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May 122014

Cardiff 1 – 2 Chelsea

Andre Schurrle and Fernando Torres score second half goals to get the win for the Blues as the secure third place. This match meant nothing at all as either side had anything to gain or lose. The Bluebirds have already been relegated to the Championship. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping that boss David Tan will back his campaign next year to get the side back into the BPL. The Blues, on the other hand, finished the season without a trophy for the first time in three years. Their point total and finishing place is their worst under manager Jose Mourinho who places the blame on the fact that they just don’t have a good enough striker. Usually when “The Special One” begins complaining in this fashion, it means that he might be looking for a way out. It was the Welsh side who scored the first goal in the 15th minute when Craig Bellamy’s shot deflected into the goal off Blues’ defender Cesar Azpilicueta. For the rest of the first half the lead stood as the Blues’ just couldn’t get anything going. It wasn’t until the 65th minute, when Mourinho replaced John Obi Mikel with Andre Schurrle, did they finally start upping their game. It was Schurrle who got the equalizer in the 72nd minute when he thumped his shot into the roof of the net. The winner came in the 76th minute when Fernando Torres, who looks to be on his way out of the side, slotted home his shot from a Schurrle assist into the bottom right corner of the goal. So now that the season is over, there will probably be some massive changes coming to Chelsea. If I were John Terry, Frank Lampard, Andy Cole, and Jon Obi Mikel, I would consider updating my resume and start packing my bags.

Fulham 2 – 2 Crystal Palace

Chris David scores in second half stoppage time to secure a draw for the Cottagers in their last match in the BPL. Here was another match with nothing riding on it except a bit of pride. It did feature two London teams, but one would hardly call this a “London Derby”. The Cottagers fans were happy that their boss, Felix Magath, has decided to stay with the club even though they’ve been relegated to the Championship. Palace will be enjoying their first back-to-back BPL season next year thanks to the leadership of Tony Pulis. They got the first goal of the match in the 28th minute when Dwight Gayle slotted home a Joel Ward assist. Scott Dann nearly scored number two in the 41st minute when his header of a Thomas Ince cross was saved by Cottagers’ keeper David Stockdale. Fulham nearly equalized right at half time when Fernando Amorebieta’s header from a Elsad Zverotic cross was saved by Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey. The Cottagers did finally equalize in the 60th minute when Cauley Woodrow’s shot from a Hugo Rodallega pass found the top left corner of the goal. But Palace retook the lead in the 83rd minute when they were awarded a free kick near the goal after Cottagers’ striker Scott Parker fouled Palace substitute striker Glenn Murray. Gayle took the free kick and slotted it into the bottom right corner of the goal past Stockdale’s reach. That should have been good enough for the win, but the Cottagers made up their mind to keep fighting to the last whistle. Their gutsy finish paid off in the third minute of stoppage time when David hit a curling shot into the top left corner of the goal. So off to the Championship goes Fulham, but they probably won’t stay down there.

Hull 0 – 2 Everton

Roberto Martinez leads his team to another win as the Toffees secure a place in the Europa League. What a season it has been for the Toffees. When things started, there was a lot of apprehension for their future when their manager David Moyes left to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. It got even worse when he was replaced by Roberto Martinez who had been in charge of relegated Wigan. But since Martinez took over the club, there has been a revolution. They’ve beaten the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United twice, and Arsenal. So Everton fans are happy with their new boss and there are dreams of what they could do in Europe next season. The one key to their success has been to score early and they did in the ninth minute when James McCarthy slotted home a Steven Naismith pass into the bottom right corner of the goal. The other key to their success has been on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian striker has been the engine behind so much of their attacking this season and he nearly scored in the 42nd minute when he got on the end of a McCarthy cross. Hull keeper Allan McGregor was able to extend and keep the ball out of the net to keep the margin at one goal as half time approached. But when the second half got started, Lukaku was able to score easily from a Leon Osman through pass. Although Hull had a shot or two on goal, there was really nothing that trouble keeper Tim Howard and the win gave the Toffees one of their best finishes in quite a while. If Martinez is smart, he’ll find a way to keep Lukaku.

Liverpool 2 – 1 Newcastle

Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge score for the Reds as the secure second place. Although at the start of this match, there was a glimmer of home that former Red, Andy Carroll would come through for them at the Etihad Stadium, most of the fans at Anfield had pretty much resigned themselves to winning second place. It was a great accomplishment considering where the club finished last season and all over the stadium there were signs praising the leadership of boss Brendan Rodgers. The Magpies, on the other hand are not happy with their boss Alan Pardew. Although they had won their last match and were assured of a mid-table finish, the visiting fans are sick of Pardew and want him gone. Although they were given a gift by their hosts in the 19th minute through Reds’ defender Martin Skrtel’s own goal, they kept chanting for Pardew’s removal. The home side equalized in the 63rd minute when Captain Steven Gerrard’s free-kick was powered home by Daniel Agger. Gerrard was the architect for the second goal in the 65th minute when his free-kick was met this time by Daniel Sturridge for the score. Prior to the restart, Shola Ameobi, who had already been booked, got into a heated argument with the referee and was sent off for his dissension. From that point forward, it was easy coasting for the home side. The news from the Etihad Stadium subdued things a bit and it was a bit anti-climactic when Magpies defender was sent off for a hard challenge on Luiz Suarez. But the win has the Kop optimistic about the future for the club for next season.

Norwich 0 – 2 Arsenal

The Gunners lock down the last UEFA Champions’ League spot and prepare for next week’s FA Cup final. One could say that this match was a warm-up for the Gunners, who face Hull at Wembley Stadium next Saturday. The Canaries had a mathematical chance to save themselves from relegation, but they would need to score 15 goals and hold the Gunners scoreless. That impossible task didn’t keep the visitors from trying to score and they nearly did in the 17th minute when Nathan Redmond’s long range effort was saved by Gunners’ substitute keeper Lukasz Fabianski. Martin Olsson had a chance in the 35th minute that Fabianski had to save to keep the match scoreless. The Canaries hopes were dashed in the 53rd minute when Aaron Ramsey het a wonderful shot from a Olivier Giroud cross into the top left corner of the goal. Goal number two came in the 61st minute. Lukas Podolski’s shot was blocked by the Canaries defense, but Carl Jenkinson was able to poke home the loose ball for the score. With that goal, the fight pretty much went out of the home side. They nearly went further behind in the later stages of the match when keeper John Ruddy had to save from both Jack Wilshire and later Yaya Sanogo. So now that Arsenal are assured of Champion’s League football next season and the FA Cup trophy next week, will Arsene Wenger stay or will he leave for Paris Saint Germain?

Sunderland 1 – 3 Swansea

The Swans take care of the Black Cats. Well, you can’t blame Black Cats’ manager Gus Poyet for letting his guys get away with being a little bit complacent Sunday. They had ensured their safety last Wednesday and really didn’t have a lot to play for. So they relaxed a bit and got caught when Wayne Routledge hit a sixth minute through pass that Nathan Dyer finished in the top corner of the goal. Goal number two came in the 13th minute when Marvin Emnes fired home a Wilfired Bony pass. To their credit, the home side did get themselves going midway through the first half. Adam Johnson had a shot blocked in the 22nd minute and Sebastian Larsson had one blocked a minute later. As the half wound down, Phil Bardsley had his shot saved by Swans’ keeper Gerhard Tremmel. The resulting corner kick should have been headed home by Wes Brown, but his attempt went wide of the goal as the half time whistle blew. They did score in the 49th minute when Fabio Borini headed in a Johnson corner kick. Johnson nearly equalized in the 50th minute when his shot was clawed away from goal by Tremmel. But any hope of a result for the home side was gone in the 53rd minute when Bony’s shot found the bottom left corner of the goal. Johnson had his chance to cut into the lead in the 74th minute saved by Tremmel. US International striker Jozy Altidore came on in the 83rd minute for Black Cats’ captain John O’Shea and he should have scored from an El-Hadji Ba assist, but alas, the shot was high and wide to the right of the goal. Although they didn’t win on Sunday, Sunderland fans love their Uruguayan manager and hope he’ll be around to lead them next season.

Tottenham 3 – 0 Aston Villa

Spurs get an easy win at White Hart Lane to end the season. So it looks like this will be Tim Sherwood’s last match in charge of Spurs. There is no indication that owner Daniel Levy knows who he wants to bring in so there will be a lot of speculating going on during the summer. Aston Villa on the other hand seem like they may part ways with their manager Paul Lambert. At least that’s what Villa supporters hope. They have been absolutely angry about their side’s performance of late and they weren’t happy when they went behind to Paulinho’s goal in the 14th minute. The Brazilian’s original shot was saved by Villains’ keeper Brad Guzan, but when the loose ball wasn’t cleared, the striker was able to poke it home for the score. The second goal came in the 35th minute when defender Nathan Baker, who was trying to deny the ball to Emmanuel Adebayor, knocked it into his own net. The Villains’ humiliation was completed in the 37th minute when they gave away a penalty kick from Gabriel Agbonlahor’s hand-ball. Adebayor easily scored the spot kick and that was pretty much that. The second half was a bit slow as Spurs were content to sit on their lead and Villa just didn’t have anything to muster.

West Bromwich Albion 1 – 2 Stoke

Charlie Adams’ second half goal wins it for the Potters. This season sees the Potters finish in ninth place. It’s their highest finish since they got back into the BPL six seasons ago. They’ve done well since Mark Hughes took over as manager after Tony Pulis left the club. They took the lead in the 22nd minute when Baggies’ defender Gareth McAuley turned a cross into his own goal. Although they were able to equalize in the 56th minute, Adam won the match for the visitors when he slotted home a Glenn Whelan assist. But the home fans weren’t too upset when they got the news from Carrow Road that Norwich had lost and guaranteed the Baggies safety. Let’s see if they do better next season.

Manchester City 2 – 0 West Ham

Citeh are the BPL Champions. This time it wasn’t going to be a late-stoppage time goal from Sergio Aguero. Nor would the celebration be led by a crazy Italian wearing a tee-shirt with a nasty slogan on it. This time, the winners truly earned their trophy. Their new boss, Manual Pelligrini, knew how to make a high salaried side come together and win. Although they had some high profile losses, among them a loss to runners-up Liverpool, Pelligrini was able to get the team to focus on the overall goal and get results when they mattered. The one thing they also had in their favor was the best home record in the BPL. So, although there was some home at Anfield that the Hammers might pull off some sort of upset, fans at the Etihad Stadium knew that Sunday would be their destiny. Kevin Nolan tried to get the visitors into the lead in the 11th minute, but his shot was just over the bar. From that point forward, it was all about the home side and their march to glory. Samir Nasri put them into the lead in the 39th minute when his long shot found the bottom left corner of the goal. The match was over as a contest in the 48th minute when Vincent Kompany scored a “Captain’s Goal” from a David Silva corner kick. Citeh had several chances to add to the lead as West Ham didn’t really have much attacking strength. So the final whistle saw the final transfer of Manchester’s winning spirit from the Red half of the city to the Blue half of the city. Could this be the start of the Pelligrini Era?

Lanny Short

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