Winners and Losers from Premier League Matchweek 36May 17, 2021
Two matches remain for each Premier League club this season, and the UEFA Champions League places are yet to be locked in. That's the primary focus of the league at the minute and that was prevalent in Matchweek 36.
It even trickled over into another tournament as the FA Cup final of all things was essentially a warm-up for Tuesday's massive Chelsea-Leicester league fixture. It will be crucial in deciding next season's UCL participants from the Old Blighty.
We'll kick things off with one of the most pleasing to watch in one of the painfully rare dramatic moments that went down this weekend: a goalkeeper goal.
Winner: Alisson, Liverpool
You've seen it a hundred times already, but that just doesn't seem like enough. Not only did a goalie score, but the goal itself was absolutely massive in his team's hopes as the season comes to a close.
With seconds left in Liverpool's 1-1 match against West Bromwich, a goal would be a major boost for the Reds in their hopes of salvaging a mostly toothless title-defending campaign. Up trots Alisson from the away goal. Somehow left unmarked, the shot-stopper dispatched a wonderful header to give Jurgen Klopp's men the 2-1 win and two additional points.
It was truly touching to see the Brazilian dedicate the goal to his father, who recently died. The emotion was there for everyone to see after the final whistle.
Just savor the moment, not just Liverpool supporters, but supporters of football as well. What more could you ask for from the conclusion of a hugely important match? I suppose we're all winners on this one.
Loser: West Ham United
Impacted directly by Alisson's heroics was West Ham United. Enjoying a fine season by the Hammers' typically modest standards, the club has grown under David Moyes and has become a true contender for the European places for the majority of the year.
Unfortunately for the Irons among you, that push for the Champions League appears to have reached its conclusion. A frustrating 1-1 draw with Brighton on Saturday likely ends West Ham's chase, particularly with the four clubs above it still battling for just two places.
Qualification for the Europa League is still on the table (as well as the new UEFA Europa Conference League), however, and should provide an excellent fallback for the overachieving Hammers. The situation is slightly more complicated given the two EPL clubs participating in the Champions League final, but regardless, vast improvements have been made over a 16th-place finish in 2019/20. The likes of Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal have been great additions to the club as well as the energy-injecting midseason loan signing of goal machine Jesse Lingard.
In a weird season that saw some of the biggest clubs not perform in the way they would normally, it's good to see another tier of Premier Leaguers push to fill their shoes, even if they come up short.
Winner: Leicester City
Not directly EPL-focused here, but the mighty Foxes of Leicester City achieved something last weekend that they hadn't in the previous 137 years that the club had existed: a victory in the FA Cup final.
Previously holding the dubious record for most final appearances without a victory (they were 0-of-4 prior to Saturday), Leicester broke that duck and outlasted Chelsea in a mostly-drab-until-it-wasn't 1-0 match.
The majority of the contest was relatively dreary and slow, that is, of course, until Youri Tielemans decided to get the hammer out and rip an absolute worldie of an FA Cup final goal from near 30 yards out. Pundits and fans alike questioned a potential handball on Ayoze Perez in the lead-up to the wonderstrike but was cast aside. Thomas Tuchel's Blues were not so lucky later in the match as an equalizer from Leicester academy product Ben Chilwell was called back by VAR for offside. Madness.
Leicester has been a club with a story over the last decade or so. Spending a season in League One before promotion back to the Championship and eventually to the Premier League shortly thereafter, their improbable title-winning season of 2015/16 has clearly not been a flash in the pan. Building on that unbelievable success, the club has recruited well and sold even better, remained extremely competitive and continues to challenge the Big Six hierarchy in England's top flight.
There are just too many stories to love about this club. So take your pick.
Loser: Sean Dyche, Burnley
Would you believe that Sean Dyche is by far the longest-serving manager in the Premier League? To the tune of three more years than Klopp, Dyche has been bopping around Turf Moor since 2012.
Since the dizzying heights of finishing seventh in 2017/18, the club has mostly been in the business of staying in the Prem as a yearly marker of success. What followed the year in seventh was placing 15th, 10th and likely another stop in 15th. And all the while, Dyche remains one of the shining beacons of English managerial prowess at the country's highest level.
Maybe this is more of an indictment on English management overall than something pointed toward Dyche, but when the manager of Burnley is considered among the country's best, you're probably doing something wrong, especially since England birthed the sport (the official rules for it, anyway).
To put this into further context, no English-born manager has ever won the Premier League. Not one. Leeds United' Howard Wilkinson was the last to win the first division and that came the year prior to the Prem's forming in 1992/93. Sheesh.
Maybe Dyche won't ever get a chance at a bigger club or get Burnley beyond the thoroughly impressive seventh-place finish of a few seasons ago...and maybe that's OK. Despite the tenured mediocrity, Dyche is a fantastic human and has provided some of the best interactions you could ask for from someone leading a club like his. Please enjoy the following as proof.
Winner: Ferran Torres, Manchester City
A bigger piece of news around Manchester lately, off the pitch anyway, has been that City legend Sergio Aguero will leave the club at the end of the season after a decade of incredible service. He's been a fantastic servant of the club, but it's the right time to say goodbye.
This leaves a gap up front for Pep Guardiola, who has played the majority of this title-winning campaign without a true No. 9 forward in his lineup and ideally would prefer to have the option.
Friday's largely irrelevant though extremely entertaining 4-3 match with Newcastle may have given Pep a new solution to the lack of a forward to fill Aguero's boots. One Ferran Torres. Last summer's $25 million signing has flown under the radar for most of the season, making a combined 22 appearances for the attack-minded Citizens. Despite being more of a winger, he provides Guardiola with that extra piece to work with as he crafts his attacking setups for next season.
The Newcastle match was surely his coming-out party. An emphatic hat trick highlighted by one of the most audacious and delicious flicked goals you'll ever see was a clear signal to his manager that next season he wants in on the action on a regular basis.
Some have even gone as far to make some pretty gaudy comparisons for the Spanish youngster. Look for more exciting play from him come next season, which, thankfully, is only a few short months away!
Shane Evans manages B/R Football content within the Bleacher Report app. For more, follow him on Twitter at @shanevans.