Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Premier League Results Match Week 36: Title Contenders Hold Serve; Four Goals for Haaland; Nottingham Forest Takes Major Step In Survival Fight; Spurs and Villa Equally Bad; Crystal Palace Embarrasses Manchester United; Surging Chelsea Closes On Europe

The top three all won in convincing fashion as the Premier League title race nears the finish line. Two more matches for Arsenal and Liverpool, three for Manchester City and the race is run.

Arsenal is making Manchester City work for a possible fourth consecutive championship. Unlike last year when the Gunners collapsed during the stretch drive, this season’s version of Arsenal is playing some of its best football in the season’s waning weeks. The Gunners won a fourth consecutive match by downing Bournemouth 3-0 at the Emirates on Saturday. Arsenal has won 14 of 16 matches in 2024, losing just once. Sadly, that one misstep could cost the title.

Manchester City has been machine like as the Citizens mow down their Premier League opposition week after week. The defending champions handily defeated Wolverhampton 5-1 on Sunday for a sixth consecutive victory which extended their unbeaten league run to 20 matches. Should Pep Guardiola’s side win their remaining three matches, the title is theirs.

Bukayo Saka scored his 20th goal of the season across all competitions in Arsenal’s win over Bournemouth. Leandro Trossard scored for the third time in Arsenal’s last three matches and Declan Rice added a stoppage time goal and an assist in the Gunner victory.

Erling Haaland, meanwhile, put a hammerlock on the Premier League’s Golden Boot with four goals in Manchester City’s rout of Wolves. The striker had a hat trick by halftime as Manchester City sent a strong response to the Arsenal win earlier in the day on Saturday. The Citizens still trail the Gunners by a point but have an additional match to play, leaving destiny in their own hands. Haaland, meanwhile, leads Chelsea’s Cole Palmer by four goals in the scoring race with each player having three matches left to play.

Struggling Tottenham Hotspur was the perfect remedy to Liverpool’s recent stumbles as the Reds handed Spurs a fourth consecutive defeat in a 4-2 final at Anfield. Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo each had a goal and an assist in a Liverpool victory which was too little, too late for title hopes. Dropping five of the six available points in the two matches preceding Saturday’s contest created a mountain which seems too steep to climb. Liverpool trails Arsenal by five points with two matches left for each side. Tottenham Hotspur, meanwhile, lost its fourth consecutive Premier League match for the first time in 20 years. Champions League hopes are gone for Manager Ange Postecoglou’s side and while Europa League qualification still seems assured, it has become a distressing end to a season which began so brightly under the Australian manager.

Given Spurs’ collapse, Aston Villa has not needed to be much better to protect its top four status. The Villans lost to Brighton 1-0, dropping points for the fourth time in the club’s last six league matches. Aston Villa has been poor for the better part of its past three matches across all competitions, squandering a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea last week before suffering a shocking 4-2 home defeat on Thursday to Olympiakos in the first leg of the Europa Conference League semifinals. Joao Pedro was the architect of Aston Villa’s downfall on Sunday as the Brighton center forward broke up a goalless deadlock with an unconventional 87th minute winner. Pedro’s penalty kick was saved by Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen, but the Brighton player was able to head in the rebound for his 20th goal across all competitions this season for the Seagulls. Aston Villa now needs to quickly regroup for the second leg in Greece versus Olympiacos this Thursday.

Chelsea could be playing in Europe next year. The Blues moved past Manchester United into seventh position, on goal differential, with a 5-0 thrashing of West Ham on Sunday while a ragtag Manchester United side lost 4-0 to Crystal Palace Monday at Selhurst Park. Chelsea routed beleaguered West Ham as young stars Nicolas Jackson, Cole Palmer, Noni Madueke and Conor Gallagher all made the scoresheet. The often-criticized Jackson had two goals to move his season total to 13 Premier League scores, a figure that favorably compares with the 10 goals registered by Chelsea legend Didier Drogba in his debut season. A late season surge by Manager Mauricio Pochettino’s side has seen Chelsea win six and draw five of their past 12 Premier League matches, a run of success marred only by the singular disaster at Arsenal in mid-April.

Less than twenty-four hours after the heavy defeat on the part of West Ham, the Hammers and Manager David Moyes announced a mutual parting of the ways, effective the end of the season. Julian Lopetegui, who managed Wolverhampton through a relegation battle last season before abruptly resigning, will be taking over for Moyes in East London.

The future of Manchester United Manager Eric ten Hag is more in doubt after his club’s awful performance in London on Monday. The Red Devils have tumbled out of the European places by winning just one of their last seven matches while Newcastle and Chelsea have closed and overtaken Ten Hag’s squad. Crystal Palace repeatedly sliced though a disorganized Manchester United lineup riddled by injury absences on Monday. Casemiro was particularly poor in an unaccustomed center back role. Fellow center back Johnny Evans at 36 years old was no match for Crystal Place’s young, talented attackers. The Red Devils’ attacking threat, meanwhile, was severely diminished by the injury absence of Bruno Fernandes. Crystal Palace’s talented young winger Michael Olise scored twice, assisted both times by Daniel Munoz, as the Eagles landed a fourth win in a five-match unbeaten run. Jean-Philippe Mateta also found the net for the Eagles, blasting his fifth goal in the Eagles’ last four matches as Crystal Palace now presents a formidable attack under Manager Oliver Glasner. Palace is the only club to have defeated Newcastle in the Magpies’ last seven matches.

The Magpies won for the fifth time in that stretch when they likely ruined Burnley’s survival hopes with a 4-1 win at Turf Moor. Newcastle was ahead 4-0 by the 55th minute, rendering Dara O’Shea’s 86th minute score for Burnley entirely meaningless. Alexander Isak was amongst the goal scorers for Newcastle as the Swedish international notched his 20th goal of the season across all competitions for the Magpies. Newcastle now leads Chelsea and Manchester United by two points for a Europa League invite. Burnley, meanwhile, had given supporters hope for Premier League survival with improved performances in recent weeks. Those dreams were likely shattered Saturday as the Claret defense was shredded by the visiting Magpies while Nottingham Forest took a large step toward safety with a 3-1 win over Sheffield United. Burnley’s not done but is not looking good. The Clarets are five points shy of Nottingham Forest and safety.

The Tricky Trees moved three points clear of Luton Town and the drop line with their win over already relegated Sheffield United. Callum Hudson-Odoi scored twice to move Nottingham Forest closer to locking down a third consecutive season in the Premier League. The former Chelsea player’s second goal was the 100th goal conceded by Sheffield United which tied the Premier League season record of Swindon Town. The bumbling Blades have scored the first goal in their last three matches only to go on to lose all three outings by a combined score of 12-4. Luton Town is a more respectable side but could well be joining the Blades in the Championship next season after the Hatters dropped points at home, drawing 1-1 with visiting Everton. The Hatters desperately needed to capture all three points while Everton secured safety last week and has little more to play for.

Two other teams with nothing to play for, Fulham and Brentford, failed to find the net in a goalless London derby. Brentford’s Ivan Toney, a rumored transfer target for striker needy clubs, failed to score for a tenth consecutive Premier League appearance.

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