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The 11 Matches That Made Chelsea Champions!

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The curtain falls on the English Premiership this Sunday. But before then, Chelsea had become the runaway champions.  Three of the likely candidates for relegation have already been decided. But according to Fox Sport,  there’s still a little bit of drama left with two Champions League spots are still up for grabs.

Below are the 11 matches that shaped the 2016/17 Premiership season”

 

·         September 24th: Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea

Early in the season, new manager Antonio Conte was still easing into the Chelsea hot seat. Coming off a loss to Liverpool in their sixth match of the season, Conte stuck with former manager Jose Mourinho’s preferred formation, putting four at the back, and he promptly saw his team smacked in the mouth by Arsenal. That was the last straw for Conte, and he decided it was time to unveil the 3-4-2-1 formation that carried them to the title. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

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·         October 15th: Crystal Palace 0-1 West Ham

Manuel Lanzini’s 19th minute goal was the difference for the Hammers as they beat Crystal Palace after five matches without a win to open the season. Christian Benteke’s missed penalty for Palace didn’t just save three points for West Ham — it probably saved their season. Without the win, there’s almost no doubt West Ham manager Slaven Bilic would’ve been fired, and the Hammers possibly locked in an ugly relegation battle for the rest of the season.

·         October 23rd: Chelsea 4-0 Man Utd

The Arsenal match marked the day Antonio Conte decided to change the way Chelsea lined up, but the Manchester United match truly cemented it. They ran roughshod over the Red Devils, absolutely destroying Jose Mourinho’s side and establishing the Blues as a real, legitimate contender for the title.

·         November 26th: Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham

If it wasn’t confirmed against United, Chelsea put an emphatic stamp on their title credentials against Spurs. At the time, the Blues were within a point of their nearest rival, and hosted London neighbors Tottenham in what was their toughest challenge yet in the season. They passed the test with flying colors.

·         December 3rd: Manchester City 1-3 Chelsea

Coming off the match against Spurs, Chelsea traveled to Manchester for yet another early test to see if they really had what it takes to be Premier League champs. They strolled into the Etihad, pulling off a 3-1 away win against Pep Guardiola’s squad, effectively ending the Citizens’ challenge and establishing themselves as the team to beat in the league. Before long, their winning the title was foregone conclusion.

·         December 4th: Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool

After Chelsea’s emphatic win over Manchester City, all Liverpool had to do was beat tiny Bournemouth to keep pace. Way easier said than done, especially in Liverpool’s case. They fell 4-3 in a wild match that fully showcased Jurgen Klopp’s team’s inability to handle the little guys. They never got within touching distance of Chelsea again.

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·         February 12th: Swansea 2-0 Leicester

Claudio Ranieri’s last Premier League match on the Leicester City bench, this one was a six-pointer for two relegation candidates. It was a vital three points for struggling Swansea, but it all but confirmed Ranieri’s demise. Sad!

 

·         April 30th: Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal

St. Totteringham’s Day ended on April 30th, 2017. For the first time in decades, Tottenham were assured that they’d finish ahead of Arsenal in the league table. That’s kind of a big deal in North London, and it let Spurs coast into second place for the first time in more than 50 years.

 

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·         May 5th: West Ham 1-0 Tottenham

Coming off the high of their win over Arsenal, Spurs needed a win against West Ham to have even a prayer of pushing Chelsea to the end in the title race. Unfortunately, they fell short, with Manuel Lanzini’s goal the one to confirm the dream would fail.

·         May 6th: Swansea 1-0 Everton

Fernando Llorente to the rescue! With Swansea staring relegation in the face, the Spanish striker’s single goal was good enough to take the Swans past Everton and ensure they’ll be in the Premier League for at least one more year.

 

May 21st: Arsenal/Liverpool/Manchester City’s last chance to qualify for Champions League

On the final day of the season, Arsenal (vs. Everton), Liverpool (vs. Middlesbrough) and Manchester City (at Watford) all have the opportunity to confirm a place in the top four. All three teams play at the same time, with City (in 3rd, on 75 points) best positioned to secure automatic qualification. It’s going to be a madhouse on Sunday.

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Iheanacho,  Ndidi getting close to Premiership return as Leicester take big step towards promotion

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Nigeria’s duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi are on course for Premier League action next season as  Leicester City took a huge step towards a Premier League return with a 2-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion but Southampton’s automatic promotion hopes are hanging by a thread after they lost by the same scoreline at Cardiff City on Saturday.

Wilfried Ndidi and Jamie Vardy were on target for Leicester, with Vardy also missing a penalty, as the Foxes edged past their Midlands rivals who are bound for the playoffs.

With three games remaining, Enzo Maresca’s Leicester team have 91 points, two ahead of second-placed Ipswich Town, while third-placed Leeds have 87.

Southampton could have moved level on points with Leeds but suffered a 2-1 defeat at Cardiff despite taking the lead.

Joe Aribo’s 12th-minute strike put the visitors ahead and they should have increased their lead.

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But Saints were made to pay for wasteful finishing after the break as Famara Diedhiou equalised and Cian Ashford won it for Cardiff deep in stoppage time with a deflected shot.

Leicester host Southampton on Tuesday after Leeds visit Middlesbrough on Monday.

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Arsenal suffer 2-0 loss to Villa, hand Man City title race boost

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Premier League - Arsenal v Aston Villa - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 14, 2024 Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Arsenal were stunned by two late Aston Villa goals as they lost 2-0 at home on Sunday to hand the initiative in the Premier League title race to defending champions Manchester City.

Villa substitute Leon Bailey tapped home from close range in the 84th minute before Ollie Watkins’ sublime finish three minutes later sent Gunners fans streaming for the exits.

Arsenal’s defeat, their first in 12 league games, sees them remain second, two points behind City and level on points with third-placed Liverpool with six games left to play.

Following Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat at home to Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday, the weekend belonged to City who bolstered their chances of an unprecedented fourth straight league title with a 5-1 demolition of visiting Luton Town on Saturday.

Villa weathered pressure in the first half, with Kai Havertz shooting straight at goalkeeper Emi Martinez before Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka hit the side-netting as an opening goal for the Gunners’ felt like an imminent inevitability.

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But Villa went closest when Watkins’ effort bounced off one post and narrowly wide of the other, while Youri Tielemans’s rasping effort hit the crossbar then the post and somehow stayed out as the visitors improved considerably after the break.

Bailey gave the visitors the lead when he turned in Lucas Digne’s dangerous cross before Watkins broke Arsenal hearts with a beautiful chip over keeper David Raya to settle the contest.

“It’s massive to come away to Arsenal when they are playing such good football and to play like that just shows where we are going really, it was a perfect away performance,” Villa’s England striker Watkins told Sky Sports.

The win boosts fourth-placed Villa’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League and moves them three points above Tottenham Hotspur, albeit having played a game more.

-Reuters

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Premier League to introduce semi-automated offside technology next season

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Premier League - Nottingham Forest v Brighton & Hove Albion - The City Ground, Nottingham, Britain - April 26, 2023 A big screen displays a VAR review message with a no goal for offside REUTERS/Molly Darlington/File Photo

The Premier League will introduce semi-automated offside technology next season to speed up decision-making after the clubs unanimously agreed on the move at a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.

The technology has been in use in major tournaments and helps limit the need for long waits for VAR reviews, where match officials manually check if a player is offside or not, while also reducing the margins for error.

“The new system will be used for the first time in the Premier League next season, and it is anticipated the technology will be ready to be introduced after one of the autumn international breaks,” the league said in a statement.

“The technology will provide quicker and consistent placement of the virtual offside line, based on optical player tracking, and will produce high-quality broadcast graphics to ensure an enhanced in-stadium and broadcast experience for supporters.”

The Premier League currently has VAR officials check offsides but the system has faced heavy criticism for the time taken to come to a decision while also leaving fans in the stadium in the dark with no replays.

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The technology involves several cameras tracking the ball as well as each player. The technology alone cannot determine if a player is offside, with VAR still having to validate it based on the data available — hence the term “semi-automated”.

The technology has been used in the 2022 World Cup and the Champions League, while most recently it was implemented at the Asian Cup earlier this year.

-Reuters

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