RECAP: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan did not have much to play for in the Premier League, but the Americans in the Championship had a lot at stake as the promotion playoffs got started.
Stoke City 1-4 Arsena
The Gunners maintained their pursuit of a place in the top for with a comprehensive win over Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium.
Geoff Cameron started for the Potters and played the entire game.
With Stoke's Premier League status already guaranteed, they had the chance spoil Arsenal's chance of catching Liverpool and Manchester City for a spot in the Champions League. However, things would not go the way of the host as they were hammered by the opposition.
Olivier Giroud opened the scoring in the 42nd minute as he easily tapped in a cross from teammate Hector Bellerin.
Arsenal doubled their lead within ten minutes of the second half when Mesut Ozil teamed up with Alexis Sanchez on a one-two passing display that ended with the German slotting his shot past Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Peter Crouch cut the deficit in the 67th minute when he headed in a cross from Marko Arnautovic. Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger appealed for a handball, but the goal stood.
However, Arsenal put on the pressure and scored two more to put the game out of reach. Alexis Sanchez got his name on the scoresheet in the 76th minute as he drilled a shot past Butland.
Giroud scored his second in the 80th minute with the assist coming from Aaron Ramsey.
The loss moves Stoke down to 14th place in the standings with 41 points.
Middlesbrough 1-2 Southampton
With nothing left to play for but before they head down to the Championship next season, Middlesbrough continued their disappointment with a loss to Southampton at the Riverside Stadium.
Brad Guzan started in net for 'Boro.
Jay Rodriguez scored the Saints first goal in the 42nd minute as finished a cross from teammate Shane Long with a volley that Guzan could not stop.
Nathan Redmond doubled the visitors lead in the second half when he took a pass from Rodriguez, slipped past a defender and curled his shot around a flat-footed Guzan.
Southampton could have scored a third in the 63rd minute when Guzan brought down Long in the area, but Long's penalty attempt went over the bar in the end.
Middlesbrough cut the deficit in the 72nd minute when Patrick Bamford headed the ball in from a corner kick. However, they could not muster up another to level the score.
Relegated Middlesbrough sits in 19th place in the standings with 28 points.
Fulham 1-1 Reading
The semifinals of the Championship promotion playoffs got underway over the weekend and both Fulham and Reading will be looking to take the win in the second leg as the first ended in a tie at Craven Cottage.
Both Tim Ream and Danny Williams started for their respective teams and played the entire game.
All of the action took place in the second half as Reading took the lead in the 53rd minute as Jordan Obita fired a shot that came off the inside of the post.
However, the host would find the equalizer in the 65th minute as Tom Cairney headed the ball in from close range after Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi failed to handle an effort from Scott Malone.
Both teams will play the second leg of their semifinal on Tuesday at the Madejski Stadium.
Lynden Gooch watched from the bench for Sunderland helped Swansea City to survive relegation following a 2-0 loss to the Swans.
In the other Championship promotion playoff semifinal game David Wagner's Huddersfield Town settled for a 0-0 tie with Sheffield Wednesday in the first leg. The two teams will meet again for the second leg at on Thursday at Hillsborough Stadium.