Man City 5-0 Swansea City: Champions keep rolling
Manchester City have wrapped up the Premier League title with a month to spare. It's the first thing to be decided this season, but there's still lots to play for in the remaining weeks. Here, we take a look at the outstanding issues.
*Denotes has played one game more
Who qualifies: Positions 1-4 (group stage)Who's in already: Manchester CityWho's still in contention: Manchester United (74), Liverpool* (71), Tottenham Hotspur (68), Chelsea (63)
A change to the Champions League access rules next season means the top four teams in the Premier League will go straight into the group stage. No longer does the fourth-placed team have to negotiate a qualifying playoff.
United and Liverpool have a huge advantage over Chelsea, who can get a maximum of 75 points from their remaining four games.
But after Tottenham and Liverpool dropped points over the past week, coupled with Chelsea's win at Burnley, Antonio Conte's men can't be ruled out. Maybe, just maybe, the Blues have a sniff of overtaking one of their rivals. Chelsea have to face Liverpool, too, so the Reds better not get too complacent in the league with their Champions League semifinal against Roma.
United need just two points from their remaining games to be assured of Champions League football after their win at Bournemouth.
Arsenal (57) are still mathematically in contention, but it's no more than that. However, the Gunners could slip in through the backdoor if they win the Europa League, although they must get past favourites Atletico Madrid in the semifinals first. If Arsenal do win the Europa League, then England would have five teams in the Champions League and two in the Europa, just as with this season after Manchester United's success last year.
If Arsenal and Liverpool win the European titles, and finish 5th and 6th, then fourth in the Premier League would only qualify for the Europa League as an association can have a maxiumum of five teams in the Champions League (1-3 plus European title holders).
Who qualifies: 5th and 6th place, group stage; 7th place, second qualifying roundWho's still in contention: Chelsea (63), Arsenal (57), Burnley* (53), Leicester (44)
With Man City winning the Carabao Cup and the winners of the FA Cup (Chelsea or Manchester United) guaranteed to finish top six, it means that fifth and sixth place will enter in the group stage and seventh in the second qualifying round.
Chelsea are odds-on to take an automatic place in the group stage (if they do not catch the top four) by finishing fifth, and with Burnley failing to win either of their last two games it looks certain they will now finish seventh.
Arsenal have four-point lead, a game in hand and a big goal difference advantage too, but they are the only club not to pick up a single point away from home in 2018. The two teams meet at the Emirates on the penultimate weekend.
Remaining games:Arsenal: Man United, Burnley, Leicester, HuddersfieldBurnley: Brighton, Arsenal, Bournemouth
No one will want to be thrown in at the qualifying stage, however, as a change in rules for next season means a Premier League team will start out a round earlier. And that means a European campaign beginning on July 26 -- 11 days after the World Cup final. That seems to be, though, where Burnley will start only their second-ever European campaign. They reached the quarterfinals of the European Cup in 1960-61 (although did also compete in the 1966-67 Fairs Cup).
Leicester are the only team with any kind of outside chance of snatching seventh with an amazing run of form, but their failure to beat Southampton makes it very unlikely -- although they do have a game in hand (against Arsenal).
Who goes down: Positions 18-20Who's still in contention: West Brom* (25), Stoke* (29), Southampton (29), Swansea (33), Huddersfield (35), West Ham (35), Crystal Palace* (35), Brighton (36)Just about safe: Watford* (38), Bournemouth* (38)
West Brom continue to cling on but need a miracle, eight points behind fourth-bottom Swansea with only nine to play for. And it's starting to look like two from three now to join them in the Championship.
Stoke's failure to hold on to their 1-0 lead at West Ham on Monday and Burnley on Sunday, drawing both games 1-1, means they are now four points adrift with three games left and by far the worst goal difference in the division, plus they have not won since Paul Lambert's first game in charge on Jan. 20. The Potters go to Liverpool in their next game, but will cling to the fact they finish up against relegation rivals Crystal Palace and Swansea.
Southampton are only marginally better off after failing to make their most of their game in hand by drawing 0-0 with Leicester on Thursday, so are now four points adrift with only four games to go. Upcoming fixtures against Bournemouth, Everton and Swansea should be viewed as winnable, but they won't want to be needing points on the final day when they host champions Manchester City.
The five teams directly outside the drop zone will probably feel 38 points will see them safe. Swansea have Chelsea up next before facing Bournemouth. But they have two absolutely titanic home games to finish against the teams direct below them: Southampton (home) and Stoke (away). Their fate is very much in their own hands against the teams in 18th and 19th -- be that for a positive outcome or negative.
Palace have a very favourable run-in, with Watford, Leicester, Stoke and West Brom to play.
The same cannot be said of the remaining three teams, who have very difficult run-ins -- but with 35/36 points they might already be safe.Stoke: Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Swansea.Southampton: Bournemouth, Everton, Swansea, Man City.Swansea: Chelsea, Bournemouth, Southampton, Stoke.Huddersfield: Everton, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal.West Ham: Man City, Leicester, Man United, Everton.Crystal Palace: Watford, Leicester, Stoke, West Brom.Brighton: Burnley, Man United, Man City, Liverpool
Who goes up: Position 1-2, plus one of 3-6 via playoffsWho's already up: Wolverhampton Wanderers (98)Who's battling for second: Cardiff (86), Fulham (85), Aston Villa (82)Who else can make the playoffs: Middlesbrough (72), Millwall (69), Derby (68), Brentford (68), Preston (67), Bristol City (66), Sheffield United (66)
Wolves have won promotion back to the Premier League at a canter, while Cardiff are in pole position for second having a one-point advantage over Fulham with a game in hand. Villa only have an outside chance of automatic promotion.
Middlesbrough look set to take one of the playoff places, and it's then an almighty scramble for the one remaining playoff place, with just three points separating six teams -- though Derby do have a game in hand, and that's at home to Cardiff.
Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 18 years. You can follow him on Twitter @dalejohnsonESPN.
Manchester City celebrated their title success in style with a resounding 5-0 win over Swansea at the Etihad Stadium.
David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus were all on target as City outclassed the Swans in their first match since being crowned Premier League champions.
It was a rampant display by Pep Guardiola's side, who showed the pursuit of Premier League records for most wins, goals and points could well sustain them in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Their tallies now stand at 29, 98 and 90 respectively. The records, all held by Chelsea, stand at 30, 103 and 95.
A late flurry of goals saw Arsenal secure a 4-1 win over West Ham in their first game since Arsene Wenger revealed he is stepping down as boss.
It took the Gunners 51 minutes to open the scoring on a day of high emotion at the Emirates as Nacho Monreal fired in his sixth goal of the season in all competitions.
Marko Arnautovic drew the Hammers level with a fine strike in the 64th minute but after a defensive error saw Aaron Ramsey put Arsenal back in front, a late Alexandre Lacazette brace made sure of the points.
Stoke's grip on their Premier League status loosened significantly as they could only take a point from a self-proclaimed must-win clash with Burnley at the bet 365 Stadium.
Potters boss Paul Lambert had targeted three wins from their last four games to ensure their 10-year stay in the top flight continued but, with a trip to Liverpool to come next weekend followed by matches against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace and Swansea, that now appears hugely unlikely.
There was again no shortage of effort from the hosts, who have not won since Lambert's first game in January, and they deserved the lead given to them by Badou Ndiaye's first goal for the club in the 11th minute.
But Ashley Barnes scored a scrappy equaliser 17 minutes after half-time and Stoke had to settle for a 1-1 draw that leaves them four points adrift of safety.
MANCHESTER, England -- Three quick thoughts from Man City's 5-0 rout of Swansea City at the Etihad.
1. Man City don't let up vs. the Swans
Manchester City may have the Premier League crown in the bag with five matches remaining but there was no sign of any let-up as they tore into Swansea City with another stylish victory. Manager Pep Guardiola was on the edge of his technical area from the opening minutes, gesticulating towards his players where to move and how to move the ball quicker against a defensive Swansea City side desperately hoping to snatch a point.
There are records to be broken -- most notably those for most points, most wins and most goals -- and the City boss wants to secure them all. It's an opportunity to put an early marker down for next season and Guardiola says setting records will keep the momentum going after winning the title so early. In similar situations at previous clubs Barcelona and Bayern Munich, seasons petered out, particularly with no Champions League to keep minds focused.
After ripping Swansea apart 5-0, they now have 90 points (five off the record with four games left), 29 wins (needing just one more to equal the record) and 98 goals (five off the record). Not that the club weren't ready to enjoy securing their third Premier League title in six years. A banner declaring "Welcome to the home of the Premier League Champions" was unveiled before kick-off and Swansea generously offered a guard of honour as the players entered the pitch.
It was party time in the stands and once again, City soon delivered the champagne football. They raced into a two-goal lead inside 16 minutes with two more examples of delicious, free-flowing play. Kevin De Bruyne's delightful curving pass picked out Raheem Sterling's clever run and his pull back was ruthlessly dispatched by David Silva. The second came when Fabian Delph exchanged a neat one-two with Silva before firing in a low cross that was confidently finished by Sterling for his 23rd goal of a remarkable season.
De Bruyne smashed in a stunning 25-yard strike nine minutes into the second half -- his fifth outside the box this season, more than any other player in the league. Swansea's day got worse when Federico Fernandez injured himself when he clumsily bringing down Sterling in the box. Gabriel Jesus's spot-kick was touched onto the post by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski but Bernardo Silva was quickest to react to tap in the rebound.
There was more good news before the final whistle when France international fullback Benjamin Mendy made his first appearance in 211 days after recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury. There was also time for another goal with Yaya Toure rolling back the years with a sumptuous pass to pick out Jesus for a header, moments before a good-natured pitch invasion at full time.
2. David Silva shines amid sparking team performance
Silva's opening goal saw him become the sixth City player into double figures for the season after Sergio Aguero (30), Sterling (23), Jesus (15), Sane (13) and De Bruyne (12). The Spain midfielder is often seen as possibly the best player of the modern City era, which began when Sheikh Mansour took over the club. But since the arrival of Guardiola two years ago, his quality has risen to yet another level.
Silva has now won three Premier League titles since he joined the club but this is the one that will live him longest in the memory -- and not just for the club's remarkable form.
"My third league but this one is the most special. Thanks to everyone for supporting me in this tough year!" he tweeted after the title was confirmed, along with a picture cuddling his baby boy. Mateo was born premature and Silva shuttled back and forward to Spain to be with his family as well as contributing to a remarkable season that saw him earn a PFA Player of the Year award nomination.
He was at his exquisite best again against Swansea. City's first showed Silva's improvement close to goal with a clever finish. His touch was perfect for the one-two that led to the second goal, too, and he delivered an inch-perfect pass that led to Sterling being brought down for the fourth.
At 32, this summer's World Cup could be Silva's final tournament with Spain, but his national team have a brilliant player in the form of his life.
3. Swansea stuffed
Swansea aren't out of the relegation mix just yet but they should have had the bonus of being able to relax after results went their way earlier in the day.
The first team arrived just as the second half of the two games involving Stoke City and West Ham kicked off. Rather than becoming embroiled in the drama of what was happening elsewhere, Swans boss Carlos Carvelhal stationed himself in the centre circle until close to half-time, chatting confidently with his coaching staff.
By full-time, Stoke had picked up a point in a game they will have considered a must-win. The Swans remained four points clear of the danger zone, though this day wouldn't get much better. With a final three matches away to Bournemouth and at home with Southampton and Stoke, the game at the Etihad Stadium was something of a freebie.
But Carvalhal's optimistic 3-5-2 formation was quickly turned into a 5-4-1 as the Swans tried in vain to cope with the wave of attacks that constantly came their way. They went close with one header from Alfie Mawson that went narrowly over the bar but realistically, their Premier League fate will be sealed in the three games that follow rather than by Sunday's heavy defeat.
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.