Soccer Saturday panel reflect on final day wins for Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea
The Soccer Special panel had plenty to talk about on the final day of the Premier League season as Arsenal beat Spurs into the Champions League and Sir Alex Ferguson ended his career with a 10-goal thriller...
Last Updated: 13/06/13 12:01pm
Arsenal were nowhere near their best and there were not too many signs of the fluid, flowing football you associate with Arsene Wenger's teams. It was definitely a grind out there for them and they had to rely on a goal from a centre-back from a set piece. Arsenal were fairly solid defensively and Newcastle didn't really threaten that much in terms of getting quality balls in the box. I can only remember one save that Wojciech Szczesny had to make in the whole game, one shot on target from about 35 yards from Cabaye that was fairly comfortable for him.
There was one stand-out performer and that was Laurent Koscielny. He was head and shoulders above every other player on the field today. He was very solid; in the first-half when the balls were coming in the box he was the one who was heading them away and he was big enough and brave enough to go and score the goal at the other end. There were other times when he broke up attacks a fair way from the Arsenal goal and was looking to push forward and he was a stand-out performer.
Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal: Read our report here
Phil Thompson on a good campaign for Andre Villas-Boas, despite their final-day disappointment
There was talk early on that the players weren't getting on with Andre Villas-Boas' methods and he had a struggle early on getting results, but things started coming out of the club that the players were respecting his methods and the results changed. The fans warmed to him and I think he's done very well. He'll be extremely disappointed not to get in the Champions League because of the Bale factor but I think he's done the best that he can with this group of players.
For long periods Gareth Bale was quiet in this game, but he got the ball on the corner of the box about 25 yards out and the defender let him get across him and onto his left foot. As he got a bit of room he hit it with venom and bend as well and it was a fantastic strike in the 90th minute, but it didn't mean too much because of Arsenal. There was misinformation going around White Hart Lane today. They were jumping up and down with excitement and I was wondering what was going on and if I'd missed something. Maybe the players thought one goal would be enough, so it was a double whammy on the day.
Tottenham 1-0 Sunderland: Read our report here
Charlie Nicholas on the crazy, but respectful, end to Sir Alex Ferguson's career
I ran out of paper! There was a really slow first five minutes and then it exploded. West Brom looked as though they'd got their holidays in their head and Man United were slow on a nice hot day and all of a sudden the game burst into life and it was a fantastic game of football. Manchester United were 3-0 up after half an hour and at half-time I thought there was no way back, but Lukaku changed the game. He came on and made it 3-2 and then before you knew it Giggs was on to solve the problem and all of a sudden it was 5-2 to Man United. You were sitting there thinking Fergie had done it again with arms folded, looking at his watch. Then it was 5-3, then 5-4 and he put Scholes on who got a yellow card for bad timing. And then he put Ferdinand on and Lukaku ended up getting a hat-trick. It was a stunning game of football, but not one that Sir Alex would have enjoyed with the way his team defended.
He's gone out in style as a champion again. He's the best manager ever and he got a great response from West Brom with them all showing respect. They also gave great respect to Paul Scholes when he came on and they were all clapping him. Everything that's good about football happened here today.
West Brom 5-5 Man Utd: Read our report here
Paul Merson on promising signs for Chelsea ahead of next season
I thought Fernando Torres was good today and he was outstanding in the Europa League Final, but the season's finished now and that's the problem. In the last two games he's done very well. Lukaku will come back but he's very young still and is rough around the edges. One minute he's very hot and the next he's freezing cold and sometimes he does look out of his depth, but that's because he's young. I couldn't see them letting him go out on loan again, I don't care who the manager is. But an on-song Torres has still got a future at Chelsea. Juan Mata, who for me has been one of the stars of the season not just for Chelsea but in the Premier League, was outstanding again today.
It was good to see there was a few banners there for Rafa to say good luck and 'we forgive you'. I think that was deserved. They beat a very good Everton team, but I think if they can bring three or four players in next season - and one of those players will be Lukaku who will be like a new signing when he comes back [from his loan deal at West Brom] - then I think they will be big players in the Premier League next season.
Chelsea 2-1 Everton: Read our report here
Phil Thompson on the retiring Jamie Carragher
He's always been very close to the fans, coming from the Bootle area and he knows what it's like to follow the team as a kid. He knows the passion of the supporters on Merseyside and he's always had that bond with the fans; it's always been special. He had difficult early years as a player and had criticism on letters pages and on phone-ins on the radio. He put all that behind him to be an absolute stalwart for Liverpool Football Club; a tremendous player both on and off the field. He will miss it and there will be a massive gap at Liverpool Football Club.
The best compliment you can give to Carra is that how he's played the game for all these years could have played in any era going back to the sixties. He was fully committed, a good footballer and he was always wanting to win and do the right things professionally on and off the football field. He will go down as a true legend and one of the best centre-backs. He has played so many years, done what he's done and won every trophy except the Premier League title. It's not bad. And besides being a great player, he is a truly great fella.
Liverpool 1-0 QPR: Read our report here