It was a far from vintage afternoon’s football in the Premier League with Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship confirmed thanks to a 1-0 home defeat against Bournemouth – their 23rd loss of a miserable season.
There were only four games and two goals scored but what did we lebn from the top flight’s four 3pm kick-offs?
Time up for Sunderland
The Black Cats knew they would have to match Hull City’s result to have any chance of Premier League survival as they took on Bournemouth at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.
But David Moyes’ side were relegated to the Championship after ten years in the top flight with Josh King’s late goal separating the two sides.
It looked as though the Wearsiders might get a reprieve at the death when Hull City conceded a penalty at Southampton. But Tigers keeper Eldin Jakupovic saved to earn the visitors a point and, in doing so, ensure Sunderland’s Premier League stay is over.
After circling the drain for the last four seasons and pulling off remarkable escape acts under Paolo Di Canio, Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce it has been evident for some time there would be no repeat this year.
If there is any chink of light for Sunderland fans then it will perhaps come from the unlikely source that is rivals Newcastle United.
The Magpies were promoted back to the Premier League at the first attempt with a 4-1 win over Preston North End on Monday. If Sunderland can follow the Newcastle’s model by shedding the dead wood and rejuvenating their squad then it could be for the best in the long run.
Will the real Berahino please stand up?
After a lengthy period in which he struggled for form and was hit with a ban for a banned substance, one wondered exactly what kind of player Mark Hughes and Stoke City were going to get.
Twelve games into his Potters career, following his latest start in the 0-0 draw at home to West Ham United on Saturday, and there have been positive signs – including improved fitness – but no goal.
“He’s been close in recent weeks and it’s only a matter of time,” Hughes said after a 3-1 win against Hull City. “He will score goals before the end of the season, we are convinced of that, and even if he doesn’t he will be in good shape for next season. He will probably be disappointed when the season ends because he’s just starting to get going.”
Hughes is clearly optimistic. He has to be. But the longer this drought goes on, the more concern there will be that he is among the latest to join a list of players who once showed great potential but failed to live up to it as a result of poor career decisions.
Three years ago Eldin Jakupovic almost got promoted with Orient. They are now in the National league, he is keeping Hull up. Hero.
— Jonny Singer (@Jonny_Singer) April 29, 2017
Tigers live to fight another day
The Tigers, who had goalkeeper Jakupovic to thank for preserving a point on the South Coast, are three points ahead of Swansea City in 18th place with three games reaming.
Next up for the Swans is a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Sunday. If José Mourinho’s side do as will be expected of them then this will turn into a very good weekend for the Tigers and their Premier League survival chances.
Ndidi is the real deal for Leicester
He is no N’Golo Kanté but Ndidi has gradually grown into his role in Leicester City’s midfield, filling the void left behind by 2016/17 PFA Player of the Year who has excelled following his £33million switch to Chelsea.
Nidid, signed from Genk for £17million last summer, put in a masterful performance as the Foxes snuck a 1-0 win at high-flying West Bromwich Albion thanks to Jamie Vardy’s first-half goal.
The 20-year-old made the most interceptions (6) and blocks (2) of any player at the Hawthorns as well as winning the most tackles (7). He has some way to go in order to match the staggering impact of Kanté but the Nigerian international is coming into his own.
Shakesperean tale at Leicester City
The Foxes have improved immeasurably under caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare with Saturday’s 1-0 win over West Brom taking them up to the magic 40-point marker and ensuring their safety.
Whatever Claudio Ranieri’s former assistant has done – and if reports are to be believe it might be as simple as not being the Italian – it has worked to a tee and the 53-year-old leaves the Leicester City hierarchy with a headache this summer.
Previous examples of caretaker managers done good before getting the job on a full-time basis have tended to end badly.
Kenny Dalgish won the League Cup in 2012 with Liverpool and reached the FA Cup final – losing to Chelsea – but was still sacked at the end of the season. Roberto Di Matteo won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012 but was dismissed in November the following season following a disastrous start to the club’s Champions League defence.
Another Premier League campaign is secure but will Shakespeare remain in the hot-seat?