6 Things We Learnt From Premier League GW38
30 May 2023
The Premier League season finally drew to a close on Sunday with a full round of fixtures deciding the fate of those at the bottom and in Europe. Here are our key takeaways from the weekend’s action:
Doucoure Delight As Everton Secure Survival
Everton secured Premier League survival courtesy of a fine Abdoulaye Doucoure finish as they edged past Bournemouth at Goodison Park. With the south coast side having nothing to play for thanks to them ensuring their spot in the top flight a few weeks before, the onus was on Everton to pull a result out of the bag despite struggling at home all season.
To their credit, Bournemouth caused problems to Everton’s back line and could have found themselves in front after good play between Dom Solanke and David Brooks. Everton however raced into the ascendency thanks to Doucoure’s wonder strike and held onto their lead through heroics from Jordan Pickford, who denied a volley from Bournemouth substitute Vina in the dying moments of the game.
A triumphant ending to an otherwise bitterly underwhelming season, Everton will need to make some serious changes to the structure of their squad if they are to avoid being dragged back into a releagation battle next season. Sean Dyche has done just enough since coming in to replace Frank Lampard, but for a club of Everton’s stature they will have loftier ambitions than mere survival. Their victory on Sunday was vital, but it only papers over the cracks of a club who have been declining for multiple seasons.
Too Little Too Late For Leicester Despite Victory Over Hammers
Leicester hosted West Ham for the final fixture of the season – a game that amongst other results would decide their fate in the league for next season.
It was simple for Leicester, they had to win, and Everton had to drop points to stay in the Premier League for next season. The first half went as Leicester would’ve liked, and despite the game being very competitive, they took a 1-0 lead courtesy of Harvey Barnes in the 34th minute. Going into half time, Leicester had the lead and Bournemouth had Everton pinned at a 0-0 draw and as things stood Leicester would remain in the Premier League next season.
The second half saw Leicester go 2-0 up courtesy of Wout Faes who headed in on the 62nd minute. However, Everton had taken the lead in the other game in the 57th minute meaning Leicester’s dominance was for nothing unless Bournemouth could find an equaliser. West Ham got one back in the 79th, but Leicester saw the game out to win 2-1. Everton won their game, and so Leicester hearts were broken 5 minutes after the full time whistle when they found out they were to be relegated back to the Championship after many successful years in the top flight.
Leeds Left Languishing Thanks To Kane Masterclass
Tottenham ended the season in style, putting the final nail in the coffin of Leeds United’s 3 year premier league stint with a comfortable 4-1 away win at Elland Road. Harry Kane confirmed his second 30 goal campaign grabbing a brace to go with an assist for Pedro Porro and a wonderful solo effort by Lucas Moura in his last game for the club. The jovial vibes of Sunday will be chastened by some upcoming harsh realities in a season to forget for the Lilywhites who may have seen the last of the greatest player to put on the white shirt, not to mention the fact that Spurs will not be playing European football next year for the first time in 13 years. Despite Antonio Conte’s sacking in March, the North London club remain managerless. Finding the right man to reinvigorate this slumbering Spurs side must be the first order of business this summer.
While Tottenham end the season on a relative high the same cannot be said for Leeds. The appointment of Sam Allardyce has proved an unilateral failure and is emblematic of how things have gone so wrong for the Lancashire club. Known for their distinct energetic playing style under Bielsa, that identity has been completely eroded. Leeds look out of ideas and without direction or purpose. The Championship is unforgiving and they will need to find someone with a real plan if they hope to bounce back the first time of asking.
Villa Secure Europe In Battle Against Brighton
Aston Villa hosted Brighton on Sunday afternoon for their last fixture of the season; Brighton having already qualified for the Europa League in essence had nothing to play for, whereas Aston Villa had to win to secure a spot in the Conference League next season.
Unai Emery’s men came out the blocks early and found themselves ahead in the 8th minute courtesy of Douglas Luiz, who placed a right footed finish past Jason Steele in the sticks, before Ollie Watkins doubled their lead 18 minutes later from a fast break and a smart left footed finish. Brighton fought back through Denis Undav in the 38th minute to make the game 2-1 going into half time.
Brighton fought hard to chase an equaliser in the second half, and Unai Emery’s side worked hard on the break to create extra chances for themselves. In the end, Brighton couldn’t find that clinical chance to level the game and deny Aston Villa European football next season, and Villa’s defence fought hard to make sure they were competing in the extra competition next season.
It’s no secret that both teams have done an amazing job this season, testament to the players and staff of each club. What a way to end the season for both teams, who arguably have massively overachieved.
Saints And Liverpool Serve Up 8 Goal Thriller
While the survival drama played out elsewhere Southampton and Liverpool combined for a last day thriller, trading blows in an entertaining 4-4 goalfest at St Mary’s. With Southampton’s relegation fate already sealed and with Europa League football confirmed for Liverpool the game really took on that spirit of freedom.
In saying that, the scoreline and pattern of the game really did highlight the pitfalls of both sides this season. Both teams possess an abundance of attacking verve but it is their defensive capabilities that have cost them so dearly this season. A team that can race into a 2-0 lead to then give up 4 without reply is too volatile to harbour any serious ambitions at the top of the table and the same goes for the hosts. Being able to score at such a rate is pretty much useless if you can’t keep it out of the net on your end.
The need for Liverpool to make midfield reinforcements is evident with both Henderson and Fabinho looking aged in the middle. This summer is crucial with Mo Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and a host of other key players getting older; the squad needs a major refresh if it hopes to keep up with the top dogs in the league. One can only imagine with Liverpool’s status as a Champions League club finally threatened that their cash shy honours will finally back Klopp in a big way once again.
Five Star Arsenal Put Wolves To The Sword
Arsenal put a lacklustre Wolverhampton side to the sword on Sunday, putting five past José Sa as they ended the season on a high. Granit Xhaka bagged himself a brace in what could be his final game for the club, before the game was put out of reach thanks to goals from Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, and Jakub Kiwior.
Wolves have had a forgettable season but will be thankful for Julen Lopetegui’s guidance away from the relegation zone. The Spaniard’s future is however in doubt over a lack of funds for the transfer window, leaving the progression of the midlands club in jeopardy as they prepare for next season. Wolves may need to cash in on Ruben Neves and a few other exciting talents if they are to have any chance of improving their squad over the summer.
In what has been a disappointing end to an otherwise excellent season from the Gunners, Mikel Arteta will feel happy that they can take some form of momentum going into the next campaign. Having led the league for so long before Manchester City’s inevitable late season surge, Arsenal should take the positives of securing Champions League football and developing young talent. It does seem however that this may have been Arsenal’s window, as Manchester City continue to regenerate their squad thanks to shrewd business in the transfer window.