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Monday July 04, 2022

Three talking points from the Premier League

By AFP
May 17, 2022

LONDON: The Premier League title, a place in next season’s Champions League and the battle for survival are all alive heading into the final week of the season.

Manchester City remain in control of the title race despite Riyad Mahrez’s late missed penalty after coming from 2-0 down at West Ham to salvage a vital point in a 2-2 draw at the London Stadium.

Arsenal also have the race for fourth in their own hands thanks to a game in hand, but now trail Tottenham by two points after Spurs edged out Burnley 1-0. That result also had big ramifications at the bottom as the Clarets fall into the relegation zone.

Leeds edged out of the bottom three thanks to Pascal Struijk’s late equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw against Brighton and Everton’s 3-2 home defeat to Brentford leaves them still just two points above the drop zone.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points from the Premier League weekend. Pep Guardiola stood ashen-faced on the touchline as Mahrez’s spot-kick four minutes from time was saved by Lukasz Fabianski to keep Liverpool’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple alive.

However, the newly-crowned FA Cup winners still have to rely on another slip up from City on the final day of the season at home to Aston Villa to have any chance of the title. Despite dropping points, City will be thankful to have escaped an eventful afternoon at the London Stadium with their destiny still in their own hands.

A makeshift defence failed to handle the pace of Jarrod Bowen on the counter-attack as the West Ham winger struck twice before half-time. Bowen and Michail Antonio also had huge chances to win the game in the second half, but City showed the resilience of champions to strike back through Jack Grealish and Vladimir Coufal’s own goal.

“It is an incredible privilege to have the chance with our people at home to win one game to be champions. I’m looking forward to it,” said Guardiola. Burnley must take something from their final two games away to Villa and home to Newcastle if they are to extend their six-season stay in the top flight.

Mike Jackson’s men were unfortunate to leave the Tottenham Hotspur stadium empty handed and suffered another blow a few hours later when Leeds snapped their losing streak in stoppage time.

Struijk’s header means the relegation fight will go the final day no matter what Burnley do in midweek at Villa Park. “We’re alive right now,” said Leeds boss Jesse Marsch, whose side was decimated by injuries and suspensions.

“They emptied their tanks and invested so much to get us that point, which could end up being a massive point for us. “We need some help and then we need to be ready next weekend to do whatever it takes.”

Champions League ‘trophy’ up for grabs Harry Kane’s controversial penalty gave Spurs the three points they needed to follow-up a 3-0 victory over Arsenal in the north London derby on Thursday.

The pressure is now all on the Gunners when they head to Newcastle on Monday with a season’s work and the riches of Champions League football on the line. Spurs will be confident of taking all three points when they visit already-relegated Norwich on the final day, while Arsenal will host Everton. “A Champions League place is very important in England,” said Tottenham boss Antonio Conte. “It’s like getting an important trophy in another league.”

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