White Hart Lane
Tottenham continue to heroically cling on – not just to their title hopes, but to their very soul. The Lane’s swansong season has been among the most glorious in its storied 118-year-old history, and it was at its raucous best for the final north London derby at the old ground. Fittingly, this was a historic match that finally provided some solid evidence of this Spurs team’s superiority over Arsenal. They will finish above the Gunners for the first time in more than 20 years and this time nothing can stop them – not even lasagne. The stadium will soon be gone, maybe the title hopes too. Spurs will hope there’s truth in the saying that the soul never dies.
READ MORE: Harry Kane toasts superb Tottenham victory
Hazard, Kante and Luiz may take most plaudits, but nobody symbolises the difference between 2015/16 Chelsea and 2016/17 Chelsea better than this man. His transformation from a bit-part player in a poor side to key man in a fine one was perfectly demonstrated by his crucial intervention in the Blues’ 3-0 win at Everton. The Spaniard’s world class, long-range opening strike after 66 minutes of a delicately balanced game at Goodison Park might be the goal that wins his side the championship. Having already won five league titles in his career, Pedro was always one player unlikely to buckle under the pressure of the run-in.
The battle for the Europa League
Could Burnley get into Europe? Yes, and so could Stoke, Watford, Crystal Palace and lots of other very average teams. The Premier League battle that literally no one is talking about takes place in mid-table, where four points separate eight teams and every side down to 16th still has a chance of making the Europa League. That’s because, if Manchester United finish outside the top four but win the competition this season, the team finishing eighth will replace them in the tournament. West Brom currently hold that spot, but they have gone five games without scoring and have a tough run-in. So who wants it?? (Possibly no one.)
David De Gea
Even the best goalkeepers are sometimes made to look silly. And if they’re especially unfortunate, they’re made to look really, really silly. That was the fate that befell Man Utd’s No1 when he waved away Ander Herrera from his goal-line while the Red Devils were defending a Swansea free-kick. Herrera dutifully retook his position in the wall, prompting Gylfi Sigurdsson to immediately flight the set piece into the exact position where Herrera has been standing and score a hugely important goal for the Swans. It was skilful, it was impudent, but most of all it boasted the greatest comic timing of any goal scored in the Premier League this season.
Saturday was a strange day of football, and a rather unpleasant one for any fans who went to watch their team play at home. For the first time in the history of football (probably), not a single goal was scored by any of the home teams. Not even if they were playing Burnley, who won an away game for the first time this season with a 2-0 triumph at Crystal Palace. Elsewhere, Stoke’s 0-0 draw with West Ham was the best home result anyone could muster. Sunday wasn’t much better, as Man Utd, Middlesbrough and Everton all suffered disappointment in their own stadium before Tottenham finally took three points at White Hart Lane in the last match of the weekend. But they were only playing Arsenal so it barely counts.
Few men have appeared more incensed in 2017 than Middlesbrough’s Marten de Roon after Man City’s Leroy Sane was awarded a penalty for tackling him and falling over at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday. But imagine what the Dutchman would have done if had a conceded a spot-kick for the “foul” that sent Man Utd’s Marcus Rashford tumbling in the area against Swansea. This was a dive so exceptionally theatrical and fraudulent that, at the tender age of 19, Rashford may have already made his most memorable contribution to football. To De Roon’s credit, at least he could laugh about his one afterwards (albeit in a highly aggressive manner, right in Aleksandar Kolarov’s face).