So there we have it. The Premier League has come to a close in literally the most anticlimactic way possible. By losing to rock-bottom West Brom at Old Trafford, Manchester United have handed the title to fierce rivals Manchester City with an abject, pathetic whimper.
And for that, we say:
Big Respect to Manchester United
I know this is meant to be City’s weekend, but United have played the end of the season to absolute perfection. Not only did Jose Mourinho’s side beat their nemeses at the Etihad last weekend – denying City the chance to win the title against them and then go on about it for all eternity – they also contrived to lose 1-0 at home to a side with 21 points from 33 games, hence gifting City the title on a sleepy Sunday evening when nobody was really paying attention. It cannot be overstated how rubbish West Brom have been this term: a league-lowest 27 in the "goals for" column, 0.7 points per game, one taxi stolen on holiday in Barcelona and mere weeks to their still-inevitable relegation.
United had to work hard to lose to the Baggies, just as they have worked their socks off to mess up City’s grand finale in the most exasperating way.
Obviously, this has Mourinho’s fingerprints all over it. In the unnatural death of City’s perfect end-of-season narrative, Mourinho is the prime and only suspect having been caught cackling manically and head-to-toe in blood and intestines. He may have called United "masters in complication" after 90 minutes of overplaying it against West Brom, but the explanation behind the result was very simple. Sneaking even the slightest sense of disappointment into City’s title celebrations is 100 percent more exquisite than actually winning the title for Mourinho – no matter how much he says otherwise – and that commitment to spiting their rivals is something for which he and United deserve huge respect.
Matt Ritchie, Prince of Pettiness
Speaking of petty behaviour, Newcastle United winger Matt Ritchie deserves a mention. Not only did he score the winner in Newcastle's 2-1 victory over Arsenal – a result which only further confirms how embarrassing the Gunners have been in the Premier League this season – he also pied off Arsenal striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang in spectacular fashion at the final whistle.
Considering Ritchie had secured an impressive upset for Newcastle – and not even against a club with which they share any particular bad blood – this was a fantastically unnecessary put-down. Truly, we should all aspire to Matt Ritchie’s level of pettiness.
Bring on Benitezball
In light of Arsenal's latest away defeat at St James' Park, there has been one flaming hot take setting football Twitter ablaze. According to many otherwise serious pundits and columnists, Newcastle coach Rafa Benitez would – at least in the short-term – make a good replacement for Arsene Wenger. Certainly, Wenger’s 22-year reign is sputtering out dramatically at this point; Arsenal are on course for their worst ever finish under their longest-serving manager, 13 points off the top four, sixth in the table and the only club in the top five divisions in England without a single away point in 2018.
Considering Arsenal are only two points ahead of Burnley with five games to play, it feels like they may as well try anything at this stage. Having finished seventh in his final season with Liverpool, been hugely unpopular at Chelsea and struggled badly at Inter Milan and Real Madrid, it seems pretty obvious that Benitez is not the answer to Arsenal’s problems and could indeed be a disastrous appointment. Still, why not embrace the potential chaos and give Benitezball a chance in north London? It literally could not be worse than their current situation, when it comes to away form at least.
"I Don't Do Relegation"
Back in December, under mounting pressure at Stoke, manager Mark Hughes said: "I don’t do relegation." It is technically true that Hughes has never been relegated from the Premier League, though QPR fans might have something to say about that claim considering he was sacked a third of the way through the 2012/13 season – after blowing millions on average players – at the end of which they finished a lowly 20th.
Come the end of this campaign, his claim to being relegation-free might look even more outlandish. Having been sacked by Stoke in January with the club in the drop zone – a position from which they have not recovered – Hughes is now five points off safety with new employers Southampton after this weekend’s 3-2 defeat to Chelsea. So he could go from "not doing relegation" to practically doing it twice in one season.