English Premiership

Five things we learned from the Premier League

2019-05-06 08:28
Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp (Getty Images)

London - Liverpool scored a late winner to once again heap the pressure on Manchester City as the top-four race was all-but decided in a dramatic weekend of Premier League football.

Jurgen Klopp's men have 94 points after 37 matches, two clear of Pep Guardiola's defending champions, who host Leicester on Monday in their penultimate match.

Elsewhere, Chelsea guaranteed a top-four finish while Tottenham will also qualify for next season's Champions League barring a freak set of results next week.

AFP Sports looks at five things we learned from the Premier League:

Super subs rescue Liverpool

One of Manchester City's perceived advantages in the title race is the greater strength in depth on offer to Guardiola.

However, without the injured Roberto Firmino and having seen Mohamed Salah stretchered off with a head injury, two of Liverpool's substitutes provided another big moment in the title race on Saturday.

Divock Origi, who also scored a late winner against Everton earlier in the season, flicked home Xherdan Shaqiri's free-kick four minutes from time to seal a thrilling 3-2 win at Newcastle.

Swiss international Shaqiri has been a peripheral figure since January but one sweet delivery with his left foot could yet prove decisive in a titanic title race.

Hazard sparkles

Booed off after a lacklustre first half against Watford on Sunday, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri was facing a fourth straight match without a win.

Fortunately for Sarri, he still has Eden Hazard in his team and the brilliant Belgian came to the rescue with two assists in quick succession at the start of the second half, setting up Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz.

By the time Gonzalo Higuain made it three, Chelsea were on course for third place.

Arsenal's 1-1 draw against Brighton meant the Stamford Bridge club are guaranteed Champions League football next season.

'Proud' Poch

Frustrated by a teenage goalkeeper making his Premier League debut and perplexed by the needless dismissals of Son Heung-min and Juan Foyth, Mauricio Pochettino surveyed the wreckage of Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth on Saturday and insisted all was well.

"I'm so proud of these players. No one expected us to be in this position at the start of the season," the Tottenham manager said after Nathan Ake's late winner and Mark Travers' superb display.

Pochettino's upbeat outlook is at odds with a run of three successive defeats in all competitions but his fatigued side is almost certain to finish in the top four after Arsenal's slip-up.

Tottenham can now focus on overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Ajax in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday.

Embarrassed United Europa-League bound

Manchester United's outside chances of Champions League football next season were ended by another dismal performance in a 1-1 draw at already relegated Huddersfield on Sunday.

The Terriers had lost eight games in a row and picked up just 14 points all season before the visit of the Red Devils.

Despite being gifted an early opener as Huddersfield goalkeeper let Scott McTominay's effort through his legs, United were unable to hold onto the lead against statistically one of the worst teams in Premier League history.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Europa League football next season is a "fair reflection" of his side's current standards.

However, pressure is already starting to mount on the Norwegian, who was only appointed on a permanent basis in March, after a run of two wins in 11 games.

Arsenal fluff their lines at home

Arsenal put themselves in a great position to qualify for the Champions League after two seasons away from Europe's top club competition mainly due to their impressive form at the Emirates.

If the Premier League table were just based on results at home, Unai Emery's team, who have struggled on the road, would be third behind Manchester City and Liverpool.

But just when it really mattered, they wobbled badly, first losing to Crystal Palace and then drawing against Brighton on Sunday.

Only an astonishing turn of events would enable them to reach the Champions League via the top four now as Emery assesses the tweaks he needs at the end of his first season in charge.

 

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