By Ryan Moran
- Mancester United win suspended fixture, moved two days forward.
- Arsenal and Manchester City claim City bragging rights.
- Claudio Ranieri receives special welcome on Stamford Bridge return.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – After what turned out to be an thankfully embarrassing oversight, rather than a more sinister issue, Manchester United closed out the 2015-2016 British Premier League Season.
The Premier League’s finish date was moved to Tuesday as Manchester United and Bournemouth’s fixture was reorganised over safety fears. The limelight shone although the result did very little damage to the final standings. Many rival sides fought down to the final day to claim annual bragging rights while one manager returned a legend after his successful debut season.
City rule the Manchester roost for a third consecutive year
Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure Manchester City have finished above Manchester United every season. The season culminated in City’s 1-1 deadlock with Swansea meaning United need a 19-0 victory over Bournemouth.
United’s stadium threat suspended the fixture, with the game replayed on Tuesday evening. Following an investigation, the threat was announced as a suspicious package left over from a midweek training drill. A controlled explosion was carried out as all spectators left the stadium safely and sniffer dogs patrolled the stands.
The package was reported to have been signed in by the firm carrying out the midweek training. The game was played on Tuesday evening as Manchester United ran out 3-1 winners, Wayne Rooney scoring the only goal the day after the England squad was announced.
Kelechi Iheanacho netted early in City’s draw as Andre Ayew levelled for Swansea. Manuel Pellegrini ended his three season tenure with a draw and, as a result, secured a Champions League qualifier for the incoming Pep Guardiola.
Louis Van Gaal’s future remains unclear but Europa League football will fail to attract a top class manager, capable of returning United to former glories. The FA Cup remains a possibility, against Crystal Palace, warming up with a victory stands United in good stead with three different goal scorers. Marcus Rashford and Ashley Young completed the scoring as both players joined Rooney in the provisional squad yesterday.
City’s three-year dominance is a sign of the times as the Etihad outfit reached new heights in Europe. The league cup, at least, means Pellegrini leaves with silverware but a disappointing post Guardiola announcement ended their hopes of competing for the title.
Newcastle gift Gunners second place with Spurs drubbing
Newcastle defeated Tottenham 5-1 while Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa allowed them to leapfrog their North London rivals. Many Tottenham fans blamed the suspended duo of Dele Alli and Moussa Dembele but a third placed side should have enough strength in depth to not be heavily affected by their exclusion.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s brace, coupled with goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic, Rolando Aarons and Daryl Janmaat helped Newcastle to victory. Erik Lamela scored with the score at 2-0 but the Magpies took the initiative.
Rafael Benitez has taken 10 points from his nine games in charge. Three defeats from nine couldn’t prevent Newcastle from going down. Sunderland’s inspired form under Sam Allardyce condemned their Tyneside rivals to the Championship. A decision from Benitez is still pending following relegation.
Tottenham will compete in the Champions League for the first time since Harry Redknapp led Spurs into the knockout stages. Many will argue this side are stronger than the Redknapp side carried by Gareth Bale, most notably against Inter Milan.
A second place finish can only be seen as a success for Arsenal. A typical Gunners’ season ensued as they failed to live up to the early hype created by their form. Finishing above their rivals after the ‘Wenger out’ campaigns and Tottenham’s strong campaign is testament to Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman’s seasons seem to be numbered as the wait for Premier League success seems to be reaching its sell by date.
A poor campaign, encapsulated by the ten-point deficit between Leicester and Arsenal, has allowed the Gunners’ problems to be pushed under the carpet with automatic group stage qualification seldom in North London. The season finished on a high as Olivier Giroud struck a hat trick as the scoring was finished off by Mark Bunn, from Mikel Arteta’s initial shot.
Claudio Ranieri receives special welcome at former stomping ground
On the final day of the season with the league won, Claudio Ranieri’s season was given the utmost respect by the club the laid him off 12 years prior to his first domestic league trophy. An open arms welcome from Roman Abramovic was the start of a special occasion, even if the match fell short of expectation.
The emotional Ranieri failed to complete the double over his former employees but did take four points from last year’s champions. A Cesc Fabregas penalty was cancelled out by a Danny Drinkwater strike.
A Monday open bus top parade brought the city together as the Foxes flaunted the trophy around a town not unfamiliar with sporting success, given their Leicester Tigers rugby team.
Of the other fixtures
Everton 3-0 Norwich
Southampton 4-1 Crystal Palace
Stoke City 2-1 West Ham United
Watford 2-2 Sunderland
West Brom 1-1 Liverpool
As the Premier League season ends, the Europa League final between Liverpool and Sevilla takes place in Basel on Wednesday 18th May. Manchester United and Crystal Palace compete for the final domestic honour in the FA Cup on Saturday 20th May.
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