Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino does not deserve uncertainty over future – Premier League hits and misses

Plus: Man Utd’s mystery under Erik ten Hag rumbles on; Europa League qualification a success for Tottenham; Jurgen Klopp shows his football is still thriving; Arsenal are here to stay under Mikel Arteta; Phil Foden stars again for Man City – as he has all year

Poch doesn’t deserve uncertainty over future

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does not deserve uncertainty over future – Premier League hits and misses />

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Chelsea and Bournemouth

When it was pointed to Mauricio Pochettino that he had led Chelsea to five successive wins to end the season, the manager quickly pointed out it was actually “five and a half”.

Pochettino knows that Chelsea’s late display of consistency began at half-time against Aston Villa in April, when they recovered from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. Five wins in a row followed, propelling Chelsea into sixth and ensuring a return to European football.

  • Chelsea 2-1 Bournemouth – Report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

But following the final-day win over Bournemouth, Pochettino also suggested he is unsure whether he has done enough to return for the second season of his contract.

Despite guiding a youthful and injury-hit squad into Europe and a cup final, Chelsea continue to be linked with other clubs’ managers.

Questions were rightly asked over Pochettino’s future at points of what has been a turbulent season. The manager even admitted this week he could have been sacked after the defeat to Wolves in February.

But since the start of 2024, Chelsea rank fourth in the Premier League, with Pochettino finally turning this bunch of talented young players into an effective unit.

It would be a strange decision for Chelsea to part ways with Pochettino now.
Joe Shread

Klopp shows his football is still thriving – why is he leaving?

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Departing Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp paid an emotional tribute to the fans following his last ever game in charge of the club.

So, just like that, Jurgen Klopp is no longer a Premier League manager. The league will miss him just as much as the Liverpool fans will.

Not many people in the world have the confidence and authority that Klopp possesses – something which was on full show when he took the microphone to speak to his people at full-time.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool’s win against Wolves in the Premier League.

They hung on his every word. Laughed at all his jokes. And sang his name when asked to do so. It’s no wonder that players play for him and have complete buy-in to his style of football, which was on full show in his swansong at Anfield. Playing against 10 men aided their cause but they gave Wolves a pummelling when assessing the underlying numbers, posting 36 shots to an expected goals tally of 5.24 – the second highest xG figure a team has registered this season. The most was of course the extraordinary 7.11 Klopp’s Liverpool created in the win over Newcastle.

Klopp’s football is still thriving. This Liverpool squad is still packed full of potential. So, why is he leaving again? It feels premature – surely Liverpool are going to be worse off without him. His boots are unfillable.
Lewis Jones

Foden stars for City – as he has all year

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the clash between Man City and West Ham

“Phil Foden’s goal helped us,” Kevin De Bruyne told Sky Sports after City’s 3-1 win over West Ham sealed the Premier League title. “It was a great goal and it has showed the season he has had. It is a brilliant moment for him to decide this game for us.”

Having been named as the Premier League Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, it was appropriate that Foden produced the standout performance that took Manchester City to another Premier League title.

  • Man City 3-1 West Ham – Report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

It was his two goals inside the first 18 minutes of the match that put City in control of it. The second of those was his 19th Premier League goal of the season. Only three players scored more. There were 27 goals in all competitions. He is City’s sniper now.

The opener, expertly drilled into the top corner, was his sixth Premier League goal from outside the box, the most by a City player in a single season in the competition. All this coming from a player who remains so much more than a mere goalscorer.

There has long been excitement about what this player was capable of, what Foden’s peak years could bring. It now feels like we are entering them. He does so celebrating his sixth Premier League title at the age of just 23. The Phil Foden era is upon us.
Adam Bate

Arsenal here to stay under Arteta

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win against Everton

The mood was one of dejection at the Emirates Stadium after the final whistle against Everton, the 2-1 win proving in vain for Arsenal as Manchester City emerged as champions again.

But there was defiance, too, particularly from Mikel Arteta, who told supporters on the pitch afterwards that Arsenal’s time will come. There was also appreciation, from players to fans, with captain Martin Odegaard thanking them for their belief, and the other way around.

  • Arsenal 2-1 Everton – Report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

Manchester City remain tantalisingly out of reach for now, claiming the prize by a two-point margin, but Arteta’s words are not empty promises. The potential of this team is obvious.

The manager has overseen progress in every season since his appointment in 2019. Arsenal, a mess of a team and a club in a state of drift when he arrived, are now firmly at home among the elite, edging ever closer to the type of silverware they have long craved.

Another second-placed finish is a painful outcome but they have done all this with the third-youngest team in the Premier League. None of their most important players, from William Saliba and Declan Rice to Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Kai Havertz, is older than 26. Their peak years are ahead of them. So are Arsenal’s.
Nick Wright

Man Utd mystery rumbles on

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United’s win against Brighton in the Premier League

Manchester United were at their puzzling best at Brighton.

By the time left-back Diogo Dalot had found himself in the position of a striker and fired past Jason Steele with all the composure of one, the hosts should have had the victory long secured.

  • Brighton 0-2 Man Utd: Report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

United passed the ball at a walking pace in the first half allowing Brighton to stroll back into position and catch their breath before launching their next waves of attack. Erik ten Hag’s side rode their luck and needed emergency defending from Casemiro to deny a certain goal.

Yet there is also an argument that this was the perfect away performance. They soaked up pressure, made good substitutions and eventually won the game late on, but more is expected from a club of this stature.

It is the conundrum facing Sir Jim Ratcliffe and co over whether Ten Hag is getting the most out of this squad. Delivering their worst finish in the Premier League era provides the answer.
David Richardson

Europa League qualification success for Spurs

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham’s win against Sheffield United in the Premier League

Ange Postecoglou’s first season in charge at Tottenham ended with a fifth-placed finish and Europa League qualification – which should be viewed as success.

Before the season there had been some doubts over the Australian and whether Spurs could cope without their all-time leading goal scorer Harry Kane after his summer move to Bayern Munich.

  • Spurs fans: Your thoughts on Ange’s first season on charge?
  • Sheff Utd 0-3 Tottenham: Report and highlights
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But, despite another season without silverware, Spurs have made good progress under Postecoglou, with Andre Villas-Boas the only manager to pick up more Premier League victories in their first season in charge of Spurs (21 in 2012-13).

At this stage last year, Tottenham had missed out on Europe altogether after finishing eighth and were directionless and managerless.

But after the win at Sheffield United there is a feeling of positivity heading into an important summer transfer window that should see Postecoglou deservedly backed as the club gear up for a return to European football.
Declan Olley

Newcastle progressing but must keep key assets

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Newcastle’s win against Brentford in the Premier League.

Eddie Howe insisted that, despite a lower league position, this season was another step forwards for Newcastle.

By battling a huge number of injuries, experiencing a first Champions League campaign as a group and then finishing the season strongly they are better for the challenges they’ve faced.

  • Brentford 2-4 Newcastle – Report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

But while Newcastle will be looking for ways to add extra quality to the squad in the transfer window, this summer will also see interest in key men Alexander Isak and Bruno Guimaraes. The pressures of PSR may make some offers hard to resist.

Isak and Guimaraes produced stand out performances at Brentford to sign off the season. It was a reminder of their quality. If Newcastle are to make tangible steps forward next season and challenge for those Champions League qualifying places again, they cannot afford to lose that duo.
Peter Smith

Brentford believe a better season is ahead – but does that depend on Toney?

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Sky Sports’ James Cole and Peter Smith discuss Alexander Isak’s and Bruno Guimaraes’ futures at St. James’ Park and whether Brentford’s Ivan Toney will make the England squad for the Euros this summer.

Thomas Frank cut a tired-looking figure in his final post-match press conference of the season. But through the fatigue he insisted he is excited for next season at Brentford.

His belief is that with a fully fit squad, Brentford can continue to punch above their weight and deliver a more successful campaign than this injury-hit year.

But how much of that depends on the future of Ivan Toney? The Bees coped relatively well in periods during his betting ban – Yoane Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo stepped up before suffering injuries. However, the next chapter for Brentford will depend on Toney staying or the club investing funds raised from his sale wisely.

Stay or go, Toney’s situation will be defining for Brentford’s next steps.
Peter Smith

Forest’s refusal to be floored crucial

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Burnley and Nottingham Forest

To say Nottingham Forest have had to overcome obstacles this season is an understatement.

After an abject start to the campaign, they were forced to part with Steve Cooper, the man who not only masterminded their return to the Premier League after a 23-year absence but kept Forest up in their first season back in the top flight, and the challenges kept on coming.

Scattered throughout the season, a slew of contentious officiating decisions tested, and on occasion, broke the club’s resolve. And then came the points deduction for breaking Premier League profit and sustainability rules.

  • Burnley 1-2 Nottingham Forest: Report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

Needing a point to guarantee safety on the final day at Burnley, Chris Wood’s double got Forest over the line with room to spare, as the looming threat of relegation was replaced with the prospect of a third-successive season of Premier League football for the first time in 27 years.

Nottingham Forest would have been forgiven for thinking the footballing world was transpiring against them this season, but instead it was their downright refusal to give in which prevailed.
Jack Wilkinson

Positives to ‘crack on’ with for Dyche and Everton

It’s been a turbulent season for Everton, but one that has had a decent ending.

Off the pitch, two points deductions and uncertainty over the ownership of the club have been a lot for the Everton players and staff to deal with, but on the pitch, they haven’t let it show, especially towards the back end of the season.

Four wins from their final six games have seen them finish 15th, 14 points ahead of the relegation zone and considering the six-point deduction, Sean Dyche has done a remarkable job at Goodison Park.

  • Arsenal 2-1 Everton – Match report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

He warned in his post-match press conference at Arsenal that there were still challenges to come off the pitch for Everton, but despite those, it’s on the pitch Dyche can take real positives from this season.

Even on the final day, the Toffees more than played their part against Arsenal, causing Mikel Arteta’s side plenty of problems, especially on the break. Speaking to the media, Dyche said: “There are a lot of good signs out there even though it is a challenging time for Everton Football Club.”

It’s now important that Everton build on those good signs this summer and “crack on” as Dyche put it in his press conference.
Oliver Yew

De Zerbi playing cards right after Brighton success

Brighton supporters will remember Roberto De Zerbi for bringing a style of football they had seldom seen before – but will always wonder what might have been.

Their final-day defeat encapsulated the good and bad they’ve seen over the past two seasons. Constant team changes, controlled possession, brave playing out of the back, missed chances and cheap goals conceded.

De Zerbi’s ambitions to manage a top club will have been born out of his frustrations at Brighton selling their best players and their consistent injury problems this season made his job harder.

Finishing in the bottom half looks like an underachievement at face value yet De Zerbi’s stock is higher than when he arrived in the Premier League. He is playing a smart game to earn his next move even if he says he doesn’t know where it will be.
David Richardson

Keeping Neto should be summer priority for Wolves

It was an afternoon to forget for Wolves, with very few positives at Anfield. However, the return of Pedro Neto will boost morale ahead of the summer.

Neto had two goals and nine assists to his name before picking up a hamstring injury during the 2-1 victory over Fulham back in March. The winger was forced off just before half-time and had been absent ever since.

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The brief cameo off the bench at Anfield will be a welcome sight for the Wolves fanbase – who will be hoping they can keep hold of their prized asset throughout the summer transfer window. “We are in a much better position than we were last summer, when we needed to sell players,” O’Neil said recently regarding the possibility of selling key players this summer.

“We don’t need to sell anybody. If we didn’t want to see players, we could sell nobody this summer.”

Neto has regularly been linked with both Arsenal and Liverpool and is currently contracted until 2027. He signed a contract extension at Molineux back in 2022 after clubs across the Premier League began to monitor his situation in the West Midlands.
Patrick Rowe

Future bright for Iraola and Bournemouth

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Andoni Iraola says he enjoyed his first season managing in the Premier League, ‘even in the worst moments’.

Bournemouth may have ended the campaign with a third straight Premier League defeat to slip down the standings, ultimately ending the campaign outside a coveted top-10 berth and in 12th place in the table.

However, that should not mask what a hugely impressive first season in charge of the Cherries this has been from Andoni Iraola, who endured a tough start to life on the south coast after replacing the popular Gary O’Neil at the Vitality last summer.

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In fact, Bournemouth were even languishing down in 19th place on just three points from nine games after a 2-1 home defeat to of all teams an O’Neil-managed Wolverhampton Wanderers back in October.

However, a brilliant run of Champions League-type form since propelled the team up the standings so that they even managed to end the season with a club record haul of top-flight points, while only in 2016-17 have the Cherries ever achieved a higher Premier League finish.

And as long as they can keep hold of their most important players for next season, especially 19-goal Dominic Solanke, then there is no reason why they cannot achieve a top-10 league finish this time next year.
Richard Morgan

Eze puts himself in England’s shop window

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Crystal Palace’s win against Aston Villa in the Premier League.

In reality, Eberechi Eze has probably been doing this all season, but it never hurts to score twice on the final day of the Premier League season with an assist to boot – just two days before Gareth Southgate names his provisional Euro 2024 squad.

Overall, Crystal Palace’s performance against Aston Villa epitomised the success Oliver Glasner has had in just three months. It was fast-paced, attacking football which got the best from their forward line.

  • Crystal Palace 5-0 Aston Villa – Report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

The Eagles have always had the potential to do so, but under previous managers, it never quite clicked. Now it has in abundance.

Eze has been a key part in that, and should be a shoo-in for Southgate’s squad. For me, it would be a strange choice to not include such a dynamic player, who can turn games in his team’s favour in mere seconds, especially with space for 26 players.

“I’m very keen when they are nominated, we wish all our players the best,” Crystal Palace manager Oliver Glasner said. “Of course, as Crystal Palace manager, you would think it’s better to have some weeks off before pre-season.

“But I know for the players, it’s always their ambition to play a great tournament and when they have the ability I hope [they are selected].

“The players did what they can do, show great performances, then it’s up to Gareth Southgate for England and several other players who could be nominated.”

Marc Guehi too has made a timely return from injury, helping Crystal Palace to a clean sheet, alongside likely England inclusion Dean Henderson. Guehi especially will be hoping to be in Southgate’s thinking.

To have three potential representatives in the England squad, and more besides at this summer’s Euros, shows just how Crystal Palace are progressing as a club. It is hopefully shaping up to be an exciting 2024/25 campaign.
Charlotte Marsh

Luton go down with sails up

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Luton and Fulham.

It was beyond the conceivable realms of Leicester winning the Premier League at the start of 2015/16: Luton needed a 12-goal swing over 17th-placed Nottingham Forest at the start of the afternoon to avoid the drop.

Within minutes of kick-off, that margin increased to 13 as Forest took the lead at Burnley and the faintest chance of the impossible fairy tale was extinguished.

  • Luton 2-4 Fulham – Report and highlights
  • How the teams lined up | Match stats

Once again, Rob Edwards’ side entertained and delivered with an abundance of attacking intent. The Hatters registered 2.11 xG – twice the figure registered by their hosts. Yet, once again, Luton came out on the losing side in this 4-2 thriller.

Ross Barkley, Alfie Doughty, Carlton Morris, Elijah Adebayo and Chiedozie Ogbene have provided ample threat at the top end of the pitch and impressed this term.

Indeed, Luton scored 52 league goals this season – only Blackpool (55 in 2010/11) scored more in a 20-team campaign and suffered relegation.

But, at the other end of the pitch, Luton conceded 85 goals – only rock-bottom Sheffield United shipped more with a record-breaking 104.

Edwards’ attackers overperformed this season according to xG, netting nearly nine goals more than expected. But, they underperformed defensively, shipping five more than expected – which compounded their exposed rearguard.

However, their entertaining style attracted countless fans and proved more effective than fellow promoted counterparts in the final standings, boosted by their set-piece tenacity.

Forest ended the day six points and 15 goals away, but would that margin have been surmountable without their dip in form since February? Regardless, Luton are well-primed to bounce back next year.
Adam Smith


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