It’s not just Leicester and Tottenham battling it out for the Premier League title that has raised countless eyebrows this season. Across Britain there are numerous league placings that presently defy logic and with a promotion here and a relegation there we could conceivably see some mightily odd fixtures next year.
Let’s take a look at the five league encounters neither team ever realistically thought would happen.
Burton Albion v Aston Villa
Villa have enjoyed many Midlands rivalries during their 29 years in the top flight but now with the drop finally confirmed it’s looking likely they could begin a whole new chapter of local hostility.
Burton meanwhile have been tremendous all term under the guidance of Nigel Clough and are currently locked in a three-way fight for the two automatic promotion spots from Division One. Should they reach the heady heights of the Championship they will have earned the right to look upon Villa as equals.
Playing one of the biggest names in English football will feel like hitting the jackpot and with mega moolah slots you can experience that feeling too.
Braintree Town v Blackpool
The last remaining play-off place in the Vanarama National League has become a fiercely contested scrap between Eastleigh and Braintree. Should either side make it all the way into the fourth tier it will come as a stark reminder to relegation-doomed Blackpool on just how far they have plummeted since their recent Premier League adventure.
Just six years ago the Tangerines were dominating the back pages with high-scoring thrillers at Old Trafford and Goodison Park. Next August they could easily be visiting a club in Braintree that began life as a works team for a local glazing company.
Leicester City v Watford in the Community Shield
Should the Foxes hold on to their five point cushion at the top and Watford negotiate a tricky semi-final to Crystal Palace and go on to lift the FA Cup then we will be witnessing an entirely unfamiliar pairing in August’s ‘curtain-raiser’. Which will be a welcome relief for everyone considering that the last twenty Community Shields have featured just seven different clubs. It will probably be a classic.
Dundee United v Peterhead
The Blue Toon are already guaranteed to secure their highest ever league finish so even if they miss out on promotion to the Scottish Championship it will mark a terrific campaign for the small Aberdeenshire club. At present however it is all guns blazing for Jim McInally’s men with a play-off berth nailed down for this likable ambitious outfit.
For Dundee United 2015/16 has been one to forget as the drop looms following a miserable 21 defeats from 33 games. From Celtic Park to 3500 capacity Balmoor in the space of twelve months. That’s going to hurt.
Bolton Wanderers v Accrington Stanley
The inquisitive scouse lad from the famous milk advert may not have been aware of their existence but Stanley – the club that wouldn’t die – are well and truly on the up. The Wham Stadium has been jumping this season as John Coleman’s side have jostled neck and neck with perhaps more illustrious foes in Oxford, Plymouth and Portsmouth and with just three games remaining find themselves nestled in an automatic spot.
Bolton’s struggles this year have concentrated largely on securing a future with their on-field collapse surely a result of that. Their drop into the third tier will be a culture shock for those seasoned enough to recall Jay Jay Okocha lighting up the Macron Stadium.
A north-west dust-up faring minnows against former giants beckons.