Nothing’s ever set in stone in the Premier League. Nowhere is that more evident than in the race for Top Four, where three of the four contenders for two Champions League berths dropped points at a time when they really couldn’t afford to. This is looking more and more like a race that’s going to go down to the final day of the season. We saw Spurs cancel St. Totteringham’s Day, United and City draw against relegation teams, and Sunderland finally learn their fate. If you missed anything this weekend, we’ll get you caught up.
The Top Four race could take some more twists and turns later today as Liverpool travel to Watford to try and press this advantage— if they can. Kickoff is at 3pm Eastern on NBC Sports.
1. The End Of The Line
It’s official. Thanks to Joshua King’s late gamewinner for Bournemouth at the Stadium of Light, plus Hull grinding out a draw at Southampton, Sunderland will be leaving the Premier League at the end of the season. The next few weeks are going to be brutal at the club, as staff and executives and players and fans all point fingers at each other. Next season’s Championship campaign will be crucial. Can they bounce back as their Northeast rivals Newcastle have? Or will they end up following the examples of Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa? Plenty of questions and hardly any answers. It’s easy to feel bad for the Black Cats in this moment— until you remember all the myriad ways in which they brought this on themselves.
2. Self-Inflicted Wounds
Whatever other problems Manchester United are having right now— with injuries, with goalscoring, with training ground morale— they know what they have to do to secure Champions League football next season. And they’re just not doing it. They dropped points at home in a 1-1 draw against a Swansea team that is barely holding on for dear life in the Premier League, making for a head-scratching ten draws at Old Trafford this season. This, after a frantic but goalless draw in the Derby on Thursday. United are still in the race for Top Four, sitting just a point behind Manchester City and Liverpool. But given what we’ve seen of them this season, that single point may as well be six for all that United seem capable of closing any kind of gap.
3. Second Verse Just Like The First
But don’t think I’m letting City off the hook here. They also took on a relegation straggler days after drawing in the Derby and should’ve managed to put this away. Instead they had to come from behind late in the match just to steal a point. We’ve already accepted that Pep’s first season at the Etihad isn’t going as well as expected, but the fact that their position is so precarious this late in the season is, frankly, baffling. They’ve got three games to pull this out and there’s no guarantee they can do that. Whatever happens, the postmortems that will be conducted on City’s 2016-17 campaign will be very interesting reads.
4. Pace Cars
But hey, at least Chelsea is getting the job done, right? Their 3-0 win at Everton was thrilling and yet exactly what you would expect from this side at this point. Nevermind that all three of their goals came late in the second half and all in a span of about 20 minutes— the goals came when needed. Chelsea are definitely in Keep Your Nerve territory— winning the title basically boils down to not screwing this up. They’ve got three games in which they have to not make any major mistakes.
5. To Dare Is…
Tottenham fans will remember this weekend for years to come. Generations, maybe. Beating Arsenal in the last North London Derby at White Hart Lane. Doing it comfortably, no less. And in doing so, putting enough of a gap between them in the table that Spurs will definitely finish above Arsenal this season, cancelling St. Totteringham’s Day in spectacularly brutal fashion. Tears were shed. Vicious name-calling was hurled. And a whole generation of Tottenham fans will grow up and grow old remembering where they were on April 30th, 2017. You don’t have to be a Spurs fan to understand the gravity of this weekend. But it probably helps.
BONUS: Tensions Run High In The Premier League
The end of the season’s got everyone a little jumpy.