Story of the Premier League season

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Another memorable Premier League season has come to an end. Recall the highs and lows in our month-by-month review.

 

AUGUST

Player of the month: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Goal of the month: Cristhian Stuani (Sunderland v MIDDLESBROUGH)

Manager of the month: Mike Phelan (Hull City)

Match of the month: Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool

In what was being billed as one of the most competitive title battles in Premier League history, it was Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United – all with new managers in their corner – that started with a bang. All three teams racked up a 100 per cent record in August, with Pep Guardiola’s City netting nine goals in sparkling performances against Sunderland, West Ham and Stoke City.

Reigning champions Leicester City began the new campaign with a defeat at newly promoted Hull City, who finished the month in fifth after adding Swansea City to their list of August conquests.

 

SEPTEMBER

Player of the month: Heung-Min Son (Tottenham)

Goal of the month: Jordan Henderson (Chelsea v LIVERPOOL)

Manager of the month: Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)

Match of the month: West Ham 2-4 Watford

Kevin De Bruyne slots home in Manchester City's 2-1 derby victory
Kevin De Bruyne slots home in Manchester City’s 2-1 derby victory

A month that ended with Antoinio Conte’s Chelsea side in eighth place, eight points behind early pacesetters Manchester City who continued their relentless start to the campaign. As Chelsea picked up just one point from their three games, including a humbling 3-0 defeat at Arsenal, Guardiola’s team picked up maximum points to maintain their 100 per cent record. That run of victories involved a muscle-flexing 2-1 win over Manchester United, where Guardiola landed an early season blow on Jose Mourinho.

Down at the bottom, West Ham were struggling to adapt to their new surroundings at the London Stadium as they suffered back-to-back home defeats against Watford and Southampton. Slaven Bilic’s team dropped into the bottom three alongside Sunderland and Stoke – both of whom failed to win any of their opening six games.

 

OCTOBER

Player of the month: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Goal of the month: Dimitri Payet (WEST HAM v Middlesbrough)

Manager of the month: Antonio Conte (Chelsea)

Match of the month: Chelsea 4-0 Manchester United

Chelsea celebrate after going 4-0 up against Manchester United
Chelsea celebrate after going 4-0 up against Manchester United

It’s staggering to comprehend that Conte was reportedly on the brink of the sack at Chelsea at the beginning of October. His switch to his favoured 3-5-2 formation worked the oracle as his team put together four wins on the spin without conceding a single goal. Mourinho’s United were one of those teams to get rolled over by Conte’s men. Goals from Pedro, Eden Hazard, Gary Cahill and N’Golo Kante meant a miserable return to Stamford Bridge for the United boss, whose team failed to win a game in October.

It was a bad 31 days for Guardiola, too. City’s four-point lead at the top was cut by Arsenal and Liverpool, who moved level after Guardiola’s men dropped points at home to Everton and Southampton. The title race was now living up to its billing with just three points covering the top five teams.

Sunderland continued their winless start to the campaign and sat bottom with just two points from their opening 10 games. Following their promising start, Hull’s form nosedived as Mike Phelan came under pressure. We had our first managerial casualty of the season with Francesco Guidolin being replaced by Bob Bradley at Swansea.

 

NOVEMBER

Player of the month: Diego Costa (Chelsea)

Goal of the month: Pedro (CHELSEA v Tottenham)

Manager of the month: Antonio Conte (Chelsea)

Match of the month: Swansea 5-4 Crystal Palace

Fernando Llorente's goal gave Swansea a 5-4 win over Crystal Palace
Fernando Llorente’s goal gave Swansea a 5-4 win over Crystal Palace

Chelsea were showing the signs of being potential champions after four more straight wins in November. Looking back, a key result in the campaign probably came at Stamford Bridge on November 26 where Conte’s men battled back to beat eventual runners-up Tottenham 2-1. That victory ended Spurs’ unbeaten league run and propelled Chelsea to the top of the division.

Their lead was only a solitary point though following that important success as Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City all went unbeaten through November.

It was a bad month for both Leicester City and Crystal Palace. Both teams had endured inconsistent starts to the campaign but even the wins dried up during a torrid month in the league. Palace, especially, were showing warning signs defensively having conceded 10 goals in their three games in November.

 

DECEMBER

Player of the month: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)

Goal of the month: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (MANCHESTER UNITED v Crystal Palace)

Manager of the month: Antonio Conte (Chelsea)

Match of the month: Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool

Bournemouth pulled off an extraordinary 4-3 win over Liverpool
Bournemouth pulled off an extraordinary 4-3 win over Liverpool

Sadio Mane scored Liverpool’s last-minute winner at Everton in the Merseyside derby, but perhaps the most significant result came at the Etihad Stadium where Manchester City led Chelsea only to lose 3-1 and shift the title race further in the Blues’ favour.

Despite the busy Christmas period, the top six were in the same order at the end of the month as they had been at the start. However, Chelsea’s six consecutive victories extended their advantage – a 4-2 win over Stoke making it 13 on the bounce in total.

Manchester United enjoyed a good month, picking up five wins and a draw thanks to five goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while there was also a stunning scorpion kick finish from Henrikh Mkhitaryan against Sunderland. But West Ham were the big movers with three wins in a row alleviating the pressure on manager Slaven Bilic.

While Hull were the only team not win a game in December, it was Swansea who slipped to the bottom of the Premier League table with manager Bob Bradley paying the price. Alan Pardew also lost his job and was replaced by former England boss Sam Allardyce.

 

JANUARY

Player of the month: Dele Alli (Tottenham)

Goal of the month: Andy Carroll (WEST HAM v Crystal Palace)

Manager of the month: Paul Clement (Swansea)

Match of the month: Bournemouth 3-3 Arsenal

Andy Carroll scored one of the great Premier League goals for West Ham
Andy Carroll scored one of the great Premier League goals for West Ham

Tottenham ended Chelsea’s winning run with a 2-0 triumph at White Hart Lane as Mauricio Pochettino’s men moved from fifth to second in January. But the defeat did not harm Chelsea too much as they extended their lead at the top to nine points.

In part that was because of the mistakes of others. Liverpool went winless through January, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring a late equaliser for Manchester United at Old Trafford, while Pep Guardiola’s reign at Manchester City hit a low point when they lost 4-0 at Everton.

Arsenal had a better time of it, Olivier Giroud scoring a scorpion kick of his own against Crystal Palace, until a shock home defeat by Watford at the end of the month. As for Palace, they were on the receiving end of more than one wonder goal – Andy Carroll’s scissor-kick strike for West Ham winning the goal of the month award ahead of Giroud.

Paul Clement was the manager of the month as he took Swansea from the bottom of the Premier League table to two points above the drop zone. The new bottom team were Hull who sacked Mike Phelan at the start of the month and replaced him with Marco Silva.

 

FEBRUARY

Player of the month: Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Goal of the month: Eden Hazard (CHELSEA v Arsenal)

Manager of the month: Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)

Match of the month: Leicester 3-1 Liverpool

Claudio Ranieri was sacked by Leicester despite last season's heroics
Claudio Ranieri was sacked by Leicester despite last season’s heroics

The big news in February was the sacking of Claudio Ranieri. The man who had taken Leicester to their extraordinary title win nine months earlier lost his job with the Foxes just above the drop zone and without a win in 2017. They promptly beat Liverpool 3-1 in their very next game.

At the top of the table, Chelsea’s march continued thanks to a home win over Arsenal as they extended their lead over second spot to 10 points. Spurs continued to chase with Harry Kane’s five goals in two games helping to earn him the player of the month prize, but it was Pep Guardiola who claimed the manager of the month award as a result of Manchester City’s 100-per-cent record in February.

Burnley, Bournemouth and Middlesbrough were all winless throughout the month but it David Moyes’ Sunderland who hit the bottom of the table as Marco Silva’s Hull picked up a much-needed win over Liverpool.

MARCH

Player of the month: Romelu Lukaku (Everton)

Goal of the month: Andros Townsend (West Brom v CHELSEA)

Manager of the month: Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)

Match of the month: Watford 3-4 Southampton

West Brom stunned Arsenal as pressure built on Arsene Wenger
West Brom stunned Arsenal as pressure built on Arsene Wenger

There were minimal changes at the top as Chelsea and Tottenham continued to win. But March proved costly for Arsenal as they lost both of their matches, the first at Liverpool and the second at West Brom, as speculation about Arsene Wenger’s future raged.

Leicester’s revival under Craig Shakespeare continued as they picked up wins either side of their European heroics against Sevilla and it was also a good period for Bournemouth. Eddie Howe was the manager of the month – the highlight being a dramatic win over West Ham.

Hull beat relegation rivals Swansea but still dropped into the bottom three in March, but it was a better month for Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace. They won both of their matches – the win at West Brom featuring a fantastic goal by Andros Townsend – to move clear of the drop zone, while Middlesbrough’s slide saw Aitor Karanka depart.

APRIL

Player of the month: Heung-Min Son (Tottenham)

Goal of the month: Pedro (Everton v CHELSEA)

Manager of the month: Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)

Match of the month: Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal

Pedro scored a vital goal for Chelsea in their win over Everton
Pedro scored a vital goal for Chelsea in their win over Everton

Tottenham won all six games in April, including a home win over Arsenal, as they unexpectedly rekindled the title race. Chelsea did knock them out of the FA Cup but a surprise home slip up by Antonio Conte’s side against Crystal Palace coupled with a defeat at Manchester United was enough to close the gap at the top to just four points. But Pedro’s opener in Chelsea’s 3-0 win at Everton late in the month still felt like a crucial moment.

Jose Mourinho’s United hauled themselves right back into the race for the top four as they went unbeaten in seven games in April and setting a new club record for a single season of 25 games without defeat. Even so, failures to beat Everton, West Brom and Swansea at home meant they remained outside of the Champions League places.

At the other end of the table, Sunderland’s 10-year stay in the Premier League came to an end as their relegation was confirmed. Middlesbrough’s situation looked little better, but Hull’s three wins in April took them clear of the drop zone ahead of Swansea.

MAY

Player of the month: TBC

Goal of the month: TBC

Manager of the month: TBC

Match of the month: Chelsea 4-3 Watford

Antonio Conte kisses the Premier League trophy after beating Sunderland
Antonio Conte kisses the Premier League trophy after beating Sunderland

 

Tottenham’s title challenge all but ended when they were beaten 1-0 at West Ham and Chelsea duly completed the job by defeating West Brom by the same scoreline a week later. That allowed Antonio Conte’s men two games to enjoy at Stamford Bridge as they were able to give John Terry the send off he deserved with the club captain scoring against Watford before taking in the crowd’s adulation in the final-day win over Sunderland.

Spurs still finished the campaign strongly, saying an emotional farewell to White Hart Lane before Harry Kane scored seven in his final two away games to retain the Premier League Golden Boot. The final two Champions League places were sewn up by Manchester City and Liverpool on the last weekend, consigning Arsenal to the Europa League with Arsene Wenger missing out on the top four for the first time in his long reign in charge of the Gunners.

Down at the bottom, Hull’s revival came to an abrupt end with a shock home defeat to already relegated Sunderland and the Tigers joined the Black Cats and Middlesbrough in dropping out of the Premier League. Paul Clement’s Swansea were the escapees as they picked up 13 points from the last five games. It was an astonishing achievement but the season surely belonged to Clement’s former club Chelsea.

Source: Sky Sport

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