Nigel Pearson walked off the field at the Stadium of Light wearing the look of a man who had just dodged a runaway bus. Dead in the water at Christmas, erroneously reported as sacked in February, Pearson’s Foxes went on an incredible late season run, picking up 19 points in their final eight games to ensure survival. Pearson’s not a widely-liked man --he has been involved in several spats with fans and the media, and took a suspension in December for his verbals -- but let's give credit where credit is due: Leicester were playing some of the best football, based on results, in Europe over the last two months. Does this mean the Foxes should be considered contenders next season? Of course not -- but it does mean they have more quality and heart than people thought.
Getty ImagesMichael Regan
Sadio Mane, hat-trick hero
The Premier League saw a new record set Saturday, with Southampton’s Senegalese whiz kid whipping in a hat trick in just two minutes and 56 seconds against a hapless Aston Villa side. In the end, Villa were on the wrong end of a 6-1 scoreline, and Southampton sent their home fans off with an emphatic win. Mane, who is tipped to leave the club for richer pastures this off-season, certainly made a big statement if he is on the block, showing off his strength and poise under pressure. And the Saints? They continued their push for a Europa League slot -- should they actually want one.
Getty ImagesBryn Lennon
Goodbye to De Gea and Falcao?
Sunday’s match, an occasionally drab 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Arsenal, had a bit of the feel of the testimonial about it. Arsenal simply looked disinterested during much of the first half, knowing that the game in hand they hold allows them to control their own destiny; United looked a team that is ready to hit the beach. But two men, Radamel Falcao and David De Gea, made their exits today as well, and if body language means anything at all, the suggestion was neither man will appear at Old Trafford again. De Gea is heavily linked with Real Madrid; Falcao has not lived up to his billing. Don't expect to see either man in a red shirt next season.
John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Im
Newcastle, slipping towards the abyss
John Carver seems to presiding over one of the greatest collapses seen in football, and while Hull are likely to save the Toon’s bacon by dint of a game against Manchester United, there is no mistaking that what is going on on Tyneside is a disaster. Alan Pardew, chased out of the club by their own fans, appears to have been doing far more than we ever knew to hold this gaggle together; Carver, by contrast, has done little else but lose. If Newcastle do go down Sunday, it’s hard not to say its deserved for a club that has consistently made poor decisions at the expense of some very long-suffering fans.
Action Images via ReutersJohn Sibley
Steven Gerrard’s miserable farewell
The sunshine of Los Angeles cannot come soon enough for this Premier League great in twilight. Saturday’s game, which felt more like a retirement party than a football match, quickly veered off script. True, Crystal Palace have enjoyed putting the boot in on Liverpool these past two seasons, and they fully deserved their swashbuckling 3-1 win. But the result also put into sharp relief just how far Gerrard had faded at Anfield. The Gerrard of old, Captain Fantastic and all that, surely would not have let his side concede so meekly.