Premier League: The cost of Arsenal’s failure and other things we learned
Arsenal’s cost of failure, Chelsea skipper John Terry’s emotional farewell at Stamford Bridge and other key moments from the final day of the Premier League seasonfootball Updated: May 26, 2017 10:22 IST
Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years as Liverpool and Manchester City clinched top-four places.
Here are five things we learned in the Premier League on the final day of the season:
Arsenal failure comes at cost
Missing out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 20 years would have been a bitter enough pill for Arsenal to swallow. But Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Everton came with extra bad news in the form of a red card for Laurent Koscielny and a serious-looking knee injury sustained by Gabriel.
Koscielny, sent off for a reckless early foul on Enner Valencia, is now certain to miss next Saturday’s FA Cup final against Chelsea due to suspension and manager Arsene Wenger said Gabriel’s chances of lining up at Wembley were slim.
Wenger will therefore be without two senior centre-backs for a game that represents his last chance of salvaging something from a deeply trying season, although Shkodran Mustafi is expected to overcome the illness that kept him out of the Everton game.
Reds raise the roof
As Jurgen Klopp began to twirl his arms on the touchline in a frenzied bid to pump up the tense Anfield crowd, a swell of noise rose from the stands and within minutes Liverpool were back on course for the Champions League.
Needing a victory over relegated Middlesbrough to secure a top four-finish, Liverpool were struggling to impose themselves and the anxiety levels only mounted when fifth-placed Arsenal stormed into a two-goal lead down in London.
But Klopp’s call to arms was heeded in spectacular fashion and Liverpool took the lead through Georginio Wijnaldum on the stroke of half-time. Second-half strikes from Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana ensured Liverpool will take on Europe’s elite for the first time since 2014-15 and only the second time in the last eight years.
Terry’s tears for souvenirs
After 19 years and 15 major trophies, John Terry was about to leave the Stamford Bridge stage for the last time and the emotion of the moment was too much for even the grizzled Chelsea defender.
Having already announced he will leave Chelsea at the end of the season after being reduced to a bit-part role by Blues boss Antonio Conte, Terry was granted a fitting farewell as he started and captained his team one last time in the champions’ 5-1 demolition of Sunderland.
Terry, who is likely to be back on the bench for next weekend’s FA Cup final against Arsenal, was substituted in the 26th minute -- the time matching his shirt number -- and had to wipe away tears as Chelsea’s players formed a guard of honour while the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Terry returned to the pitch to lift the Premier League trophy at full-time as a banner reading “captain, leader, legend” was hung from the rafters.
If Walter Mazzarri hoped his players would give him a rousing send-off then he was to be disabused dramatically of such a notion. A dynamic attacking unit like City, who wrapped up third place with ease, need no second invitation to feed off a side that has given up the ghost and Watford were probably fortunate to escape with 5-0.
City manager Pep Guardiola will be licking his lips though at the thought of tyro Gabriel Jesus having a full season next term and forming a formidable partnership with Sergio Aguero, which he will need if he is to not disappoint again.
Kids alright for Mourinho
When Jose Mourinho arrived at Manchester United before the start of this season, there were concerns that the Portuguese manager would not uphold the club’s tradition for attacking football. But there was a nod to United’s history when he sent out a youthful side that defeated Crystal Palace 2-0.
The 31-year-old Wayne Rooney was the only player older than 25 in a line-up that averaged 22 years and 284 days. Admittedly, Mourinho’s hand was forced by the need to avoid his senior players getting injured ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm, but ever since the ‘Busby Babes’ team of the 1950s United have had a reputation for giving young players a chance and fans at Old Trafford on Sunday will hope they have seen one or two stars of the future.