Winners and Losers from the weekend: Relegations, survival and a spectacular darts debutant
Michael Johnson | 27 July 2020
Our round-up of the highs and lows from another weekend of sporting action
The Premier League’s conclusion saw heartbreak for some, as well as the euphoria of a knife-edge survival for another team, while a darts debutant stunned everyone in the World Matchplay.
Here are this week’s winners and losers…
Liverpool won the title with seven games to spare and while they may have failed to surpass Man City’s 100-point record in the end, it’s unlikely they’ll care. A final-day victory over Newcastle sees them finish the season on 99 points, claiming their first ever Premier League title and their first top-flight title in 30 years.
After coming so close to winning last year, it’s a credit to Jurgen Klopp and his players that they came back stronger. Reaching levels of such consistent excellence is no easy task – just ask Man City.
They left it late to rally, but a four-game unbeaten streak to cap the season saw them edge above Watford and Bournemouth, surviving by a single point as they drew against West Ham on the final day.
While it’s Jack Grealish who drew much of the praise throughout the season (rightly so), Villa are also indebted to Egyptian wide-man Trezeguet, whose three goals in those final four fixtures gave them wins over Arsenal and Crystal Palace.
After spending big in the summer, Villa were in a precarious position should they have fallen into the Championship, but they may now find a platform to build upon. Jack Grealish admits his future is uncertain, but if he leaves now, he can do so without shame, guilt or regret, having helped secure his side’s place in the top-flight with his goal against the Hammers on Sunday.
Villa’s survival sparked wild celebrations in their dressing room, leaving pundit Roy Keane predictably unimpressed.
A third-placed finish flatters Man Utd a little – their final points tally of 66 matches last season, where they finished sixth, but qualifying for the Champions League is one of many positives to be gleaned from 2020. They’re 2/1 favourites to build on it with victory in the Europa League too.
The purchase of Bruno Fernandes in January seemed to lift the side from the doldrums, helping reinvigorate Paul Pogba and giving the forward players a creative catalyst who could help them unlock defences (as well as take a mean penalty). Meanwhile Mason Greenwood has emerged as a real talent with big things tipped for the 18-year-old after scoring 10 times in the league this season.
The post-lockdown action did showcase one area for United to improve however – their thin squad lacks game-changing talent outside of the first-11, while there are also questions to be asked over goalkeeper David de Gea, with Dean Henderson waiting eagerly in the wings.
Man United are third favourites at 8/1 to win the Premier League next season.
Dimitri Van den Bergh
Playing in his first ever PDC Major final, the 26-year old Belgian stunned everyone as he beat Gary Anderson 18-10 to claim the 2020 Darts World Matchplay title.
Van den Bergh was a 200-1 shot prior to the tournament, but he quickly raised eyebrows with a win over Nathan Aspinall in the opening round, with the world no. 6 one of the favourites going in.
Further victories over Joe Cullen, Adrian Lewis and Glen Durrant confirmed that Van den Bergh was no mere pretender and he was ruthless against 2018 Matchplayer winner Anderson in the final, with the Scot struggling to hit the maximum throughout their encounter.
Expect to see plenty more dancing from the young Belgian who is now up to 33/1 to win the 2021 PDC World Darts Championship.
With 23 goals to his name, Vardy added a Premier League Golden Boot to his Conference Premier Top Goalscorer trophy from 2011/12 (remarkably his only other ‘top scorer’ trophy) – Vardy scored 34.3% of all of Leicester’s goals this season and can be delighted with his individual contribution.
Five years in the top-flight for a club of Bournemouth’s size and stature is an impressive achievement and they went down fighting, with a 3-1 win over Everton on Sunday.
Sadly for Eddie Howe’s team, it proved too little too late and their dreadful defensive record was sure to catch up to them eventually, with Bournemouth becoming the first team to concede 60+ goals in five consecutive Premier League campaigns.
The question on everybody’s lips is whether club loyalist Eddie Howe remains at the helm next season, or finally moves on to new pastures.
Watford looked doomed from very early on in the season taking just eight points from their first fifteen games and finding themselves rock-bottom in the league. A mini-revival under new manager Nigel Pearson saw them two points above safety with two games to go, before the trigger-happy Watford board decided to let him go with their third managerial firing of the season.
Whether they were hoping for a new-manager bounce, or a reaction from their players, the decision looks ill-fated now, as they lost to both Man City and Arsenal to confirm their fall into the second tier.
Although Leicester manager Brendan Rogers is eager to ensure people look at Leicester City’s fifth-placed finish in the proper context, the second half of their season must be considered a failure.
On 22nd January Leicester were third in the league after beating West Ham 4-1, 14 points clear of the Man Utd side who eventually usurped them in the top four.
Since then, they won just three times in the league, just twice after the restart, with a 4-1 loss to relegated Bournemouth showcasing their struggles.
While Man Utd will rightly be praised for their improvement, Leicester must shoulder the blame for their failure to hold on to a top-four spot from such a commanding position.
Replaced by the 38-year-old Willy Caballero for Chelsea’s final game of the season, it would be a huge shock to see the £71 million man between the sticks for Frank Lampard’s side next season.
He’s looked very shaky throughout the campaign and lost his place in the side to Willy Caballero on the final day.
Chelsea conceded 54 league goals this term, more than any other side in the top half. With the Blues 11/10 favourites to beat Arsenal in Saturday’s FA Cup final, Kepa’s unlikely to feature at Wembley either.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication