VAR, top four and Crystal Palace

I'm starting with VAR because frankly, I think it's ruining the game. Can it make it make the game better, I'm not sure. Can it make it more fair, I think yes. But it isn't ready and I don't believe testing it on the Premier League is the right place.

When VAR was brought in, it was to support the referees with clear and obvious errors. Today, it's looking at everything, even offsides that are a millimetre or three on the wrong side. That isn't a clear or obvious error and it's not the spirit of the game.

But that is why the percentage of correct decisions is better than before VAR and what a lot of people will throw that statistic at you. But VAR also makes wrong decisions and referees are becoming lazy. Maybe lazy is the wrong word, but they're just waiting for VAR. It's not in the spirit of the game and it doesn't feel right.

And it's not part of the game. If it was part of the game, all professional leagues would have it and all countries would use it. It's essentially a choice.

And even though I don't think it will be scrapped, there is a chance. And I want to disclaimer this with until a time when it's ready and it acts as the assistant it was supposed to be and the referees on the pitch are back in control.

Champions League next season

This is probably what I should have started with, but I'm still thinking about it. And it's not just that we're playing in the Champions League, it's the possibilities that follow with this.

We will have more fit players next season, essentially a bigger squad. With that squad comes a degree of rotation. I think if we're learnt anything this season, it's that the squad got us to fourth, not a starting eleven.

We also learnt, that while playing European football and getting to a semi-final, the squad we have is good enough to compete in the Premier League. And no doubt one or three will go this summer, but they will be replaced and I trust that the manager will bring in players that strengthen that squad.

Those possibilities that follow with getting Champions League football start to feel quite exciting. They say the hardest part about getting promoted to the Premier League is staying up. I think it's fair to say that it's the same for getting into the Champions League. 

I think we're in a good place and next season is going to be a fun one.

Crystal Palace on Sunday

So, we finish fourth with a game to go and we finish the season in London. And because we've qualified and because there is a freedom and because Crystal Palace have started to play some really good football, I'm expecting a good game, with goals.

And I hope Ollie Watkins gets his 20th. It's been a long time coming for us and he deserves it. I'll be in Dublin on Sunday, looking for a bar, so this might end up as the match post. If you see me adding match facts tomorrow or Saturday, take that as the case.

And before I go and before the season ends, I have to write it one more time. What a time to be an Aston Villa fan.

Match facts from the BBC


  • Crystal Palace have won seven Premier League home games against Aston Villa, more than they have over any other opponent.

  • Aston Villa won the reverse fixture 3-1 with three late goals and could beat Crystal Palace home and away in the same season for the first time since 1980-81.

Crystal Palace

  • Crystal Palace have a chance to equal their highest ever Premier League finish - 10th in 2014-15.

  • They are one win away from equalling a Premier League club record points total of 49, from 1992-93 and 2018-19.

  • The Eagles have taken 16 points from a possible 18 in their last six top-flight fixtures.

  • Crystal Palace have never lost their final game of a Premier League season when playing at home (W7, D4).

  • Only Cole Palmer has scored more top-flight goals than the 10 by Jean-Philippe Mateta since Oliver Glasner's appointment.

Aston Villa

  • Aston Villa will finish in the top four of the Premier League for the first time since 1995-96.

  • They are unbeaten in all 10 league trips to London under Unai Emery (W7, D3).

  • Aston Villa have scored 76 top-flight goals this season, last netting more in 1960-61 (78).

  • They are one short of matching the club's Premier League record of 21 wins in a season, which was set during a 42-game season in 1992-93.

  • Ollie Watkins still needs one goal to become the first Villa player to score 20 in a top-flight season since Peter Withe in 1980-81.