You have to applaud Tottenham Hotspur FC, really. They had us going there, I almost thought they were going to pull off one of the most perfect final day results going.
To the untrained eye, it looked like Tottenham went to Leicester fully intending to win and secure their place in next season’s new, interesting and some-might-say-prestigious Europa Conference League. But to those of us who like to think we know a thing or two, Tottenham conveniently used the media narrative of being “Spursy” to their advantage giving away two penalties that would raise an eyebrow in the anti-corruption circles of Asian football had the match taken place in Singapore.
Those two penalties were tucked away nicely by Jamie Vardy meaning Leicester got their wish of Champions League football and Spurs got theirs – not wasting their time kicking a ball around in another meaningless competition on Thursday nights.
Better still? The defeat would allow Arsenal, naively winning 2-0 at Brighton, to slip into 7th. Oh, how Ryan Mason and the lads must have been grinning in the second half as the perfect set of events unfolded – Harry Kane imagining finally achieving something meaningful in his time with the club.
And then Leicester realised they were going to finish in the top four and proceeded to collectively, and I believe this is the technical sporting term, utterly pap themselves.
Having been in the top four spots all season until momentarily slipping out during the week having lost to Chelsea, Leicester managed to get back in there with about 20 to go – only to utterly self-implode in quite impressive style. I mean, they bottled it from a great height last season but this was a new level. You have to feel a bit for Kasper Schmeichel – the Wembley hero – punching a corner into his own net and basically finishing the season there and then.
Brendan Rodgers needed Chelsea to do them a favour (they need another one next week) and boy, did they. Imagine going to Villa and losing when you only needed a positive result to secure Champions League football next season.
Of course, this could be the ultimate double-bluff (or something, I am confusing myself now, let alone you) from Tottenham. Did they suddenly realise that by killing off Leicester’s dreams of the Champions League that Rodgers might suddenly be interested in taking them over next season? If so, I applaud Daniel Levy once again for pure genius.
Kane got the Golden Boot, naturally, and Gareth Bale chose his last minutes in a Tottenham shirt to actually look like a Premier League footballer again. Imagine if Florentino Perez watched that and stumbled across a new cunning plan for the summer. Balo has decided, apparently, but is keeping it to himself – not the first time he’s gone all mystic Meg on an on-pitch interview after his last kick of a season.
I believe the modern vernacular is “fraud” – and I would not have been surprised to see that word and Thomas Tuchel in the same Tweet had Chelsea managed to finish 5th in the table. 5th, losing the FA Cup Final and probably losing the Champions League to City? I am sure Frank Lampard could have managed that. OK, that might be pushing it – and it didn’t actually land like that but it was very, very close. Can we all get off the Tommy T bandwagon now? I’m setting myself up for an almighty fall when they topple Pep’s lot next week, but he doesn’t win finals and he got Chelsea to the point where it was 100% in their own hands going into the weekend and lost the match they had to win – and needed Spurs, Spurs of all people, to bail them out. Are we sure he’s all that?
Credit to Aston Villa, though – Bertrand Traore, one of many rejected by Chelsea, proving to be pivotal where many other Chelsea wide men with bigger reputations decided to put in a no-show.
All the chaos at the King Power and Villa Park distracted us from a very efficient job by the former Champions at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp’s team revived themselves from the graveyard to finish 3rd. Sadio Mane did enough to mean he probably won’t the forward under threat for his place next season.
On any other day, the real story would have been Pep Guardiola sending on Sergio Aguero at the perfect time to wave farewell to Premier League football. City’s record goalscorer was on the pitch a matter of minutes and had scored two of the most classical Aguero goals you could possibly imagine. Thank goodness Everton were the opposition or it probably wouldn’t have happened. Imagine suggesting they might be in a title race earlier in the season. Aguero now has the most Premier League goals for a single club and heads off to repair the self-inflicted damage at Barcelona.
Are Newcastle fans still digging out Steve Bruce? He got you to 12th, folks – equalling anything your precious Rafa Benitez managed and achieved it in one of the more challenging seasons that club will ever have. I mean, imagine Liverpool losing two of their best players for prolonged periods and seeing how they get on.
West Ham really seem to be all grown up now. There were zero dramas, few heart-stopping moments, none of the “great, we’ve messed it up again” stuff at the Athletics Stadium as the Moysiah led the Hammers into 6th and Europe with a 3-0 win over Southampton. Everyone rightly talks about his repair job on Jesse Lingard, but what about Pablo Fornals, eh?
Juan Mata may well have scored his last goal for Manchester United on the day another Academy kid scored his first – United ruined Nuno’s goodbye to Wolves by winning away from home (again) with a dubious penalty (again) and managed to win without going behind – that has to be a good sign ahead of Wednesday’s Europe League Final.
Leeds ended their season in style, smashing Big Sam’s WBA 3-1 in what could well be Allardyce’s final ever Premier League match (probably not, on reflection – Watford, December 2021 – you heard it here first).
Sheffield United beat Burnley in the match nobody cared about in the slightest – even their fans.
Oh, and a note to Tim Sherwood. You can call them “matches” and “clubs” – you are not contractually obliged to say “football match” and “football club” every single time. We are watching the football. We understand the context. Thanks.
“Tales from the Top Flight: The slightly tongue-in-cheek review of the 2020/21 Premier League season” yearbook will be on sale via Amazon in the not-too-distant future. Keep your eyes peeled.