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Three things learnt as Chelsea close glorious season on a high against Sunderland


Three things learnt as Chelsea close glorious season on a high against Sunderland

Chelsea celebrated their coronation as Premier League champions with a 5-1 thumping of Sunderland, as the club said goodbye to one of its greatest ever players.

Goals from Willian, Eden Hazard, Pedro and an injury-time brace by Michy Batshuayi helped the Blues recover from the shock of conceding in the third minute, as they finished the season with 93 points, seven clear of nearest challengers Tottenham Hotspur.

But in many ways the day was only about one man; John Terry, who made his 717th and final appearance for the club he has captained with such distinction. In tribute to his shirt number, Terry was substituted in the 26th minute to a standing ovation from the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Here are three things we learned from an emotional afternoon in west London…

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Terry receives his fairytale farewell

Yes, it was engineered, but Terry’s farewell was fitting for a man who is revered as a hero at Chelsea. Although he polarises opinion because of some high-profile off-field antics, there is no denying that the 36-year-old has been a magnificent servant to the club since making his debut back in 1998.

Some pundits have taken issue with the fact that Sunderland agreed to kick the ball out of play in the 26th minute to enable the substitution to take place, but with nothing at stake for either side it was perhaps no surprise.

Terry was clearly emotional as he walked off the pitch for the final time, to the sound of the supporters repeatedly chanting his name, and there were tears during his post-match speech. He will be remembered as an all-time great and has chosen the right time to bow out.

Terry has been only a bit-part player under Antonio Conte and will seek a new challenge elsewhere, unless he decides to hang up his boots for good. After this send-off, nobody could blame him if he opts for the latter.


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Batshuayi shows there can be life after Costa

The Belgian has cut a frustrated figure since joining from Marseille last summer for a fee in the region of £32 million. He would have had high hopes of being a major player for the Blues but was restricted to just 27 appearances in all competitions – the vast majority of those coming as a substitute. Nonetheless, with five goals in his last three matches, Batshuayi gave supporters a glimpse of his ability and showed why the club were willing to fork out such a huge amount of money to secure his services.

He netted the title-clinching goal at West Bromwich Albion earlier this month and was on hand to bag a quick-fire double against Sunderland, which underlined his natural ability as a finisher. With speculation of Diego Costa’s future refusing to go away, Batshuayi may be required for a key role next season, particularly with Chelsea competing on four fronts thanks to their qualification for the Champions League. He looks up to the task.

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Sunderland can’t dodge the bullet this time

David Moyes’ beleaguered side finished the season rock bottom with 24 points, no fewer than 16 adrift of safety.

Javier Manquillo’s early goal was the only good thing the club’s loyal supporters had to cheer on what was another miserable day at the office. They have flirted with relegation for the past few seasons but there was no escaping the drop this time, which seemed inevitable from very early on in the campaign.

Moyes did little justify faith from the board, and it comes as little surprise to see him resign from his position as Sunderland boss. But for the efforts of Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford, the talented young goalkeeper, the Black Cats may well have finished with the lowest points total for any Premier League club.

Neither Defoe nor Pickford looks likely to be at the Stadium of Light next season and Moyes’ successor will have to rebuild the squad with players capable of dragging the club out of the Championship. As so many fallen giants have proven, it is a challenge fraught with difficulty.

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