England’s top four: Games that matter in the English Premier League’s last round

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Come Sunday there’ll be 10 games, one start time, but very little meaning in the English Premier League’s last match day. The relegation battles are over, with Queens Park Rangers, Reading, and FC Cup winners Wigan Athletic set to go down. The title’s decided, and between Swansea City and the Latics, so are two of the Europa League spots.

All that’s left, in addition to some meaningful goodbyes, is the fight for the top four, with England’s final Europa League spot the consolation prize:

THREE MATCHES THAT MATTER

1. Newcastle vs. Arsenal

The Magpies, terrible over the last couple of months, won last weekend at Championship-bound QPR. Their safety means only pride’s on the line for Newcastle on Sunday.

Arsenal, on the other hand, secure a Champions League spot (and potentially, third place) with a win at St. James Park. After Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Wigan, the Gunners seem ready to push rival Tottenham to Europa League, even if the first hour against the Latics didn’t exactly scream ‘killer instinct.’

2. Tottenham Hotpur vs. Sunderland

Arsenal’s result could be rendered irrelevant by what happens at White Hate Lane. If Spurs fail to win, the Gunners will finish in the top four. If, however, Arsenal trips up at Newcastle, Spurs return to Champions League with a win over the Black Cats.

It’s two North London Champions League aspirants against the league’s North East rivals – a pair of floudering clubs who were given a relegation reprieve by Wigan’s fall. On paper, Arsenal and Spurs should win. But if there is a stumble, it will probably occur up north, giving André Villas-Boas’s side a route into Champions League.

3. Chelsea vs. Everton

Only a Blues loss and huge win by Spurs (like, 15-plus goal-win) will cost Chelsea their top four spot. The more intriguing scenarios are the ones where the Blues fall to fourth.

The obvious one: if they lose and Arsenal wins, Chelsea finish behind the Gunners.

The less obvious one, one discussed earlier on the blog: The potential tie for third. If Chelsea and Everton end scoreless while Arsenal defeats Newcastle 2-1, the Blues and Gunners will finish with the same point total (73), goal difference (+35) and goals scored (73).

That would lead to a one-game playoff. The winner gets a direct route into Champions League (and third place). The loser has goes through a play-in round.

Burnley 0-1 West Brom: Robson-Kanu scores, sent-off in win

Nick Potts/PA via AP
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  • Robson-Kanu scores, sent off
  • Burnley outshoots WBA 18-8
  • Baggies complete just 100 passes

Hal Robson-Kanu‘s late goal helped West Bromwich Albion to a bit of smash-and-grab at Turf Moor, where the Baggies beat Burnley 1-0 on Saturday to improve to 2-0 on the young season.

Robson-Kanu did his best Cristiano Ronaldo, scoring as a substitute and then getting a red card to doom his team to 10 men.

Tony Pulis almost out-did his stingy self, as West Brom completed 253 less passes than the hosts.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Burnley was better early, middle, and late, as Sam Vokes cued up Johann Berg Gudmundsson for a shot that fizzed just wide, and then Gudmundsson was stopped by Foster moments later.

Matt Phillips helped set the table for Robson-Kanu’s goal, winning a 50-50 ball into the path of the Welsh striker.

Robson-Kanu then bodied the ball around some poor Burnley defending and then beat Tom Heaton on a ball he normally manages to handle well.

The striker was then sent-off in the 83rd minute for an elbow to the head Matt Lowton.

 

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Bournemouth 0-2 Watford: Hornets sting late to nab win

Steven Paston/PA via AP
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  • Richarlison scores 1st Hornets goal
  • Capoue makes it 2-0
  • Hornets out-attempt AFCB 20-6

Two goals in the final quarter-hour, one from new signing Richarlison, helped Watford to a 2-0 win over hosts Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

Etienne Capoue scored Watford’s second goal with an 86th minute marker.

Bournemouth is one of four clubs so far to start with zero points through two matches. Watford has four points, ahead of Liverpool and Southampton on goal differential.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford’s Tom Cleverley had a chance early that Nathan Ake blocked, and then Benik Afobe‘s in-tight finish was blocked by a sliding Miguel Britos.

Andre Gray burst down the right of the box to cut left for Richarlison, and the Brazilian collected a second chance while prone to make it 1-0 to the Hornets.

Capoue made it 2-0 with a low rocket in the 86th minute, giving Marco Silva‘s men insurance after collecting Steve Cook‘s softly headed clearing attempt.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

VIDEO: Mexican striker Hernandez bags brace for West Ham

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Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has his first and second Premier League goals since 2014 to open his account as a West Ham United player, though the Hammers lost 3-2 to Southampton at St. Mary’s on Saturday.

Both arrived in fitting fashion, and with West Ham down to 10 men.

Mexico’s first-class poacher was in his office to finish with ease after Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster pushed a Michail Antonio shot onto his path, and then did it again in the closing stages.

[ STREAM: Live PL matches/full match replays ]

Hernandez raced past his marker to finish and give the 10-man Irons a chance at a St. Mary’s comeback following a red card to Marko Arnautovic.

Dusan Tadic, Charlie Austin, and Manolo Gabbiadini scored for Saints.

See the first goal atop the page, and the second below:

Leicester 2-0 Brighton: Foxes ease past Seagulls

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  • Okazaki, Maguire on target for Leicester
  • Brighton yet to score goal in PL
  • Mahrez involved in both goals
  • Leicester on three points for the season

Leicester City eased to a 2-0 victory against new boys Brighton & Hove Albion at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Riyad Mahrez was influential as he was involved in everything good which Leicester did and Shinji Okazaki and Harry Maguire popped up with a goal in each half for the win.

The Foxes now have three points on the board, while Brighton have yet to score in the PL and have zero points. Life is tough at the top.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Leicester took the lead in the first minute as Mahrez danced past two defenders and his strike was palmed away by Matt Ryan to Okazaki who finished. 1-0 to the Foxes after 52 seconds.

The home side should have been 2-0 up in the first half with Okazaki dispossessing Markus Suttner but Jamie Vardy missed a great chance from his cross.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Brighton improved after their early struggles with Glenn Murray having a goal disallowed for offside.

Matty James fired over for Leicester and Okazaki missed a glorious chance before the break to make it 2-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Leicester did go 2-0 up at the start of the second half as Mahrez’s corner to the back post found Maguire who headed home on his home PL debut to double the Foxes’ lead.

Murray couldn’t be found in the box as Brighton tried to get back in the game with Chris Hughton throwing on Anthony Knockaert and Tomer Hemed to try and find a way back in.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

Hemed forced Kasper Schmeichel into a fine save after coming on, but Mahrez went close down the other end as Leicester finished the game strongly, just as they started it.