Premier League Recap

The end of the season is just a week away, and with so much on the line for numerous teams it resulted in some very entertaining and, at times, desperate soccer.

We were treated to 25 goals, 29 yellows and saw 2 players sent off.

 

Friday

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Everton v Burnley 

2-0

Everton defeated Burnley to keep their Europa League hopes alive, for a while anyway. The Toffees’ victory saw them move within a point of seventh-place Wolves.

The hosts started brightly and took an early lead when Richarlison‘s 25-yard effort deflected in off Ben Mee.

Seamus Coleman headed in Everton’s second of the afternoon just three minutes later.

Burnley struggled in front of goal, but should have had a second half penalty when Michael Keane shoved Matej Vydra.

Luckily for them, the Clarets have already secured their Premier League place for next season, but  they looked far short of their battling best.

Wolves did beat Fulham on Saturday, ending Everton’s bid for the top-seven, but it was exciting whilst the dream lasted.

 

Up Next:

Spurs v Everton – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Burnley v Arsenal – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

 

Saturday

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AFC Bournemouth v Tottenham Hotspur

1-0

Tottenham had two players sent off as they missed the opportunity to guarantee themselves Champions League football next season, with Nathan Ake scoring an injury-time winner for the hosts.

It wasn’t ideal preparation for Mauricio Pochettino‘s side, who face Ajax in the Champions League semi final second leg on Wednesday in Amsterdam. They lost the first leg 1-0.

Son Heung-min was dismissed for pushing Jefferson Lerma at the end of an extremely frantic first half, in which Eric Dier was lucky not to have been shown a red.

Just two minutes after coming on at half time, Juan Foyth was also sent off for a sliding studs-up challenge on Jack Simpson.

Spurs have won just once in their last four league games and sit fourth on 70pts, three points clear of fifth-placed North London rivals Arsenal, and one point behind third placed Chelsea.

The London club can still qualify for the Champions league, but they need to beat Everton in their final league game on May 12. If they win on Sunday, Arsenal would need an 8+ goal differential in their game in order to overtake them.

The Cherries gave a senior debut to 19-year-old Irish goalie Mark Travers, who made five saves in the first half to keep Spurs at bay, but was pretty much a spectator in the second half, with his team having a two-man advantage.

Despite the numerical advantage, they were unable to capitalise until Ake popped up to win it in the 91st minute, heading home Ryan Fraser‘s corner.

 

Up Next:

Premier League

Palace v Bournemouth – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Spurs v Everton – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Champions League

Ajax v Tottenham – Wednesday, May 8 (3pm)

 

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West Ham United v Southampton

3-0

Marko Arnautovic scored twice – his first goals since January – and Ryan Fredericks added the third for his first Premier League goal.

The victory moves West Ham within a point of the top half of the table, a feat that looked like a big ask after losing their first four games of the season, and standing on eight points after their opening 10 league games.

Arnautovic gave the hosts an early lead, before doubling his side’s advantage after the break with a simple close range header. Ryan Fredericks scored just three minutes later.

In a game of two halves, Southampton – quiet in the first period – came out fighting in the second. However, the two quick-fire Hammers goals – coming against the run of play – took the wind out of their sails and it turned into a comfortable win for the hosts.

 

Up Next:

Watford v West Ham – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Southampton v Huddersfield – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

 

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Wolverhampton Wanderers v Fulham

1-0

Wolves’ win almost guarantees them a top seven finish, which could be enough for a Europa League spot, depending on the outcome of the FA Cup Final. Though manager Nuno Espirito Santo says it would be “stupid” to think about European soccer just now.

After a frustrating 75 minutes for the hosts at Molineux, Joao Moutinho played in Matt Doherty, who curled a fine cross to Leander DenDoncker who sent a volley inside the near post.

Leicester failed to beat Man City on Monday afternoon, which means Wolves have guaranteed themselves a top seven finish. That means if City beat Watford in the FA Cup Final, Nuno‘s side will land a Europa League Place, returning to Europe after a 39-year wait.

The already-relegated visitors gave Harvey Elliott a taste of the Premier League, introducing him in the 88th minute. The midfielder became the youngest ever to play in the competition at 16yrs and 30 days.

The Cottagers should have taken a 62nd minute lead but Aleksander Mitrovic scooped his first-time effort over the bar after he was picked out by Ryan Sessegnon.

 

Up Next:

Liverpool v Wolves – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Fulham v Newcastle – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

 

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Cardiff City v Crystal Palace 

2-3

Cardiff City make an instant return to the Championship after their Premier League relegation was confirmed with a home defeat to Crystal Palace.

The Bluebirds hit the post within the first minute through Josh Murphy,  but fell behind when former loanee Wilfried Zaha fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

The hosts did equalize less than two minutes later, with Martin Kelly turning in a Leandro Bacuna cross into his own net, only for Palace to regain the lead with Michy Batshuayi‘s empathic finish.

Cardiff had a handful of second-half chances but Andros Townsend crushed any lingering hopes of the Welsh side avoiding relegation when he cut inside from the right and struck with a low effort that went in off the post.

Bobby Reid scored in the 90th minute to reduce the Bluebirds’ deficit but they were ultimately beaten and outplayed by a confident Palace side, who climbed to 12th.

In a twist of fate, the Eagles’ victory also secured top-flight survival for rivals Brighton.

 

Up Next:

Man United v Cardiff – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Palace v Bournemouth – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

 

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Newcastle United v Liverpool

2-3

Divock Origi‘s late winner sent Liverpool top of the Premier League, at least for a couple of days, with victory at St James’ Park, putting pressure back on Man City and ensuring the title race goes down to the wire.

On as a substitute for Mo Salah, who was taken off on a stretch with a head injury sustained in a collision with Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka, he headed in Xherdan Shaqiri‘s 86th minute free kick.

The Reds took a 13th minute lead when Virgin van Dijk arrived unmarked to send home Trent Alexander-Arndold‘s free kick.

The Magpies leveled  quickly when Christian Atsu scored from close range after Alexander-Arnold handled Salomon Rondon‘s shot on the line, before Salah took advantage of poor marking to volley home another fine delivery from the young striker.

Rondon, who was a headache for Liverpool all night, drew the hosts level once more nine minutes after the break when the Reds failed to clear a corner.

Man City beat Leicester on Monday, making Liverpool’s task on the final day of the season a little bit harder. Liverpool have to defeat Wolves and hope that Brighton cause a major upset by beating or drawing with City.

 

Up Next:

Premier League

Fulham v Newcastle – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Liverpool v Wolves – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Champions League

Liverpool v Barca – Tuesday, May 7 (3pm)

 

Sunday

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Chelsea v Watford

3-0

Chelsea secured their spot in the Champions League with victory over Watford at Stamford Bridge moving them up to third.

After a goalless first half, the Blues scored twice within three minutes in the second  through headers by Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz.

Gonzalo Higuain sealed the three points with a neat finish from Pedro‘s cross for his fifth goal since joining the club.

The victory moves the hosts a point ahead of Spurs and four clear of fifth-placed Arsenal. The Gunners draw on Sunday was enough to ensure Champions League action for the Blues next season.

FA Cup finalists Watford started brightly, coming close through Troy Deeney and Gerard Deulofeu, but were left to rue their slowness with Chelsea quickly snatching the game from under them.

The Hornets stay 10th, having won just one of their last five league games, but can guarantee European soccer next season by beating Man City in the FA Cup Final.

 

Up Next:

Europa League

Chelsea v Frankfurt – Thursday, May 9 (3pm)

Premier League

Leicester v Chelsea – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Watford v West Ham – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

 

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Huddersfield Town v Manchester United

1-1

Man United’s top four hopes were ended by a disappointing draw at relegated Huddersfield.

Scott McTominay opened the scoring for the visitors just eight minutes in to the affair, but Huddersfield, who had managed just four points in 23 games, earned a share of the spoils with Isaac Mbenza‘s first goal for the club in the second half.

In a frantic finish, young Red Devil Tabith Chong had a shot saved and Paul Pogba hit the woodwork a couple of times, before David de Gea denied Karlan Grant a winner at the other end.

The draw means United haven’t won in their last five games, their worst sequence since they went eight without a victory under Louis van Gaal between November and December 2015.

Alexis Sanchez is a major doubt for the final game of the season at Old Trafford, having limped straight down the tunnel at the start of the second half.

 

Up Next:

Southampton v Huddersfield – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Man United v Cardiff – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

 

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Arsenal v Brighton & Hove Albion

1-1

Unai Emery says his Arsenal side’s focus is now on the Europa League, after their lackluster hopes of a top-four finish were effectively ended by a draw with Brighton.

The Gunners are three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with one game left to play, but would need an eight-goal swing, as well as result going their way in order to overtake their rivals.

With the odds of that happening highly against them, Arsenal will need to win the Europa League in order to play in the Champions League next season. They take a 3-1 advantage into their semi-final second-leg in Valencia on Thursday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the hosts ahead with a ninth-minute penalty after Alireza Jahanbakhsh was deemed to have fouled Nacho Monreal despite appearing to get the ball.

Aside from the odd bursts, Emery‘s side looked shaky and sloppy, with Granit Xhaka committing a ridiculous foul on Solly March to concede a penalty that was calmly converted by Glenn Murray on 61 minutes.

The Gunners frantically searched for a winner but Aubameyang volleyed his effort wide from seven yards out and Brighton keeper Mat Ryan made a string of fine saves.

Pascal Groß could have won the game for the Seagulls late on but skewed his effort out towards the sideline with the goal empty after Bernd Leno‘s superb save from March.

Post game, Juventus bound midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, was honored in front of the home crowd for his 11 years of service to the club. In that period he’s made 369 appearances, scored 64 goals, had 62 assists and recovered from that horrendous injury he suffered at Stoke City in 2010.

The emotional Ramsey spoke of how grateful he is for the opportunity the Gunners gave him, adding, “I spent 11 years here, I came as a 17-year-old, a boy, and I’m leaving a man. I’ve got family, my wife, my kids, so much has happened. I’m just grateful for the opportunity here.”

The Welshman will join Juventus in the summer.

 

Up Next:

Europa League

Valencia v Arsenal – Thursday, May 9 (3pm)

Premier League

Burnley v Arsenal – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Brighton v City – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

 

Monday

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Manchester City v Leicester City

1-0

Manchester City know they will retain their Premier League Crown if they win on the final day of the season, thanks to Vincent Kopmany‘s wonder strike, which saw off a spirited Leicester side.

The game was goalless heading into the final 20 minutes, nerves jangling all around the Etihad, the defending champions needed to find some inspiration in a game where only victory would maintain their advantage over Liverpool.

They got it from the most unlikely source, their long-serving captain Kompany, who strode forward and let rip from 25 yards with a strike that arrowed into the top corner of the net, sending both players and fans into a frenzy.

If Monday night taught Pep Guardiola‘s side anything, it’s that they can’t take anything for granted as a pulsating title race reaches its climax.

The battle between them and the Reds has seen the leader change hands 32 times, but for long spells in Manchester on Monday it seemed Liverpool would be staying in top spot until the final weekend.

Leicester, managed by former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, who came close to bringing the title to Anfield in 2014, were resolute defensively and also posed a significant attacking threat.

They restricted the hosts’ famously free-scoring personality to a handful of first-half chances, City came closest with Sergio Aguero‘s header which hit the bar.

The champions looked frustrated all evening, as did their supporters, until 33-year-old Kompany scored his first goal of the season, and his side’s 159th in spectacular fashion.

The Foxes threatened to ruin the party late on but former City striker Kelechi Iheanacho fired wide, and the final whistle triggered a wave of relief for the home side and their fans as they moved within a win of their sixth title.

The three points sees City move back above Liverpool and hold a one-point lead as they go into the final round of fixtures on Sunday. They will travel to Brighton and Liverpool host Wolves.

 

Up Next:

Brighton v City – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

Leicester v Chelsea – Sunday, May 12 (10am)

 

ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN

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