The relegation battle in England is quickly becoming the most absorbing subplot in the Premier League right now, and it's around that issue where most of my Monday thoughts revolve.
Here's a quick wrap of what's happening in the basement battle as well as a shout some much-deserved praise for Atalanta.
🦁 West Ham, Watford, Bournemouth & Villa all win
I'm no statistics expert but it's pretty unlikely that the clubs placed 16th, 17th, 18th & 19th in the Premier League after 35 rounds of matches have ever all won on the same weekend. Until now, that is. On Saturday West Ham swatted already-relegated Norwich aside with a four-goal salvo from Michail Antonio, and Watford club legend and skipper Troy Deeney hit a priceless duo of penalties to give the Hornets three points against Newcastle.
In almost unbelievable fashion, both Aston Villa and Bournemouth responded with wins a day later. The Villains had Egyptian winger Trezeguet to thank for a much-needed 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, but the real drama unfolded at the Vitality Stadium a little later. Leicester found themselves cruising at halftime, leading 1-0 against Bournemouth and they were made to pay for not putting the game to bed before the second half had started. A poor clearance from Kasper Schmeichel fell to a Bournemouth player, I can't remember who it was right now, Wilfried Ndidi fouled him and Junior Stanislas slotted home the resulting penalty. Less than a minute later, Schmeichel was picking the ball out of his own net again after Dominic Solanke's first Premier League goal since May 13th 2018. Leicester defender Çağlar Söyüncü was shown a straight red card immediately after the goal was awarded for kicking out at Callum Wilson inside his own goalmouth. 67 minutes on the clock and Bournemouth had turned the game on its head. The Foxes never recovered, conceding twice more through a Johnny Evans own goal and Dominic Solanke's second, and Leicester's top-four hopes are now no longer in their own hands. As far as Bournemouth is concerned, they're still three points adrift of safety, but this win could hardly have come at a better time. They travel to Man City next. Quite who joins Norwich in the Championship next season is even less clear now with Hammers, Hornets, Cherries & Villians fans likely to be chewing into their nails until the final whistle sounds on matchday 38.
🔥 Atalanta is here to stay
The litlte team from Bergamo in Italy has won many admirers around the globe this season for their all-out attacing football, fluidity and swagger. With 86 goals in Serie A, they've now scored 16 more times than any other team, but a 2-2 draw at champions Juventus on Saturday means that a title challenge is surely beyond them now. Through the brilliant diminuitive playmaker and skipper Alejandro "Papu" Gómez, they dominated the opening half and created all sorts of problems for household name defenders Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci. Their defensive frailties let them down again, though, and Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to make Atalanta pay dearly from the penalty spot and equailze on two occasions. They took Juve all the way to the wire, and this will definitely not be the last that you hear from Atalanta though, as they've got a Champions league quarterfinal date with Paris Saint-Germain on August 12th.
By the time you're done reading this, Man United vs Souhampton at Old Trafford won't be too far off.
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