Story so far… Saints have been one of the major success stories this season in the Premier League as their youngsters have played silky soccer that has wowed neutrals. In Mauricio Pochettino’s first full season in charge the South Coast club have equaled their best-ever PL finish of eighth and have amassed their record points tally. Captain Adam Lallana has shone all season and along with Rickie Lambert and Luke Shaw should be heading to the World Cup with England. Jay Rodriguez’s injury was a cruel blow as the clubs top scorer will miss Brazil. Superb season at St. Mary’s but can the hold onto their star youngsters?
MORE: Head here for all things Championship Sunday
This summer is pivotal in the clubs future. Saints are at at crossroads as they’ve risen from the bottom of England’s third-tier to being on the precipice of the Premier League’s top six in just five years. The owner Katharina Liebherr must now decide whether to keep pumping money into the team or to go with a more sustainable model. If they go with the latter approach it could be ‘bye. bye Lallana and co.’ as well as Pochettino.
Who do they play and where can I watch it: Southampton host Manchester United in their final game of the season, as they sit one place behind the Red Devils in the standings. They’ve upset the English giants plenty of times in the past, would it be a surprise if Pochettino’s side ended their superb season on a high? Watch live on SyFy at 10 a.m. ET and stream it online via NBC Sports Live Extra.
Form guide: Saints drew away at Old Trafford back in October thanks to a last-gasp goal from Adam Lallana to nick a 1-1 tie. After a lull in their season following some bad injuries to key players, Saints have picked themselves up and finished the season strongly with three wins from their last six and they are unbeaten in three.
March 29 – vs. Newcastle, W 4-0
April 5 – at Manchester City, L 1-4
April 12 – vs. Cardiff City, L 0-1
April 19 – at Aston Villa, D 0-0
April 26 – vs. Everton, W 2-0
May 3 – at Swansea, W 1-0
What’s at stake: They will finish in eighth, equaling their highest ever PL finish and they have already accumulated 55 points, their best-ever tally. One more chance to impress for Saints’ string of internationals before the World Cup.
When the final whistle blows: Saints will be in eighth spot no matter what and a true party atmosphere will be in full swing on the South Coast as Man United come to town. Lallana, Shaw and Lambert could well be off to Brazil this summer. Will this finale be Lallana and Shaw’s last game for Southampton?
Tottenham Hotspur’s thin hopes of winning the Premier League demand all three points from its visit to Chelsea on Monday (Watch live on NBCSN at 3 p.m. ET and online via Live Extra).
Spurs are eight points behind Leicester City, and a loss or draw makes the Foxes the 2015-16 champions.
[ MORE: Burnley clinches promotion to the Premier League ]
Reigning champion Chelsea, in an odd twist, can play the spoiler for either its London neighbors or the fairytale Foxes.
Chelsea: Begovic; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Mikel, Matic; Willian, Fabregas, Pedro; Diego Costa. Subs: Amelia, Baba, Loftus-Cheek, Kenedy, Oscar, Hazard, Traore.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (c), Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Dembele; Lamela, Eriksen, Son; Kane. Subs: Vorm, Davies, Wimmer, Carroll, Chadli, Mason, Clinton.
Sam Vokes‘ 61st minute header has Burnley back in the Premier League at the first time of asking, and there’s only one way to describe it.
[ MORE: Bobby Wood to Hamburg for $4 million? ]
Burnley clinched automatic promotion thanks to its 1-0 win over QPR and Brighton’s draw earlier in the day. With Brighton facing Middlesbrough this weekend, only one could pass Burnley in points.
Take away the math, though, and Burnley is flying off the emotion of the 1-0 win.
From the BBC:
“It’s magic, it’s a great feeling. You could feel the anticipation around the place when we kicked off. We knew what we had to do after the Brighton result earlier. Magic scenes here today. Getting that goal sparked relief around the place. I missed a lot of the Premier League last season but hopefully I’ll get another chance next season.”
And here’s Sean Dyche, classically stoic in the face of extreme emotion:
“That was well off our performance level but the result was all that mattered today. The resilience, belief and character got us through. You can’t be brilliant every week, we don’t think we’re the real deal, but we’re a real group that sticks together.”
If you don’t know much about Burnley, we suggest Joe Posnanski’s SportsWorld piece from last season’s Premier League campaign.
Congrats to the Clarets.
One claret and blue team has been relegated from the Premier League, but another is taking its place.
Sam Vokes did not score in 15 Premier League appearances last year with Burnley, but his goal on Monday boosted the Clarets back into England’s top flight.
[ MORE: Bobby Wood to Hamburg for $4 million? ]
Vokes, 26, headed home in the second half to give Burnley a 1-0 lead over Queens Park Rangers, and the Clarets held on to make sure their absence from the Premier League was a mere season long.
The win gives Burnley 90 points with one match to play. With Middlesbrough and Brighton & Hove Albion sitting on 88 points and playing each other on the final day of the season, only one winner can pass the Clarets.
There seems to be growing interest in USMNT striker Bobby Wood, who is having a sensational season for Union Berlin in 2.Bundesliga.
Linked with Liverpool in March, Wood is now said to be desired by Hamburg in Germany’s top flight.
[ MORE: Klinsmann calls up 40 for Copa America camp ]
Hamburg’s strike corps consists of young target forward Pierre-Michel Lasogga, ‘Gladbach loanee Josip Drmic and veteran Ivica Olic.
Bild.de says the fee is around $4 million, but that the club has yet to begin discussing terms with Union.
Wood has 17 goals and 3 assists in league play this season, and has also become a mainstay with the U.S. team under Jurgen Klinsmann.
[ MORE: Timbers striker wanted by Palace, St. Etienne ]
Union Berlin is sixth in 2.Bundesliga, while Hamburg is 11th in Bundesliga.
Fellow USMNT striker Aron Johannsson has faced a long injury lay-off with Werder Bremen, while a similar situation has faced Terrence Boyd. The latter is with Red Bull Leipzig and is set for a promotion to the Bundesliga barring extreme unlikelihood over the final few weeks.