I've finally finished watching the last few games of the premiership season. Over the weekend, I still had Crystal Palace and Liverpool on the DVR, so I watched that one. It didn't start out looking like it, but that probably ended up being the most interesting of the several I watched over the last few days.
It started with Liverpool needing to win, and win big, so they could pressure Man City for the title. They needed to close the goal differential between the two teams.
For much of the game, Crystal Palace was mostly hanging back (they rarely pressed past the midfield line), letting Liverpool build up, but giving Liverpool very few good chances. And that's how much of the game went. Liverpool did get one in the 18th minute, but that was all for the first half.
Things broke open soon into the second, however. A fortunate deflection put Sturridge on the board, and that's when I decided I'd had enough. Well, mostly. Instead of turning it off, I started skipping ahead, and saw almost immediately that Liverpool had scored again to make it 3-0. That definitely felt like the end, but I kept skipping ahead (after backing up to see the goal; helped along by a fortunate bounce in getting the ball to Suarez above the box).
Not long after, I saw that Palace had gotten a lucky deflection of their own to make it more respectable. Almost immediately, they got another to come within a goal on what looked like a 2-on-1 counterattack (six defenders got back, but somehow none of them managed to cover Gayle). At that point, I needed to watch the rest of the game. And Liverpool was playing like a scared team, back on their heels.
It took six more minutes, but Palace kept pressing and managed to hit Gayle as he got behind Skrtel. Mignolet wasn't able to stop him (it would have been an amazing play, if he had; I'm not blaming Mignolet by any stretch), and they got the Crystal equalizer.
I was kind of hoping Palace would manage to win, at that point, but that was the end of the scoring. Brutal rug-pulling for Liverpool fans, and quite a cause for celebration for Crystal Palace.
The next game I started to watch was Man U v Hull City, but I turned that off after only a couple of minutes when I decided that its irrelevance to the championship made me not care.
So I turned on Man City's game against Villa. I was expecting a good game, likely with City winning. Well, it wasn't a terribly good game. It started with Villa immediately bunkering down. They weren't even challenging City at midfield; they were giving them a good 15-20 yards beyond that. And they couldn't hold the ball at all. I didn't see the stats, but I bet City had 90% or more possession in the first half.
But somehow, they weren't able to break through for the entire first half. They had a couple of good chances, but weren't able to put it in.
But Djecko put one in in the sixty-fourth minute, and that pulled Villa out to challenge more. And, as you'd expect, that gave City a lot more room to operate, and they did, clinically. They scored in the seventieth and ninetieth minutes, and capped it off with one hell of an impressive run by Yaya Toure in the ninety-third minute for his twentieth of the season (and City's century? This one or the one before was the team's hundredth).
Frankly, I'm a little surprised that City didn't score more. It was an impressive performance by City, and a strong statement that they intended to take the title, probably without worrying about goal differential (though it certainly would have been amusing for City to win on differential again).
Some stronger disappointment set in when I realized that all ten Sunday games were played at the same time; I'd wanted to watch more than one of them. So the final game, for me, was seeing Liverpool playing Newcastle for the hope of the title.
Newcastle was playing an unusual formation, with three center backs to counter Liverpool's striking prowess. And that worked very well for them, as they were not only holding off the attack but getting their own chances on counterattacks.
And, in fact, one of those counterattacks worked as Skrtel deflected a shot from the flank into the back of the net (sucks when you go to kick it, and hit if off the top of your shin instead of your foot).
That had Liverpool not just worrying about winning the title, but even about coming in second. At half-time, that was still the score, while City was up one and Chelsea (who had an outside shot at catching Liverpool) was down one.
And Newcastle looked very good for quite a bit of the second, but then the wheels just feel off the hod. A penalty near the box (right side) resulted in some argument with the ref. I think one of the visitors was carded, although I'm not sure.
But Gerrard took the kick, and placed a beautiful serve for Agger to volley in for the lead. Then Ameobi went ballistic and got two yellows for arguing before the ensuing kickoff. After his sendoff, Liverpool got another free kick from nearly the same spot, with nearly identical results (except for Sturridge being the one to put it in, and doing so from in front of the goal, rather than a hair off to the side).
It looked like Liverpool was going to be able to score at will at that point, but somehow they never got into the net again, even with Dummett getting sent off for the Magpies as well.
But the game didn't really matter anyway, as City comfortably won their game at home (I didn't hear the final, but they were up 3-0 at one point) to take the title.
Thus ends quite a disappointing season at Anfield, while City celebrated (though perhaps a bit mutedly, as I heard something about them being sanctioned for transfer window shenanigans recently, which should cut into their chances of repeating).
Definitely some good games in there. And Liverpool... wow. I recently found out (a few days after the Chelsea débâcle) that my chiropractor is a Liverpool fan. I imagine he was drinking after the Crystal Palace finish. Will have to ask him when I visit next.