The final game-week of the 2021/2022 European season came to a grand finish with exciting storylines and dramatic scenes all over. The English Premier League season lived up to the tag as the most exciting league in the world as Manchester City retained their top-flight title, ahead of closest challengers Liverpool on a breath-taking final day.
In Italy, AC Milan claimed a 19th Scudetto title in their illustrious history over bitter neighbours and rivals Inter Milan, while the final European place and relegation slot were also occupied.
In this piece, Apex Football reviews the blockbuster weekend we just witnessed as we bade goodbye to the 2021/2022 campaign. Let’s begin….
NOT TO BE FOR LIVERPOOL AS MANCHESTER CITY RETAIN PREMIER LEAGUE TITLE
Liverpool saw off the challenge from Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 at Anfield to push the title race all the way till the final whistle on a dramatic final day, although it was not enough to secure the Premier League title after Manchester City’s epic 3-2 comeback win over Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa. There is a small silver lining for the Reds however, as they ended the season as the only unbeaten side in the Premier League in 2022.
The Cityzens have super sub Ilkay Gundogan to thank as the German netted a brace to ensure the title remained in Manchester and sees gaffer Pep Guardiola claim four PL crowns in five seasons.
EUROPEAN POSITIONS SORTED IN ENGLAND
As expected, Tottenham Hotspurs clinched the final UEFA Champions League position, after hammering basement boys and already-relegated Norwich City 5-0 away at Carrow Road.
Coach Antonio Conte’s men wasted little time in getting the job as they returned to Europe’s elite competition ahead of rivals and neighbours Arsenal who despite a 5-1 win against Everton at the Emirates Stadium, could only settle for a spot in the UEFA Europa League. The Gunners ultimately paid for throwing away their advantage in the UCL race in their loss to Newcastle United the previous Matchday.
THE ROT CONTINUES AT MANCHESTER UNITED
Crystal Palace handed Manchester United their sixth straight away Premier League defeat with a narrow 1-0 win, thanks to Wilfried Zaha’s impressive solo strike.
The ‘Eagles’ end the 2021/2022 season unbeaten in their last six league games at Selhurst Park but the defeat further exposed the rot at the Old Trafford based side and one begins to wonder how incoming manager Erik ten Hag can arrest the slump at the club.
The Red Devils finished the season with a goal-difference of just ZERO and they barely scrapped into the UEFA Europa League, as West Ham United lost 3-1 to Brighton and Hove Albion to settle for the UEFA Europa Conference League.
THE FOOTBALL GODS ALIGN WITH LEEDS UNITED AS BURNLEY GO DOWN
Leeds United secured their Premier League safety with an unbelievable 2-1 win at Brentford – their first at the ‘Bees’ since 1950 – which was more than enough for Jesse Marsch’s men to avoid a seventh top-flight relegation.
Leeds knew they could only secure avoid relegation to the Championship by bettering Burnley’s result at home to Newcastle United, which they did by getting an unlikely three points, whereas Burnley fell to a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United.
Defeat have now cost the Clarets their top-flight status and it remains to be seen how they come out from this predicament, following the departure of Sean Dyche.
ELEVEN IS THE NUMBER IN ITALY
When Inter Milan claimed the Serie A title in 2020/2021, it was their first league crown in eleven years (2010). This season, the Nerazzurri claimed the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) after another eleven-year waiting period (since 2011).
But when fierce rivals AC Milan beat all comers to become champions of the Italian Serie A, it was their first Scudetto crown in eleven years (since 2011). The Rossoneri made it count by thumping Sassuolo 3-0 away to clinch their 19th Scudetti in total, while Inter Milan’s 3-0 home win over Sampdoria was nothing more than consolation.
Milan’s win is just reward for the likes of manager Stefano Pioli, as well as club legend and now Football Director Paolo Maldini, not forgetting the efforts of players such as Rafael Leao, Olivier Giroud, Mike Maignan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
ATALANTA MISS OUT ON EUROPE AS FINAL RELEGATION CANDIDATE IS CONFIRMED
The battle for European positions did not offer much drama, as all teams already occupying those slots ensured they got the job done.
AS Roma got the perfect confidence boost ahead of their UEFA Europa Conference League Final this week as they beat Torino 3-0 right at their own patch to secure a place in next season’s UEFA Europa League.
SS Lazio also made it into the UEL after an entertaining 3-3 draw with Hellas Verona, while Fiorentina returned to continental action (Europa Conference League) for the first time in a while, after accounting for Juventus 2-0 in their final league game of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Atalanta missed out on continental football after an embarrassing 1-0 home defeat to visiting Empoli in what summed up their inconsistent displays this season.
As for the relegation battle, Salernitana who only gained promotion to the top-flight last season, secured their Serie A status for another year despite losing heavily 4-0 to Udinese. But the defeat mattered little, as Cagliari could only manage a 0-0 draw at already-relegated Venezia to seal their fate in Serie B.