Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Match Week 36 Results: Manchester City Moves Closer As Spurs Stymie Liverpool; Arsenal Defeats Leeds; Everton Strikes Again; Burnley Bashed; Watford Relegated; Seagulls Embarrass Manchester United

Manchester City tightened its grip on a second consecutive Premier League title and its fourth championship in the last five years when the Mancunians defeated Newcastle 5-0 a day after second place Liverpool dropped points in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. Manchester City now have a three-point lead on Liverpool in the title chase with both clubs having three matches left. Manchester City has also soared past Liverpool in goal differential. Manchester City has outscored opponents by an aggregate 17-1 in their last four matches to vault to a four-goal advantage over the Reds in the critical tiebreaking metric. Raheem Sterling scored a brace in a rare start for the Citizens. Newcastle, narrow losers to Liverpool the week before, were overrun by the league leaders who were able to flex their muscles against a weaker league opponent after being ousted from the Champions League once again during the week.

Liverpool ‘s hopes for a Premier League title and possible “quadruple” this season were damaged in a 1-1 tie with Tottenham Hotspur the day after Manchester City’s lopsided win over Newcastle. The Reds were frustrated by Spurs’ defensive approach to the match and only salvaged the point on a heavily deflected goal by Liverpool’s Luis Diaz in the 79th minute. Son Heung-min had given Spurs a short lived second half lead with his 20th goal of the season. The Tottenham star is now just two goals behind the league leading pace of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah who had a quiet game on Saturday. The stress of the title race was evident in the post-match remarks of disappointed Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp who disparaged Spurs’ defensive approach to the game. Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, was similarly emotional as he bemoaned over the weekend that more fans support Liverpool than his Manchester City side. Despite the point at Anfield, Tottenham Hotspur lost ground in their pursuit of Arsenal and Champions League qualification for next year.

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah scored twice in the opening 10 minutes of the Gunners’ 2-1 victory over Leeds at the Emirates.

Arsenal’s fourth consecutive victory puts the club in position to clinch fourth place with a victory in the north London derby on Thursday. Leeds went to ten men in the 27th minute at the Emirates when captain Luke Ayling received a red card on a poor and unthinking challenge. Ayling will be suspended for the rest of the season as his club battles to escape the relegation zone. The ever-thinning Leeds roster lost key player Stuart Dallas to season ending injury last week while injured striker Patrick Bamford has missed much of the season and is unlikely to return to the relegation battle.

Everton climbed over Leeds to escape the relegation zone with a second consecutive victory as the Toffees defeated Leicester 2-1 at King Power Stadium. Frank Lampard won his first away match as Toffees manager and has silenced doubters who voiced concerns that he was not the man to lead a relegation fight. The battle is not over for the Toffees, but they have changed the relegation race with their two consecutive victories. A booming shot by left back Vitalii Mykolenko and a forceful header by Mason Holgate sandwiched a goal by Leicester’s Patson Daka in the Everton win. Holgate’s winner came on his alert putback when Leicester goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel weakly batted away a free header by Everton’s Richarlison on an Everton corner kick. The Foxes continue to be almost comical in their defense of set pieces. The 2-1 halftime lead held up for the Toffees as Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford kept the Foxes at bay in a scoreless second half. Everton moved a point ahead of Leeds and Burnley who both lost on the weekend.

Burnley’s magical four match run ended in a damaging 3-1 home defeat versus Aston Villa. Mike Jackson was unbeaten in his first four matches as Burnley manager, winning his last three, to move the Clarets to safety in the table. His first loss leaves them still safe but perilously holding on by virtue of a better goal differential than Leeds. Burnley will play Aston Villa again in the season’s waning weeks as the Villans play the role of potential spoilers in both the relegation and title races. Aston Villa manger Steven Gerrard faces former club Liverpool on Tuesday, and the Villans will finish the season at Manchester City.

Manchester United were mathematically eliminated from Champions League qualification in a humiliating 4-0 defeat at Brighton. A fifth consecutive away loss saw the Red Devils concede four goals to the league’s fourth lowest scoring club. At one point this season the Seagulls had failed to score in five consecutive home matches. Yet the Seagulls were explosive against a poor Manchester United side which cannot wait for the season to be over. Manchester United is now guaranteed to finish the season with its lowest ever Premier League point total. Brighton, meanwhile, has already accumulated the club’s highest point total for a Premier League season as the Seagulls continue their quest for a top half finish.

West Ham remains a threat to Manchester United’s Europa League qualification after the Hammers put a 4-0 hammering on already relegated Norwich. West Ham trails Manchester United by three points for sixth position in the table but has a game in hand and superior goal differential versus the Red Devils. The Hammers are also likely to be more motivated than dispirited Manchester United. Said Benrahma had a brace for West Ham which increased its advantage over Wolverhampton for the Europa Conference League berth to five points.

Wolves ended a three-match losing run in a come from behind 2-2 draw at Chelsea as Chelsea’s defense suffered another late-stage collapse. Romelu Lukaku took advantage of a rare start to provide Chelsea a two-goal lead. Lukaku scored in the 58th minute on an assist from Christian Pulisic for his second goal of the match just two minutes after the Belgian striker opened scoring with a successful penalty try. Wolves clawed back, however, with a 79th minute goal by substitute Machado Trincao. Conor Cody’s stoppage time header completed the comeback for Wolves. The late goals continued an alarming  trend for Chelsea whereby 13 of the last 15 goals conceded by the Blues have come in the second half of matches. Third place Chelsea finished the weekend a point ahead of Arsenal but, more importantly five points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur as the Blues try to lock down Champions League for next season. A consortium led by Todd Boehly has reportedly reached agreement to buy Chelsea and the American part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers was at Stamford Bridge to see Saturday’s collapse.

Watford were officially relegated in a 1-0 loss at Crystal Palace as Watford Manager Roy Hodgson suffered his first Premier League relegation at the hands of a club he kept safe for four seasons in happier times for the veteran manager. Wilfried Zaha’s first half penalty kick provided the only scoring in the Eagle victory. Zaha’s 13th goal of the season adds to his most productive goal scoring campaign in the Premier League. Hodgson came in for criticism after the match for acknowledging the Crystal Palace fans and not his traveling Hornet supporters. Hodgson presumably would like to forget his Watford managerial experience where he has won just two of fifteen matches in charge. Watford, who went down to ten men after a 68th minute red car, lost for a sixth consecutive match to seal their relegation fate.

Brentford, promoted to the Premier League this season this season along with “one and done” Watford and Norwich, advanced to 12th position in the table with a 3-0 trouncing of Southampton at Brentford Community Stadium. The Bees have won six of their last nine league matches and registered a fourth consecutive home clean sheet. Southampton are 15th in the table after winning just one of their last 10 league matches. 

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