The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW38): Newcastle 1-3 Liverpool
The final day of the Premier League season saw the two our household supports go head to head and it didn't take long for the game to kick into life. From kick-off, Virgil van Dijk gave away a free-kick at the half-way line with Jonjo Shelvey reacting quickly and taking the set-piece and floating a ball over Liverpool's defence. Dwight Gayle, who caught Joe Gomez flat-footed, raced towards goal and stabbed the ball over and past Alisson for a surprise lead after 26 minutes.
With Newcastle a goal up, Liverpool came back into the game and started to dominate possession, with their first real chance coming in the 28th minute when Takumi Minamino cut in on his right-foot from 20-yards-out and unleashed a fierce shot that was expertly saved by Martin Dubravka.
Pressure kept coming from the champions and they eventually found an equaliser when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain received a ball from Neco Williams before skipping past Danny Rose and to the Newcastel by-line. Ox chipped a delightful ball to the back-post with Virgil van Dijk rising highest and looping a lovely header over Dubravka to level the score.
The only substantial chance, in what wasn't the best half of viewing, was The Ox trying his luck from range after Gini Wijnaldum set up his fellow midfielder, with the shot going wide-right of Dubravka's goal, letting Newcastle off.
The turnaround for Jurgen Klopp's side was complete in the 59th minute when van Dijk clipped a long pass into the feet of Andrew Robertson. The Scotland captain needed just one touch to provide a pass into the feet of Divock Origi, with the Belgian cutting in and executing a delightful curled shot into the far-left corner to give Liverpool the lead - Origi's first Premier League goal since Gameweek 15 when he scored a brace against Everton in a 5-2 home win at Anfield.
Liverpool's main men came on after the 60th minute, with the arrival of Mane, Salah and Firmino changing the tempo of the game. Mo Salah hit the post on the 66th minute when a Robertson free-kick bounced through an a lone Salah, who chested and shot, only to be denied by the foot of the post. Salah then ran through on the 72nd minute, though a great recovery tackle by Federico Fernandez denied Salah the chance to score a 20th league goal of the season.
Sadio Mane put the game to bed in the 88th minute when he collected a Roberto Firmino ball, cut back in the penalty area to beat Lazaro, curling the ball in to the far-left corner, a repeat of the Origi goal, only from close range. This ended the season meaning Liverpool have secured their best ever Premier League season, finishing on 99 points.
Man of the Match: Virgil van Dijk (LIV)
Despite giving away a free-kick in the first minute that led to the Dwight Gayle goal, Virgil van Dijk had a good game and amassed a few statistics to take away from the game that as impressive - most goals as a defender in the league (5), and only the 5th outfield player to play every minute of a title winning season.
Naby Keita was good in midfield again, but Virgil's header to equalise was sublime and he was instrumental in the second goal with his clipped pass to Andrew Robertson, who set up Origi. Newcastle had their moments but the big Dutchman stamped out any hopes of getting back into the match, allowing Origi and Mane to add the final touches on a game that wasn't inspired, especially with other drama happening elsewhere on the final day.
NEW 1-3 LIV - Insight and Analysis:
With a busy day of football, due to the football loyalties in our household we decided to have on the Newcastle game and follow score updates for other games on our phones. Fortunately, there wasn't really much of anything going on in this end of season clash, with Liverpool and Newcastle both uninspiring. It meant we could follow Bournemouth as they were unfortunately relegated from the Premier League, as well as seeing Leicester fail at the final hurdle in defeat against Man United in the race for a Champions League place.
Newcastle were dire to watch yet again, this supposed takeover can't happen quickly enough. If it doesn't happen, the souls of every fan across the world will have been stepped on, crushed and altogether destroyed and that might just be before the new season starts. Newcastle fans, myself included, are running out of fumes and based on this season as a whole, I'm not sure how many fans will be attending games if this never ending nightmare continues.
As for Liverpool, this was just another casual day at the office for the Premier League champions. They dominated the ball, had the chances and even had the luxury of bringing their heavy hitters off the bench just moments after going 2-1 up. Here's a huge round of congratulations for Jurgen Klopp's side, they dominated the season, deserved the win on the day and have been a delight to watch throughout the campaign. Here's hoping they keep their brand of football in 2020/21.
Elsewhere in the Premier League on the final day:
Glued to our phones, we were thrilled that Bournemouth got the job done against Everton, though Aston Villa staying up at the death is a hard pill to take after Orjan Nyland's error against Sheffield United 'should' have seen Villa relegated today. Small margins literally defined the relegation race.
It was a typical round of games though. City win big a home. United get a penalty. 'Big' clubs pretty much all prevailed and there was a deserved relegation for a Watford side who have changed their Head Coach position multiple times throughout the season. The Gameweek as a whole was as entertaining as a final day can be as an entertainment spectacle, so it was a positive to see given that the world is fighting a pandemic (well, some people are).
Lastly, VAR needs to change or the officials do for next season, or I may have no hair come the end of next season.
Venue: St. James' Park
Manager: Steve Bruce
GK: M. Dubravka
DEF: J. Manquillo
DEF: F. Fernández
DEF: D. Rose (Watts 74')
DEF: V. Lazaro
DEF: M. Ritchie
MID: J. Shelvey
MID: N. Bentaleb (Longstaff 49')
MID: M. Almirón (Hayden 70')
MID: A. Saint-Maximin (Joelinton 45')
FOR: D. Gayle
Carroll, Joelinton, Muto, Hayden, Yedlin, Darlow, S Longstaff, Watts, Young
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
DEF: N. Williams (Alexander-Arnold 85')
DEF: J. Gomez
DEF: V. van Dijk
DEF: A. Robertson
MID: N. Keita (Jones 85')
MID: G. Wijnaldum
MID: J. Milner
FOR: A. Oxlade-Chamberlain (Firmino 64')
FOR: D. Origi (Salah 64')
FOR: T. Minamino (Mané 64')
Fabinho, Firmino, Mané, Salah, Adrián, Shaqiri, Jones, Alexander-Arnold, Elliott
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