Everything you need to know about Decision Day in the Premier League Sunday in quickie form, complete with Bay State Soccer Sentinel analysis and insight:
Champions Liverpool finish season on 99 points: After 38 games and 30 years of waiting, Liverpool — already crowned champions of the English top flight — finished the 2019-20 season with a 3-1 thumping of Newcastle United on Tyneside. The Reds finished the campaign with 99 points. That beats Manchester City’s 98 points from a year ago, and just shy of City’s record 100 from two seasons ago. The win Sunday marked Liverpool’s 32nd win of the campaign.
Villa clinch safety, Watford, Bournemouth relegated: Aston Villa played West Ham at the London Stadium, and this was the fulcrum of everything for the bottom of the table: Villa, sitting 17th, had to just not lose and it would remain in the Premier League for another season. The Hammers, 16th, were already safe. And for about 78 minutes, they both played like they were safe. Very little in the way of attacking. That is until Jack Grealish put Villa ahead in the 83rd minute, which meant that no matter what Bournemouth did — the Cherries were ahead of Everton — and no matter if Watford pulled off a comeback for the ages at Arsenal, they would remain safe. West Ham ended up pulling level less than two minutes later, but neither side really went for it after that. Despite a 3-1 win over the Toffees, Bournemouth finished 18th and join 19th-place Watford, which fell, 3-2, to the Gunners, and bottom of the table Norwich City in relegation.
United, Chelsea to the Champions League, Leicester, Spurs to Europa, Wolves need to wait: With Liverpool and Manchester City already claiming spots in the Champions League, the next places — third and fourth — needed to be decided, along with the spots in the Europa League. And with twin 2-nil victories over Leicester City and Wolves, respectively, Manchester United and Chelsea booked passage to the UEFA Champions League, which allowed Leicester City to finish fifth and an automatic place in the Europa league group stage. And with Tottenham Hotspur drawing, 1-1, with Crystal Palace and with +3 on Wolverhampton, Spurs finished sixth and will advance to the Europa League. Wolves, in seventh, will wait until next weekend for its European fate: should Chelsea defeat Arsenal in the FA Cup Final at Wembley, Wolves will go to the Europa League.
Vardy takes the Golden Boot: Even though he didn’t score Sunday, Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy finished the season with 23 goals, most in the league, to clinch the Golden Boot for 2019-20. He is also the oldest Golden Boot winner at age 33, with former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba holding the previous record at age 32 when he scored 29 in 2009-10. Vardy beats out both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal and Danny Ings of Southampton, both of whom scored today to give them 22 goals apiece.
Che Adams, Southampton: A pair of goals to help the Saints grab a 3-1 win against Sheffield United.
Jack Grealish, Aston Villa: Grealish’s goal gave life to a rather drab contest at the London Stadium.
Kevin de Bruyne, Manchester City: Two goals and an assist for KdB, who finished the season as the top playmaker with 20 helpers, and we really can’t argue that.
Jonny Evans, Leicester City: His foolish red card should speak for itself. But no! He also tackled Anthony Martial earlier to give United a penalty with 20 minutes to play.
Norwich City: Fully out-classed by the second-place side in a 5-nil defeat.
WHAT SWEENS REALLY THINKS RIGHT NOW
To be honest, there wasn’t too much drama in this year’s Decision Day, given that Liverpool and City are so far and above the rest of the pack in the Premiership. Not only that, Villa-West Ham was drab football given the circumstances.
Of course, there’s no incentive to playing attacking football when both are safe. No one gets extra points on the final day of the season.
The Premier League season is complete, but there are still decisions coming: Chelsea meets Arsenal in the FA Cup Final next weekend, which has European ramifications for Arsenal and Wolves. Chelsea and Manchester City are still in the Champions League, and we’ll see next week who joins Leeds United and west Bromwich Albion is heading to the Premier League for next season.
Bye for now.