KARACHI: While Stamford Bridge erupted as John Terry lifted the English Premier League trophy, crowning Chelsea with the league title for the first time since 2010, things were not so rosy in the city of Liverpool as the 18-time English champions succumbed to a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Stoke at the Britannia on captain Steven Gerrard’s final appearance for the club.
In a dramatic turn of events in the Premier League, the Merseyside giants, who were primed to finish fifth just two weeks ago, gifted the spot to Tottenham as Stoke City were rampant at home to further pile misery on Brendan Rodgers’ men.
After the match, Brendan Rodgers admitted that the supporters deserved an apology for the dreadful performance. But whatever reason the Northern Irishman has for this unusually disappointing display — Liverpool’s worst defeat since 1963 — he is treading on thin ice and must be wary if he intends to coach Liverpool in the long run.
Meanwhile, Newcastle United avoided relegation as cancer survivor Jonas Gutierrez scored one goal and made the other in a 2-0 win over West Brom. This was the Toons’ first victory in 10 league games and gave interim manager John Carver some solace after Newcastle had been on a downward spiral since Alan Pardew’s departure in January.
Hull City became the latest relegation victim as their goalless draw against Manchester United proved to be not enough. Steve Bruce’s men created plenty of openings during a nervy 90 minutes but had two goals disallowed and found stand-in Manchester United goalkeeper Victor Valdes in fine form.
Hull join Queens Park Rangers and Burnley in the relegation party and would start off their 2015-16 season in The Championship.
Harry Kane, Tottenham’s go-to guy all season, rose up to the occasion once again and scored the winner against Everton at Goodison Park to take his team into the Europa League. The England international is the leading goal-scorer for the North London club and has netted in 21 goals for the Spurs this season, the second-highest goals tally in the Premier League.
Arsenal’s Theo Walcott netted in a perfect hat-trick in a 4-1 win over West Brom to mark his return to the side in style. The 26-year-old made his first start for the Gunners since February, but made up for lost time by scoring thrice in the first-half to ensure that Arsenal finish the season on a high.
Manchester United, meanwhile, drew 0-0 against Hull City to finish fourth in manager Louis van Gaal’s first season in charge and would be contesting in the Champions League play-offs next season to earn their spot in the group stages.
On the other hand, Alan Pardew guided Crystal Palace to a best ever 10th place finish in the Premier League thanks to a 1-0 victory over Swansea, while Frank Lampard marked his final game in English football in triumphant fashion as the Manchester City star’s goal ensured the deposed champions ended the Premier League campaign with a 2-0 victory over Southampton.
England’s Danny Ings made sure that Burnley bow out with heads held high as he scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Aston Villa, while Leicester extended their unbeaten run to four games with a 5-1 thrashing of QPR at the King Power Stadium.
While Jose Mourinho’s men may have had the final laugh this season, it would be quite interesting to see how the teams fare next year. Although the Gunners would be expected to take their fine run of form to the next season, United have already declared their intentions of buying big in the summer transfer market and would be looking to launch their own title challenge.
Last year’s runner-ups Liverpool have lost the most ground in the league apart from the relegated clubs, and Rodgers would be eyeing to buff up the squad in the summers to achieve their primary objective of finishing in the top four. And the fact that they would play lesser games that their top-four counterparts next season, they certainly would have a fresher squad to qualify for the Champions League.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2015.
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