Sunday, May 22 was the final day of the Premier League Season, matchday 38. With only one match remaining, much was still to be decided in the league table. The title race was still wide open, with only a point separating first place Manchester City and chasers Liverpool. A little further down the table, fourth place and the final Champions League berth for the 2022-23 season remained uncertain as well, with just two points separating Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. Finally, at the foot of the table, the final spot in the relegation zone was still to be determined. Everton had managed to pull clear of the drop zone in the previous match week, but as they sat safe with four between them and 18th place, Burnley and Leeds started the day on 35 and 34 points respectively. “Championship Sunday,” as the final day is known, promised immense drama–and it didn’t disappoint.
The final day contained a few intriguing storylines that played out as theatrically as possible. Liverpool needed Manchester City to fail to win at home to Aston Villa in order to stand any chance of pipping them to the title—an Aston Villa side that was seemingly a pushover side sitting 13th in the table to begin the day and with a very shaky defense. But the Villans are managed by Steven Gerrard, a living Liverpool legend, and their talisman Philippe Coutinho is a former teammate of Gerrard’s at Liverpool. As one can see, there was plenty of motivation to not just roll over for the title winners-elect.
Liverpool, on the other hand, had the rather daunting task of a final-day match at home to the Wolverhampton Wanderers, one of the best defensive sides in the league. As mentioned, they also needed some help from the unfavored Villa away to City, one of the toughest fixtures to take points from in the league.
The day began with quite the story, as Villa took a first-half lead through Matty Cash in the 37th minute. With the matches running concurrently, Liverpool fans celebrated inside Anfield. But they still had plenty of work to do. By this point, Wolves had already taken a 3rd minute lead. Sadio Mane had equalized in the 24th minute, but the draw wouldn’t be enough as City held a superior goal difference (the first tie-breaker) and a Liverpool draw would leave them level on points. Still, even as Liverpool fans got nervous with the game still in a draw as the 70th minute approached, they got word that Villa had scored again through – guess who? – former Liverpool man himself Coutinho. One goal and Liverpool would snatch the title.
Or would they? Manchester City then put on a comeback for the ages, scoring in the 76th, 78th, and 81st minutes of play to take a 3-2 lead, meaning 84th- and 89th-minute Liverpool goals made no difference in the end, as Manchester City won their fourth league title in five years.
Though perhaps the dullest dramatic event of the day (how about that for an oxymoron?), the leadup to the final match week had enough drama in it to make for quite an exciting final day for Spurs and Arsenal fans. Arsenal had already safe Everton to play at home, while Spurs had to travel to already relegated Norwich City. On paper, both were expected to win easily against sides whose fates had been sealed previously, and so had nothing to play for. And in the end, that’s exactly what happened. Both sides scored five, with Arsenal pummeling Everton 5-1 in a fitting end to the latter’s terrible season and Spurs running riot in a 5-0 win against a hapless Norwich sides.
The real drama had come in previous weeks, with Arsenal very clearly choking away a lead of four points with three games remaining in the season. After 35 matches, Arsenal sat on 66 points, with Spurs on 62. But following a loss to Spurs themselves, as well as a woeful loss away to Newcastle, they only ended on 69 points. Spurs, on the other hand, finished with three wins from three, beating rivals Arsenal alongside Burnley and Norwich to take nine points from nine available and pip their London rivals to fourth spot.
The foot of the table saw almost as much drama as the top end did. Burnley had Newcastle at home, while Brentford traveled to Leeds. Both sides knew a win would most likely be enough to secure safety, but neither match was to be easy. Newcastle has been resurgent since January, climbing out of the relegation zone into the comfort of midtable, while Brentford is notoriously difficult to break down and had beaten relegation rival Everton quite easily a few weeks previously. The 20th minute saw Newcastle open the scoring against Burnley through a Callum Wilson penalty, which, if the result held, would see Leeds safe. More bad news hit Burnley fans inside Turf Moor in the second half as news broke that Raphinha had scored for Leeds in the 56th minute, and it soon got worse as the 60th minute saw Newcastle double their lead against Burnley through Wilson’s second. Maxwell Cornet scored for Burnley in the 69th minute to give their fans hope, and that hope grew when Sergi Canos scored for Leeds in the 78th minute. A win would see Burnley safe after all. But in a twist familiar to the title race, that hope was short- lived, as Jack Harrison scored a stoppage time screamer to secure safety for Leeds with a 2-1 win. Burnley couldn’t find another goal, losing 2-1, condemning them to a season of Championship footballPremier League Final Day review