Liverpool and Chelsea will be playing Champions League football next season after Leicester were beaten on the final day of a crazy Premier League season.
All three teams needed to win to ensure that they had a chance of finishing in the top four this season, but Jurgen Klopp’s side were the only ones victorious on Sunday thanks to a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace with goals from Sadio Mane.
That meant the final spot came down to this season’s FA Cup finalists and when both teams were beaten, it meant that Chelsea stayed above the Foxes to claim entry in the elite European competition next season.
Leicester took the lead against Tottenham thanks to a Jamie Vardy penalty before Harry Kane equalised. Vardy then converted a second penalty to put them ahead once again, only for Kasper Schmeichel to accidentally turn the ball into his own net. Gareth Bale then scored twice off the substitutes bench to seal a 4-2 win, meaning Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa meant nothing.
It’s the second season in a row where Leicester have failed to secure top four and Champions League football despite leading the way for the vast majority of the campaign.
Last year they failed when they lost to Manchester United on the final day, meaning Chelsea’s win against Wolves saw them overtake them in fourth place. This year they failed to make the most of the fact that they were in the top four places for longer than any other team, including eventual runaway champions Manchester City and runners-up Manchester United.
While they were able to lift the FA Cup for the first time in their history, if you’d give fans the choice of securing a trophy or securing Champions League football next season I think quite a few would’ve picked finishing higher up the table.
It would have brought in big revenue, plenty of pulling power for potential transfer targets but also would’ve seen them take the chip off their shoulder from last season. Instead now, they’ll head into next season with yet another failed domestic campaign looming over their heads.
Liverpool on the other hand will be delighted with how they finished the campaign. They suffered tremendously with injuries this season and used 19 different centre-back pairings throughout the season, often using Fabinho and even Jordan Henderson there.
But their late charge of form was boosted when they returned the Brazilian to his preferred holding midfield position, winning eight of their last ten games to close a seven point gap and eventually finish in third place.
As for Chelsea, they did so much work since Thomas Tuchel took over in January to become hard to beat and a well organised attacking outfit. While the work they did got them to the FA Cup final, Champions League final and into the top four for next season, the Blues have begun showing some flaws in recent games.
They’ve now lost three of their last four games, including the FA Cup final and with the Champions League final against Manchester City next weekend they need to swing momentum quick-fast in their favour. They could be without first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy too, who was forced off at half-time against Aston Villa after colliding with the post when trying to stop their first goal.
With Manchester City winning 5-0 in their final game of the season, the morale and mood of both teams could not be any more polar opposite and is something both managers will have to ensure they put it in their favour ahead of the biggest game of the season.