Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Premier League Results Match Week 36: Title Chase Looks Like Over As Arsenal Loses; Brighton And Aston Villa Tighten Europa League Race; Liverpool’s Late Run Continues; Southampton Heads South; Four Clubs Remain in Tight Relegation Battle

Arsenal looks done. An unexpected title challenge which saw the Gunners top the table for much of the season, has come unglued over the last seven matches. Brighton defeated the Gunners 3-0 at the Emirates shortly after Manchester City defeated Everton by the same score on Sunday. Those results extended Manchester City’s lead to four points over Arsenal with the defending champions also having a match in hand versus the Gunners. The Citizens, with a current 20 goal advantage in the goal differential tiebreaker, would realistically need just two points from their remaining three matches to take the Premier League title even if Arsenal were to win their remaining two matches. Veteran midfielder Ilkay Gundogan almost singlehandedly defeated Everton on Sunday by scoring two and assisting the third of Manchester City’s goals.

Arsenal’s failure to score in its home loss to Brighton was the latest stumble in a stretch run which has seen the Gunners drop 12 points over their last seven matches while winning just twice. Manchester City, peaking at just the right time this season, has won eleven consecutive Premier League matches to overtake the Gunners.

The win by Brighton, meanwhile, heightens the drama in the battle for Europa League qualification. Manager Roberto De Zerbi has already led the Seagulls to a club record number of points and now has the Seagulls at the threshold of European qualification. Sunday’s win moved the Seagulls into sixth position in the table, one point ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa who have both played two more matches than Brighton. Aston Villa are level with Tottenham Hotspur on points after a 2-1 victory over Spurs at Villa Park. The Villans have further work to do as Manager Unai Emery’s side still trails Spurs on goal differential. Spurs are spiraling, however, after losing four of their last six matches to put European qualification in jeopardy as their search for a permanent manager seems to be flailing as well. Harry Kane, the scorer of a consolation goal Saturday, must be thinking long and hard on his future. The future looks bright for Aston Villa who seem to have found their man in Emery. The Spanish manager took over the club when Aston Villa were just a point above the relegation zone, and he now has them challenging for a berth in the Europe League competition where he has led two other clubs to the trophy.

Liverpool has clinched a Europa League berth and is eying what would be a surprising Champions League slot after a 3-0 defeat of Leicester. The Reds seventh consecutive win gives them a chance to salvage a meaningful finish to what has been a largely disappointing season. Newcastle and Manchester United are just a point ahead of fifth place Liverpool, though both have played one additional match. Liverpool’s Mo Salah failed to score in the win at Leicester but assisted all three of the Reds’ goals, two of which came off the foot of young midfielder Curtis Jones. The third Liverpool goal was a wonder goal off a free kick by Trent Alexander-Arnold. The redeployment of Alexander-Arnold as a midfielder in attack and the re-emergence of Jones makes Liverpool’s midfield problems look far less dire.

Manchester United stayed above Liverpool in the table with a 2-0 win at Wolves as Anthony Martial and Alejandro Garnacho made rare appearances on the scoresheet for the Red Devils.

Meanwhile Newcastle’s 2-2 draw with Leeds put the club into the thick of a three-way fight for the two remaining Champions League places. Despite two penalty kick goals by Callum Wilson, the Magpies were forced to share the points with a determined Leeds squad when Rasmus Kristensen scored the equalizer in the 79th minute to secure a critical point in Leeds’s relegation fight. The Whites are one point below currently safe Everton with a recoverable deficit in goal differential. More importantly, Leeds looked rejuvenated under Allardyce while Leicester looked to be going through the final motions of a lost season in its loss to Liverpool.

Nottingham Forest is three points above Leeds in the survival struggle after a 2-2 draw with Chelsea. The second goal of the match by Forest’s brace by Taiwo Awoniyi knotted a contest in which Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling awoke from a season long slumber to notch a brace for the Blues.

West Ham is six points clear of the drop line but was unable to clinch its bid for survival when the Hammers fell 2-0 at Brentford. The victory for the Bees clinched their first top half finish in the topflight in 85 years.

Bournemouth is safe from relegation and thus will only be slightly bothered by a 2-0 defeat at Crystal Palace. Eberechi Eze scored both of Palace’s goals to continue his resurgence under Manager Roy Hodgson. The young midfielder has scored six goals in eight matches under Hodgson and leads the Eagles with 10 goals for the season.

There’s been little response, excluding that which has been negative, to new managers at Southampton. Southampton’s fate was settled in a 2-0 loss to Fulham which mathematically ensured relegation for the Saints. The departure from Premier League competition rests almost solely on the club’s hierarchy which made baffling managerial choices in successively appointing the ill-fated Nathan Jones and the untested Ruben Selles after parting ways with veteran manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The relegation race - realistically down to Nottingham Forest, Everton, Leeds and Leicester - pauses until next weekend, but the European qualification races will be impacted by this Thursday’s match between Brighton and Newcastle at a raucous St. James Park. 

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