|The Wigan bench celebrate as Grant, left, turns away after West Ham concede their late goal [GALLO/GETTY]|
Avram Grant was sacked as West Ham United manager on Sunday in the aftermath of the club’s relegation from the Premier League.
The club announced that first-team coach Kevin Keen will take charge of the team for the final home match of the season against Sunderland.
West Ham became the first team to be relegated to the Championship after Grant’s side let a two goal advantage slip to lose 3-2 at Wigan on Sunday.
Wigan fight back
The Hammers needed a victory at DW Stadium to stand any chance of beating the drop and were 2-0 up at half-time courtesy of Demba Ba’s headers on 12 and 26 minutes.
The Latics stormed back after the break and Charles N’Zogbia scored twice, either side of Conor Sammon’s goal. The equaliser was enough to demote West Ham but N’Zogbia’s stoppage-time winner left Wigan manager Roberto Martinez’s side in the bottom three on goal difference alone.
For West Ham manager Avram Grant defeat meant he’d overseen his second successive relegation from the Premier League following Portsmouth’s demotion last season. The sacking of Grant is not a surprise as the manager has come under fire throughout the season with various high profile players underperforming.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was upbeat after the match despite Wigan still sitting in the relegation zone.
“We were 2-0 down, deservedly, but then we got that reaction and all the hard work through the (last) 10 months came out.”
“Everyone at Wigan can be very proud… I hope everyone can be proud of these players next week.”
Five teams, three survive
The relegation battle reaches its dramatic climax next Sunday with five teams facing the drop and only a point separating them.
Saturday May 14
Blackburn 1-1 Man United
Sunday May 15
Chelsea 2-2 Newcastle
Fulham’s 2-0 victory over Birmingham put McLeish’s men in the thick of the battle. The Blues will scrap it out with Blackburn, Wolves, Wigan and Blackpool for survival.
A Brede Hangeland’s double helped Fulham to a convincing victory at St Andrew’s. Alex McLeish’s side produced a woeful display in their last home game of the season and remain above the bottom three only on goal difference heading into their final match at Tottenham.
The League Cup holders are level on points with third bottom Blackpool and second bottom Wigan, setting the stage for a nerve-shredding finale.
Blackpool are away to Manchester United in their last match, while Wigan travel to Stoke. Blackburn and Wolves are just a point ahead of the trio and will dramatically clash horns next Sunday.
On the brink
Tottenham are within touching distance of qualifying for the Europa League after moving above Liverpool with a 2-0 win at Anfield.
Spurs ruined Kenny Dalglish’s first match as official Liverpool manager with goals in either half from Rafael Van der Vaart and a controversial Luka Modric penalty. The win took them back into fifth spot and their fate is now in their own hands going into their match against Birmingham.
Tottenham’s London rivals Arsenal once again failed to impress their increasingly disenchanted fans after an early double from Darren Bent led Aston Villa to a 2-1 victory over Arsene Wenger’s team.
Bent was twice on hand to show off his clinical finishing in front of England manager Fabio Capello in the stands.
Aston Villa were on the back foot throughout the second half but were not seriously threatened, with the Arsenal players looking afraid to go for goal.
Arsenal’s indecision in front of goal is one of the many things Wenger will have to tackle over the break if he is to change the fortunes of his imploding team.
After bombarding the Villa defence, Arsenal finally pulled a goal back when Van Persie punted the ball into the net following another period of scrappy play from the Gunners.
Jeers rang out at the final whistle at the Emirates Stadium to send a clear message that fans do not want another disappointing season next year.
Manchester City can now overtake Arsenal – and move into third – if they win their game in hand against Stoke on Tuesday.
Will Ancelotti be next?
Arsenal’s loss ensured Chelsea finish in second place despite the Blues only managing a 2-2 draw against Newcastle in the early kick-off.
Chelsea let victory slip away late on when Steven Taylor headed home for Newcastle in stoppage time.
Brazilian defender Alex looked to have secured the Londoners the three points when he put his side 2-1 up on 83 minutes.
Branislav Ivanovic had fired Chelsea into a second minute lead but his strike was quickly cancelled out by Jonas Gutierrez’s deflected goal.
Carlo Ancelotti’s future dangles by a thread but the manager told the media that his waves to the crowd did not necessarily mean goodbye.
“I wanted to say ‘thank you’ to our supporters because they gave me fantastic support today and also through the season.”
“In the moments when it was not so good, they stayed close to the team, to the players.”
Ancelotti may be one of the more likeable Premier League managers but being a nice guy will not help him with owner Roman Abramovich, who would not have been expecting his club to end the season trophyless.