Premier League Review – Gameweek 38

Arsenal 4 – 0 Aston Villa

Arsenal coasted to victory over the defenceless Aston Villa in the final game of the season as they leapfrogged North London rivals Spurs.

It took just five minutes for Arsenal to break through the dismal Aston Villa defence, with Olivier Giroud heading in to put the hosts 1-0 up. However, Arsenal were shaky for much of the first half after that first goal. They started to exert dominance again in the second half and were rewarded 12 minutes from time when Giroud finished from close range. The under fire striker completed his hat trick two minutes later before a Mikel Arteta shot cannoned back off the crossbar, hit Mark Bunn, and went back into the net.

This victory saw Arsenal pip their North London rivals Spurs to 2nd place, their highest finish in the Premier League in 11 years. Aston Villa record their lowest points tally in their top flight history and find themselves facing a potentially difficult task of getting back into the Premier League.

Chelsea 1 – 1 Leicester

Top flight champions Leicester produced another fine display of determination against Chelsea as they fought back from a goal down to maintain their excellent unbeaten record in the Premier League.

Leicester walked out at Stamford Bridge to a guard of honour from last season’s Premier League champions Chelsea, with ex-Chelsea man Claudio Ranieri visibly moved by the gesture. Once the game started it was Chelsea on the front foot, and Kasper Schmeichel was required to make a number of impressive saves as Cesc Fabregas and Willian went close. Fabregas broke the deadlock 20 minutes into the second half from the penalty spot, but Leicester’s determination to get back in the game despite nothing being at stake was admirable. It finally paid off when Danny Drinkwater boosted his chances of going to France in the summer with a stunning long range strike eight minutes before the final whistle.

Chelsea finish the season in 10th position, making this the worst defence of a Premier League title in history and leaving them in their worst finishing position for 20 years. Leicester hold the best home and away records in the league now and end the season ten points clear of 2nd placed Arsenal.

Everton 3 – 0 Norwich

Managerless Everton produced a display showcasing what they’re capable of with a comfortable final day win over relegated Norwich.

Norwich didn’t seem too fussed about producing a good display in their final Premier League display before a return to the second flight, but Everton set up to impress their as yet unnamed next manager after Roberto Martinez was sacked in midweek. Former player and Under 21s coach David Unsworth took the helm for this final day match, and 19 minutes in he was cheering as James McCarthy blasted home a stunning opener. Leighton Baines added a second from the spot just before half-time, and then Kevin Mirallas completed the victory with a tap-in just after the break. Departing goalkeeper Tim Howard was given a rousing send off as he prepares to leave the club in the summer after ten years of service.

This victory sees Everton finish in 11th position in the Premier League, whilst Norwich’s defeat sees them finish their short stay in the top flight five points from safety and second from bottom.

Newcastle 5 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur

Newcastle produced a quite frankly ridiculous result at home to the disheartened Tottenham Hotspur that sees the relegated club leave the Premier League with a flourish.

The St. James’ Park faithful will be wondering where this team have been all season. The hosts started the game very brightly and led through Georginio Wijnaldum after some good build up play. Aleksandar Mitrovic netted an unsaveable header 20 minutes later to begin a hero-turned-villain story. Erik Lamela got Spurs back into the game 15 minutes after the break, and it looked inevitable that Spurs would equaliser when Mitrovic was sent off seven minutes later for an abhorrent studs up challenge on Kyle Walker. That wasn’t to be the case though, and instead Newcastle continued to press. Wijnaldum scored his second from the penalty spot 15 minutes from time before some excellent play led to Rolando Aarons and Darryl Janmaat scoring in quick succession to round off the victory. The only disappointment was that the incredible performance of captain Sissoko didn’t yield a goal, because it would have been thoroughly deserved.

Too little, too late for Newcastle, who finish the season two points adrift of safety. But the encouragement of the Geordies has left Rafa Benitez pondering whether or not to leave the relegated club, and the same will go for the likes of Mitrovic, Wijnaldum, Townsend, and Shelvey. Spurs’ poor end to the season has allowed their North London rivals to leapfrog them at the final hurdle, and they finish in 3rd.

Southampton 4 – 1 Crystal Palace

Southampton finished an impressive season by qualifying for the Europa League thanks to an excellent performance against Crystal Palace.

Southampton came into the match looking for Europa League qualification, but they didn’t look their best for much of the opening half. It all changed when a mistake from Julian Speroni allowed Sadio Mane to net a cool chipped finish. Graziano Pelle scored a trademark header 15 minutes after the break before Jason Puncheon rifled home a goal for Palace. A Ryan Bertrand penalty restored the two goal advantage before Steve Davis put the cherry on the cake for the Saints.

This saw Southampton net their 14th goal in four games and pushed their points tally to a club record of 63. They may yet be pushed out of 5th position by Manchester United, but they have definitely qualified for the Europa League. Crystal Palace finish the season down in 15th position.

Stoke 2 – 1 West Ham

West Ham’s European dream was thrown into doubt as they wasted a hat full of chances and ended up losing against the out of form Stoke.

West Ham came into the final match of the season knowing that a win would secure at least 6th position, and they put themselves in the driving seat as Michael Antonio was given acres of room inside the penalty area to turn and fire home. West Ham continued to press, but the game always had an air of inevitability as the Hammers wasted chance after chance. Stoke equalised with a rifled finish from record signing Giannelli Imbula. Shay Given made a couple of fantastic saves to keep the scores level, and then an off-the-line clearance from Glenn Whelan resulted in a rare outing for the goal decision system. It was millimetres from being a goal, and that could make the difference between continental competition or not for West Ham. Mame Biram Diouf powered home a late header to win the game for the Potters.

This sees Stoke finish 9th for a 3rd consecutive season in the Premier League, but the real story is in London. West Ham must now cheers on Manchester United, the team who knocked them out, in the FA Cup Final. If United win the cup West Ham will be given a Europa League qualification place.

Swansea 1 – 1 Manchester City

Manchester City all but wrapped up a Champions League position with an edgy draw against a good looking Swansea side.

It looked like it would be a routine win for Manchester City when teenage sensation Kelechi Iheanacho prodded home an opener from close range just five minutes into the match. But despite all of the visitors’ pressing, they just couldn’t finish a chance, with Iheanacho and Aguero both missing clear openings on goal. Andre Ayew then saw his massively deflected free kick drift into the top corner in first half stoppage time. Manchester City continued to press, but they continued to miss chances as well. Fortunately for them Swansea couldn’t capitalise on it and both teams ended with a point.

Swansea remain in 12th at the end of the Premier League season, while Manchester City move three points clear of Manchester United, who’s final game was abandoned. The 5th placed Manchester United would need a 19-0 victory over Bournemouth to leapfrog them in the table.

Watford 2 – 2 Sunderland

Quique Sanchez Flores signed off for Watford with an entertaining draw against the high spirited and much changed Sunderland.

Sunderland made nine changes to their starting line up after they secured safety on Wednesday, but that didn’t seem to have bothered them too much as Jack Rodwell turned in a Jeremain Lens cross for the opener. Sebastian Prodl levelled with a header just after half-time, but three minutes later Sunderland were ahead again thanks to the excellent Lens. Troy Deeney levelled again for the hosts with a penalty, but Sunderland will feel slightly aggrieved after having two goals controversially disallowed and gave away a penalty.

Flores will now leave Watford, despite having guided them to promotion and then comfortable safety in the Premier League in addition to an FA Cup semi final. It’s bound to be a controversial decision, as the Pozzo family couldn’t have hoped for much better than a 13th place finish in the Premier League. Sunderland finish the season two points clear of the relegation zone thanks to Sam Allardyce’s excellent relegation avoidance tactics.

West Brom 1 – 1 Liverpool

The fate of Liverpool’s European participation rests entirely on Wednesday’s Europa League final after a final day draw against West Brom.

It was clear where Liverpool’s priorities lay when Jurgen Klopp named a largely changed squad for this one as his mind wandered towards Wednesday’s crucial game in Basel. West Brom’s top scorer smashed in the opener from a tight angle to put the Baggies in front, with 17 year old Jonathan Leko providing an assist amid a very promising performance. Jordan Ibe’s excellent run was finished for the equaliser a few minutes later, but after that it was a largely uninspiring performance. The only thing of note to happen after this was the return of Jordan Henderson and Danny Ings from injury.

West Brom finish the season in their typical lower mid-table spot of 14th, whilst Liverpool miss out on potential Europa League football with an 8th place finish. They now need to beat Sevilla in the Europa League final on Wednesday to participate in Europe next season.

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