Football

EPL final day round-up

With only the third and fourth Champions League spots to decide, there was little else riding on the final day of English Premier League on Sunday (May 21).

Even so, there was no shortage of talking points.

Here's a quick recap of what the big stories among the EPL's top six sides were:


TERRY BIDS STAMFORD BRIDGE GOODBYE

The season isn't over for Antonio Conte's league champions - crowned with two games to spare - with an FA Cup final against Arsenal to come.

However, it was the end of John Terry's story at Stamford Bridge as he made his final appearance at the Blues' home ground against Sunderland.

The long-serving Chelsea captain was given a special sending-off by his teammates, who formed an honour guard for him when he was substituted at 26 minutes - the shirt number worn by Terry at Chelsea.

The 36-year-old, who has been at the west London club for 22 years, was visibly emotional as he was replaced by Gary Cahill.

Even though he lifted the 15th trophy of his Blues career, Terry described the day as "one of the most difficult days of my life."

Addressing the stadium after Chelsea had won 5-1, the defender said: "You (the Chelsea fans) are the best supporters in the world, without a shadow of a doubt.

"You've given me everything. You picked me up when I was down, sung my name when I had a bad game and disappointed you.

"I'll come back here one day, supporting the team for years to come."

While Terry has yet to decide on his future, he has been linked with Swansea and West Brom.


ARSENAL HEARTBREAK AS CITY, LIVERPOOL SECURE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SPOTS

Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's match against Everton.PHOTO: AFP

No slip-ups here in the race for the Top Four.

Arsenal missed out on a place in Champions League for the first time in 20 seasons despite a 3-1 win over Everton.

Manchester City cemented third place with a 5-0 thumping of Watford while Liverpool secured fourth by beating Middlesbrough 3-0, piling further pressure on under-fire Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

With sections of the Emirates baying for his exit over the course of the season, the Frenchman blamed the toxic atmosphere for his team's failure to qualify for Europe's premier competition.

Wenger said: "Overall I believe that we played since January in a very difficult environment for different reasons.

"Some obviously that you know about and that is very difficult for the group of players to cope with that. Some other reasons, where we will talk about another day.

"But the psychological environment for the group of players was absolutely horrendous. I am very proud of what they have done, the way they responded and finished the season."

Wenger, whose contract expires at the end of the season, also continued to dodge questions about his future, saying that it would be sorted out "soon".


KANE WINS THE GOLDEN BOOT... AGAIN

Harry Kane holds the matchball after Tottenham's 7-1 victory over Hull City.PHOTO: AFP

It might not make up for missing out on the league for a second year running, but at least Harry Kane will have a personal accolade to ease the hurt.

The Tottenham striker plundered a hat-trick as Spurs thrashed relegated Hull City 7-1, securing himself a second consecutive EPL Golden Boot in a row.

The treble took the 23-year-old hotshot's final goal tally in the EPL to 29.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, who last week declared that Kane was not for sale, reiterated the striker's importance to his side as he purred over Kane's achievement.

"For him to play 30 games and score 29 goals is unbelievable," said the Argentinean.

"He is the top scorer again and it's fantastic for him, a big achievement. It helps the team to play well and finish second. Next season is a big challenge again."


BRIGHT FUTURE FOR UNITED KIDS, BUT THE END FOR ROONEY?

Angel Gomes replaces Wayne Rooney in Manchester United's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.PHOTO: AFP

Jose Mourinho fielding kids? Say it ain't so...

While the Manchester United boss followed up on his threat to field an under-strength team with the Europa League final in mind, it sure didn't feel weakened - to Crystal Palace, at least.

Goals from debutant Josh Harrop and Paul Pogba saw the Red Devils cruise to a 2-0 victory over the Eagles at Old Trafford.

Harrop, 21, was among several like Demetri Mitchell and Joel Pereira who were handed their senior debuts by Mourinho, who named United's youngest ever side in the Premier League era with an average age of 22 years and 284 days.

There was even a special moment for 16-year-old Angel Gomes, who became United's youngest ever debutant since Duncan Edwards, when he replaced Wayne Rooney in the 88th minute.

While the future looks bright for United's youngsters, it could be the end for skipper Rooney.

Despite surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton as United's all-time leading goalscorer in January, the 31-year-old has been consistently overlooked by Mourinho for large swathes of the season.

The United captain has been linked with a sensational return to boyhood Everton, a move which former Red Devil Phil Neville believes will help him revive his career.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Neville said: "You hope (Rooney doesn't leave) but the way the season's gone, particularly since Christmas, he's not been involved as much as he'd probably have liked.

"He wants to play in the biggest games and when it comes to Wednesday night I'd be surprised to see him in that starting eleven (in the Europa League final).

"If he wants to continue playing at the highest level - week in, week out - and be the first name on the team sheet, then he'll probably have to go and play his football elsewhere."

Sources: Reuters, AFP

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