Following the conclusion of Sunday’s fixtures, theScore takes a look back at what happened in the English top flight this weekend.
Stoke punished for Mark Hughes’ rancid recruitment
When Mark Hughes was trying to pluck an out-of-favour Phil Jones from Manchester United in the summer of 2016, the Welshman proudly shared his recruitment philosophy in the Potteries.
“We have a bit of reputation for bringing players like that into this set-up and then seeing them thrive,” Hughes said.
It was sheer arrogance for Hughes to believe he can continually fix damaged goods at Stoke City. The disciplinary issues and misfiring strikeforce Paul Lambert has battled since succeeding the now-Southampton boss has exposed all the faults of Hughes’ approach, as Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Crystal Palace ended Stoke’s 10-year residency in the Premier League.
Hughes’ string of misguided gambles in the transfer market was evident in the fact Lambert was left desperately trying to find goals from 37-year-old Peter Crouch and 18-year-old Tyrese Campbell.
Hughes’ £12-million man Saido Berahino, who is believed to take home around £70,000 per week, was nowhere to be seen and hasn’t scored a competitive goal since February 2016.
Would this be the greatest escape?
Darren Moore was an unused substitute for West Bromwich Albion for possibly the greatest escape the Premier League has seen. The Baggies began the final day of the 2004-05 term rooted to the bottom of the table, but victory over Portsmouth, defeats for Norwich City and Southampton, and Charlton Athletic’s late equaliser against Palace lifted the West Midlands outfit above the dotted line.
Moore could surpass that achievement if he resuscitates the current iteration of the Baggies. His first match as caretaker manager resulted in a 1-1 draw with Swansea City, seemingly condemning West Brom to Championship football next season; there were 10 points separating Albion from safety with five matches remaining.
But a run of miraculous results has led West Brom to legitimate dreams of survival. Moore’s side was dropping into the second tier until Jake Livermore’s scrambled 91st-minute winner against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, and was then being relegated by Southampton in the late kick-off before Tom Davies granted a reprieve with a 96th-minute equaliser for Everton.
Results still need to go in West Brom’s favour – firstly, Swansea and Southampton must draw against each other on Tuesday – but it could scramble out of the drop zone with a final-day win at Palace.
Liverpool can’t take a break
Liverpool’s defeat at Chelsea on Sunday means Champions League football still isn’t assured for the Merseysiders next season, so they can’t kick back in next Sunday’s campaign concluder against Brighton & Hove Albion.
There is Mohamed Salah’s continued bid to set a new Premier League record, as well. The Egyptian is seeking his 32nd strike of the season, which would surpass the 31-goal high shared by Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Luis Suarez in a 38-match campaign.
So, the Reds aren’t able to rest prior to the Champions League final tussle with Real Madrid, but the same can’t be said about Zinedine Zidane’s bunch. Following Sunday’s El Clasico with Barcelona, Los Blancos have three matches in which they can ring the changes knowing a spot in next season’s premier continental competition is already wrapped up. The likes of Ronaldo, Luka Modric, and Sergio Ramos can be in prime condition.
Considering Liverpool’s tendency to run out of gas towards the end of matches, could it already be at a disadvantage going into the Champions League showpiece?
Around the grounds
Manchester City 0-0 Huddersfield Town: Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium pitch was awash with players, families, and even Noel Gallagher as the club lifted its third Premier League trophy in seven years. But the biggest story was related to the relegation battle once again, as Huddersfield Town’s dogged defending earned a huge point in its battle for safety.
Arsenal 5-0 Burnley: Arsene Wenger’s final home match as Arsenal manager was an emotional but celebratory occasion, as the Gunners extinguished Burnley’s scant hopes of overtaking them in the Premier League standings with an overwhelming 5-0 triumph. Perhaps there was a glimpse of a brighter future in the win, with recent signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (who bagged a brace), Alexandre Lacazette, and Sead Kolasinac all scoring. Alex Iwobi, an academy product loyally backed by Wenger, pocketed the fourth.
Related: Look – Best images from Wenger’s emotional home finale
- Bournemouth 1-0 Swansea City
- Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Manchester United
- Everton 1-1 Southampton
- Leicester City 0-2 West Ham United
- Watford 2-1 Newcastle United
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)