1. West Ham 3-2 Man Utd
Antonio and Reid seal farewell victory
On the pitch, this long-anticipated Upton Park farewell match lived up to expectations.
The Hammers could have been comfortably ahead by half-time, but their inability to convert chances was punished by Anthony Martial’s second-half double. With 15 minutes to go, Michail Antonio equalised before Winston Reid scored the winner in the 80th minute to send the home fans wild.
Aside from the fact that Man Utd lost their chance to have Champions League qualification in their hands, Antonio’s goal capped off another performance that may well catch Roy Hodgson’s attention next season.
The versatile winger has played well in several positions this season. His seven goals and seven assists in the league is a solid return for the former Nottingham Forest player, particularly given his slow start.
Antonio only managed to play 40-minutes of Premier League football by December. The 26-year-old is now just two goals behind the club’s top scorer, Dimitri Payet, with 10 in all competitions.
In fact, Antonio scores or assists a goal every 140.5 minutes of league action. That’s just over a game and a half, a return that if maintained next campaign should earn him a call-up to the England squad.
2. Sunderland 3-0 Everton
Sunderland survive with comfortable win
As Sunderland kept their Premier League status, Roberto Martinez lost his as manager of Everton.
The Spaniard’s sacking was inevitable following a dreadful run of form with recent performances providing little sign that the players are onboard. The Toffees won just five of their last 24 league games as well as losing semi-finals to Man City (League Cup) and Man Utd (FA Cup).
The Black Cats meanwhile, benefitted from a run that saw just one defeat in their last ten. The performances of Vito Mannone and Fabio Borini have seen them linked with late call-ups to Italy’s Euro 2016 squad, while Jermain Defoe’s goals have given him hope of making Hodgson’s side. But it’s the impact of Sam Allardyce’s January signings that has helped save a side that spent 31 rounds out of 38 in the relegation zone.
Jan Kirchhoff, Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri arrived during the winter transfer window for less than £15m. All three made an appearance in the same game for the first time during the one-nil home defeat against Man City – Sunderland’s 15th loss from 24 games. Since then, they’ve only lost two, away to West and home to champions, Leicester.
Mid-season signings are often hard to get right and normally come at a premium because of the timing. But these three all played their part in Sunderland’s escape as Kirchhoff protected the back four, which included a no-nonsense Kone, while Khazri provided a creative spark in the final third.
Another productive transfer window by Allardyce and a better start to the season should see them avoid a fifth successive battle at the bottom.
3. Norwich 4-2 Watford
Relegation for Alex Neil’s side
Norwich City’s relegation was confirmed despite the Canaries defeating Watford at Carrow Road.
It was a first win since their dramatic defeat of Newcastle who were also relegated following Sunderland’s victory.
Alex Neil will bemoan the number of costly errors, which are often punished at this level, while the success of their recruitment has been somewhat limited.
Dieumerci Mbokani (a season-long loan signing) and Steven Naismith (£8.5m from Everton in January) have failed to provide the goals needed to survive, particularly if you compare them to Defoe at Sunderland who has scored 15 league goals, more than Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa.
Norwich’s strikers (Mbokani, Naismith, Cameron Jerome, Lewis Grabban, Kyle Lafferty, Patrick Bamford and Gary Hooper) made a total of 38 starts and 41 sub appearances yielding just 12 goals.
At the back, Norwich’s best signing, Timm Klose, missed the last four games due to injury. The club’s two clean sheets in 17 games provide another reason as to why they are heading back to the Championship.
4. Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Hazard hitting form ahead of Euros
Liverpool’s last home game of the season saw the visit of reigning champions, Chelsea, who are 38-points worse off from last year with a match at home to Leicester remaining. This will be the biggest drop of points from one season to the next during the Premier League era.
Liverpool fielded what is likely to be their starting 11 for the Europa League final against Sevilla on Wednesday 18th May and fell behind to an individual goal by Eden Hazard.
Last season’s player of the year has had a troubled campaign due to injury and form but a recent upturn in performances have seem the Belgian score four in his last four appearances.
The playmaker drifted past a few loose challenges before passing accurately into the far corner. His form could prove a huge boost for Belgium ahead of the Euros in France.
The Reds will now finish off the extension on their Main Stand as they increase the capacity from 45,000 to 54,000 ahead of next season. They’ll be hoping a win in Basel on Wednesday will ensure the newly developed stadium will be hosting Champions League football.