Sunday marked the ultimate spherical of the 2020-21 Premier League season, and with lots nonetheless to play for, from European qualification to particular person honors, there was greater than sufficient drama up and down the fixture listing. ESPN’s Mark Ogden and James Olley recap the primary speaking factors from an exciting ultimate spherical.
Liverpool end the job to complete within the prime 4
As Liverpool cruised to a 2-0 victory towards Crystal Palace at Anfield, it might be straightforward to ask what all of the fuss was about by way of their Champions League qualification. Eight wins from their final 10 league video games, together with the final 5 of the season, secured third place and a Champions League spot with a three-point cushion forward of fifth-placed Leicester.
However simply rewind to March 7, when Liverpool had misplaced to Fulham to report their sixth successive residence defeat, and Jurgen Klopp’s group had been marooned in eighth place with 10 video games to play.
Leicester, whose 4-2 defeat at residence to Spurs noticed them miss out the Champions League on the ultimate day for the second yr in a row, stood 10 factors away from Liverpool on March 7. (They spent 93%, or 567 days, of the previous two seasons within the prime 4 solely to complete fifth on each events.) Liverpool’s late-season surge, mixed with Leicester shedding 5 and successful simply 4 of the ultimate 10 video games, noticed final season’s champions sneak in on the expense of Brendan Rodgers’ facet, who can console themselves with successful the FA Cup for the primary time of their historical past earlier this month.
Having survived a nervous begin towards Palace, with Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend each lacking clear possibilities to attain, Liverpool by no means regarded again as soon as Sadio Mane opened the scoring from shut vary on 36 minutes. The striker’s second objective on 74 minutes confirmed a snug win on a day when stress was absent from Anfield and it felt like a matter of when, not if, the house facet would seal the victory.
“I am so happy with what they’ve finished the final 10 or 15 video games, and the response of the group in dangerous occasions,” Klopp mentioned after the match. “It was not our yr for the championship. I am actually pleased with third place.”
Liverpool merely did the laborious work, with essential away wins at Manchester United, West Brom and Burnley previous to this finale. Leicester, although, solely have themselves responsible for lacking out on the highest 4, having twice held the lead towards Spurs on the King Energy. With Chelsea shedding at Aston Villa, a win would have been sufficient for Leicester to complete fourth. However a Harry Kane objective — which additionally secured him this season’s Golden Boot — two from Gareth Bale and a Kasper Schmeichel personal objective cancelled out two Jamie Vardy penalties and left Leicester in fifth.
“I’ve nothing however delight,” Rodgers instructed BBC Sport after the defeat. “The possession have given me superb help. The gamers have given me their coronary heart and souls each day. I am so dissatisfied for them we could not recover from the road.
“We’d like a interval to go away and recuperate and loosen up just a little bit. Premier League administration is intense. Now we have work to do to enhance the squad and are available again early July motivated.”
In the long run, Leicester took simply 13 factors from their final 10 video games, however Liverpool amassed 26 over the identical interval, which is why they’ll now plan for the Champions League and why Leicester are dealing with one other season within the Europa League. — Mark Ogden
Kane’s objectives assist put Chelsea into Champions League
Tottenham are reluctant to facilitate Harry Kane becoming a member of Chelsea or anybody else this summer season, however they’ve made Stamford Bridge a extra enticing vacation spot by reserving the Blues’ place within the Champions League with their win over Leicester.
Blues supervisor Thomas Tuchel had the luxurious of informing his gamers two minutes into stoppage time at Villa Park, drawing a line together with his arms and an accompanying thumbs-up, that they’d sealed a prime 4 spot, however not due to something they did towards Aston Villa. On the way in which, Chelsea had been crushed 2-1 having given away an affordable penalty, completed with 10 males after Cesar Azpilicueta’s idiotic purple card. In addition they need to stress over their first-choice goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, being obtainable for Saturday’s Champions League ultimate after he was pressured off injured at half-time.
Chelsea ended the sport with 23 photographs to Villa’s six and 71% possession, reflective of a dominant efficiency undermined by errors in each penalty areas.
“We fought, we tried every little thing, however we forgot to attain,” Tuchel mentioned afterwards, underlining exactly why the Blues will likely be available in the market for a striker this summer season no matter whether or not Spurs are equally accommodating over Kane.
The circumstances had been calamitous, however as soon as the mud settles on a dramatic afternoon, Tuchel will take nice satisfaction from ending fourth given the place Chelsea had been when he changed Frank Lampard on Jan. 26.
Sunday’s loss was Chelsea’s first away defeat within the Premier League below Tuchel, and solely their fifth since he took cost. They need to have been forward by the point Bertrand Traore — the ex-Chelsea participant whose switch was a key issue of their FIFA switch ban — put the house facet in entrance simply earlier than half-time. Mendy collided with the put up in making an attempt to maintain the shot out and didn’t emerge for the second half, changed by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea had been additionally the higher group when Jorginho introduced down Traore within the field seven minutes after the restart and Anwar El Ghazi slotted residence the penalty. Ben Chilwell halved the deficit, although the Blues lacked composure within the field all afternoon.
But Tuchel didn’t carry on a striker: Olivier Giroud was an unused substitute and Tammy Abraham was overlooked altogether. Abraham’s identify was sung by the Villa followers with 24 minutes left, across the time he might have made a distinction for Chelsea, however his profession on the membership appears unsure. It actually will likely be if Kane arrives.
Kane could by no means play for Chelsea given he seems to want a transfer to Manchester City, however in scoring one and organising one other in Spurs’ win over Leicester, he has already given them an important contribution. — James Olley
Kane’s Golden Boot glory, Aguero ends sparking Man Metropolis profession with objectives
Kane sealed a hat trick of Premier League Golden Boots by ending a objective away from Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah because of his first-half strike within the 4-2 win at Leicester.
The England captain, who’s in search of a summer season transfer away from Spurs, completed the season with 23 objectives from 35 appearances. Salah managed 22 objectives from 37 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s group and his desperation to win the Golden Boot for a 3rd time, following his successes in 2018 and 2019, noticed him try to haul stage with Kane within the ultimate phases of Liverpool’s 2-0 win towards Crystal Palace at Anfield.
Regardless of Sadio Mane twice being unmarked and in a greater place to attain, Salah selected to shoot — and miss — as a substitute of teeing up his teammate to complete off a hat-trick. Kane has now joined former Blackburn and Newcastle striker Alan Shearer on three Golden Boots, transferring one behind Thierry Henry, who gained a report 4 Golden Boots throughout his time at Arsenal.
In the meantime, on the Etihad, Sergio Aguero marked his ultimate look for Manchester Metropolis with two objectives instead within the 5-0 victory towards Everton. The late double took his league tally for Metropolis to 184, making him the best objective scorer for a single membership within the Premier League period. — Mark Ogden
West Ham, Spurs have fun at Arsenal’s expense
West Ham supervisor David Moyes addressed supporters contained in the London Stadium at full-time of what ended up being a snug 3-1 win over Southampton, which secured West Ham’s place within the Europa League for subsequent season.
“Be sure to’re all vaccinated and get your passports out as a result of we will Europe,” the Hammers boss instructed them to cheers across the floor.
There could also be only a slight tinge of remorse they had been unable to hold on for a Champions League place, given they nonetheless occupied fourth place in mid-April and solely missed out by two factors ultimately. But their profitable qualification for Europe’s second-tier competitors is a surprising achievement for a squad that avoiding relegation by simply 5 factors final yr.
Moyes has gone a protracted strategy to restoring a fame broken by his temporary stint accountable for Manchester United seven years in the past, re-establishing a robust work ethic and galvanising a beleaguered Hammers squad — a feat that ought to go a protracted strategy to repairing the beforehand strained relationship between the membership and its followers.
They completed with 65 factors, their highest haul within the Premier League. Sunday’s 3-0 victory — secured with a Pablo Fornals first-half brace and Declan Rice‘s late strike — left Tottenham to scrap with their rivals Arsenal for the doubtful honour of securing a spot within the inaugural Europa Convention League (ECL), UEFA’s new third-tier competitors.
It appeared as if Arsenal would salvage one thing from a disappointing marketing campaign as they eased to a 2-0 win over Brighton with Nicolas Pepe scoring twice, briefly threatening to complete seventh and end above their north London rivals Spurs for the primary time in 4 years. However what the Gunners followers name “St. Totteringham’s Day” by no means got here. Spurs fought again from 2-1 down as a Kasper Schmeichel personal objective after which a late brace from Gareth Bale handed the guests a 4-2 win, which supplies interim boss Ryan Mason a tangible reward for his seven-game run changing Jose Mourinho.
In the long run, Arsenal truly ended up securing 5 factors extra (61) than they did final season, however completed three locations decrease. They miss out on Europe for the primary time in 25 years; a giant summer season at Emirates Stadium awaits.
Whether or not the ECL is a contest both the Gunners or Spurs truly needed as they try their respective rebuilds is uncertain. Spurs no less than have some type of European soccer to attempt to appeal to a brand new supervisor and potential signings. Nonetheless, each golf equipment have beforehand been sceptical in regards to the Europa League so how critically Spurs will strategy an inferior competitors is debatable. There isn’t any such debate at West Ham, nevertheless: they’re again in Europe, and happy with it. — James Olley
Solskjaer, Manchester United finish on a exceptional be aware
Man United’s 2-1 win towards Wolves at Molineux noticed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s group turn into the primary facet to go a Premier League season unbeaten away from residence since Arsenal in 2003-04.
Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles additionally averted defeat at residence in 2003-04 to turn into the primary, and thus far solely, group to undergo a full season unbeaten. United’s run, which stretches again to a defeat at Liverpool in Jan 2020, noticed them win 12 and draw seven of their video games on the street. — Mark Ogden