Arsenal’s 1-0 Premier League victory over Newcastle ensured that the Gunners will be playing the Champions League next season at the expense of North London rivals Tottenham, despite their 1-0 win at home against Sunderland courtesy of another late blockbuster from Gareth Bale.
With the title already secured by Manchester United and relegation matters settled in midweek, the only piece of intrigue left to be settled was who will be playing in Europe next season. Both games were scoreless at half-time leaving both sets of fans nervously waiting the last 4t5 minutes of the season.
Arsenal grabbed a goal first in the 52nd minute when Laurent Koscielny hooked home from close range following a free-kick from the right.
Overall at White Hart Lane, Spurs had two stone cold penalty appeals turned down, shots cleared off the line and woodwork rattled before Bale curled in a sensational winner following David Vaughan’s red card. Yet it was not enough and Tottenham will be in the Europa League next season.
Chelsea wrapped up third place with a 2-1 home win over Everton.Juan Mata and Fernando Torres scored either side of Toffees midfielder Steven Naismith as the Rafa era came to an end at Stamford Bridge. Bring on Mourinho!
The best game of the day was at the Hawthorns, where Sir Alex Ferguson saw his side throw away a three goal lead to draw 5-5 with West Brom.
Shinji Kagawa, Alex Buttner and a Jonas Olsson own-goal put United 3-0 up after half an hour, while Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez also hit the target on Ferguson’s big day. But a Romelu Lukaku hat-trick teamed with efforts from James Morrison and Youssouf Mulumbu ensured the Baggies a share of the spoils. Three of West Brom’s goals came in a frantic last ten minutes.
Jamie Carragher’s final match for Liverpool before retirement ended in a 1-0 win over QPR, who finish bottom of the league. Philippe Coutinho grabbed the winner with a fine 23rd-minute strike but Carragher, goalless since 2006, almost grabbed the spotlight when he hit the woodwork in the second half.
Carragher’s former Liverpool and England team-mate Michael Owen also played the last match of his storied career but a 16-minute cameo in Stoke’s 1-1 draw at Southampton was not one to remember.
Peter Crouch gave the Potters the lead two minutes into the second half and Rickie Lambert levelled 10 minutes later for the Saints.
Managerless Manchester City ended a disappointing season with a 3-2 home defeat to Norwich. One of Roberto Mancini’s much-maligned summer signings, Jack Rodwell, twice equalised for City but goals from Anthony Pilkington, Grant Holt and Jonny Howson won it for the Canaries.
West Ham beat the Canaries to a top-half finish with a 4-2 win over relegated Reading. Kevin Nolan claimed a hat-trick and Ricardo Vaz Te also netted, while Garath McCleary and Adam Le Fondre ensured the Royals did not go down without a fight.
FA Cup winners Wigan are also bound for the npower Championship but they added one final point to their tally with a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa. Darren Bent, on a rare start, had put Villa ahead before Emmerson Boyce’s header and a Nathan Baker own-goal gave the Latics a sniff of victory. Ron Vlaar snuffed out those hopes in the 61st minute.
Fulham shook off some questionable form to inflict a 3-0 defeat on Swansea, Alex Kacaniklic, Dimitar Berbatov and Urby Emmanuelson on the scoresheet for the Cottagers.