After this past weekend's results, we have our two automatic promotion spots into the Premier League clinched by teams in the EFL Championship. Norwich City defeated Blackburn Rovers 2:1 and Sheffield United defeated, already relegated to League One, Ipswich Town 2:0, while Leeds United drew 1:1 with Aston Villa (in a game that had one of the more odd sequences I've ever seen) meaning that Norwich City and Sheffield United have got the two automatic promotion spots for next season.
Norwich City, also known as the Canaries, last played in the Premier League in the 2015-16 season for a season before playing in the EFL Championship the past two seasons.
Sheffield United, also known as the Blades, last played in the Premier League in the 2006-07 season for a season before moving back down which led to them eventually playing in League One for 6 seasons before playing in the EFL Championship the last two seasons. Next season will only be the 4th overall season in the Premier League for Sheffield United who were a charter member of the league for two seasons when it began back in the 1992-93 season.
And surprisingly, not from a word of the day calendar.
I did see Everton won today so they may have a chance to play next weekend for a spot in Europe next season. Wolves would have to draw or lose to Fulham tomorrow for that to have a chance of happening.
This is also dependent on Manchester City winning the FA Cup too.
The Europa league just got a whole lot more important for Arsenal. A Chelsea Arsenal final would be great. I would love to see Chelsea deny Arsenal the Champions League after Arsenal clinched it for them today.
Also have a feeling the Spurs Ajax game will be an instant classic. Should be intense. I wish Liverpool could've kept it a little closer at Camp Nou. Not much to look forward to in that 2nd leg. But who knows, the impossible could become possible with an early goal.
While there are still a few left things to determine next Sunday, there are a few things that have been cleared up:
-3 of the top 4 spots in the table have been clinched with Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea all assured of finishing in the top 4. Chelsea clinched by virtue of their 3:0 win over Watford today coupled with Arsenal's 1:1 win draw vs. Brighton & Hove Albion. Arsenal can still finish top 4 but they would have to win at Burnley coupled with a Spurs loss at home to Everton along with making up an 8 goal difference to do so. So Spurs basically have the final top 4 spot all but clinched.
-Cardiff City becomes the third team to clinch relegation by virtue of their 2:3 loss at home yesterday to Crystal Palace. The Bluebirds head back to the EFL Championship after only one season in the Premier League.
-Speaking of the EFL Championship, the playoff match-ups in that league have been decided as it will be Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich Albion in one semi-final with Derby County vs. Leeds United in the other. The first legs of each match-up will be played next Saturday. The final will be played on Memorial Day at Wembley.
They had major injuries last year. Alderweireld is one of the best CBs in the league and missed half of the season with a hamstring injury. Danny Rose missed most of the season. Erik Lamela missed almost all of 2017 with a hip injury. Harry Winks missed the final 3/4 of the season after having a massive showing against Real Madrid in the UCL group stage. And, Kane missed more than a month or he would have likely won the golden boot for the 3rd year in a row.
Looking at that and adding in Lucas Moura, I see a side that is poised to take a step forward if they can avoid similar injuries.
The EFL Championship play-off final is set. Aston Villa and West Brom tied 2:2 on aggregate in one semi-final so they went to penalties with Aston Villa winning 3:4. Derby County defeated Leeds United in the other semi-final 4:3 on aggregate.
So it will be Derby County v. Aston Villa in the EFL Championship Play-off Final on May 27th at Wembley.
Vincent Kompany announced today he's leaving Manchester City and will be heading to back to RSC Anderlecht in Belgium where he started his professional playing career. Kompany will be a player-manager at Anderlecht.
Aston Villa defeats Derby County 2:1 in the EFL Championship play-off final at Wembley. Villa, one of the founding members of the Premier League, is back in the top flight of English football after 3 seasons playing in the Championship.
I'll post more about the fixtures at some point but the marquee match of the opening weekend is Chelsea traveling to Old Trafford to face Manchester United. Everton travels to Crystal Palace and early on they get two of the newly promoted sides and only one match against a team that finished in the top half of the table a season ago.
Alex Nichols was found guilty of two charges of improper conduct after two FA disciplinary hearings had investigated his altercation with the girl after his Arsenal youth side, which was made up of eight and nine-year-old children, had played Reading. According to two Reading coaches at the game who provided evidence for the hearing, Nichols was ‘behaving aggressively’ during the match. After the game, the female referee refused to shake Nichols’ hand and he responded by muttering: ‘How classy, little prick.’