By Niall Clarke
- Five lessons learned from Premier League match-week 35 & FA Cup semi finals
- Full results
Arsene Wenger began his farewell tour with a win whilst Chelsea & Manchester United were sealing their FA Cup final berths. There is that and more to discuss in this week’s Premier League round up.
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Arsenal Start Their Farewell To Wenger With A Win
News broke out on Friday that after 21 years at the club, Arsene Wenger would leave his post as Arsenal manager at the end of the season.
The departure of the Frenchman was one that has been called for by many Arsenal supporters, but it still saddens them to see a club legend leave. Wenger is very much a staple of the club at this point and his departure will signal the end of an era for the Gunners, but it may be time to usher in some new blood for a new era. It has been nearly 15 years since Arsenal last lifted the Premier League trophy and the fans believe they can do better.
Despite the need to move on, they should look back at what Wenger achieved with the club. The Frenchman brought them numerous titles, a Champions League final and revolutionized the way the game is played. He is the only manager in Premier League history to go an entire season unbeaten and was part of one of the greatest teams in the history of the division.
The team will undoubtedly want to give him a great send off and it started with a 4-1 win at home to West Ham. Nacho Monreal gave Arsenal the lead before Marko Arnautovic equalised only 14 minutes later. The Gunners turned up the style in the last 10 minutes, netting three times through Aaron Ramsey and a brace from Alexandre Lacazette to seal a comprehensive win.
Their attention will turn to Atletico Madrid in the Europa League as Wenger looks to add one more trophy to collection before he leaves the club, and it would be a fitting send off for a legend of the game.
Are Spurs Bottlers?
Tottenham suffered their eighth FA Cup semi final loss in a row as they were defeated 2-1 by Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday.
Spurs started as the superior side and they were rewarded for their dominance when Dele Alli converted a Christian Eriksen cross to give them the lead. United settled in after a nervy first 20 minutes, and Mr Wembley himself Alex Sanchez would head home an equaliser before the break.
United would take the lead in the second half through Ander Herrera as Tottenham began to fade. Spurs would fail to create any major scoring chances for the remainder of the game as Manchester United daw out the game and booked their FA Cup final place.
The pattern does not make for good reading, and it is not only the FA Cup where they have this issue. Tottenham had a great chance at winning the Premier League a few seasons ago, but a poor last stretch saw them lose out to Leicester City. Even if you look at this season, Spurs were in a good position against Juventus before conceding two quick goals that sent them crashing out of the Champions League.
It is 10 years since Spurs won a trophy and that does not feel right considering how good the team has become. They have come close many times but when it gets to the pressure situations, they find themselves being out-willed by their opponents.
Will The FA Cup Save Chelsea’s Season?
It is fair to say Chelsea’s 2017/2018 season has not gone to plan. They have not only failed to defend their title, the Blues currently sit outside the top four in the Premier League and look set to miss out on Champions League football next season unless Liverpool win the competition this year.
They did not fare much better in Europe either as Chelsea lost out to Barcelona in the last 16. That meant only one major trophy was left for them to compete for and that is the FA Cup. Antonio Conte’s side were dealt a good draw against Southampton in the semi finals, but there was still a job to be done as we all know what magic the FA Cup can produce.
There was no shocks to be had at Wembley on Sunday however as the Blues eased past the Saints 2-0 thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata. Chelsea will go on to face Manchester United in the final pitting them against their former manager Jose Mourinho. It is a clash of the titans at Wembley and it promises to be a great final in May.
An FA Cup triumph will paper over some of the cracks shown this season by Chelsea, but it still will not erase the league disappointment. Losing out to Manchester City in the title race is no shame, but to miss out of the top four is the real disappointment. Conte could be out at the end of the season regardless if they win the FA Cup or not, and it will go down as a poor season because of their poor league form.
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Palace & Stoke Fail To Take Survival Step
It was disappointing weekend for the Premier League’s relegation battlers as none of them managed to pick up the vital three points in match-week 35.
West Brom came from two goals behind to earn a draw against Liverpool on Saturday, but despite the positive result, the Baggies do not need draws they need wins. If Swansea win their game in hand, it will spell the end of West Brom’s Premier League tenure.
Crystal Palace and Watford played out a disappointing 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road. The Eagles are six points clear of the relegation zone as things stand, but teams below them, including Southampton, have a game in hand. You would think six points may be enough to see them confirm their survival but there is still work to do for Roy Hodgson.
Stoke once again let a lead slip a they drew 1-1 with Burnley. The Potters are four points from safety, but Swansea have played one less game than Stoke. A win here would have been crucial, but with their run in it looks like Stoke could be heading down to the Championship.
Salah Wins Player Of The Year
When it came down to the winner of the PFA player of the year, there were only two players in contention. Kevin De Bruyne’s marvellous performances from midfield have arguably been the biggest reason why Manchester City have looked so good this season, whilst Mohamed Salah had an amazing first season in the Premier League as he looks set to break the record for the most goals scored in a 38 game season.
Whilst players like David De Gea, Harry Kane, Leroy Sane and David Silva were also on the shortlist, Salah and De Bruyne stood out above the rest and sparked plenty of debate between fans on who should win the award. In the end the Egyptian was voted the best player of the season by his peers, barely beating the Belgian to the award.
If you do not understand why Salah won the award (where have you been by the way) you only have to look at the statistics. The Liverpool winger has scored 31 goals in 33 games this season and is only one away from breaking a Premier League record for the most goals scored in a 38 game season. Not only has he scored a bag full of goals, he has contributed in the big games scoring in both legs of Liverpool’s Champions League semi final against Manchester City. He looks a bargain at £34 million now, does he not?
Predictions Round Up
After being overtaken in midweek, Neil needed a big response in match-week 35 and he got it. An 8-3 victory for the week sees him retake the lead with 237 points to Niall’s 233.
||Actual Score||Neil (237)
|West Brom 1-2 Liverpool||West Brom 2-2 Liverpool||West Brom 2-2 Liverpool (3)|
|Watford 2-2 Crystal Palace (1)||Watford 0-0 Crystal Palace||Watford 1-2 Crystal|
|Arsenal 3-1 West Ham (1)||Arsenal 4-1 West Ham||Arsenal 3-1 West Ham (1)|
|Stoke 0-1 Burnley||Stoke 1-1 Burnley||Stoke 1-1 Burnley (3)|
|Man City 3-1 Swansea (1)||Man City 5-0 Swansea||Man City 4-1 Swansea (1)|
|Everton 1-1 Newcastle||Everton 1-0 Newcastle||Everton 1-1 Newcastle|
The Premier League returns on April 28th
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