July 16, 2019, 20:25

Sky Sports writers reflect on the Premier League season

Sky Sports writers reflect on the Premier League season

We asked our Sky Sports writers to sum up their memories – and standout moments – of an unforgettable Premier League campaign.

Drama and tragedy – Adam Bate

It was the strangest of title races, one in which the lead changed hands on a record number of occasions, but only because the matches were played at different times. Both Manchester City and Liverpool were utterly relentless during the run in. In a world where many are all too quick to call out the losers, this was sustained excellence on display.

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The drama in Europe added another dimension to their seasons. Being at the Etihad Stadium for City’s extraordinary exit against Tottenham – VAR and all – felt like a unique experience. But the same could be said for Liverpool’s incredible comeback against Barcelona, albeit for different reasons. The noise at Anfield was overwhelming that night.

Elsewhere, Wolves were the surprise hit of the season and the atmosphere inside Molineux for their wins over Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, as well as the two victories in quick succession against Manchester United, was always enthralling. Those last two results formed just part of the never-ending soap opera that United have become these days.

Post-match press conferences at Old Trafford were awkward experiences during the early part of the season under Jose Mourinho, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arrival brought hope, and having enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with him for one of his first one-on-one interviews as United boss, the optimism was palpable. How quickly that dissipated.

Away from the pitch, the helicopter crash that killed five people in Leicester, including chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, and the plane crash that claimed the life of Emiliano Sala, added much-needed perspective. This is only a game after all, and the 2018/19 season at least provided plenty of fond memories amid the tragedy.

A season of extremes – Nick Wright

If Manchester City and Liverpool’s winning habits became predictable this season, then what of the four teams beneath them? There is a 25-point gap from second to third. Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all veered between the sublime and the shambolic.

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The inconsistency is best summed up by United. The club has been in a state of decline for years now, but this has surely been the most tumultuous season yet. Jose Mourinho departed in chaotic circumstances and their upturn in form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer proved short-lived.

There were some dismal results, most recently the 2-0 reverse at home to relegated Cardiff, but the one that sticks with me is their 1-0 loss to Juventus in October. At Old Trafford, the scene of so many successes in the past, it was extraordinary to see them so utterly outplayed by a fellow giant of European football.

Tottenham lost 13 Premier League games – the same number as seventh-placed Wolves – and yet still finished in the top-four, reached a Champions League final and moved into a new stadium, while at Chelsea, Maurizio Sarri could easily have been sacked before securing a third-place finish and Europa League final spot. Even that might not save him.

Then there’s Arsenal. They have been something of a mystery this season, and I say that as someone who has interviewed Unai Emery twice. The Spaniard is engaging company – far more so when speaking in his native language. His obsession with the job really comes across and it was fascinating to hear how he uses “friction” to get more out of players.

Emery has guided Arsenal to some fantastic wins over their closest rivals in the Premier League. He has taken them to the Europa League final. But their away form has been dreadful for most of the campaign and their complacency ultimately cost them a place in the top four. Victory in Baku, then, would be a fitting end to a season of extremes.

Kompany the king of Manchester – Jack Wilkinson

It was a goal fit to win any Premier League title race, let alone a match. A goal that rightfully takes its place alongside the iconic strikes of title triumphs gone by; Tony Adams’ finish against Everton in 1998, Frank Lampard’s strike at Bolton in 2005, Sergio Aguero’s last-gasp winner against QPR and Robin van Persie’s volley against Aston Villa in 2013.

If Liverpool had come out on this most thrilling of title races on top, there’s no question Mohamed Salah’s thunderbolt against Chelsea would have been the defining moment of this season, the moment the Reds dared to dream that their 29-year wait for the title may finally be over.

But that dream was crushed in the most emphatic fashion by a man that bleeds blue, a man that has guided City through the tough times to their current glory. Vincent Kompany hadn’t had a shot on target from outside the box in six years when the champions’ title challenge was on the rocks after 70 minutes against a resilient Leicester side.

The fact he even considered shooting underlined the growing sense of desperation building inside the Etihad on the last Monday Night Football of the season. But as City looked set to become the first side to crack under the pressure of the title race, up popped their legendary leader, smashing a sensational effort into the top corner to put his side within one win of retaining their title.

Should it prove to be his final season at the club, it was the most fitting send-off he could have dreamed of.

I guess some things are just meant to be.

City’s title… by 11 millimetres – Gerard Brand

Neck and neck the whole way, Manchester City and Liverpool epitomised the two-horse race. But a season of slim margins was summed up by five seconds of chaos in January.

The mid-season title showdown was goalless when Liverpool’s Sadio Mane hit the post; John Stones and Ederson went for the same ball, causing it to loop back towards goal, before Stones’ incredible piece of agility to claw it off the line by just 11 millimetres, or half the width of a 5p coin. The clearance then brushed through the legs of Mohamed Salah on the goalline. You couldn’t write it.

Even Martin Tyler, who rarely assumes a goal after 45 years in commentary, yelped: “It’s going to go into the net… oh, it isn’t!”

A win would have put Liverpool 10 clear, a draw still seven clear. But the eventual 2-1 defeat left them just four clear, and City piled on to the title.

Why this moment? Because it defies description. Nothing, even being present in the stadium, even slow-mo replays, even VR, does it justice. To the naked eye it looked over the line, and without goal-line technology, the assistant would have been left guessing. How lucky we, and City are, to have it. Hawk Eye should qualify for a Premier League winners’ medal.

In a season where City have pummelled very good opposition – I’ve seen them pick apart Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea like it’s a warm-down session – this moment, paired with Sergio Aguero’s goal by 2.9cm at Burnley, provides the perfect picture to a heart-stopping 10 months.

Source: skysports.com

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