10 things we learned from the Premier League and FA Cup final

Liverpool take another step towards the quadruple with their FA Cup triumph, Steven Gerrard has a chance for revenge after his infamous slip while Jack Grealish helps keep Man City in the driving seat – 10 things we learned from the weekend’s action

  • Liverpool completed a domestic cup double by beating Chelsea for the FA Cup
  • Manchester City dropped points in the title race but are still in the driving seat
  • Tottenham ramped up the pressure on Arsenal in their fight for the top-four
  • Leeds moved ahead of Burnley in the fight to avoid the drop after a late goal 
  • Sportsmail picks out 10 things we learned from the latest action in the top flight   

There is still plenty to fight for at both ends of the table as the Premier League enters the final week in what has been an incredible season.  

As Liverpool completed a domestic cup double by again seeing off Chelsea in a penalty shootout in the FA Cup final, there rivals Manchester City dropped points as the title race looks to go right down to the wire.

At the other end Burnley slipped into the relegation zone following their defeat to Tottenham, though Leeds and Everton are also scrapping for their lives to avoid the drop to the Championship.

The race is also still on for both Champions League and Europa League qualification, heading into the final games of the season.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at 10 things we learned from the latest instalment of Premier League action, as well as the FA Cup final.

Liverpool clinched the FA Cup after their penalty shootout victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup

Manchester City dropped points in the title fight but are still in the driving seat after their draw

1. Two down, two to go for Liverpool

Liverpool’s quadruple dreams lives on after they lifted the FA Cup for the first time in 16 years.

In what felt like a repeat of their Carabao Cup victory over Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp’s men clinched their second trophy of the season after Alisson saved Mason Mount’s penalty, before Kostas Tsimikas was the unlikely hero to seal the victory.

The Reds don’t have much time to rest though as they look to go one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League when they face Southampton on Tuesday.

There were some fitness concerns brought up from the final, with Mo Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson all hooked off throughout the game.

Kostas Tsimikas was the unlikely hero as Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties to win the FA Cup

They will be a doubt for the game with Southampton but Jurgen Klopp will be hopeful they can still have some influence on the battle for the title.  

They will though have taken some encouragement from City’s 2-2 draw with West Ham – despite Pep Guardiola’s side rescuing a point from being two goals down.

While their Premier League hopes are not in their hands, City’s result – should Liverpool beat Southampton – means the league leaders can’t afford to drop any points against Aston Villa this weekend.  

Liverpool also have the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28 to look forward to, though their supporters will be hoping they’re not put through the same stress as they were in the two cup finals against Chelsea.  

Liverpool don’t have much time to rest as they now hope for a big swing in the race for the title

2. Gerrard has a chance for revenge 

It just had to be Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa who stand in the way of Manchester City and their fourth league title in five seasons.

For eight long years, Gerrard has been haunted by his famous slip against Chelsea which led to his beloved Liverpool being pipped to the title by City during the 2013-14 season.  

Ever since then he has constantly faced jibes from rival supporters about the costly mistake, a huge ‘what if?’ moment in his career which means he is now seen by many as the greatest player to never lift the Premier League trophy.

Steven Gerrard will still be haunted by the slip which helped Man City pip Liverpool to the title

Though he would never admit it, the word ‘revenge’ will surely be on his mind when Aston Villa travel to the Etihad this Sunday. 

If City are unable to beat Villa and Liverpool can win both of their final games, then Gerrard will have gifted the Premier League title to the club where is known as one of their greatest legends of all time. 

It will be a big task for Villa though who don’t have a good record against their opponents at the weekend.

City have won each of their last eight meetings in all competitions, with an aggregate score of 21-4. 

Guardiola’s side also have the advantage in that they don’t play until Sunday, while Villa host relegation scrapping Burnley on Thursday evening.  

Gerrard would relish if his Villa side can help his former side Liverpool become champions

3. Still a long way to go for Lukaku

Last week, we asked whether there was renewed hope for Romelu Lukaku after he scored two goals in as many minutes against Wolves – and has since netted a further goal against Leeds.

He was rewarded with a start in the FA Cup final, albeit in the absence of the injured Kai Havertz – his biggest chance to date to prove why Chelsea were right to bring him back to Stamford Bridge. 

They spent £97.5million for him to be the man to win trophies for Chelsea, but in the FA Cup final he was an absentee.

Romelu Lukaku offered Chelsea very little threat before he was hauled off after 85 minutes

He toiled away for 85 minutes causing very little concern to Liverpool’s centre-halves Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate until Thomas Tuchel put him out of his misery and sent on Hakim Ziyech. 

Added to that, Tuchel would have been frustrated with the off-field noise that again surrounded Lukaku heading into the FA Cup final.

His agent, Federico Pastorello, said there was clearly a ‘problem’ for Lukaku at Chelsea and wanted to speak to the new owners about interest from both teams in Milan.

On the eve of the final, Lukaku rebuked his agent saying he did his own talking.

However, Lukaku delivered not much more than a whisper before he was brought off and patience with the Belgian is starting to run out.  

Lukaku was brought in to help Chelsea win trophies but his form has been underwhelming

4. Grealish keeps Manchester City in the driving seat 

Jack Grealish is another big name signing that hasn’t quite lived up to expectation this season.

Unlike Lukaku, his effort has never been under any question, but he will know that a higher goal contribution return is expected of a £100million British record signing.

Fans on social media were calling on Grealish to be hooked off after an unproductive first-half in which West Ham took a 2-0 lead after a brace from Jarrod Bowen.

Guardiola stuck with Grealish however and was rewarded when the England international halved the deficit just four minutes into the second-half – his first Premier League goal since December 14 against Leeds. 

Vladimir Coufal’s own goal helped keep City in the driving seat – though they will be hoping that they don’t rue Riyad Mahrez’s missed penalty which could have handed them the three points.

It means that Grealish could win his first Premier League title as a Man City player, should they defeat his former side Aston Villa. 

While more will be expected from the 26-year-old next season, his goal against West Ham could prove to be a valuable moment if City are to be crowned champions.

Jack Grealish could win his first league title if Man City beat his former side Aston Villa

5. Toffees not out of their sticky situation yet 

Everton could have gone into the final week of the season with their feet up if they had defeated Brentford on Sunday.

However, it turned out to be a missed opportunity as a 3-2 defeat for the Toffees meant they’re not quite home and dry just yet.

Though Frank Lampard wasn’t happy with decisions against Everton, both Jarrod Branthwaite and Salomon Rondon did the team no favours with their red cards. 

Though they showed great fight to put themselves 2-1 up, it was always going to be a tricky challenge to keep Thomas Frank’s side at bay.

Everton have a second chance to clinch their Premier League survival at Goodison Park, against a Crystal Palace side with nothing to fight for on Thursday.

If they fail to beat the Eagles, then they could be at real danger of the drop, as they face the trickiest fixture of any of the teams battling to avoid the drop on the final day of the season.

Everton travel to an Arsenal side with Champions League hopes, Leeds are away to Brentford who have nothing to play for and Burnley host Newcastle who are in a similar position to the Bees.  

Everton had two players sent off as they failed to clinch their Premier League survival

6. Leeds give themselves a glimmer of hope  

Jesse Marsch’s side failed to make the most of their home advantage when they played Brighton on Sunday.

However, Pascal Struijk’s 92nd-minute equaliser could prove to be incredibly valuable come the end of the week.

His goal pushed Leeds out of the bottom three and they will now be hoping that Burnley lose their game-in-hand against Aston Villa on Thursday.

Just before Struijk scrambled home Joe Gelhardt’s cross, renditions of Marcelo Bielsa’s name could be heard before the home supporters turned their ire towards the board.

Struijk’s goal changed the mood at Elland Road, as well as the permutations – giving their supporters some sliver of hope that they might play Premier League football next season.

Leeds will have it all to do though if Burnley are able to jump ahead of them before the final game of the season.

Pascal Struijk’s late equaliser against Brighton could be crucial come the end of the week

7. Burnley can’t afford to slip up on Thursday

Burnley’s defeat by Tottenham wouldn’t have looked so costly if it wasn’t for Struijk’s late scrambled goal at Elland Road.

Leeds pushed Burnley into the bottom three, though that is something the Clarets could rectify ahead of the final weekend of the season.

If they are able to take a point from Villa Park on Thursday, Burnley will move ahead of their rivals on goal difference.  

Burnley though have suffered back-to-back defeats, with the early momentum under interim manager Mike Jackson wiped out.

These were the kind of situations that Sean Dyche was known for overcoming during his time as Burnley manager, and Jackson now has to find a way of lifting his players for the game against Aston Villa on Thursday.

Destiny is still in Burnley’s hands but they will need to show a big improvement on the performance that led to them suffering a 3-1 defeat by Villa at Turf Moor just over a week ago. 

Survival will no longer be in Burnley’s hands if they fail to take a point against Aston Villa

8. Tottenham ramp up the pressure on Arsenal

Tottenham are doing all they can to put pressure on Arsenal and make them crack in the fight for the top four.

Their victory over the 10-man Gunners on Thursday was perhaps easier than expected, though they were made to work hard for the three points against Burnley on Sunday.

Harry Kane’s penalty in the eighth minute of stoppage time before the break was enough to put Tottenham two points above the Gunners before they play on Monday night.

Arsenal travel to St James’ Park to play a Newcastle side who are coming off defeats to title challengers Liverpool and Manchester City.

Eddie Howe’s side have lost just one Premier League game at their fabled ground in 2022 – to Jurgen Klopp’s side – so it’s likely to be a huge challenge for the Gunners to take all three points.

Antonio Conte will be keeping a keen eye on tonight’s game hoping that Arsenal slip up, knowing that his side should pick up the scraps and qualify for the Champions League – given they play bottom of the table Norwich on the final day.   

Tottenham will be hoping Newcastle can deliver them a favour by taking points off Arsenal

9. Manchester United’s Europa League place at threat

Manchester United would have been hoping for a favour from their local rivals when they travelled to West Ham on Sunday.

Not only as they would rather them win the title than Liverpool – who otherwise would match United on 20 titles – but also to help them in their push to qualify for the Europa League.

It might not be the Champions League, but the Europa League offers incoming manager Erik ten Hag another route into Europe’s most prestigious tournament the following season.

West Ham missed out on the chance to jump Man United despite Jarrod Bowen’s brace

However, West Ham were able to pick up a point, meaning there are now two points separating the sides. Though it could have been worse if City had not come from two goals down to stop David Moyes’ side from taking a huge victory which would have put them ahead of United.

Still, West Ham could take sixth on the final day if they beat Brighton and Manchester United fail to take all three points from Crystal Palace.

United will need to show a big improvement from the side that were thrashed 4-0 by the Seagulls in their last outing.

Dropping into the Europa Conference League would be a fittingly miserable moment to end a torrid season.

Erik ten Hag will be keen for Man United not to drop into the Europa Conference League

10. Wolves must sort out their goalscoring issues

Bruno Lage’s side had 17 chances but only one goal as they were held to a draw with already relegated Norwich.

While they hold one of the best defensive records in the league, if they were more prolific at the other end, they might just have been able to sneak into Europe.

Only Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have conceded less goals, yet, only Burnley, Watford and Norwich have scored less.

Pedro Neto’s return after ten months out will be a boost for Wolves going into the next campaign with a full pre-season behind him. 

They will be hoping for more though from the likes of Raul Jimenez and Daniel Podence, who despite being their top scorers, have only netted six times each this season. 

Only the bottom three teams have scored less goals than Wolves in the league this season

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article