Sloppy Spurs slip up
The return of fans to stadiums was unable to lift a turgid Tottenham side, who slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa. An early goal for Steven Bergwijn set Spurs off on the perfect footing, but they failed to capitalise on it and allowed Aston Villa back into the encounter.
Villa’s pressure threatened to punish Spurs, and ultimately Tottenham left-back Sergio Reguilon was the chief suspect in ensuring that it did. First, he sliced a bizarre own goal past a flat-footed Hugo Lloris, before he gave the ball away twice in the same passage of play to allow Ollie Watkins to fire Villa into the lead.
Sergio Reguilon has just scored the best own goal of the season 😅pic.twitter.com/X4aamxOmKv
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 19, 2021
Spurs never really threatened to get back into the game, failing to string together anything of note in front of an increasingly frustrated crowd. Their loss has blown the race for the last two European places (One Europa League spot and one UEFA Conference League spot) wide open, with four sides set to fight it out for the right to play European football next season.
Meanwhile, Arsenal looked comfortable in their game against Crystal Palace and took the lead through Nicolas Pepe in the first half. However, Christian Benteke, who was perhaps lucky to still be on the pitch, equalised for the Eagles in Roy Hodgson’s last home game.
Video: Benteke’s elbow on Elneny’s chin. Red card or yellow card? pic.twitter.com/XmA6W1dAO1
— afcdomain (@afcdomain) May 19, 2021
However, the fairy-tale send-off was ruined by substitute Gabriel Martinelli, who turned in a Martin Odegaard cross to restore Arsenal’s lead, before a second from Nicolas Pepe in the dying seconds put the result beyond doubt.
If West Ham avoid defeat against Southampton, they will be guaranteed a place in next season’s Europa League. Equally, if both Tottenham and Everton fail to win their games, the Hammers will remain in the qualification spot.
Were West Ham to lose, they would need Spurs to drop points against Leicester. If Everton win and West Ham lose, anything less than a 9 goal swing will get the Hammers into Europe’s B competition.
To drop into the Europa Conference League, West Ham would need to lose their game and Tottenham to win theirs. However, the Hammers remain in the driving seat,
Arsenal are the only one of the four sides that cannot qualify for the Europa League. To make it into the Europa Conference League, they would require Tottenham to drop points to Leicester City and Everton to drop points to Manchester City, both of which seem possible. Were this to happen and Arsenal to win their game, they would find themselves playing in UEFA’s C competition next season.
Tottenham go into their final game (away to Leicester City) knowing that they will need to win, and hope that West Ham lose, in order to stand any chance of making the Europa League places. A superior goal difference to both Everton and the Hammers means that were they to finish level on points, it would be Spurs that went into the Europa League.
To qualify for the Conference League, they must equal Everton’s result and at least match whatever result Arsenal get against Brighton.
Travelling to Manchester City, Everton are extreme longshots in this race. To qualify for the Europa League, they will need to beat Manchester City and have West Ham and Spurs to lose, whilst finding a 9 goal swing between them and the Hammers.
To gain qualification to the Conference League, they would need to better Tottenham’s results and match whatever the Gunners get against Brighton. A tough ask against the champions.
However the final day pans out, it is set up to be a fascinating episode to end a hectic season.
This article was edited by Tom Canton.
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