NO LONGER THE BIG GUNS

Arse­nal to miss Cham­pi­ons League for the first time in 20 years

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LON­DON

ARSENE Wenger’s tor­rid year reached a calami­tous cli­max as Arse­nal failed to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League for the first time in 20 years af­ter Manch­ester City and Liver­pool wrapped up the re­main­ing top four places on the fi­nal day of the Premier League sea­son.

Wenger’s side won 3-1 against Ever­ton, but Liver­pool’s 3-0 vic­tory over Mid­dles­brough and Manch­ester City’s 5-0 de­mo­li­tion of Wat­ford pushed Arse­nal out of Europe’s elite.

Af­ter reach­ing the Cham­pi­ons League for the last 19 sea­sons, Arse­nal will spend next term trekking around the unglam­ourous out­posts of the Europa League.

That in­dig­nity will cost Arse­nal an es­ti­mated £50 mil­lion (RM282 mil­lion) in rev­enue and in­crease the pres­sure on Gun­ners boss Wenger, who has en­dured a mis­er­able sea­son filled with fan protests and calls for his resignation.

The French­man, who has yet to re­veal if he will sign a new con­tract to ex­tend his 21-year reign, could still fin­ish the sea­son with sil­ver­ware as Arse­nal face Chelsea in the FA Cup fi­nal next Satur­day.

But even that won’t be enough to quell the muti­nous at­mo­sphere among Arse­nal sup­port­ers who be­lieve Wenger has lost his edge.

Hec­tor Bel­lerin put Arse­nal ahead in the eighth minute, but when Lau­rent Ko­scielny was sent off six min­utes later for a reck­less chal­lenge on En­ner Va­len­cia, Wenger must have feared the worst.

Alexis Sanchez in­creased Arse­nal’s ad­van­tage in the 27th minute, but by the time Ever­ton’s Romelu Lukaku re­duced the deficit with a 58th minute penalty, it was al­ready clear re­sults else­where had con­spired against Wenger.

Aaron Ram­sey got Arse­nal’s third, but his team were con­demned to fin­ish­ing fifth be­cause Liver­pool crushed rel­e­gated Mid­dles­brough to reach the Cham­pi­ons League for the first time since 2014-15.

Ge­orginio Wi­j­nal­dum put Liver­pool ahead in first half stop­page-time, Philippe Coutinho struck in the 51st minute and Adam Lal­lana kept the party mood go­ing with the third five min­utes later.

Liver­pool fin­ish fourth and will en­ter the Cham­pi­ons League play-off round next sea­son as they look to make the group stages.

At Vicarage Road, City wrapped up third place and au­to­matic en­try into the Cham­pi­ons League group stages.

Vin­cent Kom­pany headed home in the fifth minute and Ser­gio Aguero dou­bled the lead in the 23rd minute.

Aguero scored his 33rd goal of the sea­son in all com­pe­ti­tions nine min­utes be­fore half-time.

Fer­nand­inho bagged City’s fourth in the 41st minute be­fore Gabriel Je­sus made it five in the 58th minute.

Harry Kane fin­ished as the Premier League’s lead­ing scorer for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive year as the Tot­ten­ham striker’s hat-trick took him to 29 goals and in­spired a 7-1 win at Hull.

Kane fired home in the 11th minute and net­ted again two min­utes later.

Al­ready guar­an­teed to fin­ish sec­ond, Tot­ten­ham added fur­ther goals through Dele Alli and Vic­tor Wanyama.

Kane, who scored four in a 6-1 win at Le­ices­ter on Thurs­day, com­pleted his tre­ble in the 72nd minute and Tot­ten­ham made it an as­ton­ish­ing 13 goals in two games thanks to late ef­forts from Ben Davies and Toby Alder­weireld.

John Terry was given an emo­tional send-off as cham­pi­ons Chelsea beat Sun­der­land 5-1 be­fore hoist­ing the Premier League tro­phy.

Terry cap­tained Chelsea on his farewell ap­pear­ance at Stam­ford Bridge ahead of his post-sea­son de­par­ture.

Blues boss An­to­nio Conte paid a fit­ting trib­ute to Terry, tak­ing him off in the 26th minute — match­ing his shirt num­ber — and Chelsea’s play­ers formed a guard of hon­our as he walked off to a stand­ing ova­tion by the ca­pac­ity crowd.

Wil­lian, Eden Hazard and Pe­dro scored to put Chelsea in con­trol be­fore Michy Bat­shuayi capped the rout with two late goals.

Jose Mour­inho named Manch­ester United’s youngest ever Premier League start­ing line-up, with an av­er­age age of 22 years and 284 days, and the kids rose to the oc­ca­sion with a 2-0 win over Crys­tal Palace at Old Trafford.

With United due to face Ajax in the Europa League fi­nal on Wed­nes­day, Mour­inho made no at­tempt to con­ceal his de­sire to keep his key play­ers fresh for the Stock­holm show­piece.

United must win the Europa League to qual­ify for next sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League.

Josh Harrop showed no signs of be­ing over­awed as the 21-yearold English mid­fielder put United ahead with a solo ef­fort in the 15th minute.

Paul Pogba, back in the team af­ter the death of his fa­ther, added United’s sec­ond goal in the 19th minute.

West Ham won 2-1 at Burn­ley, Le­ices­ter drew 1-1 with Bournemouth, Stoke won 1-0 at Southamp­ton and Swansea won 2-1 against West Bromwich Al­bion. AFP

Chelsea play­ers take self­ies with the Premier League tro­phy be­fore the pre­sen­ta­tion af­ter their match against Sun­der­land at Stam­ford Bridge in Lon­don yes­ter­day.

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