Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Matchweek 35 Update: Manchester City Clinches Title As United Falls to Leicester; Chelsea Trips City Again; Hammers Fall; Spurs Stumble; Last Chance For Liverpool; Fulham and West Brom Relegated

Manchester City clinched its third title in four years by virtue of Manchester United’s 2-1 loss to Leicester on Tuesday. City manager Pep Guardiola now has nine league titles in total which includes three won at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich in addition to his three English titles. Manchester City has already won the Carabao Cup this season and can achieve a treble by winning the Champions League. Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer heavily rotated his squad against the Foxes, making 10 changes from the Red Devils winning side of the weekend. Solskjaer’s squad must take the field again on Thursday in a match of critical importance for rival Liverpool. Leicester was fortunate to benefit from the congestion of United’s schedule as the Red Devils are likely to start a stronger squad against their traditional rivals later this week. Goals by Luke Thomas and Caglar Soyuncu delivered the goals in a critical win for the Foxes who had faltered badly over the weekend in a loss to Newcastle. Mason Greenwood scored his sixth goal of the season for United.


Chelsea had delayed Manchester City’s title by a few days by defeating the Citizens 2-1 on Saturday. Marcos Alonso scored in stoppage time to give Manchester City much to think about heading into the Champions League final between the two teams on May 29th. Chelsea also defeated Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final the last time the two played. City took a first half lead Saturday on a goal by Raheem Sterling and had opportunity to pull away when Sergio Aguero lined up for a penalty kick. Aguero muffed his chance, however, as he elected to go with a Panenka try which was easily handled by Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. Hakim Ziyech, who scored the only goal in the FA Cup semi-final, levelled matters for Chelsea in the 63rd minute. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola thought his club would again take the lead when Raheem Sterling tumbled in the box on a tackle by Kurt Zouma, but no penalty was awarded. Alonso’s winner gives Chelsea a six-point advantage over West Ham in the race for the fourth Champions League spot as the Blues prepare for their Wednesday derby with Arsenal. 

Leicester was felled by Newcastle in a 4-2 shocker which temporarily dropped the Foxes to fourth in the table before their Tuesday win over Manchester United. Newcastle scored four times before late Fox goals by Marc Albrighton and Kelechi Iheanacho proved too little, too late. Joe Willock scored for a fourth time in his last four appearances to open the scoring for Newcastle which also saw Magpie defender Paul Dummett head in a first half goal before Callum Wilson further extended the lead with a second half brace.

Leicester was consistently outfoxed on defense and were disorganized in the absence of veteran defender Jonny Evans who was injured in pregame warmups. Newcastle, once at relegation’s door, are 12 points clear of the now settled relegation zone after a third win in their last five matches. 

The loss by Leicester presented opportunity for West Ham to improve their top four chances but the Hammers failed to take advantage in a 1-0 home defeat to Everton. A goal by Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, his 16th in league play this season, handed the Hammers their third loss in four games. A surprisingly impotent West Ham attack failed to launch a single shot on target during the match. Rather than taking a decisive step forward in chasing Champions League qualification, West Ham now finds itself only three points ahead of eight place Everton with the Toffees having a match in hand. Everton, winner of more league away matches this season than any club but Manchester City, sits just two points off Liverpool and Europa League qualification. The Toffees now face a must win at Aston Villa Thursday. 

Liverpool, 2-0 winners over Southampton, retain an outside chance at Champions League qualification but must win out and hope for stumbles by Chelsea or Leicester. Sadio Mane scored a first half goal and Thiago delivered the insurance goal in the 90th minute for the Reds win over the Saints. Mohamed Salah assisted on the Mane goal, incredibly the first time this season the two line mates have combined on a score. Liverpool must now win at Old Trafford on Thursday where manager Jurgen Klopp has yet to win a match. 

Tottenham Hotspur’s hopes for Europe were damaged by a 3-1 loss to Leeds as Spurs tumbled to seventh in the table. Leeds’s goal scorers were Stuart Dallas, Patrick Bamford, and Rodrigo. Bamford’s goal was his 15th in league play this season. The Spurs goal by Son Heung-min was his 17th of the season, joint third highest in the league behind Spurs teammate Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah. Kane had two goals ruled out for offsides and a free kick deflect off the crossbar to epitomize the frustrating loss for Spurs. The crippling loss at Elland Road was a fifth defeat in 10 away matches since the turn of the year for Spurs. 

Manchester United clinched a top four position with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday as the Red Devils came from behind for a league record 10th titime this season. A Bertrand Traore goal provided Villa with a halftime lead before Manchester United roared back on second half goals by Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, and Edinson Cavani. Fernandes’s penalty conversion marked his 17th league goal of the season, tied with Spurs’ Son for third in the league. Cavani, who signed a contract extension with Manchester United this week, scored for an eighth time in a run of seven appearances for United. The victory extended an away unbeaten streak for the Red Devils to 25 consecutive matches as United has not dropped an away match since Fernandes joined the club. Aston Villa continues to struggle without Jack Grealish who was absent for a twelfth consecutive match. The Villans, who face Everton on Thursday, will try not to taint in the final weeks what has been a massively improved season versus their near relegation at the end of the 2019/20 season. 

Arsenal rebounded from their poor Europa League semi-final performance to defeat West Brom 3-1 as Emile Smith Rowe scored his first Premier League goal and Nicolas Pepe added his sixth league goal of the season before Willian scored for a first time as a Gunner. West Brom scored with its only shot on target, a 10th goal of the season by Matheus Pereira. The loss by West Brom assures relegation for the Baggies who equal the Premier League record of five demotions. The demotion from the Premier League is a first for manager Sam Allardyce who has built a reputation for saving clubs such as Sunderland and Crystal Palace in similar endangered circumstances. Arsenal recorded back-to-back league victories for just a second time this season and will be gunning for a trifecta when they face Chelsea on Wednesday, hoping to derail the Blues’ top four hopes. 

Fulham, 2-0 losers to Burnley, joined West Brom and Sheffield United in the parade headed to the Championship division of English football next season. Fulham teased at their possible Premier League survival during a brief run of success in February but are finishing their season in miserable fashion, losing six of their seven matches played since March 7th. In an exceptionally poor showing by the clubs being relegated, the bottom three places in the league have remained unchanged since December 13th and it is the first time in Premier League history that relegation has been decided with three matches still left to play. Ashley Westwood and Chris Wood scored for Burnley which secured a sixth consecutive season of topflight competition. 

After trailing by a goal due to a first half header by Brighton’s Lewis Dunk, Wolves clawed back for a 2-1 victory over the Seagulls after the Brighton defender was ejected with a red card. The dramatic 90th minute winner came on 21-year-old Morgan Gibbs-White’s first Premier League goal. Second half substitute Adama Traore had earlier tied the match for Wolves with his second goal of the season. The victory for Wolves was the club’s first win over Brighton in the topflight. No Premier League club has dropped more points from a winning position than Brighton this year as the Seagulls flight to safety has been solely attributable to the poor quality of the three relegated teams. Neil Maupay of Brighton received a red card at the match’s conclusion for verbal abuse directed at the referee as Brighton tied Arsenal for the most red cards (5) received in the league this season. 

Crystal Palace eased to a 2-0 win over Sheffield United on goals by Christion Benteke and Eberechi Eze as the Eagles are confirmed for a ninth consecutive season in the Premier League. Benteke’s seventh goal of the season put him one ahead of the total for his three previous Premier League seasons combined. The Blades were again less than sharp as they failed to register a single shot on target. Only three clubs have failed to score in more Premier League matches in a Premier League season than the attack challenged Blades. The Eagles’ celebration, meanwhile, was short lived as Crystal Palace were beaten 3-1 by Southampton on Tuesday. Danny Ings scored twice for the Saints, bracketing a score by teammate Che Adams. Christian Benteke scored for a second consecutive match for Crystal Palace.   

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