My 3 Thoughts on the Premier League's Final Day
Man City scores three late goals to win the league, while Marsch's Leeds United stays up
Manchester City won the Premier League title ahead of Liverpool in dramatic fashion by scoring three goals late to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Aston Villa and clinch the league title on the final day. Meanwhile, American Jesse Marsch’s Leeds United won 2-1 at Brentford to stay up in the Premier League for next season and leave Burnley (a 2-1 home loser to Newcastle) relegated to the Championship. Here are my three thoughts on the games:
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• On a final day that will live long in the memory, Manchester City found five minutes of magic to stave off Liverpool for the Premier League title. It seemed like Man City was about to choke away the title when it went down 2-0 to Aston Villa on Philippe Coutinho’s 69th-minute goal, but three City goals from the 76th to 81st minutes (two of them by Ilkay Gündogan, a masterstroke sub from Pep Guardiola) turned the title race in a near instant and kept the trophy in Manchester. It turned out that City’s rally was necessary, since Liverpool went ahead late against Wolves and won 3-1. This was the best Premier League final day in 10 years, since the amazing moment in 2012 when Sergio Agüero’s stoppage-time goal gave City the title ahead of Man United, and once again City is triumphant on this day as well. It even came in a somewhat similar way to the 2012 game, with City appearing to choke by going down against Villa, only to turn the tables with a late flurry of goals. Gündogan is an underappreciated player, and I hope that changes.
• Marsch’s Leeds United stayed up. Things didn’t look promising for the American coach, whose team was away to Brentford while Burnley (which had the advantage over Leeds) was at home to Newcastle. But Leeds, which has been missing many of its key players, won 2-1 at Brentford while Burnley lost 2-1 at home to Newcastle—sending Burnley down to the Championship and keeping Marsch and Leeds in the Premier League for next season. The margins are so slim in these battles, and the mix of euphoria and existential relief that washed over Marsch and the Leeds players, coaching staff and fans in the final moments are part of what makes this sport so great. If you love soccer, you live for days like this, and the Premier League delivered.
• NBC did an OK job covering the games, but could have done better. Look, it’s a good thing NBC sends its studio crew to England on the final day and puts all 10 games on different NBC platforms—including the Golf Channel, which causes hilarious griping from golf fans every year—but the key thing to have on a historic day like Sunday is a well-run whip-around show, and NBC didn’t do a good enough job there. The “Goal Rush” channel on Peacock should have been the place to do that, but instead of having a properly run whip-around like we see on CBS’s “Golazo Show” for UEFA games, NBC’s offering stayed almost entirely on the Man City-Aston Villa game instead of whipping us around to Liverpool-Wolves and the relegation-battle games more often. It was really disappointing, and I hope NBC does better in the future.
What are your thoughts? You can join the discussion in the comments below.
I’ve been saying for years that MLB and the nfl should schedule all season finale games at the same time, and today demonstrates why that works. From the battles at both the top and bottom to the battles for 4th and 6th (the last Europa League spot, which West Ham could’ve claimed from United) it was riveting all the way.
I can’t decide who would’ve been derided more in the English media had their teams lost today - Pep or Jesse. The refrain would’ve been that Pep can’t win an important game, and that American coaches are simply out of their element. I’m thrilled for Jesse, and will be very interested in how / whether Leeds ownership will strengthen the squad.
I had a glorious soccer moment on Saturday. The precious evening I had just watched the final episode of “ Sunderland” on Netflix. This ended with a loss at Wembley in a shoot out, and another season in League One for bedraggled Sunderland. I decided to see how that team did subsequently, only to learn that they remained in League One but were that day, back at Wembley, for a winner take all game ( ie promotion to the championship league ) against the Wayfarers. I was able to watch the game on ESPN+ ( 7 am in my home state of California), and it was like a reprise ( only with a better outcome) of the last episode of Netflix. 47,000 fans, decked in red and white stripes, came to London in support ( Sunderland had never won anything at Wembley). And another 20,000 came for the other side. Sunderland won 2-0 in regulation. I imagine the celebration continues in the northeast. But what a thrill. Like the World Cup final for them. And I had just learned so much about the team, it’s players ( many of whom remained from the series documentary) and it’s amazing fans. Glorious. As good as it gets