What will the Premier League’s scriptwriters come up with next?
The 30th season since the breakaway ended with one of its most dramatic final days.
Ten years after Sergio Aguero wrote his name into English football folklore, Manchester City fans feared they would need to fly the Argentinian back from the Spanish Grand Prix, their side trailing 2-0 at home to Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa side.
Gerrard was about to do what he could never quite manage as a player – to help Liverpool win the Premier League – and the fact another former Red, Philippe Coutinho, had scored Villa’s second only added to the drama.
No matter that Liverpool were actually being held by Wolves at the time, leaving City still clear on goal difference, there was no question Jurgen Klopp’s side would score and they duly did through Mo Salah and Andy Robertson.
Only by then it was too late. Having put their fans through the wringer yet again, City somehow scored three goals in six minutes to secure a 3-2 win and a fourth title in five years.
This was the ninth time in the still short history of the Premier League that the title had been decided on the final day. The last four of those have now all gone to City.
With Erling Haaland on his way this summer, they will hope the gap is more comfortable next year, but things are not always so simple.
The gap between them and Liverpool this season was one point. That is also the margin between them if count up their respective points tallies since 2018.
Liverpool can still finish the season with three trophies and the one City crave the most as they now look towards next weekend’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.
For Liverpool it must seem incredibly harsh that this brilliant side has the misfortune to be up against City – to have just one title to show for their relentless heavy metal football seems obscene – yet how blessed are the fans that get to watch this tussle.
The title fight topped the bill on the final day but was far from the only act. This was the first season in which the battle for Champions League places, Europa League places and survival were also unresolved with 90 minutes still to go.
Tottenham ensured there would be little jeopardy in their battle against Arsenal for the final Champions League place – a 5-0 win at Norwich rendering the Gunners’ 5-1 win over Everton meaningless.
West Ham blew a 1-0 lead at Brighton to lose 3-1, meaning Manchester United got away with a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in front of incoming boss Erik ten Hag.
With that they clung on to sixth place – one place higher than they were when Ralf Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November – and avoided the ignominy of the Europa Conference League next term.
But the drama was truly on at the other end. Facing Newcastle at home, Burnley needed to match Leeds’ result away to Brentford to pull off the great escape and secure a seventh consecutive season of top-flight football.
But they fell behind to an early Callum Wilson penalty and heard Leeds were winning before Wilson scored again on the hour.
When Maxwel Cornet got Burnley back into it and Sergi Canos headed Brentford level hope filled Turf Moor, only for it to be extinguished by a succession of missed chances before Jack Harrison scored a late Leeds winner.
Newcastle’s win means they have taken 38 points in 2022 so far – a tally bettered only by Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham.
Given the ambitions of their Saudi Arabian-backed owners and plans for further investment this summer, Newcastle fans will only be looking up from their 11th placed finish, with dreams of being the next club to force their way to the top table.
But as this season has again shown, getting within touching distance of City and Liverpool is easier said than done.
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