Champions League Race: City And Liverpool Pip Arsenal To Top Four

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp before the match.

Reuters / Carl Recine

Manchester City and Liverpool cruised past their opponents on the final day of the Premier League season to qualify for next season’s Champions. This meant Arsenal, who got past Everton 3-1 themselves, finished 5th, and will play the Europa League next term.

City hit 5 past a hapless Watford team that missed six senior centre-backs through injuries and suspensions. City started off brightly, and skipper Vincent Kompany headed them ahead within five minutes. It was all one-way traffic from thereon, as the Sky Blues piled the misery on Walter Mazzari’s men.

Pep Guardiola’s side put on a ruthless display at Vicarage Road. Aguero underline his value to the team by scoring twice within fifteen minutes in the first half, assisted by Kevin De Bruyne, and Leroy Sane respectively. Right-back Fernandinho added a fourth of the half, right before the break.

Reuters / Carl Recine

Mazzarri, subject to boos and chants from the home fans, brought on Troy Deeney early in the second half, but the Hornets could not could make too much of an impact. Their miserable night was made worse when Jesus scored the fifth from Aguero’s cut back. The win put City comfortably in third, meaning they qualify directly for the Champions League group stages. There was more joy for the Citizens, when Guardiola, after months of speculation, assured that Aguero would stay next season.

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal also secured a win in their last league match of the season, but failed to qualify for Europe’s elite competition. They came into the match requiring to win, while hoping that one of City or Liverpool dropped points. To the Gunners’ credit, they did their job well.

The only blemish to their night on the pitch was Laurent Koscielny’s sending off, meaning he would miss the FA Cup final against Chelsea. Before that incident though, Hector Bellerin had put Arsenal ahead against the Toffees in the eighth minute. Star forward Alexis Sanchez doubled their lead on 27 minutes, from a Danny Welbeck assist.

Reuters / Stoyan Nenov

Rob Holding handled the ball inside his own penalty area at 58 minutes, and Lukaku put the penalty away to bring Everton right back into the contest. Aaron Ramsey put the game to bed with a gorgeous curler in the last minute. It was all immaterial to the fans however, as Liverpool’s win at Anfield meant they would miss out on the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.

Liverpool themselves started off nervously, and it seemed that their dream of a return to Europe’s elite would not come true. Against an already relegated Middlesbrough, they struggled to break through. They should have even been penalised, when Dejan Lovren shoved Boro’s Patrick Bamford down in his penalty area. Martin Atkinson ignored the claims, and gave the Reds a reprieve.

New signing Gini Wijnaldum – an expert in ‘big’ home games – broke the deadlock though, in the stoppage time of the first-half. Roberto Firmino’s clip through found Wijnaldum, who opted to thump the ball in the top corner instead of passing it to Daniel Sturridge for a tap-in. This gave fresh life to the home side, and they came back more confident after the break.

Reuters / Lee Smith

Philippe Coutinho put a free-kick past Brad Guzan, who was playing his last Premier League game, before Adam Lallana put Liverpool 3-0 up. That proved enough for the 5-time European champions to book a spot in the Champions League play-offs. This win means Liverpool will be in the competition only for the 2nd time in eight years.


Leave a Comment