Weekend Review: Everton survive as Leeds United and Leicester City are relegated
No big shocks for bookies, though bet365 paid out on all three outcomes in a crazy Southampton versus Liverpool encounter at the St Mary’s Stadium
The final round of Premier League matches provided plenty of drama as Everton, Leeds United and Leicester City scrapped at the bottom end of the table knowing two of them would fall through the trap door into the Championship.
When Leicester City (10/11) went 1-0 up against West Ham courtesy of a well-worked Harvey Barnes goal, it lifted the Foxes out of the relegation zone and they swapped places with Everton.
The goal meant that if Everton (8/15) didn’t find a way to score at home to Bournemouth, the Toffees’ 69 consecutive years in the top-flight of English football would be over.
It was a nerve-jangling first 45 minutes for the Goodison Park faithful as their side struggled to lay a glove on Bournemouth in what was a tepid first half bereft of clear-cut chances.
However, the roof lifted off this famous old ground when, 12 minutes into the second half, Abdoulaye Doucoure swept home a sweet half-volley from just outside the box.
Despite Leicester running out 2-1 winners over the Hammers, the fact Bournemouth were unable to find an equaliser meant the club that Leicester – the club that famously won the league title just seven years ago at odds of 5,000/1 – was down.
Meanwhile, Leeds United could have avoided the drop providing results went the Yorkshire club’s way but Sam Allardyce’s men were beaten 4-1 at home to Tottenham (7/5) after yet more dismal defending.
While Tottenham ended their disappointing season on a high, including Harry Kane reaching 30 goals in the Premier League this season, Aston Villa pipped them to the Europa Conference League with a 2-1 victory at home to Brighton.
Elsewhere, Arsenal (2/5) thumped Wolves 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium and Manchester United (8/15) beat Fulham 2-1.
Brentford (7/2) capped a fantastic campaign by becoming the only club this season to complete the double over champions Manchester City thanks to a 85th-minute goal from Ethan Pinnock, who that morning was celebrating a new four-year contract on the eve of his 30th birthday.
Chelsea and Newcastle played out 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, as did Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forrest.
Finally, there was an enthralling encounter on the south coast with bottom side Southampton drawing 4-4 with Liverpool.
The Reds (4/9) had been 2-0 up before the home side pulled two back and then took the lead after half-time.
Saints’ striker Adam Armstrong made it 4-2 on 64 minutes, yet the visitors pulled one back with a Cody Gakpo tap-in before Diogo Jota fired Liverpool level a minute later.
In what was a Premier League first for bet365, the bookie paid out on all three outcomes in what was a costly result.
Bet365’s Steve Freeth explains: “The final day of the Premier League season is renowned for its high-scoring nature and we had a top-flight first at St Mary’s where we paid out on all three outcomes in the pre-match full-time result market thanks to our ‘two goals ahead early pay-out’ offer.
“When Roberto Firmino scored in his final Reds’ outing on 15 minutes to make it 2-0, we paid out Liverpool pre-game bets in singles, multiples and bet builders.
“We did the same on Southampton when Adam Armstrong made it 4-2. And the icing on the cake for punters was that we also paid out on the draw with the incredible game ending 4-4.”
Reflecting on the action after the curtain came down on the season, Alan Firkins of Betfred commented: “The final Premier League weekend provided a few welcome draws and of course that fully deserved Brentford win against the champions Manchester City.
“No great shocks at the bottom, though, and the expected duo of Leeds and Leicester sadly fell through the relegation trapdoor despite the odd palpitation from Goodison Park along the way.”
He added: “The traders tell me they could ‘do without’ City hitting that magical treble by winning the FA Cup and Champions League in the next fortnight, meaning it will cost us plenty.
“It’s been a wonderful Premier League season, and to be honest it always is. What a product – it is always delivering.”
Next season, English football’s elite will be joined by Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton Town after the latter hit the dizzy heights of the Premier League with a playoff final shootout win over Coventry at Wembley.
Remarkably, the Hatters, who return to the top division for the first time since the 1991-92 season, were playing in the fifth tier of English football just nine seasons ago.
What’s more, Sheffield Wednesday were promoted to the Championship with victory over Barnsley and Carlisle prevailed over Stockport on penalties in the League Two playoff final.
Looking ahead to the weekend, it is the Oaks at Epsom this Friday and, the following day, what looks a wide-open Derby followed by an all-Manchester FA Cup final at Wembley as City take on United.
“To lift the cup, City are 2/7, and it’s 13/5 United,” Firkins said. “How about a sensational, soon-to-be-retired Frankie Dettori Betfred Oaks/Derby double, with Soul Sister (11/4) and Arrest (13/2)? I wouldn’t put it past him for one second.”