Highs and lows as English Premier League comes to close

UNLIKE the past couple of seasons, the English Premier League finished with a whimper rather than a big bang.

Chelsea, which had wrapped up the title well in advance of the final day of the season, completed formalities with a 3-1 success over Sunderland, while Hull City's hopes of avoiding relegation in fairytale style with a home win over Manchester United, a team it had never beaten in the EPL, never eventuated.

Steve Bruce's men were a little unlucky, finding the back of the net twice only for the goals to be ruled out (correctly) for offside. A win would have been to no avail as Newcastle also won - 2-0 over West Ham - to keep John Carver's team in the top tier.

There was a fairytale ending for Frank Lampard, however. The 36-year-old scored his 177th goal in his 609th EPL game in Manchester City's win over Southampton before his move to the MLS with New York City.

His former England teammate, Steven Gerrard, meanwhile, had a less successful sendoff in his last game for Liverpool, with the Reds beaten 6-1 at Stoke.

Gerrard did score but it was Liverpool's worst defeat since 1954. The result meant Tottenham's 1-0 win at Everton, which saw another goal from the prolific Harry Kane, gave it the final automatic Europa League spot, with the Reds now forced to go through two rounds of playoffs to get to the group stages.

 

Swansea City's campaign also ended in defeat - 1-0 at Crystal Palace - but man

ager Garry Monk has turned the South Wales side from relegation favourites into one of the stories of the season. The Swans' eighth-placed finish was their highest in the EPL and they did it with a record points score.

Leicester City also had a season to remember after looking almost certain to go down at Christmas despite having beaten Manchester United 5-2 at home to show a glimpse of what was to come.

A final-day 5-1 thumping of QPR made it seven wins out of nine to change the club's fortunes, although you would not have noticed by the way manager Nigel Pearson behaved in press conferences over the past few weeks.

 

Despite the tame ending, there were plenty of highs and lows during the season.

Here are some of the winners and losers.

WINNERS:

Chelsea and manager Jose Mourinho. A fourth EPL crown for the 'special one', and probably his easiest.

Leicester City looked down and out but somehow became the only one of the three promoted teams to stay up. Swansea City and Garry Monk for the club's best season in the EPL, including home and away wins against Man United and Arsenal.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard scooped all the awards as the player of the year, while Harry Kane rose to new heights with a spectacular season in front of goal.

LOSERS:

Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool went so close to a first EPL title last year, but this time round struggled to just make the top six.

Rumours suggest Rodgers could be gone within days.

Liverpool's Raheem

Sterling and Manchester

United's Radamel Falcao both had great reputations before this campaign, but Sterling's contract demands and Falcao's poor form have ruined those. Falcao is heading back to Monaco while Sterling looks gone.

- APN SPORTS BUREAU


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