Home Football / Soccer Spurs avoid Spursiest fate imaginable as Premier League relegation battle all but finished

Spurs avoid Spursiest fate imaginable as Premier League relegation battle all but finished

by foot.biz

Burnley are down, Luton are almost certainly down and Spurs – despite themselves – are almost certainly going to finish fifth. Elsewhere, Newcastle slip up and Palace confirm their Actually They’re Good Now credentials…

Tottenham 2-1 Burnley – Spurs just about avoid the Spursiest of fates

The most powerful rule in all football is that whatever is happening anywhere to anyone the joke is always on Spurs. Even times when things seem to be going well for Spurs, it’s always worth remembering that it is only to make the punchline hit harder in the end.

It is their place in this sport, their niche. So we do have to give them some credit for avoiding the most cartoonishly daft possibility of slipping out of the European places altogether, something which was dangerously and hilariously possible when they went a goal down here on the back of four defeats to Newcastle, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.

There is, in truth, no great surprise that Spurs turned it round for an embarrassingly vital if almost entirely unconvincing win. That the two moments of composure in Spurs’ manic and largely ineffective attacking display came from defenders also ensured this was the most on-brand way to secure the off-brand result.

But Spurs’ season – one that overall must now be considered a success given surely even they cannot now blow fifth place from here – has been built on precisely these kinds of unconvincing wins against the weaker teams in the division. Indeed, all three of Spurs’ home games against the three objectively poor teams who have been promoted and gone straight back down have been identical: general air of sterile, non-threatening domination, go 1-0 down to rare opposition attack, scramble back to win 2-1 via needlessly stressful late winner.

It’s kind of impressive but also surely not the most sustainable of strategies as we head into Year Two of the Great Angeball Experiment still really none the wiser about its overall chance of success.

As for Burnley, they are the one relegated team we fully expect to see back again in a year’s time.

Newcastle 1-1 Brighton – Fifth place now surely beyond Eddie Howe’s side

Hold me in your arms, don’t let me go, I want to stay forever. Closer each day…home and away.

Newcastle United have not lost at home since Manchester City visited in the middle of January, but maintaining that with a single point is less than they would have hoped for.

Eddie Howe’s now have little hope of claiming a Europa League place by finishing fifth – one more point for Spurs takes it to Tottenham instead – but they but hold a significant goal difference advantage over Chelsea in the battle for sixth and a guaranteed European place, even if the competition they would enter depends on the outcome of the FA Cup final.

The bad news: their final two games are both away from home, to Manchester United and Brentford.

Meanwhile, Brighton’s only away wins since beating Nottingham Forest in November have all been against Championship-standard sides: Stoke City in the FA Cup, and Sheffield United in both the league and cup, which as we all know doesn’t count. They have not won back-to-back league games, home or away, since September.

This season has been, at best, a levelling out for Brighton, who had been proudly upwardly-mobile for the past few years; plenty of other clubs can tell you that once that happens, it is hard to resist hitting the other side of the bell curve. Brighton’s task over the summer is to re-solidify, both with their defending and with their sense of direction.

Playing their final two games of the season at home to Chelsea and Manchester United gives Brighton some hope of finishing the campaign on the right note for that – while giving Newcastle a helping hand in the process.

Bournemouth 1-2 Brentford – Another reminder that Brentford’s Toney-less future need not worry them

It is if anything a bit too on the nose for Brentford’s late goals in a game of deeply surprising late drama to come from Bryan Mbeumo and substitute Yoane Wissa – each assisted by the other – after another afternoon of toil for Ivan Toney.

This is a fine win for Brentford against a Bournemouth team whose form has been top-half level (at least) for some time now, and reiterates the fact that selling Toney for large sacks of cash is perhaps the single most straightforward transfer decision any team faces this summer.

If it’s understandable that he should come back rusty from his extended lay-off, it’s undeniably awkward that he started well on his return and has since regressed. We no longer even need to imagine a scenario where Brentford are better off without him; we’re pretty much already seeing it.

Everton 1-0 Sheffield United – DCL dazzles again as Toffees head for summer full of hope and optimism – on the pitch at least

A win that should have been more comfortable but ultimately one that places Everton closer to the mid-table place that is rightfully theirs on the balance of the season. They’ve even reached the 40-point mark despite the eight-point penalty, so… yay!

Their fine end to the season is obviously encouraging for a less exhausting and stressful campaign in general next year, and central to that has been the located mojo of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He remains tantalisingly and beguilingly good when the form and fitness stars align as they have in recent weeks.

He didn’t score here but he served another reminder of how complete a centre-forward he can be with a following wind. He obviously had a decisive part in Abdoulaye Doucoure’s winning goal having already laid on another great chance for the same player.

Everton’s end to the season at Goodison really has been remarkable. After a run of five home league games without a win, they’ve then won their last five without conceding a single goal. They’re still Everton and have thus only scored seven themselves in those games, but still. There are clear reasons for optimism on the pitch at least at the end of another traumatic one off it.

West Ham 3-1 Luton – Hatters down after becoming the latest and final visitors to be Moyesed at London Stadium

So farewell, then, David Moyes. We won’t lie, we’d already decided that his final home game as West Ham boss was going to tell us a lot about his reign in general before a ball was kicked, but it actually kind of did.

A win in a game they ought to be winning, made far harder than it should have been but quite impressive in the end.

It really is a curious old reign to try and judge. The Europa Conference win elevates it and was a magical moment, but also one that his supporters/apologists – very few of whom, it should be noted, are West Ham fans themselves – have lifted to a level of importance beyond what it really is. It does not and should not give him a job for life at a club that has had two pretty ordinary league seasons in succession now after an undignified relegation battle last time out and a drifting from European contention this.

Really, Moyes’ greatest success here was not negotiating a path through a third-tier European competition but getting West Ham into a position where that opportunity existed. Finishing sixth and seventh in successive seasons for a non-elite team in this league is a fine achievement, and, however harsh it may be, it is a failure to maintain that which has ultimately cost him.

Moyesball was never a perfect fit for the West Ham Way and perhaps the most curious of the many contradictions and paradoxes of his objectively successful second spell in charge of the club is the way he built a distinctly Hammerish squad and ultimately has now to depart because everyone has grown frustrated by his inability or unwillingness to fully unleash it.

There is a large subsection of the British football media that will be willing a new-look West Ham to fail next season, the ‘careful what you wish for’ knives long since sharpened. Which obviously makes us desperate to see them succeed.

Alas for Luton, that’s relegation all but confirmed after a game that was pretty on brand for them as well. Bloodied the nose of the bigger boys but couldn’t land a decisive blow and were ultimately and unsurprisingly out of their depth. We’ll miss them more than we miss Burnley and Sheffield United, that’s for sure.

Wolves 1-3 Crystal Palace – Palace confirm Actually They’re Good Now status at expense of previous title holder

It’s not so long ago that Wolves were being talked about as the Premier League’s delightful surprise package: only Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal took more points between Christmas Eve and 9th March than their 22 points from 11 games.

Since then, Wolves have managed just five points from nine games. Only Sheffield United have been worse.

Taking their crown and sceptre in the Kingdom of Actually They’re Good Now are Crystal Palace, who have been little short of sensational since beating Liverpool last month.

They now have 16 points from the last possible 18 under Oliver Glasner thanks to a revelatory new style of play, the fruits of an excellent January transfer window, and finally being able to start both Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze in the same side; they have won six of the eight games where that has been possible this season.

Wolves show the perils of declaring a team to be the real deal too early, but you could forgive Palace fans if they are getting a bit giddy about what may lay ahead for them next season. It might even be 50 points…

Source : Football365.com

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