A pivotal day in the relegation battle
Another dramatic weekend of Premier League football culminated with Chelsea being crowned champions, after a typical 1-0 win at home to Crystal Palace.
The season might be all over at the top, but that certainly can’t be said for the teams at the bottom. There were big wins on Saturday for Leicester and Sunderland, but damaging defeats for Newcastle, QPR and Burnley.
Manchester United slumped to their third defeat in a row, and Liverpool won 2-1, leaving them just four points off fourth. Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City means Spurs’ slim chances of a top four finish are over. The result for City however ensures they qualify for the Champions League.
But with just three games left for the majority of teams, who were the major winners and losers this weekend?
Winners Of The Premier League Weekend
Chelsea- It was a question of when not if, as Chelsea sealed the title on Sunday at Stamford Bridge. The result and performance summed up their form since the turn of the year. Not playing free flowing football, but nicking a goal and protecting their lead. Not attractive maybe, but they have been the best team in the league by a country mile, and their rivals have played into Mourinho’s hands. Rather than complaining at Chelsea’s style of play, the others need to analyse their shortcomings to mount a serious challenge next season.
Leicester- The Foxes got back to winning ways, with an emphatic 3-0 victory over a pitiful Newcastle. Nigel Pearson‘s bizarre ‘ostrich’ comments certainly didn’t affect his players, who made it five wins out of six. They got off to a dream start with Leonardo Ulloa opening the scoring after 38 seconds. Captain Wes Morgan was gifted a second, before Ulloa scored his second from the penalty spot. Leicester are still just a point outside the relegation zone in 17th, but their stunning run has given them a great chance of survival, having looked dead and buried.
Aston Villa- It was another vital win for Villa, this time 3-2 over Everton, as Christian Benteke continued his unbelievable form since Tim Sherwood‘s arrival. Benteke has now scored 11 goals in his last 9 matches, which has propelled Villa to 14th. Sherwood is working his magic not just on Benteke, but on midfielder Tom Cleverley, who scored the third to make it 3-1. A late Phil Jagielka goal made the Villa fans nervous, but they held on. They now have a very winnable game at home to West Ham next week.
Sunderland- Sunderland delivered a battling performance to win 2-1 against Southampton, in a must win game for them. They were awarded two penalties, which were both converted by Jordi Gomez, under huge pressure. The Black Cats might have ridden their luck, but they showed real fight on Saturday. But they remain in the drop zone, with a very tough run in. However they survived last season, so who’s to say they can’t do it again.
Losers Of The Premier League Weekend
Newcastle– This was the Toon’s eighth defeat in a row, and this one was as bad as it gets. Pathetic defending from set pieces saw them 2-0 down at half time, before conceding a penalty straight after the break. Mike Williamson was then given a second yellow for a brainless tackle, before John Carver sensationally accused Williamson of getting himself sent off on purpose. To boot Newcastle finished with nine men, when Daryl Janmaat was dismissed. The club is a shambles. Carver’s tactics were baffling, but the players’ must take the brunt of the blame for their shocking lack of effort. Now next week’s home game vs West Brom next week is absolutely huge.
QPR– A 4-1 win over West Brom briefly gave Rangers hope of a survival bid. But those hopes look to have gone now, after a latest defeat to Liverpool. The Hoops are seven points adrift, and to have any realistic chance of survival, they will have to win their last three matches. But they haven’t been able to win three in a row this season. QPR are surely doomed to an immediate return to the Championship.
Burnley– Despite Sean Dyche’s never ending optimism, the Clarets’ latest loss to West Ham surely condemns them to relegation, after just one season in the top flight. If they fail to beat Hull next Saturday, their relegation will be confirmed. But with the smallest budget in the league, Burnley must be applauded for their attitude and endeavour this season. But the fact they have scored just one goal in nine games has cost them. Danny Ings hasn’t been able to drag his team out of trouble, and won’t be the answer to Liverpool’s striking crisis.
Where do these results leave the relegation battle? Could Liverpool pip Manchester United to fourth?
Let us know in the comments below.
By Joseph Richardson