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3 talking points from this weekend Premier League fixtures

Manchester City did not even need to kick a ball this weekend to be crowned champions of England as Arsenal’s challenge ended with a whimper…

Manchester City did not even need to kick a ball this weekend to be crowned champions of England as Arsenal’s challenge ended with a whimper in a 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.

It looks like also being a decisive weekend in the race for a top-four finish as the end to Liverpool’s winning run left Newcastle and Manchester United needing just one point from their remaining two games to secure a place in the Champions League.

At the bottom, Everton are on course for a great escape for the second consecutive season as a disastrous 3-1 defeat for Leeds at West Ham leaves Sam Allardyce’s men staring relegation in the face.

Here are three talking points from the Premier League weekend:

Arsenal serve title on a plate to City
City’s claim to be arguably the best side English football has ever seen is backed up by a third straight title and a fifth in six seasons.

Pep Guardiola’s men could go on to complete a treble with the FA Cup and Champions League finals to come next month.

But they were allowed to canter over the line with three games to spare by Arsenal’s capitulation when the pressure was applied in the final months of the season.

The Gunners have won just two of their last eight games in a run that exposed both their inexperience and lack of squad depth.

A big summer now lies ahead if Arsenal are to build on their first top-four finish for seven seasons.

“I know that we have built an illusion, enthusiasm and belief that we could go all the way and win it, and we fell short,” admitted Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

“That’s why we have to push that to happen and that’s not going to happen if we don’t make a lot of right decisions, and think smarter, and make the right decision and have the mentality every single day to get to that level.”

Too little, too late for Liverpool
A seven-game winning run gave Liverpool hope of masking a miserable season by sneaking into the top four, but that streak came to an end as Aston Villa boosted their own European ambitions with a 1-1 draw at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s men left themselves with too much to do as an immobile midfield and leaky defence were exposed for most of the season.

“I think the whole season is rather a season where we qualify for Europa League than for Champions League. We were for too long not good enough or ourselves,” conceded Klopp.

Newcastle can secure a return to the Champions League for the first time in 20 years by avoiding defeat when they host Leicester on Monday.

Manchester United have only been absent from Europe’s premier club competition for one season, but a Champions League return, on top of lifting the League Cup and reaching the FA Cup final, will cap an excellent first season at Old Trafford for Erik ten Hag.

Prayers go unanswered for struggling Leeds
Leeds were left needing a miracle after their miserable run continued at the London Stadium.

In their final away game of the season, a section of Leeds’ support dressed as nuns – with another group decked out in shirts, ties and masks emblazoned with the face of their team’s manager Sam Allardyce.

The fans’ fancy dress added a surreal note to a funereal scene at the final whistle as Allardyce and his players digested a loss that left them two points from safety with one game left.

Third-bottom Leeds will return to the Championship for the first time since 2020 if Everton beat Bournemouth on the final day of the season.

A point may even be enough for Everton unless Leeds beat Tottenham at Elland Road by three goals.

Leeds avoided relegation in similar circumstances in the last game of the 2021/22 season, but on the evidence of their limp surrender in east London, they will need divine intervention to manage another great escape.

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