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.