Huddersfield Town cheer Chelsea escape, Manchester City break more Premier League records
Huddersfield Town were left celebrating wildly after securing their Premier League safety on Wednesday with a dramatic and resilient 1-1 draw at Chelsea, a result that looks almost certain to condemn Swansea City to relegation.
With a Harry Kane goal giving Tottenham Hotspur a 1-0 win over Newcastle United at Wembley to secure their Champions League place for next season, Chelsea’s draw may also have caused fatal damage to the Blues’ hopes of a top-four finish.
Meanwhile, champions Manchester City said a fond Etihad farewell to Yaya Toure, routing Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 and moving on to 97 points -- the most ever in a Premier League season -- and to the verge of a landmark 100-point campaign.
Pep Guardiola’s men, 20 points clear at the top, also set a new mark for most goals in a season in the Premier League era, with strikes from Danilo, Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho taking the tally to 105.
Yet it was Huddersfield who were the toast of the league after the side who made a fairytale return to the top division last season ensured survival with a second consecutive backs-to-the-wall draw after keeping Manchester City goalless on Sunday.
“This is an unbelievable achievement. We have a further season in the Premier League,” said David Wagner, manager of the league’s least funded club.
“The dressing-room has shown such togetherness all season, they always believed that in football the impossible is possible. Nobody expected it apart from us.”
They had gone ahead against the run of play through Laurent Delpoitre soon after halftime but a cruel, freakish equaliser, when a clearance struck Marcos Alonso and rebounded into the net, was the signal for Chelsea to bombard their goal.
The Terriers ended up being eternally grateful to goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, who dazzlingly tipped an Andreas Christensen header on to the post in a moment that will go down in the Yorkshire club’s folklore.
SWANSEA NEED MIRACLE
Huddersfield soared into 16th place on 37 points, four clear of 18th-placed Swansea, who now have to rely on what manager Carlos Carvalhal has called a “miracle” if they are to survive.
It also ensured that for only the third time in the Premier League era, the three promoted sides -- in this case, Huddersfield, Newcastle and Brighton -- all survived.
Technically, Southampton, on 36 points, are still not safe but only if they lose so heavily at home by Manchester City and Swansea score enough against Stoke to effect a 10-goal swing can the Saints go down.
It was a gloomy night for Chelsea and their manager Antonio Conte, whose future at the club remains the subject of much conjecture, as they remained fifth in the Champions League race on 70 points.
Spurs moved on to 74 to be certain of their spot, after Kane’s 28th goal of the season kept him just about on 31-goal Mohammed Salah’s heels in the race to be the league’s top scorer.
Now Chelsea have to rely on the slim hope that they win their last match at Newcastle on Sunday while Champions League finalists Liverpool, on 72, lose at home to Brighton.
Asked if he would still be at Chelsea next season, Conte offered the non-committal response: “This is not my task, there is a club to judge the situation and then take the best decision.”
In Arsene Wenger’s penultimate match as Arsenal manager, the Gunners suffer yet another wretched away day, losing 3-1 at Leicester City while having to play for 74 minutes with 10 men following a straight red card for Konstantinos Mavropanos.
It left Arsenal as the only side in English league football to fail to win a single away point in 2018, having lost all seven road games before Wenger’s farewell after 22 years with the club at Huddersfield on Sunday.
The Frenchman will doubtless hope his goodbye goes as sweetly as Toure’s for Manchester City as their 34-year-old favourite declared after non-stop cheers at the Etihad: “I think they recognise what I’ve done for the club. I will be back (as a fan) for sure.”