Watford and Bournemouth have joined Norwich City in dropping down to the Championship as the final two relegation spots of the 2019-20 Premier League were decided on Sunday.
Norwich went into the final round of fixtures as the only side to have been condemned to the drop, trailing Aston Villa in 17th by 13 points to make an instant return to the second tier.
But with just three points separating 19th-placed Bournemouth, Watford in 18th and the Birmingham club, there was plenty to play for in a thrilling final day of this interrupted campaign.
By half-time the Cherries had climbed above Watford, as they led Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park thanks to Joshua King and Dominic Solanke’s goals while the Hornets trailed Arsenal 3-1.
Villa, meanwhile, sat just a point clear as they were drawing with West Ham 0-0, knowing that defeat coupled with victory for Bournemouth would send them down to the Championship for the first time just one year after regaining their Premier League status via the play-offs.
After the break Danny Welbeck pulled another back at the Emirates Stadium with just under 30 minutes remaining to keep Watford in the chase, while the scorelines in the other two decisive clashes remained unchanged.
Then, in a late flurry of goals, Jack Grealish appeared to have secured Villa’s safety by opening the scoring, only to see Andriy Yarmolenko equalise minutes later for the Hammers and keep the visitors’ nerves on edge, while Junior Stanislas put Bournemouth’s victory beyond doubt by scoring their third of the afternoon.
But there was to be no late miracle for Eddie Howe’s charges, as the final whistle blew at the London Stadium to confirm a 1-1 draw for Villa that sees them claim survival by the skin of their teeth.
Bournemouth thus join Watford in dropping down a league, ending a run of five seasons among the English football elite following their first ever promotion to the top flight in 2015.