Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Match Week 37 Results: Manchester City Draw Keeps Title Race Alive; Liverpool Downs Saints; Spurs Edge Closer To Champions League; Gunners Misfire; Stinging Defeat For Everton; Leeds Salvages Point

Manchester City missed a chance to put a stranglehold on the Premier League title in a 2-2 draw with West Ham. The dropped points, combined with Liverpool’s Monday win at Southampton, pushes the title determination to the season’s final day this Sunday. The league leaders fell behind 2-0 by halftime at London Stadium as Jarrod Bowen scored a brace for the Hammers. Manchester City’s Jack Grealish scored four minutes into the second half and a West Ham own goal 20 minutes later drew Manchester City level. West Ham’s Lucas Fabianski stopped an 86th minute Riyad Mahrez penalty kick attempt which would have provided City with all three points.

The season will enter its final weekend with Manchester City holding a one-point lead in the title chase, thus requiring Manchester City to match a Liverpool win on the final day. A draw by Liverpool would likely give the title to Manchester City on goal differential (+6) even should the Citizens lose their final game. West Ham is assured of European football next season with a five-point advantage over Wolverhampton for seventh place and Europa Conference League qualification. The Hammers also have a chance to catch Manchester United on the season’s final day to return to the Europa League.

Liverpool forced the title race to the final weekend with a come from behind 2-1 victory over Southampton. Playing with as many as seven reserve players, Liverpool fortuitously got the winner on Joel Matip’s header of a Southampton deflection in the 67th minute.

Nathan Redmond had given the Saints an early lead with his first league goal in more than a year before Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino evened the match before halftime. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane Virgil Van Dijk, Fabinho, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold were among the stars absent from the Liverpool squad as Manager Jurgen Klopp heavily rotated his lineup following the FA Cup final 72 hours earlier.

Tottenham Hotspur took control of the race for the fourth Champions League slot when Spurs defeated Burnley 1-0  Sunday followed by Arsenal’s 2-0 loss at Newcastle  Monday. Tottenham Hotspur has a two-point advantage on the Gunners and faces last place Norwich in their final game. Spurs also enjoy a 15-goal advantage in goal differential over fifth place Arsenal and thus can clinch with a draw next Sunday even if Arsenal should win their match against Everton. Burnley’s hopes for survival took a hit in when Harry Kane converted a penalty kick in first half injury time following a questionable hand ball call against Burnley’s Harvey Barnes. Burnley fell into the relegation zone with the loss, a point behind Leeds for the final safe position. Burnley can climb back to safety, however, with a win or draw Thursday versus Aston Villa.

Arsenal’s Champions League hopes are now all but extinguished after a second consecutive loss. After complaining about the officiating in last Thursday’s loss to Spurs, Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta could only point to the poor play of his team in a 2-0 loss at Newcastle. Arteta’s young squad seemed overwhelmed by the moment as their Champions League participation hung in the balance on Monday. The Gunners were outworked and outplayed by a Newcastle squad which had little left to play for. Arsenal’s lack of threat also highlighted a dearth of attacking quality and again raised questions regarding the club’s January transfer strategy whereby the squad was trimmed with no useful additions being made for the stretch run. An own goal by Arsenal’s Ben White on his deflection of a shot by Newcastle’s Callum Wilson gave Newcastle the lead in the 55th minute. Bruno Guimares sealed the victory for Newcastle with his 85th minute goal as Newcastle swept to a seventh victory in its last eight home matches.

Chelsea was a beneficiary of the Arsenal loss as the Blues are now assured of Champions League qualification. Everton Manager Frank Lampard witnessed his club falter in its bid to clinch Premier League survival in a 3-2 loss to Brentford. An 18th minute red card disadvantaged the Toffees who still took a 2-1 lead into halftime. Brentford became more aggressive in the second half as Manager Thomas Frank adjusted his tactics to employ three men at the back and enable the Bees to press their numerical advantage. The Bees scored in the 62nd and 64th minutes to take all three points. A win by the Toffees would have ensured survival. Instead, the loss to Brentford and last Wednesday’s draw with Watford have put Everton back into the relegation discussion. Everton can remove itself from that discussion, however, with a win against Crystal Palace on Thursday.

Leeds ended a three-match losing run to keep its survival hopes alive when Pascal Struijk scored in injury time of a 1-1 draw with Brighton. Leeds’s seventh goal in added time this season is more than any Premier League club but for Manchester City. Leeds escaped the relegation zone by moving a point ahead of Burnley. The Whites trail the other relegation contender, Everton, by a point. Burnley and Everton, however, both have an additional game mid-week before the final weekend. Wolverhampton was mathematically eliminated from the European places in the table by a 1-1 draw with Norwich. Wolves failed to win for a sixth consecutive time as their once promising season ends dismally.

Watford lost for a 15th time in 19 home matches in a 5-1 loss to Leicester. The Hornets finished their home schedule with a league low two home wins as their 46 home goals conceded was the most by a topflight team since 1960/61. Leicester scored five consecutive goals after Watford took the early lead Sunday as the Foxes embarrassed the relegated Hornets. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy scored a brace for a second consecutive match.

Crystal Palace extended their unbeaten run to four matches when substitute Jeffery Schlup scored late in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. Palace and Villa will weigh in on the relegation battle Thursday when Aston Villa hosts Burnley while Crystal Palace visits Everton. The results of those matches will have a large say in who survives the current relegation fight between Burnley, Everton, and Leeds.

FA Cup

Liverpool won the FA Cup over Chelsea in an eerie replay of the two clubs’ Carabao Cup final from earlier this season. The Reds prevailed in penalty kicks on Saturday after regular and extra time periods failed to produce a goal. Caesar Azpilicueta hit the post with his penalty try and Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker saved the try of Mason Mount to give Liverpool its second trophy of the season. The Reds converted six of their seven penalty kicks as Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy stopped Sadio Mane in an effort that ultimately proved in vain. Liverpool had won the Carabao Cup in penalties when Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga missed his penalty kick, the only miss by either team. Liverpool remains in mathematical contention for a Premier League title to be decided this coming weekend and will attempt to win its second Champions League in four years when it faces Real Madrid on May 28th.

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