Sunday, 9 May 2010

Last Day of The Premier League - Live Updates

By Shane Thomas

As the Premier League title is decided in the next two hours or so, I'll be updating the situation as it develops. Unsurprisingly my focus will be on Stamford Bridge & Old Trafford but I'll do my best to keep half an eye on the other eight games as well.

3:27pm - Rio Ferdinand & Gary Neville both back in the Man Utd starting XI. Given that United need to win, I'm slightly surprised not to see Rafael in the line-up. Luis Antonio Valencia can also consider himself unlucky to be on the bench after an impressive season

MAN UTD - Van Der Sar; Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Scholes, Giggs; Berbatov, Rooney.

3:52pm - Carlo Ancelotti keeps faith with the same eleven that beat Liverpool last week. Simple team selection for the Italian really.

CHELSEA - Cech; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, A.Cole; Ballack, Lampard, Malouda; Kalou, Drogba, Anelka.

3:59pm - Both sides on the pitch at Stamford Bridge & Old Trafford. Here we go.

4:03pm - Andy Gray has pointed out that Wigan have changed from their usual formation, lining up with a 3-5-2. From the looks of things he's right. Interesting from Martinez, could leave them more exposed defensively than they usually are.

4:07pm - Nani led an impressive Man Utd counter-attack. A great ball found Rooney, who found Berbatov on the edge on the box, but the Bulgarian was crowded out by the Stoke defence.

4:08pm - Goal and first blood to the title favourites. Free-kick from Drogba hit the wall. It was headed back into the box and found Malouda with his back to goal. He laid it off perfectly into the path of Nicolas Anelka who fired in from about 7 yards out. Poor defending from Wigan but definitely a hint of offside on the part of Malouda.

4:12pm - Away from the title picture, Tottenham are one up against Burnley. Gareth Bale, who has had a storming last half of the season with the goal.

4:14pm - Chance for United. Cross from the left from Nani finds Berbatov at the back post. He is unable to get over the ball and it goes over the top.

4:18pm - Wigan showing good attacking intent since going a goal down. N'Zogbia looks as if he's been given a free role. Martinez trying to free his most dangerous attacking player to try and hurt Chelsea.

4:20pm - United pressing hard to open the scoring. Patrice Evra burst through after a good passing move but the shot was well blocked.

4:24pm - Don't think that because Chelsea have the lead that this is over. They haven't kept the ball well. Rodellega was clear after the best move of the match but he was marginally offside. About as far offside as Malouda was for the Chelsea goal.

4:25pm - I think I've done well to avoid mentioning Arsenal today. Until now. 1-0 at The Emirates. Andrey Arshavin scoring against Europa League finalists Fulham.

4:30pm - 2-0 to Arsenal. Goal from Robin Van Persie. If he had have been fit for the whole season there could be a third side fighting for the title right now.

4:32pm - Stoke should take a lesson from Wigan's playbook. They're showing no ambition and a goal from United is surely imminent.

4:33pm - And right on cue, United score. Giggs's corner headed towards goal by Vidic. It hits two players and falls to Darren Fletcher who does the rest from four yards.

4:35pm - It's as if they knew. Seconds after Darren Fletcher's goal, Frank Lampard makes a trademark burst into the Wigan penalty box. Gary Caldwell pulls the England man to the ground and the referee correctly gives the penalty and sends off the Scottish centre-half. Lampard dispatches the spot-kick. 2-0 Chelsea, and the title is surely returning to West London now.

4:39pm - As a side note, Didier Drogba - who is in with a chance of winning the Golden Boot did not look best pleased that he didn't get to take the penalty. Credit to Lampard for going up to Drogba after scoring rather than allowing things with the Ivorian to fester.

4:41pm - Second goal for United. Berbatov showing the qualities that persuaded Ferguson to spend £23 million on him. He leaves Wilkinson for dead down the left before finding Giggs in the box, and the Welshman's placed finish makes it 2-0. Wasn't great goalkeeping from Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal however.

4:45pm - Goalbound shot from Rooney blocked by Robert Huth. That second Chelsea goal seems to have knocked the stuffing out of Wigan.

4:49pm - Drogba going for a 'hail mary' shot on the stroke of half-time. Looks like he desperately wants that Golden Boot.

4:51pm - Half-time whistles go across the country. Chelsea have a vice like grip on the league now. It's not been a Champions like performance from them but they've had more cutting edge while Wigan have been merely neat & tidy. The fact that they're down to 10 men probably makes whatever happens at Old Trafford irrelevant.

4:59pm - (RE: 4:39 pm) Sky tearing a strip of Drogba for his behaviour after Lampard scored Chelsea's penalty. And rightly so. Earlier in the week Drogba said the league is what matters, not who wins the Golden Boot. Deeds Mr Drogba. Deeds not words.

5:06pm - The final 45 minutes of the season begins. I expect it to be a procession towards the title for Chelsea.

5:13pm - A third goal for United that will be pleasing for Fabio Capello. A reverse pass down the inside left channel finds Rooney who beats his marker with a lovely bit of skill. His cross is turned in by United old boy Danny Higginbotham for an own goal.

5:15pm - Whatever United can do... Chelsea make it three with some lovely interplay between Lampard & Salamon Kalou. The Ivorian has made a good late contribution for Chelsea and he's the man to make it 3-0. All over bar the shouting.

5:17pm - Party time at Stamford Bridge. Ivanovic's cross volleyed in by Anelka. That could be goal of the month. Chelsea now have 99 goals this season, a Premier League record. They have 33 minutes to get the 100. It hasn't been done since 1963, and that was in a 42 game season.

5:18 - With the title now secure, Joe Cole has come on for Kalou. Last chance for him to impress the watching Fabio Capello with the provisional World Cup squad to be named on Tuesday

5:21pm - Great chance for Drogba to get his 27th of the season but he fires wide. He and Rooney still both on 26. The Golden Boot is still up for grabs.

5:23pm - Gorgeous pass from Rooney plays Nani clear but Begovic reads the Portugese's intentions and saves well.

5:25 - Incredible overhead kick from Drogba produces a great save from Mike Pollitt. But Lampard is first to the rebound and stands the ball up for Drogba to power in a header for Chelsea's 100th goal of the league season. Drogba has his goal and is now one ahead of Rooney in the race for the Golden Boot.

5:28 - Penalty to Chelsea. Drogba plays Ashley Cole clear and the full-back is brought down for a clear spot-kick. A cheer goes up from the Chelsea fans as Lampard stands aside to let Drogba take it. The ball goes in off the post and Chelsea now have six. And I think there may be more goals to come.

5:34pm - Apologies for allowing my mind to lose focus. At Turf Moor Burnley have come from two down against Tottenham to pull it back to 2-2.

5:36pm - Ok, scratch that. Martin Paterson has just scored and made it 3-2 to Burnley. Also Wayne Rooney has been substituted with a sore groin. Worrying for England fans. It also means that the Golden Boot is Drogba's.

5:38pm - With the title now over, The United fans are now focusing their ire on the club's owners. The anti-Glazer chants are ringing around Old Trafford.

5:41pm - Chelsea score seven for the fourth time this season. Drogba taps in for his hat-trick after Joe Cole's shot is well saved. Drogba is now one short of scoring 30 in the league.

5:44pm - Park heads in for United's fourth after non-existent marking from Stoke. I wonder if some sort of record is being set today for goals on the last day on a Premier League season?

5:47pm - Thinking about it, there must be some record being set today. 7 goals at Stamford Bridge, 4 at Old Trafford, 4 at The Emirates and 5 at Turf Moor. This hasn't been an uneventful last day.

5:51pm - 8-0 to Chelsea. And maybe the best of the bunch. Brilliant tenacity from Joe Cole to win the ball on the right. He floats a cross to the far post and his namesake Ashley scores with a superb volley.

5:53 - And there's the final whistle. Incredible that I wrote earlier than Chelsea weren't showing a Champions performance. With Wigan a man down, Chelsea were rampant in the second half.

5:55pm - Drogba went hunting for the match ball after his hat-trick. Funny enough it was Lampard who lashed it into the crowd at the final whistle.

6:02pm - And with that, the 2009/10 Premier League season comes to an end. The league never lies and Chelsea are deserved winners. Most wins, least defeats and a record amount of goals. If you hear anyone dare to describe this Chelsea team as a boring side, ask them if the club they support scored 103 goals this season. As the trophy is about to be presented the Chelsea fans start an ironic chant of "Boring Boring Chelsea!". I'm off now to laugh myself silly at the new Chris Morris film, 'Four Lions'.


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