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11 things we’ve learned about Football this weekend

1. Champions Chelsea all but ended Liverpool’s hopes of Champions League Football next season after the two teams shared the points at Anfield in a 1-1 draw. Chelsea were given the guard of honour by Liverpool before and the game they took an early lead through their Captain Marvel John Terry. In a game which was billed as the final clash between Jose Mourinho and Steven Gerrard it seemed quite fitting that Gerrard managed to get on the score sheet and it was his equaliser which leveled things up and gave the Merseysiders a share of the point. The game in which it’s scheduling in other season could have had a huge say on the destiny of the Premier League title was a very much the procession after the Lord Mayor’s Show with Chelsea lacking firepower and Liverpool struggling to take advantage of the opportunities they had on goal. So Chelsea start their Champions Roadshow with a draw, whereas Liverpool bar a mathematical miracle and not to mention two defeats for Manchester United will now start planning another Europa League campaign in August. 12 Months ago Brendan Rodgers was on the cusp of winning Liverpool’s first League title in 24 years, now he’s just completed a 3rd season without a trophy. What a difference a year makes.

2. QPR were resigned to the Championship next season after an absolute thumping at The Etihad. Manchester City were ruthless this afternoon and hit the R’s for 6 in a game which pretty much summed up QPR’s season – it was nothing short of a surrender by QPR and Aguero & co were allowed to run riot with the Argentine bagging his 29th, 30th and 31st goals of the season. The win for City all but secures an important top 3 finish which means they won’t have to pre-qualify for the Champions League next season which I suppose in some small crumb of comfort after their title race collapse in March but after winning their 4th game in a row, i’m players, Manual Pellegrini and City fans alike will be wishing they could have pushed Chelsea a little bit closer in the race for this years Premier League. QPR go down with the most amount of defeats this season in the Premier League and unfortunately the appointment of Chris Ramsey in February wasn’t particularly a shrewd one with only 2 wins in 13 matches (a win percentage of just 15%). For all the talk by Chairman Tony Fernandes about having a “dream manager in mind” he will now have to decide whether to end this current nightmare and bring in a new face at the helm for next season.

3. Also joining them in the Championship next season will be Burnley who even though they won 1-0 yesterday away at Hull results didn’t go their way elsewhere and were also consigned to the drop. In a game where Burnley got their first goal in 10 matches and Danny Ings finally got into double figures after being stuck on 9 since February the main talking point was whether Michael Dawson should have gone off for having a cut to his nose and not being allowed on the pitch when the corner was taken. Regardless of the size of the cut the rules are the rules and unfortunately Dawson did have to go off the pitch, whether the Referee should have halted play for Dawson to come back on before the corner was taken is another argument but ultimately I think they main culprits are Hull after their defending of the set piece. 3 chances they had to get the ball away and in the end Danny Ings was the right man in the right place at the right time. Burnley will look back on this season knowing that a lack of firepower especially in the second half of the season really has been the difference between staying up and relegation, Hull no doubt will look at their next two fixtures (Tottenham Away and Manchester United at Home) and think to them myself that yesterday may have been the big opportunity missed to stay up and now are very much to join Burnley and QPR for the drop.

4. What a week it’s been for Newcastle and it seemed that they didn’t lose all of their 9 lives yesterday after managing to draw 1-1 at home to West Bromwich Albion. In a game that wasn’t particularly pretty to watch especially from a neutrals point of view they must have been a feeling of “here we go again” once WBA went ahead through Anichebe just after the half hour but credit to Newcastle they did show a lot more fight then in previous weeks and did manage to get an equaliser through Ayose Perez just before the break. Admittedly the Magpies did also ride their luck as the only other clear cut chances that WBA also had both hit the post but I think it may have been harsh on Newcastle had they lost a 9th game in a row. For John Carver the point is a start and thankfully the fixture list is quite kind of them with a newly relegated QPR away next and a mid table mediocrity West Ham at home on the final day of the season, so maybe just maybe this point could be THE point which manages to keep Newcastle in the Premier League.

5. The pressure was certainly heaped on Newcastle after Sunderland managed to get a 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park. Everton will feel that they certainly weren’t ruthless with 22 chances but only 4 of them on target whereas Sunderland will certainly feel that the luck went there way. First a deflected goal by Jordi Gomez and then a missed tackle by Jermain Defoe on Seamus Coleman which should have led to a penalty for the Toffees were the first two of four incredibly lucky instances for Sunderland the other two being in the build up to the Black Cats 2nd Goal. Firstly Steven Fletcher’s unspotted near suplex on John Stones and then Jermain Defoe’s handball which steered the ball into the net. But Sunderland won’t care about that all they care about is getting points on the board and with Arsenal and Chelsea still to come that win could be absolutely vital.

6. Leicester’s great escape continues with a 2-0 win over Southampton – that’s now 6 wins out of 7 for The Foxes and a staggering  18 points in their last 7 games. The belief around the King Power was once again a key factor against a Southampton side who are just starting to fade away at the end of the season and have certainly missed the giant Goalkeeper Fraser Forster since he’s been ruled out for a year with injury. But again Leicester were good if not great value for their win over the Saints yesterday with a brace from Riyad Mahrez proving all the important difference. Leicester now sit 15th with only two matches to go, not even Gary Lineker could have imagined this a couple of months ago.

7. Elsewhere in the Midlands Aston Villa are doing their bit to stay clear of the drop zone as they picked up another crucial win against West Ham. A 3rd goal in 3 matches for Tom Cleverly was the only goal of the match but Villa looked the more inventive of the two sides and with all the other teams around them picking up points they will be glad that they took the opportunity offered by playing a safe West Ham at home. West Ham may have some cause for complaint as Enner Valencia was hauled down in the box but the Referee was already preoccupied by blowing up for the block on Shay Given by Kevin Nolan so it went unnoticed although I don’t think they have any complaints for Valencia’s disallowed header for offside. Tim Sherwood still thinks he has to win both games  to stay up and they certainly can’t afford to put their feet up and have a rest before the F.A. Cup Final at the end of the month.

8. Barcelona moved another step closer to another La Liga title with a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad at the Nou Camp. Sociedad who were quite stubborn in the first half finally were broken down after the break by the brillance of Neymar and a late second from Pedro. Another clean sheet for Barcelona they way they are playing at the moment would anyone bet against them for the Spanish Treble?

9. They moved another step closer due to the fact that Real Madrid were held at home to Valencia in a game where Los Blancos will ask themselves “how didn’t we win?”. Although at half time they have been wondering how on earth they were going to get back into the game after going 2-0 down, to make matters worse Ronaldo then missed a penalty on the stroke of half time to compound the misery. Second half goals from Pepe and Isco did get Real Madrid back into the game but with them also hitting the woodwork three times and Diego Alves in great form last night, they must now feel that their Champions League 2nd leg tie against Juventus is where they have to save something from their season or Carlo Ancelotti will surely be shown the exit door. The only twist in the tale is the potential strike action that may take place and either delay or suspend the end of the season. Will this actually happen?, in my personal opinion it won’t because money always talks but then again Spanish Football is never known for it’s logical thinking.

10. The Championship play-offs got underway with Middlesbrough in the driving seat in their tie against Brentford after snatching a 95th minute winner away at Brentford, while honours were even in the East Anglian Derby between Ipswich and Norwich. Middlesbrough will certainly be the likely favourites to make up one half of the Wembley tie but I can certainly see the Norwich v Ipswich tie going to extra time and penalties at Carrow Road, it’s certainly going to be nervy stuff for all 4 teams that’s for sure. Although in League One there are celebrations for Preston who secured their trip to Wembley, they now will await who will join them out of Swindon and Sheffield United.

11. Finally Stoke thumped a dismal Spurs 3-0. Well surprisingly it wasn’t last on Match Of The Day, I suppose no 3-0 ever is but Spurs who have now only won 1 out of their last 6 are certainly doing their best not to qualify for the Europa League next season are finishing this season with a whimper. Roll on August for Tottenham

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