Tales from the Top Fight by Chris Darwen

Never before has a 1-1 draw away at Crystal Palace been celebrated so fervently. After all, Spurs fans were worried they might end the season without any trophies and their point against Uncle Roy’s lot at Selhurst Park saw Jose Mourinho lift the ‘Post-lockdown trophy’ he was so keen to get his hands on.

This will, of course, go down as one of Jose’s finest achievements. If you look away from the fact that he deliberately had a bad start to lower expectations around the club just so he could come back and look like the hero, this is a Porto-esque time in Mourinho’s life. No money to spend, no real stars and a small team with very little expected of them, to take Tottenham Hotspur to the Europa League is a moment Spurs fans will remember forever.

There’s been something missing from Spurs in the last season or so, and that thing is clearly Thursday night football. Imagine if Pochettino hadn’t managed to turn around those awful Champions League group stage starts and taken them to the final? It could have been him celebrating on Sunday afternoon and not the new Mourinho.

You can imagine the pre-match chat in the Watford changing room. Hayden Mullins, thrown into the fire after the club sacked Nigel Pearson for daring to give them half-a-chance of staying up, will have suggested ‘keeping it tight’ and ‘don’t do anything daft early doors’ and ‘even if they do score early, just make sure you are still in the game after half-an-hour’. Sounds good in theory, Hayden. After Craig Dawson had given away a penalty in the opening minutes, Watford found themselves three down after 30 – and then decided to play, and play well.

The final score of 3-2 wasn’t enough – after five seasons and probably double the amount of managers, Watford will be in the Championship next season.

To stay up themselves, Bournemouth needed to take care of business at Goodison Park and hope that West Ham might fancy putting in a shift and beating Aston Villa. The issue with that is, if you are relying on West Ham to help you out then your future really isn’t looking that secure.

Bournemouth did their bit, in a way that makes you wonder why they couldn’t find just one performance like that in one of their post-lockdown no-shows. Even Dominic Solanke seemed to score, possibly inspired by the even rarer sight of Moise Kean finding the back of the net.

But, at the Athletics Stadium, West Ham weren’t that bothered. They were so not bothered, Moyseh hauled off his two best attackers in Antonio and Bowen at half time. Even then, Villa struggled to get the game done. It was only when Jack Grealish (obviously) scored with five minutes to go it looked like that was that. Villa were safe. Job indeed done.

Except West Ham woke up for 60 seconds and scored right from kick-off, leaving Villa with a somewhat nervy last few moments.

Credit to Villa though, they’ve managed to avoid the tag of ‘most expensive side ever to get relegated’ which will please Fulham ahead of their play-off matches.

Around about Christmas time I recall mentioning that the only way Leicester could miss out on Champions League football was if Brentan started believing the press around him and let the tactician devil on his shoulder take over his thinking. I’m going to put that one in my very empty ‘got that one right’ column.

Leicester have spectacularly fallen apart in 2020, allowing a not-very-spectacular Manchester United and Chelsea book their Champions League spots for next season.

Bruno Fernandes might have had a rare off-day, but all he really had to get right was rolling the ball past Kasper from the spot and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would achieve his aim of getting the club back into the top competition. He got it right.

There was approximately 120 seconds of drama at Stamford Bridge as Frank Lampard’s Chelsea helped Wolves not have to go through the rigmarole of Europa League qualifiers which probably start next week. Giroud scored yet again – and I suspect we will be saying the same again this time next season as he sees off any other young upstarts Lamps decides to bring in.

Oh so briefly, Norwich will have felt that they could be the only relegated side in history to do the double over a side managed by Pep Guardiola. The only problem was, VAR didn’t agree – and 60 seconds later City were in the lead and that was that. The 5-0 win was routine for City as they eased past 100 goals for the season. The only thing that was missing was a goal for the Premier League departing David Silva, but it’s not as if he didn’t have 15 chances.

Liverpool were kind enough to allow Newcastle a one-goal headstart at St James’ Park, as well as not picking their front three. They still won 3-1. Champions, innit.

Southampton’s Che Adams is like the dude who turned up late for the party and then didn’t want it to end as everyone is going home. His brace, supported by yet another Danny Ings goal, saw off Sheffield United. That’s three-in-four for Adams now, having taken an eternity to score his first.

You’d have had money on Burnley’s clash with Brighton being the last one to get a mention today. With zero significance, I’m not even sure what the end result was. Neither team will be too bothered – they both have Premier League football next season and Graham Potter has achieved the impossible in making Brighton interesting to watch without managing to take them down. ‘Well done, Graham’ must have flashed up on his phone 100 times as all those pundit-cynics who said Brighton were crazy to sack Chris Hughton choked on their humble pie.