A long season might just be catching up with Wolverhampton. As for Liverpool, the newly crowned Premier League champion looks as fresh as ever.
The race for Champions League qualification might have lost a contender on Wednesday after Wolves conceded a stoppage-time goal to lose 1-0 at Sheffield United.
It completed a chastening five-day span for Wolves, who also lost to Arsenal on Saturday to end their three-match winning run since the restart.
They stayed in sixth place and could be six points off the top five if Manchester United wins at Aston Villa on Thursday. Fifth place will earn a spot in next season’s Champions League if second-place Manchester City fails in its bid to overturn a two-year European ban.
Perhaps it’s no surprise Wolves’ players are starting to wane. After all, their season did begin nearly 12 months ago in the Europa League qualifiers, and manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s style is to rarely rotate his team because of the trust he has in his tight-knit squad.
Wolves are sure to be playing into August, too, because they are still involved in the Europa League. Should they win that competition, Espirito Santo’s team could yet get into the Champions League.
A hard-fought game at Bramall Lane was settled by a powerful header from Sheffield United center half John Egan in the third and final minute of stoppage time. Egan also scored United’s late equalizer against Burnley on Sunday.
Widely tipped for relegation at the start of the season, Sheffield United is only a point behind Wolves in a remarkable first year back in the Premier League and could even qualify for the Europa League.
With records to break and the Golden Boot scoring trophy still up for grabs, Liverpool’s league season is far from done despite having already clinched a first title in 30 years.
Mohamed Salah netted twice for the champions in a 3-1 win at Brighton and moved onto 19 goals for season, three behind the league’s leading scorer, Jamie Vardy. Salah won the Golden Boot two years ago and shared the trophy last season with teammate Sadio Mane and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Liverpool now has 92 points and needs nine more from its last four games to beat Man City’s record for one season of 100.
Jordan Henderson scored Liverpool’s other goal on the south coast, with Leandro Trossard replying for Brighton.
With a perfectly placed free kick and two more assists, David Silva rolled back the years with a masterful midfield display for Manchester City in a 5-0 win over Newcastle.
How the Spanish playmaker — nicknamed “El Mago” by the City faithful — is going to be missed.
The 34-year-old Silva will leave the club at the end of the season after a decade of service and this was a reminder of his enduring quality.
“Moving between lines, I have never seen someone like him,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
In four home games since the restart, City has scored 17 goals and is yet to concede.
Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling were the other scorers for City, while Newcastle defender Federico Fernández had an own-goal.
HAMMERS SLIP UP
With four games remaining, West Ham is still involved in the relegation battle.
A 1-0 loss at home to Burnley punctured some of West Ham’s optimism after picking up four points from its last two games and kept David Moyes’ team four points clear of 18th-place Aston Villa and 19th-place Bournemouth, who both have a game in hand.
Jay Rodriguez powered in a header off the underside of the crossbar in the 38th minute to boost Burnley’s hopes of qualifying for European competition next season. The team is ninth and two points behind Sheffield United in seventh place, which could secure a spot in the Europa League.
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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80