A remarkable final day of action played out in the Premier League this evening, with Tottenham, when all was said and done, having booked a spot at the inaugural Europa Conference League.
Spurs sneak into Europe
Heading into proceedings on Sunday, all of Spurs, north London rivals Arsenal and Everton were in with a shot of securing a 7th-place finish.
It was Spurs who held the advantage ahead of kick-off, occupying the aforementioned Conference League berth, having seen their top-6 hopes go up in smoke in a costly defeat to Aston Villa last time out.
Everton, meanwhile, were locked on points with Ryan Mason’s men, albeit in 8th due to their inferior goal difference.
And Arsenal sat a point back, amid an encouraging upturn in form over recent weeks.
The Gunners faced the most straightforward assignment this evening, in the form of a meeting with Brighton at the Emirates, whilst Tottenham and Everton prepped for crunch showdowns with Leicester and Manchester City respectively.
And Arsenal, when all was said and done, went on to do their part.
A 5th-straight victory was secured courtesy of a brace from the in-form Nicolas Pepe, early in the 2nd-half:
“Perfect from Pepe!” 🔥
The Emirates erupts for a second time as Pepe makes it five goals in his last three games.
Are Arsenal heading to the Europa Conference League? 🤔
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 23, 2021
Upon Pepe’s 2nd versus Brighton finding the net, as things stood, the Gunners were actually in line to climb all the way to 7th.
This came with Everton having been absolutely picked apart by a rampant Man City side, who saw Sergio Aguero bid farewell to the Etihad with a brace off the bench:
AGUEROOOOO! WHO ELSE? 🇦🇷
Sergio Aguero hits the back of the net on his final ever Manchester City appearance. It was written in the stars! 👏
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 23, 2021
Tottenham, meanwhile, trailed by two goals to one at home to Leicester, after a pair of Jamie Vardy spot-kicks cancelled out Harry Kane’s effort shortly before the interval.
Ryan Mason and co., though, simply refused to lie down.
First, a Kasper Schmeichel own goal 15 minutes from time dragged the Lilywhites level, guiding them back clear of Arsenal.
Then, with just minutes remaining in north London, Gareth Bale broke Leicester City hearts across the globe, slotting home Harry Kane’s pull-back to not only ensure their own spot in the first-ever Europa Conference League, but also push Chelsea back into the top-4.
And there was even time for the Welshman, on potentially his final appearance for Spurs, to grab a 2nd.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 23, 2021
In turn, on the back of a hectic final day full of twists and turns, it is Arsenal who have missed out on the Premier League’s final European berth, in altogether disappointing fashion.
The capital giants, though, must attempt to take the positives from their impressive late-season form.
And one aspect of this stretch which stands out above all others is the production of Nicolas Pepe.
Ivorian wide-man Pepe has of course endured an altogether underwhelming stint on the books of the Gunners to date, since arriving for a club-record fee in the summer of 2019.
The last couple of weeks, though, have seen the evidently talented wide-man finally come to life, over an extended spell.
In fact, his brace this evening made it not only five goals in his last three Premier League appearances, but also ensured that Pepe finishes out the campaign as the leading goal contributor in Mikel Arteta’s squad:
Nicolas Pepe has more goal involvements in all competitions this season than any other Arsenal player – 21
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) May 23, 2021
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Premier League table
|1||Manchester City FC||38||51||86|
|2||Manchester United FC||38||29||74|
|5||Leicester City FC||38||18||66|
|6||West Ham United FC||38||15||65|
|7||Tottenham Hotspur FC||38||23||62|
|11||Aston Villa FC||38||9||55|
|12||Newcastle United FC||38||-16||45|
|13||Wolverhampton Wanderers FC||38||-16||45|
|14||Crystal Palace FC||38||-25||44|
|16||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||38||-6||41|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||38||-41||26|
|20||Sheffield United FC||38||-43||23|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||23|
|Salah, Mohamed||Liverpool FC||22|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||17|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||17|
|Bamford, Patrick||Leeds United||17|
|Calvert-Lewin, Dominic||Everton FC||16|
|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City FC||15|
|Watkins, Ollie||Aston Villa FC||14|
|Gundogan, Ilkay||Manchester City FC||13|
|Lacazette, Alexandre||Arsenal FC||13|
|Wilson, Callum||Newcastle United FC||12|
|Ings, Danny||Southampton FC||12|
|Wood, Chris||Burnley FC||12|
|Iheanacho, Kelechi||Leicester City FC||12|
|Rashford, Marcus||Manchester United FC||11|
|Mane, Sadio||Liverpool FC||11|
|Pereira, Matheus||West Bromwich Albion||11|
|Bale, Gareth||Tottenham Hotspur FC||11|
|Zaha, Wilfried||Crystal Palace FC||11|
|Sterling, Raheem||Manchester City FC||10|
|Player||Team||Red Cards||Yellow Cards|
|McGinn, John||Aston Villa FC||12|
|Gallagher, Conor||West Bromwich Albion||11|
|Maguire, Harry||Manchester United FC||11|
|Phillips, Kalvin||Leeds United||10|
|Hojbjerg, Pierre||Tottenham Hotspur FC||9|
|Milivojevic, Luka||Crystal Palace FC||1||8|
|Lundstram, John||Sheffield United FC||1||8|
|Luiz, Douglas||Aston Villa FC||8|
|Holgate, Mason||Everton FC||9|
|Bissouma, Yves||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||1||8|
|Soucek, Tomas||West Ham United FC||1||7|
|Shaw, Luke||Manchester United FC||8|
|Xhaka, Granit||Arsenal FC||1||7|
|Bellerin, Hector||Arsenal FC||8|
|Andersen, Joachim||Fulham FC||1||7|
|Egan, John||Sheffield United FC||1||7|
|Hayden, Isaac||Newcastle United FC||8|
|Dallas, Stuart||Leeds United||7|
|McGoldrick, David||Sheffield United FC||7|
|Reid, Bobby||Fulham FC||7|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||14|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||12|
|De Bruyne, Kevin||Manchester City FC||11|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||10|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||10|
|Rashford, Marcus||Manchester United FC||9|
|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City FC||8|
|Mane, Sadio||Liverpool FC||8|
|Harrison, Jack||Leeds United||8|
|Werner, Timo||Chelsea FC||8|
|Gross, Pascal||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||8|
|Cresswell, Aaron||West Ham United FC||8|
|Pereira, Matheus||West Bromwich Albion||7|
|Sterling, Raheem||Manchester City FC||7|
|Firmino, Roberto||Liverpool FC||7|
|Ward-Prowse, James||Southampton FC||7|
|Eze, Eberechi||Crystal Palace FC||7|
|Alexander-Arnold, Trent||Liverpool FC||7|
|Robertson, Andrew||Liverpool FC||7|