Eliot K. Raman Jones | Sports Editor
It has been a unique season in the Premier League, and not just because of the ongoing pandemic. Liverpool, the team who have had to endure 30 long years since their last title, ended their wait for that particular piece of silverware when second-placed Manchester City lost at Chelsea on June 25th, meaning that The Reds could no longer be caught by The Citizens.
Liverpool started the league campaign fresh off the back of winning the Champion’s League, and the scintillating European performances that attracted continental praise last season were recreated domestically this year. The Reds won their first eight games in a row, and finished December with a 13-point lead at the top of the table, which they stretched to 25 by the time the Premier League was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is no doubt a deserved trophy for the Merseysiders, and now the challenge for next season will be whether or not they can hold onto it.
While for much of the season the battle for the league title has been a foregone conclusion, the battle for European places has been anything but. Liverpool and Manchester City are the only teams both assured a Champions League place going into the final day, and The Citizens were not even granted one before they overturned a two-year European ban on the 14th of July. City’s rivals Manchester United can also book their ticket to Europe’s premier club competition if they avoid defeat on Sunday against fifth-placed Leicester, while Chelsea, who sit one point above Leicester, just need to draw with sixth-placed Wolves to make it into the Champions League. Leicester meanwhile will guarantee a spot in the Champions League if they beat United. Wolves can qualify for their second season in the Europa League in a row if they beat Chelsea on Sunday too.
Turning our focus to the bottom of the table, two of AFC Bournemouth, Watford, and Aston Villa will be joining already relegated Norwich City in the Championship next season. 16th-placed Brighton and Hove Albion secured their Premier League status for next season following a goalless draw with Newcastle on the penultimate day of the season, putting all the pressure on the teams in 17th, 18th and 19th. All three sides have similar goal differences going into the final day, but both Aston Villa and Watford are on 34 points, while Bournemouth are three points shy of that total, sitting on 31.
In order for Bournemouth to survive, they need to win away against Everton, while hoping that Villa lose away against West Ham and Watford lose away against Arsenal. Both Watford and Villa’s survival permutations depend on one another. If Villa win, Watford need to win but also better Villa’s result by two or more goals due to their inferior goal difference. If Villa draw, then a Watford win would be enough to see them stay up, and if Villa lose, then Watford just need a point to stay up. Aston Villa meanwhile can stay up just by matching Watford’s results, unless both teams lose and Bournemouth win. Whatever happens, the Premier League will be losing some storied teams, as both The Hornets and The Cherries have been in the top-flight since 2015, while it could be a déjà vu end to the season for The Villa, as relegation on Sunday would make it two relegations from the Premier League in the last five seasons.