Premier League Review

After losing at home to Everton two weeks ago, Huddersfield seemed to be sinking towards relegation, but a second heroic draw in four days away to Chelsea ensured that they would be a Premier League club again next season. The 1-1 draw was celebrated with almost as much gusto by Liverpool fans as it dealt a hammer blow to Chelsea’s prospects of gatecrashing the top four. The Blues dominated possession in the first half but could not break down a sturdy Huddersfield defence. The deadlock was broken shortly after the interval and it was the Terriers who hit the front, Willy Caballero’s misjudgment enabling Laurent Depoitre to finish with ease. Chelsea equalised in fortuitous circumstances when an attempted clearance struck Marcos Alonso and diverted into the visitors’ net. Huddersfield had to be extremely disciplined to prevent last year’s champions from scoring again and a wonder save from Jonas Lossl kept the teams on level terms.

The draw at Stamford Bridge was also music to the ears of Tottenham fans, especially after their own team edged past Newcastle at Wembley to clinch Champions League qualification for a third year in a row. The Geordies had a couple of decent chances in the first half, Jonjo Shelvey coming very close with a free kick, but it was Spurs who made the breakthrough on 50 minutes and it was Harry Kane who netted, taking him to within three goals of Mohamed Salah in the Golden Boot race. Newcastle had a shout for a penalty when Matt Ritchie appeared to be upended by Hugo Lloris, but they were unable to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat. Tottenham can now relax and it’s one from two for the final Champions League berth.

Manolo Gabbiadini has had a largely frustrating first full season at Southampton, but when the stakes were at their highest, the Italian came to the fore to plunder the goal that almost certainly secures their Premier League survival and effectively consigns defeated Swansea to the drop. Saints boss Mark Hughes rolled the dice big time by bringing on the striker for injured defender Jan Bednarek with the match goalless, but his ballsy gamble was vindicated in some style. It will take a profoundly unfortunate goal difference swing to send Southampton down now, while Swansea were again left to rue their lack of cutting edge in the final third and they look destined to join Stoke and West Brom in dropping to the Championship, with the Baggies’ relegation confirmed after this result.

Manchester City set three Premier League records in their 3-1 win over Brighton on Wednesday night. They moved on to a record points haul of 97, leaving them in with a chance of hitting the century on the final day. They now have 105 goals, two more than the previous best, and won for a record 31st time. It wasn’t a night without a little hiccup for the champions, who had taken the lead through Danilo but were pegged back by Leonardo Ulloa’s header. However, Bernardo Silva restored their advantage with the goal that broke the division’s scoring record and Fernandinho wrapped up the landmark win in the second half. It was also Yaya Toure’s final game at the Etihad after eight years with City and he was substituted to adoring applause in the closing minutes, as well as giving thanks to the supporters with a post-game speech.

Arsenal have now played seven away league games in 2018 – and lost them all. Their latest reverse, their 11th on the road in the Premier League this season, came at Leicester, who addressed claims that they were not putting in the effort for under-fire boss Claude Puel. Kelechi Iheanacho fired them into a 14th-minute lead and the Gunners then had Konstantinos Mavropanos sent off, leaving them a man short for all but the opening quarter-hour. They did draw level after half-time through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but a Jamie Vardy penalty and a late strike from Riyad Mahrez consigned Arsene Wenger’s men to yet another poor away day and perhaps taken some of the weight off Puel’s shoulders.

Manchester United will finish second, their highest league placing in five years, after a goalless draw away to West Ham on Thursday. In a largely forgettable affair, it was Jose Mourinho’s men who had the bulk of whatever few chances were created, although Adrian had to pull off three good saves in the first half, including a fine reactionary one with his feet. David de Gea was untroubled as he kept his 18th clean sheet of the season, earning him the Golden Glove. There was a flashpoint later in the match when Mark Noble and Paul Pogba squared up to one another, but otherwise this was archetypal end of season fare.

Just as Liverpool’s top four hopes were sinking into genuine danger, along came Huddersfield to significantly bolster their chances. It’s a blow from which Chelsea might not recover, but they go into the final day still with hope of snatching fourth from under the noses of the Champions League finalists.