Premier League: Chelsea, Arsenal clinch crucial victories; Burnley edge past Watford
Liverpool celebrated their first English championship since 1990 after second-place Manchester City lost 2-1 to Chelsea. Eddie Nketiah pounced on a goalkeeping blunder and Joe Willock added his first Premier League goal to give Arsenal a much-needed 2-0 win at Southampton.
Four years later, Chelsea again clinched the Premier League title for another team.
Liverpool celebrated their first English championship since 1990 after second-place Manchester City lost 2-1 to Chelsea at an empty Stamford Bridge on Thursday to see their two-season reign as champion come to an end.
The result left Liverpool with an unassailable 23-point lead with seven rounds of matches remaining.
In 2016, it was a late goal by Eden Hazard that gave Chelsea a draw against Tottenham that secured Leicester the most improbable title triumph in English football history.
On Thursday, it was a 78th-minute penalty converted by Willian that clinched Chelsea a victory and led to fireworks being set off near Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium.
A solo goal by Christian Pulisic, a player brought to Europe by Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp in 2015 when he was coaching Borussia Dortmund, put Chelsea ahead in the 36th minute. His run began in his own half after a loose pass from City and he dribbled past two players before curling home a shot from the edge of the area.
Kevin De Bruyne curled a free kick into the top corner from 25 yards to make it 1-1, but City still needed another goal to stop Liverpool celebrating.
However, Fernandinho was sent off in the 77th for punching the ball away on the line after Pulisic, then Tammy Abraham attempted to bundle the ball in from close range.
Willian sent goalkeeper Ederson Moraes the wrong way from the penalty spot and the party could get started for Liverpool, more than 11,000 days after the Reds won their last English title 30 years ago.
Goalkeeping blunder helps Arsenal win 2-0 at Southampton
Eddie Nketiah pounced on a goalkeeping blunder and Joe Willock added his first Premier League goal to give Arsenal a much-needed 2-0 win at Southampton.
Ninth-place Arsenal had lost both games since the league restarted after being postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic. Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy helped the Gunners on their way when his sloppy play led to Nketiah's 20th-minute goal.
Receiving a pass from a defender, McCarthy tried to pass it back but Nketiah intercepted the ball before tapping into an empty net.
McCarthy almost made exactly the same mistake at the end of the first half, but this time Nketiah just failed to rob the ball.
Southampton defender Jack Stephens was sent off late on for chopping down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he was clean through seeking his 50th Arsenal league goal in just 77 games.
From the free kick, forward Alexandre Lacazette's effort was blocked by the wall. The ball fell back to Lacazette, whose powerful strike was saved by McCarthy but fell to fellow substitute Willock, who slotted in the second goal in the 86th.
Arsenal's previous two games exposed sloppy defending and a lack of composure, problems which have blighted the Gunners in recent seasons.
Arsenal conceded five minutes into injury time in a 2-1 defeat at Brighton on Saturday, a match which saw a heated clash between Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi and Neal Maupay. The Brighton striker's late challenge injured goalkeeper Bernd Leno. Guendouzi, who grabbed Maupay by the throat after the final whistle, was dropped by coach Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal started this match with intent.
Nicolas Pépé, who gave Arsenal the lead against Brighton, scored after eight minutes but the goal was ruled offside. Two minutes later, Aubameyang ran onto a long pass and drew McCarthy toward him but chipped onto the crossbar.
Southampton created little and 16-goal club top scorer Danny Ings was kept quiet until the 78th, when his snapshot from the left was smartly saved by Leno's replacement Emiliano Martínez.
Rodriguez’s header gives Burnley 1-0 home win against Watford
Burnley tightened up their defending and found a way through in attack as Jay Rodriguez's late header secured a 1-0 home win against Watford in the Premier League on Thursday.
Burnley lost 5-0 at defending champion Manchester City on Monday. This time, Sean Dyche's side made the breakthrough in the 73rd minute when Rodriguez stooped to head home Dwight McNeil's left-wing cross into the penalty area.
The win leaves Burnley in 11th place while Watford, which has one point from three games, is one point above the relegation zone.
Burnley placed two large flags behind the goal with the messages “One Club for all” and “This is everyone V (versus) discrimination" for this match, after the game at City was marred by a plane flying overhead with a banner displaying “White Lives Matter Burnley."
The aircraft came into view, moments after players and coaches from City and Burnley had taken a knee at kickoff in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, then circled City’s Etihad Stadium for several minutes.
Burnley captain Ben Mee strongly condemned the incident, as did politicians and anti-discrimination leaders, while police have opened an investigation.
Watford salvaged a home draw against Leicester on Saturday thanks to a last-gasp equalizer from defender Craig Dawson, and he had Watford's best chance in the first half when he headed just over from a corner.
Striker Matěj Vydra hit the post for Burnley midway through the first half while Rodriguez had two shots saved.
Dawson, who equalized in the 93rd minute against Leicester, had a 93rd-minute header saved to give Burnley a scare.
Premier League: Joe Willock’s late equaliser helps Newcastle hold Tottenham to 2-2 draw; Southampton beat Burnley
Jose Mourinho's side were just five minutes away from moving into fourth place when Willock equalised at St James' Park.
Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester and Chelsea currently occupy the top four places in the English top-flight.
It is a loss that lingers in the memory for Klopp, who dismissed suggestions a 4-1 FA Cup win in January counted as any sort of payback as Villa fielded an academy side following a coronavirus outbreak among the first-team ranks.