Chelsea sweep away hurdles on their stomp to the title
It says a great deal about Chelsea’s dominance this season that in the trickiest match in their run-in, the Blues ran out 3-0 winners. For those hoping Chelsea would slip up and allow Tottenham Hotspur back in the title race, the away match at Goodison Park was one to watch. Yet the league leaders managed to win 3-0 despite being far from their best.
The match was deadlocked at 0-0 until the 66th minute, when Pedro unleashed a thunderbolt to put Chelsea in front. Two goals followed in the closing half hour, cuing delirious celebrations in the away end at Goodison. Antonio Conte produced a fervorous celebration, passionately clapping the Blues faithful and jumping on Thibaut Courtois’ shoulders in his glee.
Chelsea’s final matches include home fixtures against Boro, Watford, and Sunderland. It is difficult to see Chelsea dropping any points there, and the title looks set to be returning to west London for the second time in three years.
Liverpool take advantage of the Manchester clubs’ woes
This was the weekend the Manchester clubs were supposed to usurp the Reds and knock Liverpool out of the Champions League spots. United played host to strugglers Swansea, while City travelled to a Boro team that had only one win in all of 2017. Yet both sides limped to disappointing draws against teams fighting for their lives, and lost crucial ground in the race for the top-four.
With Liverpool triumphing over Watford thanks to Emre Can’s stunning bicycle kick, the Reds are now in control of third position, bouncing back immediately from their loss against Crystal Palace. United were the big losers this weekend, and will now need City or Liverpool to slip up if they want to get a top-four space. Manchester United are on a 25 match unbeaten run; yet far too many have been ties instead of victories. Unless they win the Europa League, the Red Devils need to turn their wins into draws and mount a late season run.
Sunderland go down with a whimper
The time has finally come. Sunderland have been relegated to the Championship, their demotion confirmed after their 1-0 home loss to Bournemouth on Saturday. The Black Cats looked abysmal all season long, sticking with toxic manager David Moyes and offering little fight in the relegation battle.
Despite the goals of Jermain Defoe and the stellar goalkeeping of young prospect Jordan Pickford, Sunderland always looked destined for the drop. They bring a passionate and vocal fanbase to the second division, along with a bright keeper, but many players who were brought in on short term deals will be expected to depart.
One crucial rebuilding step will be to get rid of Moyes in the summer and start afresh with a new manager who is prepared to tackle the slog of the Championship. They will do well to observe hated rivals Newcastle on how to bounce right back to the Premier League.