By now, we are firmly at the business end of the Premier League season, where futures and positions are handed an ultimatum.
There is still a lot to play for at various ends of the table, and this weekend, we gained a further idea of where teams may end up after the current campaign.
Leicester City Outfoxed by Rampant Newcastle
Last Friday, they had played out a frustrating 1-1 draw at Southampton and with both West Ham and Liverpool breathing down their necks, three points were needed to alleviate the growing pressure and put some distance between them.
Instead, it was Newcastle that embraced the gleeful winning euphoria- much to the shock of Premier League audiences.
In fact, against all odds, Steve Bruce’s side had gone 4-0 up. On-loan Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock kept up his sparkling form as he scored his fourth goal in as many games, before Paul Dummett and Callum Wilson got on the scoresheet to inflict a shock four-goal lead.
Marc Albrighton and Kelechi Iheanacho halved the deficit late on, but it wasn’t enough and a resilient, dogged Newcastle side held out to secure their third win in five matches. The result all but secured their top-flight status, whereas it now leaves Leicester’s top-four ambitions hanging well in the pipeline.
Leeds Impress Yet Again in Convincing Victory
This campaign, Leeds have materialised as a breath of fresh air. With their slick passing, high tempo and collective dynamism, the rocking Whites are quite the spectacle.
All of those qualities were undoubtedly on show on Saturday afternoon as they claimed a commanding 3-1 win over Spurs thanks to goals from Stuart Dallas, Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo.
It marks a hugely impressive run for the West Yorkshire outfit, who have managed to avoid defeat against four of the proverbial big six in Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs in recent weeks.
Results elsewhere prevented Leeds from venturing further up the table this weekend, though they still sit in a very respectable 10th position. Meanwhile, Spurs’ faint top four hopes were given an additional sucker punch at Elland Road.
Misery Down At The Bottom
Anguish for Sheffield United was only compounded as they were on the receiving end of an Eberechi Eze theatrical. The skilful midfielder notched a fine solo goal and provided another to help Crystal Palace to a comprehensive 2-0 win in South Yorkshire, securing their safety in the process.
The Blades, who have looked a shadow of the organised side that finished 9th last season, had already had their relegation confirmed weeks ago in a defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. At this stage, you can imagine that sights will instead be set on preparations for life back in the Championship.
And now, we know one team who will definitely be joining them. West Bromwich Albion’s 3-1 loss at Arsenal certified their instant relegation back to the second tier, but like United, it had been on the cards for a while.
In spite of all the struggles that the Baggies have become accustomed to, a rare beacon of light has surfaced in the form of Matheus Pereira. Blessed with all the archetypal craft and flair of a Brazilian footballer, Pereira has scored ten goals and laid on five assists for the relegated outfit. Undoubtedly, many Premier League sides will have been put on red alert and it appears unlikely that the tricky 25-year old will be plying his trade at the Hawthorns next term.
Chelsea Claim Bragging Rights in Champions League Final Dress Rehearsal
Across a weekend billed up as an unmissable football extravaganza, the encounter between Manchester City and Chelsea was regarded up as the pick of the bunch.
The two sides are set to lock horns in the Champions League Final later this month, having overcame Paris Saint Germain and Real Madrid respectively in the semi-finals.
Whilst the final will be a total different entity in terms of intensity and team selection, Chelsea will be feeling every so slightly more confident following a dramatic 2-1 triumph at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening.
Raheem Sterling ended a barren 12-match goalless run as he put his side 1-0 up on the cusp of half time. Right after, the hosts had the perfect opportunity to put the game beyond doubt when Billy Gilmour brought Gabriel Jesus down in the area.
Up stepped Sergio Aguero. The Argentine is typically fancied from the spot, but he was left as a token of mockery as his failed panenka effort floated straight into the hands of Edouard Mendy.
Following some intricate passing play, Hakim Ziyech restored parity midway through the second half and Chelsea eventually won the fixture through Marcos Alonso, who found the back of the net deep into added time.
Thomas Tuchel’s resurgent side could’ve had a few more, though, as they saw three goals ruled out for offside and looked the more comfortable of the two throughout.
Subsequently, it leaves Chelsea in 3rd and with a crucial six point cushion over 5th placed West Ham. City, on the other hand, missed the opportunity to clinch their third Premier League title in four years on Saturday evening, but they will no doubt get their hands on it very shortly.
Resilient Red Devils Halt Rival Celebrations
The Citizens failed to bring the Premier League title back to Eastlands as they lost to Chelsea, yet that chance of securing it over the weekend was not completely over.
If Aston Villa defeated bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday afternoon, they would have still won the title.
City supporters were undoubtedly monitoring the clash with fixated eyes and basked on cloud nine when Bertrand Traore’s wondrous long-range effort put the Villains ahead after 24 minutes.
United took a while to respond at Villa Park, but they when they did, it really hit. Bruno Fernandes equalised from the spot not long after the break and just four minutes later, a resurgent Mason Greenwood made it 2-1 with a powerful finish into the bottom right corner.
As the game ascended into its twilight, Edinson Cavani stamped his own impact with a deft header to seal the three points, registering his 14th goal for the club in the process.
West Ham See Champions League Aspirations Inflicted With a Sizeable Dent
A first half strike from Dominic Calvert-Lewin was enough to see Everton past West Ham, who looked a much more potent side without finding the paramount finishing touch.
The Hammers were gifted with a key advantage as Leicester tumbled to Newcastle, but they will be sorely disappointed that they couldn’t capitalise. A victory would’ve seen them move to within two points of the Foxes in fourth, but now, they remain five points away from an elusive Champions League spot.
You can’t take anything away from them, though. No one in their right mind would’ve tipped the East London side for such fortunes at the beginning of the campaign, so to even be toying with the possibility of Champions League football is a significant achievement within itself.
They still have time to make up ground and all eyes will be peeling towards next Saturday, where they travel to Brighton in a crucial showdown.
The result also bore importance for Everton, who now sit only two points away from fierce foes Liverpool in sixth place, keeping their Europa League dreams well alive.
The Rest of The Premier League
On the topic of Liverpool, the Reds returned to winning ways with an assured 2-0 home win over Southampton. Sadio Mane got on the scoresheet right after the half hour mark and Summer acquisition Thiago Alcantara finally scored his long awaited first Premier League goal just before the final whistle.
The following day, Wolves battled hard to reign victorious from a tough match against Brighton. Lewis Dunk put his side 1-0 up at Molineux early on, though he was handed his marching orders not long into the second half. Wolves capitalised on the numerical advantage and late goals from Adama Traore and Morgan Gibbs-White sealed the win for Nuno’s men.
Follow us @footballOTH for more great content!
And, for more articles like this, check out my twitter- @jackpricey_
Main Image Credits- Embed from Getty Images