It is extremely rare that so much is still to be decided on the last day of the Premier League. Not only was the league title still up for grabs, one of the three relegation places was also yet to be confirmed, while there was uncertainty over various European qualification spots as well.
Even the Golden Boot was on offer, with Heung-Min Son ensuring it was shared with Mo Salah. Son’s 23 goals, none of which were from the penalty spot, capped a stunning season for the South Korean superstar, who is no longer ranked among the world’s most underrated players.
Drama was promised around the country – and the last day delivered in spades. Liverpool were actually never top of the table, but Aston Villa going 2-0 up at the Etihad gave the Reds hope. That Philippe Coutinho struck for Steven Gerrard’s side just added to the incredible scenes. It seemed to be written in the stars for Gerrard to finally deliver a league title for the Reds.
City then extinguished Liverpool’s ambitions of winning an unprecedented quadruple with a remarkable comeback, scoring three times in less than six minutes to spark scenes of delirium. Late goals for Salah and Andy Robertson to secure Liverpool’s win at home to Wolves were therefore rendered moot, though at least the Egyptian did secure another Golden Boot.
Perhaps it was not quite up there with the ‘AGUEROOOOOOOOOOOO’ moment of 10 years ago that delivered City’s first Premier League title, but it was just as unforgettable for their fans. City’s fourth title in five years confirms the dynasty Pep Guardiola has built in Manchester. City will now be hoping the Catalan can be persuaded to follow Jurgen Klopp in extending his deal.
Burnley’s six-year stay ends
It was almost as dramatic at the bottom of the league, where Burnley had to match or better Leeds’ result. The Clarets were playing at home to a resurgent Newcastle in a game rife with intriguing sub-plots as Eddie Howe, Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood all returned to Turf Moor.
Leeds’ trip to Brentford also raised memories of the bad blood between the two clubs from a Championship campaign a couple of years ago. Brentford defender Pontus Jansson left Leeds under a cloud and there was talk the Bees were relishing the chance to relegate the Whites.
Newcastle opening the scoring from the penalty spot killed the atmosphere at Burnley, who were left with a mountain to climb when Raphinha put Leeds ahead from 12 yards at Brentford. Despite a late rally, with Maxwel Cornet grabbing one back for the Clarets and Wout Weghorst narrowly failing to convert a low cross from Ashley Barnes, Burnley’s fate was secured. The Clarets have enjoyed six straight years in the Premier League but the April sacking of Sean Dyche, which smelled of panic at the time, was ultimately a gamble that failed to pay off.
Burnley’s defeat saw them down but Jack Harrison hit a late winner for Leeds, whose resilience has seen them find the net eight times during stoppage time over the course of the campaign.
The end of Spursiness?
Away to Norwich was perhaps the ideal fixture for a Spurs side looking to secure Champions League qualification, though fans were still nervous about the prospect of being pipped by rivals Arsenal. The Gunners seemed to have wrapped up fourth spot a few weeks ago, but defeat in the North London derby during the run-in proved to be the killer blow for Mikel Arteta’s men.
Spurs are made of sterner stuff these days, with Son and Dejan Kulusevski both netting a brace at Carrow Road to ensure there would be no repeat of the ‘Lasagna-gate’ drama of 2006. Arsenal also won easily, but battering Everton was too little too late after back-to-back losses.
Manchester United and West Ham had top-four ambitions but ended up scrapping over the last Europa League spot. In the end, defeats for each side – United losing 1-0 at Crystal Palace and West Ham going down 3-1 at Brighton – meant the Hammers head into the Conference League.
There were goals galore everywhere on the last day, with United and Norwich the only teams that failed to find the net. Ayoze Perez came off the bench to hit two late goals as Leicester beat Southampton 4-1 at home to climb up to eighth, while another substitute, Ross Barkley, was on target in added time for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to ensure they beat relegated Watford 2-1.
The main drama was at the Etihad, though, with City fans left celebrating another title – and another of the greatest last day finishes in the history of the Premier League.