Hammers Sign Off In Style As Champions Become Premier League Centurions
For the final time in the 2017/2018 season and after a thrilling final day of the Premier League, it’s now time to look back at all the action from matchday 38 and what an afternoon it truly was as David Moyes’ West Ham United signed off their turbulent campaign in style and Pep Guardiola’s champions became the first-ever PL centurions.
As is tradition for the final day of any domestic campaign, all of Sunday’s fixtures kick-off at exactly the same time of 3 PM BST, and as we have done with all of our Reviews this term, we start with the team at the top of the pile.
Manchester City travelled to the St Mary’s knowing that three points would take them to 100 points for the season and a heavy victory could even relegate former Manchester United star Mark Hughes and his Southampton side, they would achieve a triumph, just about, with Gabriel Jesus’s stunning injury-time winner, although the Saints will remain in the Top-Flight next season, due to results elsewhere.
Back in Manchester, and at Old Trafford to be more specific, runners-up to City and fierce rivals United entertained Javier Gracia’s Watford in Michael Carrick’s final career match.
Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils got the victory for their long-serving midfielder, having already secured second spot in East London last Thursday night, thanks to a first-half strike from England FIFA World Cup hopeful Marcus Rashford, not the most entertaining affair between two sides with little left to play for.
Tottenham Hotspur would have been relieved to be heading into their final home game at Wembley Stadium with Leicester City with little to contest after making sure of their UEFA Champions League qualification last midweek, but just because these two clubs were playing for pride, it doesn’t mean they weren’t able to produce a thriller.
Jamie Vardy opened the scoring for Claude Puel’s men, before Harry Kane equalised for Mauricio Pochettino’s, the visitors raced into a 1-3 lead by netting either side of half-time, through Riyad Mahrez and Kilechi Iheanacho, although Spurs would reply with three goals in 11 minutes via Erik Lamela and a Christian Fuchs own-goal 4-3. Vardy later made it 4-4 with a wonderful weaker foot finish, leaving Kane, reaching 30 for the campaign in the process, to ensure the three points stayed in the capital at 5-4.
While the eye-catching events were unfolding at Wembley, up in Merseyside, it promised to be a special afternoon for Liverpool if they could defeat Brighton & Hove Albion and secure their place in the top four.
Jurgen Klopp’s men did so with ease, Mo Salah, Dejan Lovren, Dominic Solanke and Andy Robertson giving them a 4-0 victory over Chris Hughton’s side, but the significance of the first goal was unparallel, the Egyptian forward on to 32 goals, becoming the first-ever player to score that many PL goals in a 38-game season, attention will now turn to the UEFA Champions League final for the Reds.
At the start of the day, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea still had a chance of pipping the Red Boys of Merseyside to fourth position, but they had to overcome Rafa Benítez’s Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
No one suggested that this would be an easy task and while if they had won, Liverpool would have still finished above them, it was a task that proved too much for the Blues, the Magpies outclassed the side that will contest the Emirates FA Cup Final with United next weekend, a Dwight Gayle strike and an Ayoze Perez double meaning the scoreline ended 3-0.
Meanwhile, it was a day to remember for both Huddersfield Town and Arsenal at the John Smith’s Stadium, for so many reasons, one which signalled the end of an era for the Gunners.
The fact that the visitors reigned victorious 0-1 via a goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seemed insignificant as Arsene Wenger waved goodbye after 22 years in charge of the North London club, he was respected by both sets of supporters, the home fans still on the high of their team sensationally securing their PL status for another season.
A side that will, incredibly, be juggling both Top-Flight and European priorities next campaign is Sean Dyche’s Burnley, who have managed to secure Europa League qualification in seventh position and hoped to end on a high against AFC Bournemouth.
Eddie Howe’s Cherries were hoping to spoil the party for the Clarets at Turf Moor and this, they did, coming back from a goal behind to triumph 1-2, Chris Wood had put the hosts ahead, although Josh King and Callum Wilson, in stoppage time, hit back, it mattered little position wise for the Lancashire and Dorset teams respectively.
In East London, and a week after securing their safety, the Hammers welcomed former boss Sam Allardyce and his Everton team to London Stadium in the hope of getting one over him.
The Irons started brightly and led at the break through Manuel Lanzini, star man and top-scorer Arnautovic then powered his team two goals to the good mid-way through the second period, while Oumar Niasse pulled one back for the visitors, Lanzini rounded off the scoring later on to give West Ham fans something to cheer at the end of an uncertain period, though the fate of both bosses still hangs in the balance.
Unfortunate form them and despite a credible effort, in the end, Darren Moore’s West Bromwich Albion travelled to Selhurst Park already relegated, but still with the chance to avoid finishing rock bottom.
20th was the position that Crystal Palace were in before Roy Hodgson arrived and he has been able to rescue them, it seemed only fitting that they were able to end the campaign on winning terms, Wilfried Zaha and Patrick van Aanholt making sure of a 0-2, resigning the Baggies to bottom after all.
There was still something resting on our final matchup, the faint hope of salvaging survival for Carlos Carvalhal’s Swansea City, needing to beast already-relegated Stoke City at the Liberty Stadium and hope that Blue Moon thrashed the Saints back in England.
Neither result went their way as all was looking up when Andy King put the Swans ahead against Paul Lambert’s Potters, although the lead wouldn’t last for long, Badou Ndiaye and Peter Crouch giving the away side something positive to take into next season and it could have been better had Xherdan Shaqiri not missed a penalty, however, Swansea’s seven-year stay in the division is over.
So, now that all the dramatic spoils and thrills from the final round of fixtures of a long campaign of the league that we all know and love have been well and truly covered, the FIFA World Cup will take centre-stage this summer, but never fear, the Premier League will now back for the 2018/2019 season in early August.