Results: Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Watford, Manchester City 3-1 Hull City, Middlesbrough 0-0 Burnley, Stoke City 1-2 Liverpool FC, West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Southampton, West Ham United 1-0 Swansea City, AFC Bournemouth 1-3 Chelsea, Sunderland 0-3 Manchester United, Everton 4-2 Leicester City, Crystal Palace 3-0 Arsenal
The 2016-2017 Premier League season had been dominated by Chelsea for the majority of the campaign. Antonio Conte’s side came into this round of games still seven points clear of London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, despite a recent slip-up at home to Crystal Palace.
The Blues knew that Tottenham would continue to crank up the pressure and for a while, Mauricio Pochettino’s side could close to within four points of the table-toppers as they kicked-off on 8th April earlier than Chelsea. They comfortably dismissed Watford 4-0 at White Hart Lane, despite missing the injured Harry Kane. Dele Alli scored the pick of the goals and Heung-Min Son continued to show his growing importance with two goals.
That was Spurs’ sixth successive victory but once again, Chelsea found a response. They dispatched AFC Bournemouth 3-1 at The Vitality Stadium in the teatime kick-off to go seven points clear again with just seven games left to play. Marcos Alonso’s sublime free-kick put the game beyond the home side.
Despite having played more games than both Manchester clubs, Liverpool FC had the points on the board and consolidated third spot with a hard-fought 2-1 success away at Stoke City. Jon Walters had put the home side into the lead with his customary goal against Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp needed two superb saves from Simon Mignolet to keep his side in the contest. Then, quick-fire strikes from Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino turned the game completely around. Since losing to Leicester in late February, Liverpool were now unbeaten in six games, winning four of these matches.
Both Manchester clubs recorded expected victories. Manchester City beat Hull City 3-1, who were relying solely on their home form to try and keep them in the Premier League. A day later, Manchester United cruised past a sorry Sunderland side 3-0 at The Stadium of Light. We didn’t know it at the time but this would turn out to be Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s final-ever Premier League goal. The Swede picked up a serious knee injury in a UEFA Europa tie against Anderlecht less than two weeks later and wouldn’t score again at this level before moving to the LA Galaxy in April 2018.
Sunderland were looking doomed but Crystal Palace were going in the right direction. Sam Allardyce’s side had now won four of their last five games and were six points clear of the bottom three after a fabulous and well-deserved 3-0 victory over a lifeless Arsenal. The Gunners put in one of their most insipid displays of recent times, leading to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher calling them “cowards.” Their top-four chances were hanging by a thread.
Elsewhere, Craig Shakespeare tasted defeat for the first time as Leicester City interim boss. The reigning champions lost 4-2 in an exciting clash at Everton, who had drawn level on points with Arsenal, despite having played two games more.
Swansea’s 1-0 defeat to West Ham United at The London Stadium saw them remain in the bottom three and without a win in five matches. That win ended a four-game losing run that the Hammers had endured and effectively guaranteed Premier League football in their new home for another season. It was also looking bleak for Middlesbrough who drew 0-0 with Burnley and were still without a win for caretaker boss Steve Agnew, who had succeeded Aitor Karanka a month earlier. Boro were now six points adrift of safety and had scored just 22 goals in 31 matches.
What else happened in April 2017?
- Prime Minister Theresa May catches everyone by surprise and calls a snap general election for Thursday 8th June.
- A hijacked lorry is deliberately driven into crowds in Stockholm. Five people are killed, including one British national.
- In boxing, Anthony Joshua beats Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium to become WBA World Heavyweight Champion.
- Former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough centre-back Ugo Ehiogu suffers a cardiac arrest at Tottenham Hotspur’s training ground. He dies a day later, aged just 44.
- According to the National Grid, Britain goes a full day without using coal power (21st April) to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution.
- TV actor and author Tim Piggott-Smith, who won a BAFTA for Best Actor in 1985, dies aged 70 in Northamptonshire from natural causes.
- John Middleton makes his final appearance on the ITV soap opera Emmerdale after 21 years. His character Ashley Thomas dies after being diagnosed with incurable pneumonia.