One final charge. The penultimate week of the Premier League season, which concluded with Tuesday night’s clash between Liverpool and Southampton, has gracefully managed to set up a fascinating final day, with plenty of drama set to be in store when the 20 teams take to the field up and down the country this Sunday.
As we hurtle towards the finish line, this latest round of matches has ensured a few twists in the tale near the top of the table. League leaders Manchester City slipped up at West Ham to remain just one point ahead of Liverpool going into the final day, and Arsenal fell apart at Newcastle to virtually guarantee that it will be arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur who will secure fourth place and Champions League qualification.
Elsewhere, a last-gasp Leeds equaliser and defeat for Everton helped to ensure that the relegation battle will go right to the wire, whilst mid-table Leicester City annihilated an already-relegated Watford 5-1 at Vicarage Road.
There are still a few games in hand to iron out between now and the weekend, but the end of the campaign is now upon us – brace yourselves.
Here are our five standout stars from Matchweek 37
Goalkeeper: Nick Pope (Burnley)
It was a tough weekend for Burnley, who not only fell to a 1-0 defeat on the road to Tottenham Hotspur, but also saw relegation rivals Leeds United snatch a stoppage-time point, leaving the Clarets mired in the bottom three.
But whilst the team struggled, at least goalkeeper Nick Pope can walk away with his head held high. Burnley’s number one made six saves throughout the game, including two absolutely outstanding reaction stops from Son Heung-Min, with Harry Kane’s pinpoint penalty proving to be the only shot that could beat him.
On a dark cloud, a silver lining for Pope in that he managed to prevent this damaging defeat from turning into a wholly demoralising one.
Defender: Matt Targett (Newcastle United)
It’s no secret just how good Newcastle have been in the second half of the season, and their comprehensive 2-0 win over Arsenal on Monday night lifted them to 12th in the table whilst virtually ending the Gunners’ top four hopes.
The Magpies were outstanding all over the pitch, but a lot of credit this week goes to the under-appreciated Matt Targett at left back. The on-loan defender turned in a stellar performance at St James’ Park, making two tackles, two interceptions, and winning five of his six duels. Targett stood firm against the daunting test of facing Bukayo Saka and his replacement Nicolas Pepe to help the home side achieve another clean sheet, their fourth in seven league matches.
Just another signing who has played his part in revolutionising Newcastle since January.
Midfielder: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United)
Sunday was an emotional day at the London Stadium, with the West Ham faithful waving goodbye to club icon Mark Noble after 15 years of service to the Hammers.
The team managed to live up to the occasion, playing out a thrilling 2-2 draw with Manchester City, and once again it was Jarrod Bowen who led the Hammers forward. The attacking midfielder was sensational against the league leaders, scoring twice in the first half with two clinical finishes having used the visitors’ offside trap to his advantage.
An incredible season for him, could an England call-up be on the cards next month?
Forward: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
It’s been a pretty disappointing season on the whole for Leicester City, who have struggled, and for Jamie Vardy individually, having missed large chunks of the campaign through injury. However, both club and player appear to be finishing the campaign strongly, with Vardy in deadly form against Watford on Sunday.
The striker beat Watford ‘keeper Ben Foster to a lobbed through ball on the edge of the penalty area 20 minutes in, scoring with a deft lobbed header. Vardy was sent through on goal again in the second half, and scored a clinical second with a poked finish.
Make no mistake, Vardy is still the main man for Leicester City, as he proved again here.
Manager: Antonio Conte (Tottenham Hotspur)
The objective was a simple one here for Tottenham; win, and Champions League qualification may well be in their hands. Like in last week’s North London Derby, Tottenham were up to the task against Burnley, with Antonio Conte inspiring his team to another crucial victory.
The result may look narrow on paper, but Tottenham put in a fine display against Burnley, and if not for the saves of Nick Pope, the hosts could’ve come away with many more goals. The top-four chasers looked strong going forward even in the absence of Dejan Kulusevski and held firm at the back in the absence of Cristian Romero.
With Arsenal’s defeat at Newcastle, Tottenham now only need to avoid losing to Norwich to get back into the Champions’ League, a feat that looked near-impossible for Spurs when Conte walked into the club back in the autumn.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.