One of the most exciting seasons for some time came to a dramatic conclusion this weekend after nine pulsating months.
The Premier League title race had gone to the final day for the eighth time and all eyes were fixed on Manchester City and Liverpool, to see who would end the campaign as Champions after a captivating race between two wonderful sides.
Here’s a look at five things we learned from the final day of 2018/19.
Old guard spring to life once again as City defend their crown
For the first time in a decade, the Premier League title was successfully defended as Manchester City roared back to defeat Brighton, having momentarily gone behind at the Amex. It looked an uphill slog for Brighton as City rolled into town looking for their 32nd and decisive victory of the season to finally see off Liverpool’s relentless challenge.
A 27th-minute header by Glenn Murray was not in the script and looked to have handed Liverpool the advantage in the title race. Just as it was on Monday night though, it was the old guard who roared back into life for City, to help them back on the road to a comprehensive and historic victory.
Club legend, Vincent Kompany was the hero against Leicester on Monday, and it was another two of the City old guard that led the recovery in Sussex, with David Silva teeing up his 83rd Premier League assist for Sergio Aguero just 81 seconds after falling behind. City’s response was what champions are made of and it was no surprise to see two of their world-class veterans at the heart of it as they went on to secure a rampant 1-4 victory and a thoroughly deserved title win.
Mane shows his class as defiant Liverpool win again
Despite the emotionally draining and physically exhausting exploits of Liverpool’s 4-0 Champions League semi-final win over Barcelona on Tuesday, Jurgen Klopp’s men had to rouse themselves for one final league game as Wolves came to Anfield looking for an upset. Liverpool fans knew a miracle was required at Brighton for them to secure their first league title in 29 years. Plus any victory would once again be hard fought against a Wolves side that had taken 13 points from the top six going into the final day.
Defiance was the order of the day on Merseyside though as Liverpool rallied for one last victory to reach a staggering 97 points for the season.
Liverpool finish second despite achieving the third highest points total in Premier League history! 🙈 pic.twitter.com/5x4u6H8esQ
— Football Faithful (@FootyFaithful_) May 12, 2019
Sadio Mane, with his 21st and 22nd league goals of the season, was once again in inspired form. The Senegalese has been outstanding all season, leading the line for Liverpool while other key players have suffered drops in form or been ruled out with injury.
He took his chances brilliantly as Anfield roared their men home after an inspired campaign that saw them fall short by the narrowest of margins. Mane’s shared Golden Boot seems the least he deserves, for the finest campaign of his career to date.
Batshuayi lays down his credentials as Chelsea enter summer of uncertainty
There was a feeling of an end of season bonanza about Crystal Palace’s fixture with Bournemouth at Selhurst Park. A 5-3 victory for The Eagles was all the more remarkable when you consider they have won just 17 points at home all season and scored only 14 times in their own back yard. It was their on-loan Chelsea forward, Michy Batshuayi who made the difference though as the Cherries were put to the sword.
The Belgian has managed six goals in 13 games in all competitions in a fruitful loan spell at Palace. His brace today was clinically taken and could well be perfectly timed. With Chelsea facing a transfer ban this summer, the Belgian could well have played himself into plans at Stamford Bridge after a decent spell in South London.
United slump final day misery as Bluebirds bow out in style with Mendez-Lang brace
As their city rivals celebrated a sixth league title, Manchester United were left to contemplate an increasingly difficult looking summer of rebuilding as their campaign ebbed to a limp conclusion. A 10th league defeat of the season was chalked off after a 0-2 loss to Cardiff City, who were themselves, bowing out of the division after their relegation was confirmed last weekend.
United were left to curse their luck as well as the form of a visiting goalkeeper as they squandered a number of good chances to get something from their final game. However, a painful final day defeat was inflicted, courtesy of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s strikes in either half to bag the points for Neil Warnock’s men. The former Wolves winger, playing League One football just two years ago, condemned Ole Gunner Solskjaer to a third defeat in five games as the hosts ended the season with their worst home defensive record since 1962-63.
Arsenal and Aubameyang end a big week on a high with Burnley win
Arsenal’s away form has been their Achilles heel all season, however, they have at least rallied this week to earn a Europa League final place and fifth in the table. Unai Emery can reflect on a mixed debut league campaign, which may still end in glory, if he is able to mastermind a victory over Chelsea in Baku on 29 May.
Furthermore, with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang leading their line, they at least have some kernels of optimism heading into 19/20. The former Dortmund man ended the season and an excellent week for him personally with a well-taken brace at Turf Moor to finish with 22 goals for the season and a shared Golden Boot award with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.
A handsome tally of 31 goals in all competitions will be of some comfort to Arsenal fans. The former Dortmund man has been in wonderful form this season and remains one of the few top class operators at The Emirates going into this summer.
— Football Faithful (@FootyFaithful_) May 12, 2019