be their last game for the club. All will hope to prevent Fulham finishing bottom – they are currently 4/1 to do so.
For everyone connected to the football club, finishing above Cardiff and Norwich will be a priority, and the Cottagers definitely have the better chance. The Bluebirds entertain Chelsea, while the Canaries host Arsenal.
While the Gunners may want to rest players for the FA Cup final, they are still tipped to present a strong challenge at Carrow Road, and are odds-on at 10/11 to record victory. Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere could return from injury, with the latter keen to quickly restore fitness ahead of the World Cup.
Anthony Pilkington could miss out with a hip injury; though the back four could be boosted for Norwich by the return of on-loan Nigerian centre half Joseph Yobo. The Canaries mathematically aren’t yet relegated, though it is highly unlikely they will record an 18-0 win and West Brom lose simultaneously.
Across in Wales, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to groom some young blood as his Cardiff team prepare to take on Chelsea, who won 4-1 in the corresponding fixture in October. A smaller squad is a priority for the Norwegian in the summer, with some standout players expected to be sold, and those out of contract to be moved on. The Bluebirds are 6/1 for victory while their visitors are 4/9. Incidentally they are heavy odds-on favourites at 1/6 to finish with the wooden spoon.
Chelsea have nothing to play for; Jose Mourinho left to reflect on his first campaign of a second spell in England, knowing things could have gone better. Lesser-known Blues bosses have lost their job for achieving more.
Whatever happens in the final game, Fulham fans will hope the spirit of Michael Jackson can inspire a ‘thriller’ of a campaign next season and surge back into the Premier League.