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Leicester spare Chelsea’s blushes: How the race for Champions League football played out on final day of Premier League season

Leicester spare Chelsea’s blushes: How the race for Champions League football played out on final day of Premier League season

Aston Villa vs Chelsea

Chelsea’s final Premier League clash of the season pitted them against Aston Villa.

The game had little meaning for Villa, who began the day in 11th with no chance of securing any form of European football for next term.

Chelsea, on the other hand, were well aware of what a huge evening lay ahead at Villa Park.

Thomas Tuchel’s side began the day sitting 3rd in the Premier League table, on 67 points.

However, their spot in the top-four and, in turn, next season’s Champions League, was by no means secure.

This was because both Liverpool and Leicester were in with a shot of overtaking them on Sunday.

The former opened the day in 4th, just one point off Chelsea, and with a superior goal difference.

Leicester, meanwhile, were 6th, and also one point off the Blues, but with a worse goal difference.

So, if Chelsea fell to defeat on Sunday, accompanied by a Leicester win and Liverpool either drawing or winning, then the Blues would have dropped out of the top-4.

Chelsea & Liverpool secure Champions League spots

Chelsea, as is often the case under Tuchel, began Sunday’s game by dominating possession, with Villa limited to the odd counter-attack.

And, with 20 minutes gone, the Pensioners had managed to carve out a number of chances, with Dean Smith’s side only saved by some top goalkeeping from Emiliano Martinez.

Mason Mount, on 23 minutes, directed an excellent opening well off target.

Mateo Kovacic then nearly cost Chelsea a goal when he was dispossessed in midfield, allowing John McGinn to burst forward and get a shot off. The Scotsman’s effort went wide, though.

Villa then took the lead after 43 minutes thanks to a clever set-piece, which saw Bertrand Traore left free in the Chelsea box to dink an effort beyond the reach of Edouard Mendy.

When the teams went in at half-time, Chelsea were still sitting 4th, due to Leicester being locked at a goal apiece with Tottenham.

However, Tuchel and co. will have been well aware that their spot in the top-four was hanging by a knife-edge.

And, with around 50 minutes gone in Sunday’s game, Leicester once again took the lead against Spurs, meaning Chelsea indeed dropped out of the Champions League spots.

The visitors’ evening then took another turn for the worse when Jorginho brought down Traore in the box.

Jack Grealish stepped up to convert the ensuing spot-kick, leaving Chelsea to rely on a Spurs comeback to secure their place in the top-four.

Timo Werner did appear to have pulled one back just before the hour-mark, but Cesar Azpilicueta was offside in the build-up.

Ben Chilwell did eventually net for Chelsea 69 minutes in. But with Liverpool and Leicester having still been leading, Tuchel’s men needed either an equaliser, or a Leicester defeat.

And, when all was said and done, the latter of those two scenarios played out. Chelsea were handed a lifeline when Kasper Schmeichel scored an own goal vs Spurs, meaning the Foxes dropped down to 5th.

Gareth Bale then netted a brace to earn Spurs a 4-2 win. In turn, despite Chelsea having failed to beat Villa, they were still able to secure a top-four finish thanks to Leicester’s defeat.

Elsewhere, Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-0 to secure 3rd place, with Chelsea 4th and Leicester condemned to another season in the Europa League.

Chelsea to renew their pursuit of West Ham midfielder Declan Rice


This article was edited by Conor Laird.

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Premier League table
# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City FC 38 51 86
2 Manchester United FC 38 29 74
3 Liverpool FC 38 26 69
4 Chelsea FC 38 22 67
5 Leicester City FC 38 18 66
6 West Ham United FC 38 15 65
7 Tottenham Hotspur FC 38 23 62
8 Arsenal FC 38 16 61
9 Leeds United 38 8 59
10 Everton FC 38 -1 59
11 Aston Villa FC 38 9 55
12 Newcastle United FC 38 -16 45
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 38 -16 45
14 Crystal Palace FC 38 -25 44
15 Southampton FC 38 -21 43
16 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 38 -6 41
17 Burnley FC 38 -22 39
18 Fulham FC 38 -26 28
19 West Bromwich Albion 38 -41 26
20 Sheffield United FC 38 -43 23
Premier League 20/21
Topscorers
Disciplinary
Assists
Player Team Goals
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 23
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 22
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 17
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 17
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 17
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 16
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 15
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 14
Gundogan, Ilkay Manchester City FC 13
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 13
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 12
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 12
Wood, Chris Burnley FC 12
Iheanacho, Kelechi Leicester City FC 12
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 11
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 11
Pereira, Matheus West Bromwich Albion 11
Bale, Gareth Tottenham Hotspur FC 11
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 11
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City FC 10