By Nilavro Ghosh
The champions and the runners up have been decided but the battle for Europe and the fight for survival are all set to be played out on the last day of what has been a dramatic season
While Norwich City’s relegation has been confirmed, three teams will battle it out to claim the last available place in next year’s Premier League. While Bournemouth, on 31 points, seem likely to go down to the Championship, Aston Villa and Watford will have a keen eye on each other’s game as they are still level on points.
On paper, Villa seems to have gotten a favorable draw as they travel to the London Stadium to take on high flying West Ham United. Watford, however, will have a huge task on their hands when they travel to The Emirates to take on Arsenal. The Hornets will take some confidence from Villa’s victory over the Gunners in the latter’s most recent game.
Bournemouth still have an outside chance of playing next year’s Premier League if both Villa and Watford lose. They would still have to win an away game against Ancelotti’s Everton by any margin. The goal difference between all three sides combined is one. Bournemouth and Watford have -27 while Villa has -26.
The Cherries will give it their all at Goodison Park and if luck is on their side, Eddie Howe may well have another season in the country’s top league.
Shifting the focus to the top half of the table, Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City are all set for an incredible climax to the season. The three sides are fighting for one of the remaining two Champions League places.
United are on third, level on points Chelsea but far ahead on goal difference. The Red Devils travel to the dreaded King Power stadium to face fifth place Leicester City who are a point behind them. A win or a draw would seal top four for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men while the Foxes have to win to play Champions League (CL) football next season. Both the sides are going through a slump in form at the moment but United are slight favorites to clinch the CL place.
Chelsea host sixth place Wolverhampton Wanderers to Stamford Bridge. While the Blues only need a point to qualify, a loss and a draw in the United-Leicester game would see them in the Europa League next season. Wolves’ attack is one of the most lethal in the league and given Chelsea’s defensive misfortunes, manager Frank Lampard will have his job cut out for him.
The American talisman Christian Pulisic has been in good form for the Blues and he will be key if Chelsea were to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Lampard’s men, however, are favorites to qualify.
By Nilavro Ghosh
30 long years in the making, Liverpool finally sit at the top of England’s first division, winning their first ever Premier League trophy after a season of unmatched brilliance
When Jordan Henderson was young lad going through everyday training sessions at Sunderland AFC, he probably might not have seen himself 12 years later as the first Liverpool skipper holding up the Premier League trophy. Red ribbons were attached to the prize for the first time since Manchester United’s 20th title win and the red part of Merseyside went into a frenzy.
Liverpool played their last home game of the season against Chelsea last night as an empty Anfield stood witness to its club reaching the pinnacle of English football. Their manager, Jurgen Klopp, will have his name written into one of the highest podiums of the Reds’ folklore.
The home team received their customary guard of honour from Chelsea and gave their fans a classic Liverpool performance after hammering Chelsea 5-3. Chelsea’s Champions League qualification bid might have been dealt a blow but the night was all about the Reds.
Anfield might have been empty but supporters flocked outside its gates and let their presence be known. The sky lit up with fireworks as those inside the stadium knew that thousands were going to celebrate with them long into the night.
Klopp’s patience and the board’s confidence in the manager paid its dues as the German delivered the Champions League and the Premier League respectively in consecutive seasons.
The focus will now be on strengthening the squad for the next season but that issue is for another day. Right now what matters is that Liverpool are officially the best team in England.
By Nilavro Ghosh
- The race for the top four heats up as Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United drop points
- Tottenham triumph over Arsenal in the north London derby
Matchweek 35 saw a string of shock results especially involving the clubs fighting for a spot in the remaining two Champions League places.
Manchester United were held by Southampton at Old Trafford after Michael Obafemi equalized from a corner in the 96th minute to give the saints a much deserved point. The match ended 2-2 and saw both United’s left-backs, Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams go off with injuries.
Leicester City were thrashed 4-1 by 18th place Bournemouth at the Vitality stadium thanks to goals from Junior Stanislas, Dominic Solanke, and an own goal by Johnny Evans. The foxes saw defender Caglar Soyuncu sent off in the 67th minute as well.
Chelsea were battered 3-0 by Sheffield United at Bramall Lane thanks to a brace from David McGoldrick, and Oli McBurnie. The blues sit perilously at third, only a point clear of both Leicester and United with their final two games of the season against champions Liverpool and high flying Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Tottemham Hotspurs shocked Arsenal in the first north London derby held at the former’s new home ground with a hard-fought 2-1 win. Alexander Lacazette’s bullet was cancelled out after a horrific mistake by Sead Kolisinac presented Heung Min Son with a simple finish in the first half. The gunners threatened Hugo Lloris’ goal with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hitting the crossbar but it was not meant to be. Spurs’ defender Toby Alderweireld scored the winner in the 81st minute from a corner.
Tottenham currently are at 8th place with 52 points and Arsenal at 9th with 50.
In the battle for survival, West ham United beat Norwich City 4-0, confirming the canaries’ next season to be in the EFL Championship. David Moyes’ side are three points from the drop zone and looks set for another season in the Premier League.
Aston Villa picked up a massive three points in their bid for survival after they beat Crystal Palace 2-0. The match was marred, however, after Palace winger Wilfred Zaha was subject to racism online before the game. The culprit is a boy of twelve.
Liverpool’s 100 per cent record at Anfield this season in the league was brought to an end by Burnley who held to champions to a 1-1 draw thanks to a outstanding equalizer from Jay Rodriguez.
Watford beat Newcastle 2-1 thanks to a brace from Troy Deeney that took them three points clear of the drop zone. Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City won their games comfortably against Everton and Brighton and Hove Albion respectively. City won 5-0 while Wolves won 3-0.
By Aneesh Dey
- CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) has overturned the two-year ban from European football.
- Initial €30m fine reduced to €10m (£8.96m)
After UEFA”s club financial control body (CFCB) handed the suspension to City in February, for serious breaches in club licensing and financial fair play regulations (FFP) in February, City appealed to the CAS, which is an independent legal body. After three days of hearing evidence, CAS has overturned the ban, which would allow Pep Guardiola’s men to play the Champions League.
The CAS found that the “most of the alleged breaches reported were either not established or time-barred”. In their statement, they said, “As the charges with respect to any dishonest concealment of equity funding were clearly more significant violations than obstructing the CFCB’s investigations, it was not appropriate to impose a ban on participating in UEFA’s club competitions for MCFC’s failure to co-operate with the CFCB’s investigations alone.”
The six-times domestic league champions welcomed the decision and issued a statement on the ban being lift
By Aniket Panja
- Chelsea, Man United win as battle for Top 4 heats up
- Arsenal held by Leicester and Norwich look set to play in the Championship next season after Welbeck’s bicycle kick goal at Vicarage Road
Round 34 of the English Premier League fixtures concluded last night with Manchester United churning out yet another enjoyable performance away at Villa Park. But it was the home side who started brightly creating quite a few chances one of which Villa top scorer Jack Grealish blazed over the bar.
Soon after Trezeguet struck the outside of David De Gea’s post as Villa came close to taking the lead. However, all hopes were dashed when Bruno Fernandes was brought down in the Villa penalty area and Jon Moss offered what could be claimed as a contentious spot-kick.
Fernandes, who is yet to lose a match in a United shirt, coolly slotted home from 12 yards, in what seemed like a debatable decision by referee Jon Moss. There was no looking back after that. Mason Greenwood doubled the lead for the Red Devils before halftime, scoring his 19th goal of the season, while Paul Pogba put the game to bed in the second half. Anthony Martial struck the post in a match where United could have scored more.
The week started with Chelsea travelling away to Selhurst Park in what proved to be a cracking encounter. Gary Cahill went down with cramp and William capitalised from the ensuing move to set up Olivier Giroud as Chelsea took the lead. Cristian Pulisic doubled the lead with a thumping finish but the lead was cut down when Wilfred Zaha unleashed a 65mph screamer to beat Kepa Arrizabalaga. Tammy Abraham scored his 16th goal of the season in all competitions after the change of ends but once again Palace struck back with Benteke.
In the dying stages, Palace hit the bar and had Benteke not dawdled on the ball a minute later it could have been 3-3. As it was, Kurt Zouma came racing in with a match-saving tackle to give Chelsea the three points. Meanwhile, Watford took on Norwich in a must-win game in the battle to avoid relegation. Norwich went ahead as early as the fourth minute through Emiliano Buendia but Watford came back thanks to a Craig Dawson goal.
After the break, Danny Welbeck came to life and scored the winner with a bicycle kick. It was the former Manchester United forward’s first win in a Watford shirt that almost makes sure that Norwich will go down. In the late kickoff, Arsenal took on Leicester in a massive game in the race for a Champions League berth. The Gunners got off to a bright start with the front three of Saka, Laca and Auba wreaking havoc. Kasper Schmeichel was called into action several times but could not keep out Aubameyang’s opener.
Arsenal would have doubled their lead had it not been for Schmeichel’s brilliance. He first parried a Lacazette shot low to his right, then kept out Bakayo Saka’s shot with his feet and comfortably grasped another Lacazette header from a delicious pass from Bellerin. Arsenal should have had a bigger lead and paid the price in the second half when Nketiah was sent off for a dangerous challenge on James Justin. The tide turned and Jamie Vardy as he always does score against Arsenal. The Gunners held on to keep the foxes at bay. The match ended 1-1 and with that, one would feel Arsenal’s hopes of securing a top-four spot are all but over.
Leicester is in fourth, a point above fifth-placed Manchester United with 59 points and one behind third-placed Chelsea. In other matches, Manchester City recovered from their abomination against Southampton to put five past Newcastle United. City was at their fluent best once again and never looked troubled and frankly could have scored more. Sheffield United and Burnley both secured 1-0 wins over Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham United respectively.
The loss means the hammers under David Moyes are still in danger of being relegated. Newly crowned Premier League Champions Liverpool brushed aside Brighton and Hove Albion with a 3-1 win and barring a minor blip in the first half, never looked challenged.
Danny Ings scored his 18th goal of the season to stay in contention for the golden boot as Southampton drew 1-1 with Everton and pressure mounted on Jose Mourinho and Tottenham Hotspur as they were held to a goalless draw by lowly placed Bournemouth. Mourinho was saved by the VAR as Callum Wilson’s 89th-minute goal was ruled out; for a foul earlier in the move leading up to the goal.
By Aneesh Dey
ATK and Mohun Bagan had decided to enter into a merger in January 2020, thus helping the Kolkata Giants gain entry into the Hero Indian Super League (ISL).
After the first board meeting of the club on Friday, the following were decided. The new name of the club will ATK Mohun Bagan FC. The original green and maroon colours of the historic club will be retained along with the iconic ‘Pal Tola Nouka’ as the logo.
Mr. Sourav Ganguly co-owner ATK Mohun Bagan Private Limited said “I salute the coming together of ATK and Mohun Bagan. Together the brand name ATK Mohun Bagan will create history.”
By Aneesh Dey
The FA Cup quarter finals did not throw us any surprises as Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City beat their respective opponents, Sheffield united, Norwich City, Leicester City and Newcastle United to qualify for the semi finals.
It took an unusual error by Sheffield keeper Dean Henderson at his near-post for Arsenal to clinch a late winner courtesy, Dani Ceballos. Henderson, who is on loan at Bramall Lane from Manchester United, has otherwise been on scintillating form throughout the campaign.
The game at Carrow Road was a close one too, and it was only in the 118th minute, when Manchester United captain, Harry Maguire scored the winner, scoring his second goal in this FA Cup campaign. The Red Devils took the lead through Odion Ighalo’s acrobatic finish in the 51st minute. The Canaries equalized after a sweet strike by Todd Cantwell in the 75th minute. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer introduced his big guns to break down the deep-lying defence of Norwich, who played a man short after Timm Klose was sent in the 88th minute.
Ross Barkley was the lone scorer in Chelsea’s game against Leicester in a game, which was fairly even. The game was a disciplined one as only Çağlar Söyüncü of Leicester City saw a yellow card in the 23rd minute.
Manchester City were their dominant selves as they cruised past Newcastle in an easy 2-0 win. City dominated 75% of the game’s possession, a sight not new to their playing style. Belgian playmaker, Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring with a penalty and Raheem Sterling scored the second in the 68th minute.
The FA Cup semi-finals will be played on July 18 and 19 in the historic Wembley stadium as Manchester United will play Chelsea and Manchester City will play Arsenal.
By Nilavro Ghosh
After months out of action, Paul Pogba finally returned to the pitch and the much hyped pairing with Bruno Fernandes seems to have delivered
An important factor in Manchester United’s unparalleled success during the Ferguson era was having a midfield general season after season. Be it Scholes, Keane or Carrick, the Red Devils had leaders in the middle of the park that could dictate the game no matter the opposition. For the first time, almost a decade after the Scotsman’s retirement, United seem to have not one, but two midfield maestros that possess that skill set and mentality.
The Devils faced Tottenham Hotspurs in their first game back in the Premier League and played out a dismal first 45 minutes. Spurs settled in quite well after the first few minutes with Mourinho’s tactics on full display. Costly errors from both defender Harry Maguire and goalkeeper David De Gea resulted in Steven Bergwijn netting the first goal of the game. Spurs sat back soon afterwards, allowing United to have the possession. Mourinho knew that his opponents were not very good at breaking down defensive teams and his players executed the plan to perfection.
The second half however was a different ball game. Manchester United pressed up the field much like their city neighbours and Spurs were visibly on the back foot. However, breaking them down was still proving to be a challenge.
Enter Paul Pogba. The Frenchman had been out of action since boxing day with an injury, and on his much anticipated return, he did not disappoint, neither did the much hyped partnership of him and Bruno Fernandes in the United midfield. The two linked up as smoothly as a knife glides on butter, stringing slick passes together and finally providing those crucial balls to Greenwood, Rashford and Martial.
United’s forwards looked rusty with their finishing, barring the magnificent save Hugo Lloris made off a Martial shot. That is when Pogba decided to take matters into his own hands. In the final quarter of the game, he danced pasted four Spurs players into the box from the right wing, and won a penalty off Eric Dier’s challenge from behind. His midfield partner Bruno Fernandes made no mistake from the spot to level the scores.
The Red Devils upped the ante after the goal not only in attack, but also in defence. The back line seemed fairly composed in dealing with the Tottenham attacks, played important passes up the field. All three of United’s strikers had very good chances to claim the points, the latest coming to the feet of Mason Greenwood in stoppage time which had Lloris on the edge.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has a lot to look forward to with this team for the remainder of the season as they aim for Champions League football, and with certain reinforcements in the summer transfer window, the Norwegian’s devils might just be a serious title contender next season.
By Aneesh Dey
Spanish giants Barcelona, issued an official statement, where they expressed their satisfaction with the courts ruling regarding the signing bonus in the final renewal of Neymar’s contract.
Social court 15 in Barcelona announced that Neymar’s claim of 43.6 million euros has been dismissed.
The statement says, ” The ruling has fully dismissed the player’s claim for payment of 43.6 million euros, and has accepted a large part of the defence presented by FC Barcelona, as a result of which the player must return 6.7 million euros to the club.”
By Aneesh Dey (inputs from Reuters)
La Liga club Celta Vigo have signed Nolito, taking advantage of a special rule which allows clubs to sign players outside of a transfer window under special circumstances.
The club statement said the player would join immediately, subject to a medical test. Celta is just two points above relegation zone in the 17th place. They have nine matches to save their campaign.
Celta were able to sign Nolito after goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez sustained a knee injury in May and was ruled out for five months, the minimum time the Spanish federation’s rules permit for a club to sign a replacement.
The rules only allow clubs to sign a replacement player that already plays in Spain and after registering them in the squad are not allowed to play the injured player for the remainder of the season if they recover ahead of schedule.
Nolito enjoyed a fruitful spell at Celta, scoring 39 goals between 2013 to 2016, which earned him a Spain call up and being signed by English side Manchester City.