The final day of the English Premier League season couldn’t have been more memorable than having a 36 goal- galore, coupled with the tearful goodbyes, few emotional speeches but no significant upset as Chelsea and Arsenal finished third and fourth respectively, while Tottenham and Everton settled for the Europa League.
Sir Alex Ferguson have drawn both his first and last games in charge of Manchester United as West Bromwich Albion put up a good show to draw level, five goals apiece at the Hawthorn. The ten- goal thriller was yet another gift for Ferguson as he watched his side squander a three goal lead in the first- half to settle for a 5-5 draw. That could as well translate to a high- 5 for all at the Hawthorn.
The hospitality from the Baggies was magnanimous, talking about Albion’s Mascot Baggie Bird, who presented a pack of chewing gum to the Scot before kick- off.
In the end goals from Shinji Kagawa, Jonas Olson (OG), Alex Buttner (30 min), Robin van Persie (53 min) and Javier Hernandez (63 min), where replied by James Morrison (40 min), Romelu Lukaku (50, 86 and 81 mins) and Yousouf Mulumbu (81 min) to complete a 5-5 draw.
Paul Scholes, of course got into the referee’s booking again. The retiree has now been booked 97 times in his Premier League career, two short of the record held by Lee Bowyer and Kevin Davies.
Jamie Carragher, Paul Scholes, Lee Harper, Phil Neville, Michael Owen and Stylian Petrov all took a bow from professional football, joined by teammates, and families.
Chelsea took the lead at Stamford Bridge with a Juan Mata 7th minute goal, after Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard parried a Demba Ba’s shot to the Spaniaird, who simply tucked the ball into the net. At that moment Arsenal’s lackluster performance at St James’ Park had Gunners fans at the edge of their seats as a goal from Tottenham would have helped Spurs pip their North London rivals to fourth place.
Such scenario was not to be as Steven Naismith equalized for Everton, 7 minutes after Mata had given the home team the lead. The struggle for an automatic champions League slot took a different turn after the equaliser, however, the Gunners were unproductive in front of goal, even lucky not to have gone behind before half- time.
Tottenham thought they should have been awarded a penalty, when Seb Larsson shoved Gareth Bale down inside the penalty area but to the amazement of Spurs fans and coach Andre Villas- Boas, the Welsh forward was yellow- carded for diving instead.
Referee Andre Marriner’s decision infuriated everyone at White Hart Lane. Marriner was a long way behind the play and it looked like a desperate decision. Moreover, Tottenham kept searching for a goal that would have placed them ahead of Arsenal in fourth against a resilient Sunderland.
Recourse came to Arsenal in the 52nd minute as Laurent Koscielny stays on side to hook home a great acrobatic effort from a Theo Walcott’s headed- on free- kick.
It was a bad minute for Tottenhan, who at that moment had a second penalty appeal, turned down by Marriner. Villas- Boas was almost out of sight and down the tunnel in pursuit of fourth official Phil Dowd. When the news of Arsenal goal finally filtered through the stadium, the fans all had their hearts in their mouths as the search for a goal proved elusive.
At that moment, Arsenal and Chelsea were leveled on points and on goal difference, but Chelsea were third on goals scored. One more goal for Arsenal would have done the trick, instead they looked the most likely to concede as Newcastle United were back into the proceedings.
It was not to be as Fernando Torres registered his first goal since December in the 76th minute, latching on to a knock down by Victor Moses to fire in at the near post. The Spaniard gave the Blues the comfort and relief to sit on the third place slot, while Arsenal needed a second goal to 1st, get far away from Spurs and probably force their way through to third in case Everton had equalised.
Spurs finally got their long awaited goal at the stroke of full- time and it was the usual candidate, Bale, who slotted in a curling effort from 25 yards.
It was a nervy four minutes for Arsene Wenger as Spurs waited for the news of an equaliser from St James’ Park to no avail. All been said and done, Tottenham were good enough to have made it into next season’s Europa League, having finished fifth on the Premier League table.
Arsenals Theo Walcott believed the team did the job for the day, which was to win. After the encounter, the visiting fans at St James’ Park celebrated like they’ve won the league to the delight of Arsene Wenger and the players.
“We weren’t aware of the Spurs result and we knew what we had to do, it was in our hands and we did the job. We had to prove people wrong,” Walcott said.
“We had a disappointing result against Tottenham earlier this season and it’s never nice to lose to them. A lot of people thought we wouldn’t do it today so it’s nice to show them that we could do it.”
• Manchester City 2 vs. Norwich 3
• West ham 4 vs. Reading 2
• Liverpool 1 vs. QPR 0
• Wigan Athletic 2 vs. Aston Villa 2
• Swansea 0 vs. Fulham 3
• Southampton 1vs. Stoke City 1