Category Archives: 2017-2018

Iconic Moments: The Centurions (May 2018)

Having broken a whole manner of Premier League records on their way to the title in 2017-2018, there was one final landmark Manchester City were desperate to land. On the final day of the season, Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side travelled to Southampton looking to reach another phenomenal achievement. Victory would take them to the grand total of 100 points for the season. No-side in Premier League history has ever amassed this tally in a single campaign.

However, Southampton defended brilliantly and it looked like this might be a feat that Guardiola’s team would miss out on until virtually the last kick of the entire season. In the fourth minute of stoppage-time, Kevin De Bruyne’s long ball over the top of the Saints backline played through Gabriel Jesus, who finished coolly to give Guardiola’s side a 1-0 victory and achieve the three-figure total for points. It also meant they broke the records for highest goal difference total (+79) and points margin victory to the runners-up (19).

This team will go down in the annuals as one of the greatest the Premier League has ever seen. The Manchester City team of 2017-2018 will forever be known as ‘The Centurions.’

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Premier League Rewind: 13th May 2018

Results: Burnley 1-2 AFC Bournemouth, Crystal Palace 2-0 West Bromwich Albion, Huddersfield Town 0-1 Arsenal, Liverpool FC 4-0 Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester United 1-0 Watford, Newcastle United 3-0 Chelsea, Southampton 0-1 Manchester City, Swansea City 1-2 Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur 5-4 Leicester City, West Ham United 3-1 Everton

For once, there was little to play for on the final day of a Premier League season. With Swansea City relegated barring a mathematical set of bizarre circumstances, the main issue still to be resolved was who would play in next season’s UEFA Champions League. Liverpool FC held the advantage, with a two-point cushion over Chelsea. The Reds knew that because of their superior goal difference, a draw at home to Brighton & Hove Albion would be enough to ensure another season of premier European club football at Anfield.

In the end, the Champions League finalists didn’t need to worry. They breezed to a 4-0 victory over the Seagulls, with Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson scoring their first goals for the club. However, it was Mohamed Salah who claimed the limelight once again. The Egyptian opened the scoring to break the record for most goals in a 38-game season. He finished with a tally of 32, surpassing the mark previously held jointly by Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez. That meant Salah would claim the Golden Boot, to add to his PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ awards.

Harry Kane put up a stern defence of the Golden Boot but he narrowly missed out on achieving three in a row, despite scoring twice on the final day in a nine-goal thriller between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City. Despite trailing 3-1 early in the second half, Tottenham won the game 5-4 to guarantee third place in the table.

Liverpool’s victory meant Chelsea’s result away at St James’ Park was academic but they collapsed spectacularly on Tyneside. Ayoze Perez continued his rich vein of form to finish his season with two goals in Newcastle’s excellent 3-0 victory. Despite winning the FA Cup a week later, Antonio Conte would pay for Chelsea’s failure to qualify for the Champions League. He was sacked in July.

Down on the south coast and Manchester City were attempting to achieve another historic landmark. It looked like they might miss out on achieving 100 points until Gabriel Jesus scored the winning goal in stoppage-time away at Southampton. The 1-0 victory took City to the three-figure total for points, ensuring they finished with a winning margin of 19 points over second-placed Manchester United – another PL record.

Despite the defeat, Southampton’s safety was officially confirmed. Swansea lost anyway 2-1 to Stoke City as both clubs said goodbye to the Premier League for at least a season. Darren Moore tasted defeat for the first time as caretaker manager of West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies lost 2-0 at Selhurst Park to Crystal Palace but he had done enough to become full-time manager of the club. The game also marked John Motson’s final commentary broadcast for the BBC. However, he has shelved his retirement plans and is working for talkSPORT during the 2018-2019 season.

Another legend like Motson bowing out of his long-time position on the final day was Arsene Wenger. After 22 years at the helm as Arsenal manager, Wenger stepped down after the final day of the campaign. He left on a winning note as Arsenal won 1-0 at Huddersfield Town, courtesy of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s first half goal. Incredibly, this was Arsenal’s first away league victory of the calendar year.

What else happened in May 2018?

  • An estimated global audience of 1.9 billion watch the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel at Windsor.
  • The residents of Manchester mark the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on Manchester Arena with a memorial service at Manchester cathedral.
  • Following the data privacy scandal involving social media giant Facebook, Cambridge Analytica files for bankruptcy.
  • Gareth Southgate announces his squad for the 2018 World Cup finals and there’s no place in the party for goalkeeper Joe Hart or midfielder Jack Wilshere.
  • Israel win The 2018 Eurovision Song Contest which is held in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Following pressure from campaigners, Theresa May agrees to appoint a panel to help oversee the enquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire.
  • Mark Williams defeats John Higgins 18-16 to win the World Snooker Championship at The Crucible in Sheffield.

Memorable Matches: Tottenham Hotspur 5-4 Leicester City (May 2018)

Goalscorers: Jamie Vardy 4, 73, Harry Kane 7, 76, Riyad Mahrez 16, Kelechi Iheanacho 47, Erik Lamela 49, 60, Christian Fuchs 53 OG

Teams:

Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Kyle Walker-Peters, Victor Wanyama, Moussa Sissoko (Heung-Min Son 84), Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela (Davinson Sanchez 78), Lucas Moura (Dele Alli 74), Harry Kane

Leicester City: Eldin Jakupovic, Christian Fuchs, Harry Maguire, Wes Morgan, Danny Simpson (Hamza Choudhury 56), Vicente Iborra, Adrien Silva, Demarai Gray (Fousseni Diabate 61), Riyad Mahrez, Kelechi Iheanacho (Harvey Barnes 85), Jamie Vardy

Referee: Craig Pawson, Attendance: 77,841

One of the best games of the 2017-2018 Premier League season came on the final day of the campaign. Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City shared nine goals in an end-to-end, see-saw contest in what was meant to be Spurs’ swansong game at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham had already secured UEFA Champions League football following a midweek victory over Newcastle United but still needed to match or better Liverpool’s result to secure a top-three finish for a third successive season. However, they suffered an early blow when Jamie Vardy found the back of the net with a header after only four minutes.

Vardy had scored in the Foxes 2-1 victory back in November over Tottenham and so too had Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian put Leicester back infront on 16 minutes with what turned out to be his final goal for the club with a summer move beckoning to newly-crowned champions Manchester City.

In-between, Harry Kane had equalised as he continued his dogged pursuit of Mohamed Salah in the race for the Golden Boot. Unfortunately for Kane, Salah had scored Liverpool FC’s opening goal against Brighton & Hove Albion which meant Kane’s two-year stranglehold on the Golden Boot was about to come to an end.

Tottenham had lost Jan Vertonghen in the warm-up to an injury and throughout, they looked very nervy defensively. Two minutes into the second half, Kelechi Iheanacho drove forward from midfield, held off a challenge and found the top-right corner of Hugo Lloris’ goal with a stunning effort. However, Leicester’s two-goal cushion didn’t last long.

The home side scored three times in 11 minutes to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 advantage. Erik Lamela came alive. The Argentine, beset by injury during his spell as a Spurs player, was starting to come good. He scored twice from close-range after two excellent crosses from back-up full-back, Kyle Walker-Peters. Lamela also had a shot which deflected off the unfortunate Christian Fuchs into the back of the net past Leicester reserve goalkeeper, Eldin Jakupovic.

This incredible game took yet another twist on 73 minutes when the exceptional Vardy scored his second goal of the afternoon to level the scoreline again at 4-4. This was an eye in the critics for Leicester manager Claude Puel, who was under pressure with his job and being accused of playing negative football.

However, there was to be a winning goal. Kane matched Vardy’s feat, curling in his second of the day and achieving the milestone of 30 goals in a season for the first time in his career, ultimately two short of Salah’s final total. The win was enough to clinch third place for Tottenham in the table, although they finished 23 points behind Manchester City. Leicester finished ninth.

Iconic Moments: Salah’s super scoring landmark (May 2018)

Manchester City might have claimed many team records but their galaxy of stars were pipped to all the major individual prizes by the extraordinary Mohamed Salah. Returning to the Premier League after a successful stint in Italy, the Egyptian won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, the Football Writers’ Award and claimed the Golden Boot.

He was given the prize after Liverpool FC’s final day 4-0 win against Brighton & Hove Albion which secured Champions League football for the Merseysiders for the 2018-2019 campaign. Salah scored his 32nd goal of the Premier League season in the 26th minute and that meant he held off the stiff challenge of Tottenham’s Harry Kane, pipping the double Golden Boot winner to top spot by two strikes.

That meant Salah broke a Premier League record of most goals scored in a 38-game season, beating a record that had been jointly-held by Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez. He scored against 17 different opponents too which was another Premier League record. Only Manchester United and Swansea City kept Salah off the scoresheet in 2017-2018. To finish his scoring landmarks, he scored more goals on his own than the entire team efforts of Swansea, Huddersfield Town and West Bromwich Albion. It was a world-class debut campaign at Anfield for ‘Majestic Mo.’

Iconic Moments: Huddersfield beat the drop (May 2018)

The result 24 hours earlier at The Liberty Stadium meant Southampton were virtually safe barring a freakish set of circumstances on the final day. However, Swansea had one final hope and that was to see Huddersfield Town lose both of their remaining games. As they had a better goal difference than the Terriers and a fixture on the last day at home to relegated Stoke City, Swansea still harboured realistic ambitions of beating the drop.

They needed help from outgoing champions Chelsea though who were at home to Huddersfield a day after the Swansea vs. Southampton fixture. The Blues still had a chance to overhaul Liverpool FC in the race for a UEFA Champions League qualification spot but Antonio Conte left out Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud who had inspired Chelsea to victory over the Reds days earlier.

Despite not recording a shot on-target in the opening 50 minutes, Huddersfield found a priceless goal with their first strike of anger in the evening. Aaron Mooy’s chipped ball over the top of the Chelsea backline gave Laurent Depoitre an opportunity. The Belgian was simply stronger than Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal and produced a lovely finish to send the travelling fans believing the impossible was possible.

Chelsea did equalise through a fortunate Marcos Alonso effort and Jonas Lossl produced one of the saves of the season to deny Andreas Christensen in the closing stages. Although they recorded just 22% possession, Huddersfield’s stubborn defensive display earned the point they needed to avoid relegation.

It meant that all three promoted clubs had survived for only the third time in Premier League history and this achievement by manager David Wagner and his players was simply outstanding, not just with their performance at Stamford Bridge but throughout the season to defy the critics and earn themselves a deserved second season in the top-flight.

Iconic Moments: Saints survive at Swansea’s expense (May 2018)

Going into the final week of the 2017-2018 Premier League season, the relegation battle was starting to take shape. The first team to be consigned to the drop were Stoke City, whose 10-year tenure in the top-flight ended after a 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.

The big game was at The Liberty Stadium in the last midweek of the campaign as Swansea City hosted Southampton. A win was imperative for Southampton who had the daunting task of facing champions Manchester City on the final day of the season. As expected, it was a tight and tense contest with few goalscoring opportunities.

The matchwinning moment came in the 73rd minute. Charlie Austin was denied from a corner by Lukasz Fabianski but the ball fell perfectly to substitute Manolo Gabbiadini. The Italian made no mistake to send the away supporters into delirium. Southampton held on for a priceless victory.

A +10 goal difference advantage over Swansea effectively ensured their safety at the expense of the Welsh club, whilst this result ended West Bromwich Albion’s Premier League stint as they were relegated. Mark Hughes, who took over as Saints boss in mid-March, would have been hoping for a slightly easier campaign in his first full season on the south coast but already, it looks like the Saints could be set for another relegation battle this season.

Shock Results: Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Manchester United (May 2018)

Goalscorer: Pascal Gross 57

Teams:

Brighton & Hove Albion: Mat Ryan, Gaetan Bong, Bruno, Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Davy Propper, Dale Stephens, Pascal Gross (Beram Kayal 84), Anthony Knockaert, Jose Izquierdo (Solly March 88), Glenn Murray (Leonardo Ulloa 90)

Manchester United: David de Gea, Matteo Darmian (Luke Shaw 68), Ashley Young, Marcos Rojo (Scott McTominay 76), Chris Smalling, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini (Jesse Lingard 68), Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Referee: Craig Pawson, Attendance: 30,611

After beating Arsenal in March 2018, Brighton & Hove Albion had climbed to 10th in the Premier League table but seven games without a win meant the Seagulls went into the penultimate weekend still needing a victory to be certain of a second successive season in the Premier League.

Chris Hughton’s side were playing their final home game of their maiden campaign in the Premier League and it was against Manchester United, who had already defeated the south coast side twice in 2017-2018, both in the league and FA Cup sixth round at Old Trafford. In fact, Brighton had only recorded one victory in their previous 18 outings against the Red Devils.

The AMEX Stadium faithful were looking forward to this contest and Hughton’s side delivered a productive performance full of confidence despite their recent run of results. However, they nearly went behind after just two minutes. After his matchwinning contribution against Arsenal on the previous weekend, Marouane Fellaini put the ball into the net, guiding in Marcus Rashford’s free-kick. However, the goal was correctly ruled out because the Belgian had strayed into an offside position.

It was David de Gea who was the busier goalkeeper in the first half. He made two brilliant saves to deny Glenn Murray from distance and also a rising hit from the impressive Jose Izquierdo. Jose Mourinho’s side were uniquely disappointing and didn’t have a shot on-target until the 49th minute when Mat Ryan comfortably saved Paul Pogba’s effort. The Frenchman had another difficult evening and Mourinho clearly missed Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, who were both injured. Neither Rashford, nor Anthony Martial put in a performance that the boss was expecting. Both were severely criticised by Mourinho in his post-match comments.

The only goal of the game came 12 minutes into the second half. Izquierdo got to the by-line and his cross was flapped at by De Gea. Pascal Gross got enough power on his header for the ball to cross the goal-line, despite the best efforts of Marcos Rojo. It took a while but the beep on the watch of referee Craig Pawson confirmed that the ball had crossed the line by a matter of inches.

The star performer on the night for the home side was Anthony Knockaert. He caused United’s full-backs constant problems all evening with his movement and skill. With 57, he had more touches in the match than any other Albion player. There was a slight improvement from the visitors in the last 30 minutes but the best effort was from substitute Jesse Lingard who flashed a shot just wide of Ryan’s goal after a neat interchange between him and Rashford.

The final whistle confirmed Brighton’s place in the top-flight with two games left to play. It also completed an unhappy hat-trick for Manchester United. For the first time since 1990, they had lost to all three promoted clubs in a league campaign.

Premier League Rewind: 28th-30th April 2018

Results: Liverpool FC 0-0 Stoke City, Burnley 0-0 Brighton & Hove Albion, Crystal Palace 5-0 Leicester City, Huddersfield Town 0-2 Everton, Newcastle United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion, Southampton 2-1 AFC Bournemouth, Swansea City 0-1 Chelsea, West Ham United 1-4 Manchester City, Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Watford

The 2017-2018 season was drifting towards its conclusion and with the championship already settled in favour of Manchester City, attention was starting to turn towards the bottom of the table. With three games left to play, only AFC Bournemouth and Watford came into the weekend virtually safe in the bottom half of the table. There was still plenty to play for.

West Bromwich Albion still had a mountain to climb but Darren Moore’s side were showing some resolve and steel that had been missing for much of the campaign. Matt Phillips’ goal after 29 minutes steered them to a fantastic 1-0 away victory at Newcastle United. In four games in caretaker charge, Moore had now amassed eight points and kept Albion still with a slender chance of beating the drop. Newcastle remained 10th but this was their first home loss in 2018.

Time was starting to run out for Stoke City. Paul Lambert had failed to muster a single victory since his first match in-charge and that run increased to 12 games despite a battling 0-0 draw away at Anfield against Liverpool FC. Mohamed Salah missed a great opportunity after just six minutes and a well-drilled Stoke side kept the home side quiet who were in-between their two legs of the UEFA Champions League semi-final against AS Roma.

Southampton had won just one match in the Premier League throughout 2018 but they kept themselves in with a shout of beating the drop after overcoming AFC Bournemouth 2-1 in a tense South Coast Derby. Dusan Tadic’s final parting gift to Southampton fans before his summer departure for Ajax saw the Serbian international score twice to help Mark Hughes to his first victory in the league as Southampton boss. It would ultimately turn out to be an imperative three points for the club.

Going in the wrong direction were Swansea City. The Swans had failed to win a game in the Premier League since early March and that run stretched to five matches after losing 1-0 at home to Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas scored the only goal of the game after just four minutes. It was the Spaniard’s 50th Premier League goal.

One team who had nothing to worry about now were Crystal Palace. Safety was virtually guaranteed after the Eagles recorded their biggest-ever victory in the Premier League, dismantling Leicester City 5-0. The Foxes had Marc Albrighton sent off in the second half but never looked at the races at Selhurst Park with Wilfried Zaha in scintillating form. Six points clear of safety, Palace were heading towards the comfortable reaches of mid-table.

Before the game at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Arsenal, Arsene Wenger was given a special presentation to celebrate his 22-year stint as Gunners boss pre-match by current Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and his old adversary, Sir Alex Ferguson. On-the-pitch, Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored on his first visit back to The Theatre of Dreams since his January departure but Arsenal were denied a point by Marouane Fellaini’s stoppage-time header.

A 4-1 win at The London Stadium over West Ham United saw Manchester City achieve another landmark. Thanks to an own goal from Declan Rice, Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering superstars had now achieved the milestone of 100 goals in the season and saw them equal Chelsea’s record of 30 wins in a Premier League season achieved in 2016-2017.

What else happened in April 2018?

  • Another of Theresa May’s closest allies in the Conservative government resigns, as Amber Rudd forfeits her position as Home Secretary following the revelations in the Windrush scandal.
  • The United States, the United Kingdom and France order the bombing of Syrian military bases, in response to the sarin chemical attack in Douma.
  • The Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to a baby boy. Louis Arthur Charles become fifth in-line to the throne.
  • 10 people are killed in a vehicle-ramming attack in Toronto, Canada. A 25-year-old suspect is arrested.
  • The Gold Coast in Australia hosts the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
  • Cinemas open in Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1983.
  • Miguel Díaz-Canel is sworn in as President of Cuba. It is the first time in 59 years that the surname Castro hasn’t occupied office in Cuba.

Memorable Matches: Crystal Palace 3-2 Brighton & Hove Albion (April 2018)

Goalscorers: Wilfried Zaha 5, 24, James Tomkins 14, Glenn Murray 18, Jose Izquierdo 34

Teams:

Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey, Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins, Patrick van Aanholt, Joel Ward, Yohan Cabaye (Christian Benteke 71), Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Jairo Riedewald 80), Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha

Brighton & Hove Albion: Mat Ryan, Gaetan Bong (Solly March 86), Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Ezequiel Schelotto, Dale Stephens, Beram Kayal, Pascal Gross (Leonardo Ulloa 71), Jose Izquierdo, Jurgen Locadia (Anthony Knockaert 45), Glenn Murray

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 24,656

The rivalry between Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion is nicknamed as The M23 Derby. It’s nickname coming as the motorway between Sussex and London. Despite there being 45 miles between the clubs’ home grounds, its rivalry stemmed from the 1970s when young managers were appointed at the same time and they went up the league pyramid system together.

It was the third meeting already between the teams in 2017-2018. They’d played out a stale goalless draw at The AMEX Stadium in November whilst Brighton had progressed from an FA Cup third round tie two months later. This would turn out to be a much better game. Five goals were scored; all coming in the first 34 minutes where attacking instincts simply overpowered defensive maturity.

Crystal Palace started the game one place above the relegation zone but had received a boost earlier in the day after 18th place Southampton threw away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at home to Chelsea. Buoyed by that result and the occasion of the game, they started at breakneck speed and scored twice in the opening 14 minutes.

Brighton failed to clear a corner sufficiently and allowed Luka Milivojevic plenty of time to have a shot on-goal. The Serbian’s effort was kept out by Mat Ryan but Wilfried Zaha was in the right place to tap the ball into the net. The home side were infront after just five minutes. Only Burnley had been beaten in a Premier League match at Selhurst Park in 2018 before this game but the Seagulls looked like being added to that list when their Achilles heel struck again. This time, it was James Tomkins who pounced from close-range after more hesitation from Brighton defenders at a set-piece. They had the worst record for conceding goals from set-pieces during the 2017-2018 season.

One thing Brighton did have in their locker was Glenn Murray. Only three Englishman; Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Raheem Sterling scored more goals than Murray did in the season and he added another to his tally here, poking the ball into the net via the crossbar after Lewis Dunk had flicked the ball on from another set-piece. 24 minutes had been played when the scoreline moved to 3-1. Milivojevic floated a ball to the back post and the alert Zaha was left unchallenged by Ezequiel Schelotto to score a rare header and his seventh goal of the campaign.

Roy Hodgson could never relax though and Jose Izquierdo reduced the deficit again on 34 minutes, finishing across Wayne Hennessey’s bows and into the net. Understandably, both managers took a more cautious approach to the second half but it was Brighton who had the better chances after the interval and Murray missed a glorious chance in stoppage-time to save a point, volleying wide from three yards out.

Palace held on for a valuable win that moved them six points clear of the drop zone and they would overtake Brighton in the table in the closing weeks to finish a respectable 11th.

Great Goals: Kevin De Bruyne – MANCHESTER CITY vs. Swansea City (April 2018)

If it hadn’t been for Mohamed Salah’s sensational heroics, there’s little doubt that Kevin De Bruyne would have swept all of the major individual awards in 2017-2018. De Bruyne was the outstanding figure in Manchester City’s record-breaking season and claimed more assists than any other player in the Premier League.

De Bruyne contributed too on the goal front and this was for many, his best and sweetest strike of the season. It came against Swansea City in the first home match for Manchester City since sealing the Premier League title.

Given time and space by a hesitant Swansea defence, De Bruyne decided to let fly from distance and his strike arrowed into the back of Lukasz Fabianski’s net. It was the pick of City’s goals that day. They ended up winning the match 5-0.

De Bruyne would go on to have an excellent World Cup finals too, helping Belgium to a third place finish; their best-ever effort at a World Cup.

Memorable Matches: Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United (April 2018)

Goalscorers: Vincent Kompany 25, Ilkay Gundogan 30, Paul Pogba 53, 55, Chris Smalling 69

Teams:

Manchester City: Ederson, Danilo, Fabian Delph, Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan (Sergio Aguero 76), David Silva (Kevin De Bruyne 72), Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva (Gabriel Jesus 72)

Manchester United: David de Gea, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera (Victor Lindelof 90), Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard (Scott McTominay 85), Alexis Sanchez (Marcus Rashford 82), Romelu Lukaku

Referee: Martin Atkinson, Attendance: 54,259

This was the day Manchester City supporters had been waiting for. Saturday 7th April 2018 was when they could wrap up the Premier League title for the third time. To make it even sweeter, the crowning could be completed by beating Manchester United. Whilst even the most ardent of Red Devils supporters had conceded the title to the Citizens, they were determined to make Pep Guardiola’s side wait a little while longer to celebrate.

With European commitments on the horizon, Guardiola elected to rest Kevin De Bruyne and kept Sergio Aguero in reserve too after his recent injury lay-off. It didn’t seem to matter after a breathless first half display that had the visitors chasing shadows. Five years after scoring the blockbuster header that set City up for a 1-0 victory and their first Premier League title, Vincent Kompany produced a carbon copy effort on 25 minutes. He escaped Chris Smalling’s woeful marking attempt to thrash a header past David de Gea.

Five minutes later, Ilkay Gundogan almost waltzed through a dazed backline to make it 2-0. The champagne corks were on the verge of being popped. It was almost a question of how many goals Guardiola’s side were going to get. In truth, they could have been 5-0 ahead by half-time. Gundogan had another glorious chance but he headed a tame effort straight into De Gea’s arms, whilst Raheem Sterling wasted two glorious opportunities when played through on-goal. These missed chances would cost the home side with a chaotic second half defensive display.

Sporting a new ‘blue’ haircut, Paul Pogba did his talking on-the-pitch with an electrifying second half display. The Frenchman reminded us all of just why United paid a world-record transfer fee to bring him back to Old Trafford in the summer of 2016. On 53 minutes, he reduced the deficit, playing a nice one-two with Alexis Sanchez and flicking the ball past Ederson. 97 seconds later, it was 2-2. Pogba made a run into the box and powered a header into the net, leaving The Etihad Stadium in silence.

United had recently come from 2-0 down to win against Crystal Palace and they completed another incredible fightback on 69 minutes. From Sanchez’s deep free-kick, Smalling made amends for his lame attempt at marking Kompany earlier in the match. He headed past Ederson to give Jose Mourinho’s side a shock lead. It almost defied logic.

Guardiola sent both De Bruyne and Aguero on soon afterwards and the Argentine was unlucky not to win a penalty when Ashley Young wildly lunged in on him. Referee Martin Atkinson ignored the protests. There were some feisty clashes between both sets of players as the temperature rose in the closing stages but United held on to delay the inevitable for a little longer.

They ultimately ceded their challenge with an embarrassing home loss to West Bromwich Albion a week later, confirming Manchester City as champions. At least they managed to stop their city rivals from winning it against them in a direct head-to-head battle with one of the comebacks of the 2017-2018 season.

Premier League Rewind: 10th-12th March 2018

Results: Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool FC, Everton 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town 0-0 Swansea City, Newcastle United 3-0 Southampton, West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Leicester City, West Ham United 0-3 Burnley, Chelsea 2-1 Crystal Palace, Arsenal 3-0 Watford, AFC Bournemouth 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke City 0-2 Manchester City

With just nine games left to play in the 2017-2018 season, Manchester City were closing in on title glory. They required just three more victories to land their third Premier League title. The Citizens were the final team to respond on a weekend that saw 29 goals and plenty of talking points.

It was an appalling weekend for West Ham United. Months of frustration and anger towards the owners of the club spilled over during the harrowing 3-0 loss at home to Burnley. Whilst Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood were showing their clinical edge to help the Clarets to back-to-back victories, West Ham completely imploded. Fans ran onto the pitch and one had to be physically restrained by skipper, Mark Noble. Other supporters ganged up on the directors’ box and for their own safety, co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan were forced to leave the match before the full-time whistle. It was an unsavoury afternoon for the club which left them in 16th spot, just three points clear of the relegation zone and in disarray both on and off the field.

West Ham were only just above Southampton who also had a Saturday afternoon to forget. The Saints meekly surrendered at St James’ Park, losing 3-0 to Newcastle United. Defeat to his former mentor Rafa Benitez was a tough one to take for Mauricio Pellegrino and the final straw for the Saints board. Two days after the defeat on Tyneside, Pellegrino became the ninth manager to lose his job in the season. The Argentine would be replaced by ex-Stoke City boss Mark Hughes.

The situation was looking completely hopeless for West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies recorded their sixth successive defeat after going down 4-1 at home to Leicester City. Jamie Vardy scored a contender for Goal of the Season to keep the Foxes in contention for a UEFA Europa League qualification spot.

After weeks of mounting pressure, there was some light relief at last for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. After four consecutive defeats in all competitions, the Gunners got back to winning ways thanks to a commanding 3-0 victory over Watford at The Emirates Stadium. It was a day of milestones for Arsenal. Shkodran Mustafi headed Arsenal ahead after eight minutes for their 1000th home Premier League goal and Petr Cech became the first goalkeeper to reach the landmark of 200 clean sheets. To add to the gloss, he saved a penalty from Troy Deeney.

There was a real cause of concern for supporters of Tottenham Hotspur and England when Harry Kane limped off early during Tottenham’s 4-1 victory away at AFC Bournemouth. Early indications of a lengthy absence were quickly quelled and his ankle injury fortunately turned out to be just a three-week lay-off. Heung-Min Son stepped up in Kane’s absence, scoring twice in Tottenham’s excellent victory on the south coast. England manager Gareth Southgate might have had concerns over Kane but he would have been delighted to see Marcus Rashford score twice in Manchester United’s 2-1 victory over old rivals Liverpool FC, establishing a five-point gap in the table between the two sides.

However, Manchester City held on to their comfortable 16-point lead. Two goals from David Silva helped them beat Stoke City in the final game of the weekend 2-0 at The Bet365 Stadium to close to within two wins of the title.

What else happened in March 2018?

  • UK counter-terrorism police investigate the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
  • World-renowned physicist and author, Stephen Hawking, dies at his home in Cambridge, aged 76.
  • Vladimir Putin wins a fourth term in office as Russian President.
  • Donald Trump accepts an invitation from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a meeting in May to discuss North Korea’s denuclearisation.
  • The Labour Party suspends Ken Livingstone indefinitely after claims of anti-Semitism against the former Mayor of London.
  • Sky Sports suspend pundit and former Liverpool FC defender Jamie Carragher for the rest of the season after video footage emerges of him spitting out of his car window at a passing motorist.
  • At least 64 people die in a fire at a shopping and entertainment complex in the Russian city of Kemerovo.