So it’s all over. There was very little on the line in the final round of Premier League matches, so the players pretty much played like that. To be fair, there’s very little on the line for us either, so we’ll write today’s column with a similar level of enthusiasm.
With 40 minutes or so on the clock, Arsene Wenger leaned over to Steve Bould and probably whispered something like, “done it again Bouldy. Top four, and we’re going to do it with ten men. Fancy another five years of this?” You could certainly see it happening, the Gunners led 2-0 and Liverpool were being all Liverpool and struggling to break down. As Garth Crooks had wisely observed, news had indeed filtered through to Anfield and the crowd very much knew the score. Of course they did Garth, this 2017, not 1977. The speed of mobile 4G nowadays, they probably knew Sanchez had scored a second before the ball crossed the line. Still, they needn’t have worried. Kloppo has expressed his wish for everyone at the club to be screaming “YESSSSS” with some words beginning with F – his words, not mine readers, so don’t judge me – and his wish was granted. Liverpool achieved that final place in the top four, Arsenal starting their late dash for the line a little bit too late. Never mind Arsene, I am sure an FA Cup runners up medal will soften the blow next week, no? Arsenal may have to continue their three at the back routine as both Koscielny and Gabriel managed to rule themselves out. Oh yes, it’s time to call on Per. Pedro and Hazard are already licking their lips. Mind you, they got some practice in playing against Lescott.
Before I leave Arsenal alone, how “Arsenal” was the worldy that Ramsey scored in injury time? No, that is not a compliment. A beautiful goal when it mattered not. When it really matters? Not a bean. That is why Arsenal miss out on the Champions League for the first time since John Terry happened.
There was a chance that Manchester City might have finished in 4th if things had gone against them. That was until Watford’s departing manager, Walter Mazzarri, decided to play the age old end-of-season Sunday league kickabout game of pulling the team out of the hat. It worked as well at in normally does on Hackney Marshes and City strolled to a 5-0 win. Mazzarri would have been better off naming his two substitute goalkeepers in the starting eleven.
Winning the golden boot counts as a trophy right? Then surely we can stop calling Spurs bottlers after all. Harry Kane netted yet another hat-trick against a Hull side who clearly wanted to be anywhere other than one on one with a rampant Kane. They could have had two trophies, if they hadn’t comically conceded the goal that ruled out Hugo’s chance of a golden glove.
Everyone assumes that Chelsea planned to take John Terry off after 26 minutes. I am not so sure, it didn’t look too choreographed to me. I think it was more down to the fact that Chelsea conceded to Sunderland. Yes, Sunderland. I thought we’d heard the last of them. Moyes claimed that his side agreed to put the ball out of play after 26 minutes to allow JT his send off. Just to be on the safe side Sunderland put it out of play in the 20th, 21st, twice in the 22nd, 23rd, 24th and three times in the 25th minute as well. Just to be sure, honest. Not because of their inability to pass the ball to anyone in the same colour shirt with any kind of frequency. Incredibly, Chelsea improved after the leader and legend departed and they wrapped up their league season with another win, becoming the first side to win 30 Premier League games in a season. I felt for Conte at the end of the match, that’s another nice suit ruined by champagne. If he wins the double next week it will have been an expensive season for him, but a great season for his tailor.
Who says Jose doesn’t focus on youth development, eh? United picked their youngest ever Premier League side against Palace and dominated them. Young Josh Harrop scored the goal that he will look back on in five years, watching through bitter eyes, thinking “I could have been someone, and now I play for Preston”. I feel like now is the time to review United post Fergie. They finish 5th, so sack Moyes. Since then they’ve had and sacked Louis van Gaal, bought the Bundesliga player of the year, signed the most expensive player ever and made Jose the highest paid manager in the world, again. Net result? 6th. Bravo Mr Woodward, bravo. How do you become one of the biggest teams in the world? Start by being the biggest team in the world and have Ed Woodward run your company for a few years.
Shakespeare’s final act as Leicester manager (probably) was a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth, Jamie Vardy scoring another goal. Burnley played like a team that actually cared about the fact that another £11m was on the table if they beat West Ham. As soon as Gold and Sullivan heard that there was some extra cash available they ordered the Hammers to actually turn up, and they did, stealing a 2-1 win.
WBA lost 2-1 to Swansea, and a defender scored their goal so I will let you all work out how they scored that. Peter Crouch scored a goal legally this week, the winner against one of his many old clubs, Southampton.
So folks, that is it for the 2016/17 Premier League season. I don’t think we ever hit the heights of the season before, but it’s had it’s moments. Joey Barton getting banned, Claudio getting canned, Arsene getting panned. Sure, we have a few loose ends to tie up in the next week or so but never forget this as the season where three at the back returned to the top flight, thanks to Wenger (if you believe him).