Week 37 of the English Premier League sees Chelsea wrap up their fifth Premier League title with victory at The Hawthorns and Hull go down after a hammering at Selhurst Park.
If you live in the UK, there are a few things you want to avoid in the life. The first is to show your eight-year-old son Santa Claus’s flight path on the Internet at 3 am on Xmas Eve and notice the sled is above your house.
The second thing you want to avoid is a Premier League season where the 20 members of the cast rather selfishly bring the climax forward one week, leaving you with a sex without the orgasm sort of feel on the last day of the season.
Santa Claus is hibernating.
But the Premier League is over with a game to spare.
We Know Who Has Won The League
Chelsea won their fifth set of Premier League title stripes with a hard-earned victory over West Brom on Friday night. The Blues strutted into the Hawthorns knowing that three points would be enough. The kit man had brought the champagne. Bubbles. Bubbles. Bubbles.
West Brom fought hard and had numerous chances with Salomon Rondon and Nacer Chadli coming close, but this was Chelsea’s day. Antonio Conte’s side had 68% possession of the football, and when Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to score the most important goal of his career in the 82nd minute, it was their 23rd shot on goal.
When it began, 37 weeks ago, the talk was of Conte, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, and it is the Italian who has settled the quickest. He arrived on the back of three successive Serie A titles with Juventus, and now he has won the Premier League on his first attempt.
Not unlike Leicester City of last season. Chelsea made the fewest changes in the league (38). That allowed the players to gel and to trust. The ability to stick to a plan that worked was the lack of European football, so how will they manage to the 60+ games that Manchester United have had to endure this season, for example?
What am I talking about?
I sound like a Premier League football manager.
What’s wrong with that?
Santa Claus manages to get around the homes of 7.3 billion people in a single night.
We Know The Relegated
With the title wrapped up with a game to spare, football fans were left hoping that Hull could turn over Crystal Palace so we could have a nail-biting relegation dogfight on the last day of the season.
Unfortunately, Hull decided to turn back time and play the kind of football we saw under Mike Phelan in their final two games. The Tigers blew it big time after losing to both Sunderland and Palace in the wake of holding their Premier League future in their hands.
Crystal Palace needed a point to ensure survival, and they knew Manchester United at Old Trafford lurked around the corner. It was the side with one of the worst home records in the country against the side with one of the worst away forms, and the home team prevailed.
On a day when Hull needed to win, they had the worst possible start when Andrea Ranocchia made a shocking error in the third minute of the game, completely missing the ball when trying to stick it into Row Z, and Wilfried Zaha was on hand to score his seventh league goal of the season.
Christian Benteke effectively ended the tie ten minutes before half time with a bullet header from a cross – his 15th Premier League goal of the season. Luka Milivojevic and Patrick van Aanholt put the froth on the coffee in the final minutes of the game. Hull didn’t even register a shot on target and return to the Championship after a single season in the top flight.
Hull, Sunderland and Middlesbrough go down.
Swansea survives, just.
We Don’t Know Who Will Qualify For The Champions League
The one tick missing from the box is the one marked Champions League Qualification.
We know that Chelsea goes through to the group stages as Champions. And Spurs join them. Mauricio Pochettino’s side bid a fond farewell to White Hart Lane on Sunday when they beat Manchester United by 2-1 in the final game held at the grand old stadium.
Goals from Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane mean Spurs has gone through the entire season unbeaten at home and has accumulated their highest points total since 1981.
That leaves two positions to be filled by three teams after United’s focus on the Europa League has left them swinging their long pink thing in the past few league games.
Liverpool is in the commanding position of knowing a win at home to Middlesbrough on the final day of the season secures their entry. Jurgen Klopp’s side battered West Ham in a 4-0 win at the London Stadium thanks to a virtuoso performance from Philippe Coutinho. Daniel Sturridge also returned to the team for the first time since January and got onto the scoresheet.
You can’t see Liverpool failing to win at home to relegated Boro, so that leaves one final position and Manchester City and Arsenal locking horns. City is ahead of Arsenal by three points, so the smart money is on the Blues making it.
City beat Leicester 2-1 at home and now face West Brom at home on Tuesday. The Baggies have lost five of their last seven games and drawn the other two so that game doesn’t represent much of a hurdle to Guardiola’s side. They then travel to Watford on the final day of the season, and that doesn’t particularly look like a banana skin.
Arsenal, on the other hand, has two home ties with relegated Sunderland facing the Gunners on Tuesday and Everton arriving on the last day of the season. Sunderland won’t be a problem and Everton’s season is over, but you can’t help but think Arsenal have left this one too late.
Champions League Qualification Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)
Man City 1/50
Here are the rest of the weekend’s results
Results in Full
Southampton 0 v 2 Arsenal
Everton 1 v 0 Watford
West Brom 0 v 1 Chelsea
Man City 2 v 1 Leicester
Sunderland 0 v 2 Swansea
Bournemouth 2 v 1 Burnley
Middlesbrough 1 v 2 Southampton
Stoke 1 v 4 Arsenal
Crystal Palace 4 v 0 Hull
West Ham 0 v 4 Liverpool
Spurs 2 v 1 Man Utd
To Be Played
Chelsea v Watford (Mon)
Arsenal v Sunderland (Tue)
Man City v West Brom (Tue)
Southampton v Man Utd (Wed)
Leicester v Spurs (Thu)
Premier League Table
- Chelsea – 87 (Champions)
- Spurs – 80
- Liverpool – 73
- Man City – 72
- Arsenal – 69
- Man Utd – 65
- Everton – 61
- West Brom – 45
- Southampton – 45
- Bournemouth – 45
- Leicester – 43
- West Ham – 42
- Crystal Palace – 41
- Stoke – 41
- Burnley – 40
- Watford – 40
- Swansea – 38
- Hull – 34 (Relegated)
- Middlesbrough – 28 (Relegated)
- Sunderland – 24 (Relegated)