Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Stoke Hit Reds For Six

After 37 game-weeks, the Premier League reached its final round of games with some nerves and excitement still to settle with the Europa League places and final relegation place set to go down to the wire. All ten games were played at 3pm Sunday so the results will be listed with most important to least as follows.

The fight to avoid relegation to the Championship saw focus drawn to Hull and Newcastle with the Magpies knowing a win over West Ham would make them safe and send the Tigers down while should Hull beat Manchester United and Newcastle fail to win the outcome would be them going down.

A blank first half in both games meant the live table had Hull on 35 points and Newcastle safe on 38 but the Magpies soon moved even closer to survival with a 54th minute strike from Moussa Sissoko which left Hull with a huge task.

 Hull's task received a boost on 77 minutes as Marouane Fellaini was dismissed but their fate sealed on 85 minutes as Jonas Gutierrez confirmed a 2-0 win for Newcastle thereby condemning Hull who went on to draw 0-0 with Man United.

The issues at the bottom being confirmed meant the next focus is on Europa League qualification with Liverpool and Tottenham both vying for fifth place with Southampton hoping for luck with a win and one of the two suffering a defeat.

Liverpool travelled to Stoke,Tottenham travelled to face Everton and deposed champions Manchester City hosted Southampton. The first breakthrough came at the Britannia Stadium as Liverpool fell behind to a 22nd minute opener from Miram Diouf. However, it was the first of three quick blows as Spurs took the lead against Everton two minutes later through Harry Kane to move to fifth before the Reds went two down with Diouf striking again on 26 minutes.

Liverpool went three down on 30 minutes as Walter struck but looked to be avoiding seventh when Frank Lampard put City in front against the Saints. Focus turned away from the Etihad and Goodison Park as Liverpool completed a first half collapse as Charlie Adam and Steven N'Zonzi made it 5-0 at the interval. Tottenham looked safe in fifth but a comeback from Southampton could leave Liverpool seventh and with no European place (fair play pending). Liverpool made it 5-1 with outgoing captain Steven Gerrard scoring his final goal of a 17 year career in the 70th minute.

Southampton's fate was sealed on 88 minutes as Golden Boot winner Sergio Aguero sealed a 2-0 win for City leaving the Saints to finish seventh, Liverpool's fate was sealed seconds earlier though as Stoke completed a 6-1 demolition with a sixth from former Reds striker Peter Crouch who condemned them to their worst PL defeat. Tottenham held on to win 1-0 at Everton and seal fifth place which also meant the Toffees would finish in the bottom half for the first time in nine years.

As the main issues were all settled, the round up continues with the final games for next week's FA Cup finalists. Arsenal took on West Brom and ended their league season in style with a 4-1 win over the Baggies which began with a 17 minute treble with Theo Walcott striking either side of an effort from Jack Wilshere.

Walcott completed a first half hat-trick on 37 minutes for 4-0 before Gareth McAuley pulled one back for the visitors on 57 minutes but it was in vain as they finished 13th overall.

Aston Villa were keen to avoid their worst finish in the post 42 game era but suffered just that as they finished 17th after suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to relegated Burnley with the crucial strike coming inside six minutes from Danny Ings who may exit the Clarets this summer.

Leicester ended their season in style as they blew relegated QPR away with a 5-1 win which means other than the defeat to Chelsea, they end the season with nine wins from their last ten games. Jamie Vardy set the ball rolling with a 16th minute opener with Marc Albrighton making it 2-0 just before the interval.

Leonardo Ulloa and Esteban Cambiasso struck in a two minute period to make it 4-0 before Charlie Austin replied for QPR on 57 minutes to extend a great scoring streak across the season. However, the final say came from Andrej Kramaric who completed the rout on 86 minutes.

Chelsea ensured they would be crowned champions with a celebration as they ended the season with a 3-1 win at home to Sunderland who as a result finished behind fierce rivals Newcastle.  Steven Fletcher put the visitors ahead on 27 minutes before a pre-planned change on the half hour saw outgoing Didier Drogba carried off by his team-mates. His replacement Diego Costa levelled for the Blues with a 37th minute penalty before a brace from Loic Remy on 70 and 88 minutes sealed the win.

Crystal Palace ended a fine season with a 1-0 win over Swansea who finished eighth but just two wins away from the Europa League places. The crucial strike came on the 57th minute from Marouane Chamakh to ensure the Eagles finished in 10th.

Hopefully the mid-season switch from dedicated Liverpool posts to general domestic posts was welcomed as it will continue next season but maybe improved with a few tweaks.

Champions - Chelsea
Champions League Qualifiers - Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United.
Europa League Qualifiers - Tottenham, Liverpool, West Ham (Fair Play Award) and either Southampton (if Arsenal win FAC) or Aston Villa (if they defeat Arsenal in FAC)
Relegated - Hull, Queens Park Rangers, Burnley.

Next season, sees a new team in the league in AFC Bournemouth as they join experienced side Watford and the instant return of Norwich City who went down last season.