Premier League 2018-19 Season Review: Manchester City’s precision pips Liverpool’s ‘heavy metal’ football
It was a cakewalk for City as they trounced their opponents and although Sadio Mane handed Liverpool their 30th win of the season, it was not enough for Jurgen Klopp and his men. The season was decided by just one point and City were once again crowned champions.Updated: May 13, 2019 23:41 IST
Manchester City and Liverpool went into the final day of the Premier League season with both teams within touching distance of the trophy. For City, a win over Brighton would have clinched their second consecutive title while Liverpool had to depend on other factors to finally end their wait for the league title. All eyes were on the two heavyweights as they launched their final charge and considering the trend of the season, everyone expected a twist in the tail.
However, it was a cakewalk for City as they trounced their opponents and although Sadio Mane handed Liverpool their 30th win of the season, it was not enough for Jurgen Klopp and his men. The season was decided by just one point and City were once again crowned champions.
City Reign Supreme
It was a historic season for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City as they strung together 14 league wins at the end of the season and became the first side to retain the title since Manchester United in 2009. It was also their fourth English title in eight seasons and the sixth in the club’s history.
The trio of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane formed the core of their attack and with the addition of Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez, Guardiola turned them into one of the best attacking teams in Europe. While the defending champions did suffer four defeats in the season, their winning run at the end of the season was enough to topple Liverpool from the top spot and it was further proof of how much the team has improved under Guardiola.
So Close Yet So Far
With just one loss in the entire season, Liverpool were the most consistent team in the league by quite some distance but what did not help their case were the seven drawn games. At one point of the season, they were seven points clear of City but draws against Manchester United and Everton dealt a major blow to their title aspirations. Back in 2013-14, it was just a point that decided the league and on Sunday, Liverpool were once again on the wrong side of history.
While the Reds did miss out on the title, it was a season that gave birth to bonafide superstars in their ranks. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah ended the season with 22 goals each and Roberto Firmino, who missed a number of matches due to injury, was also a hit at the top of the field. Coming to the defense, Andrew Roberston and Trent Alexander-Arnold solidified their spot in the team and new recruit Alisson Becker clinched the Golden Glove award.
New Stadium, New Highs
Mauricio Pochettino did not win many fans with his decision to not buy a single player at the start of the season but Tottenham have proven a lot of critics wrong with their performance this season. The North London club finished third in the league table and are just one win away from their first ever Champions League title. While striker Harry Kane was once again the leading light in the side, Son Hueng-min and Lucas Moura set the stage on fire with their brand of attacking football.
The year was also extra special for Tottenham as they moved into their new stadium after playing their home matches at Wembley for the last few seasons. The new facility may have somewhat hampered their immediate transfer policy but it points towards a bigger future for the club and with the Champions League dreams still alive, they will surely be aiming for bigger things next season.
It was a tough test for new managers - Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery - to assume control of two of the biggest clubs of London and although there were a few hiccups, the duo will be not devastated by their performances. While Chelsea produced a brilliant comeback in the final few weeks to claim the fourth spot after a poor start under Sarri, Arsenal adapted well to the Emery way of football and the new look team missed out on a Champions League spot by the finest of margins.
However, the dream is still alive for Arsenal as they will take on Chelsea in the Europa League final with the winner earning a direct entry into next year’s Champions League. They have benefited well from the striking partnership of golden boot winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette and duo will only again be instrumental to their plans of winning the Europa League title.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have already booked their spot in Europe’s elite competition and the Europa League title will be a great ending to an impressive resurgence. Life under Sarri did not start well with the coach constantly criticizing the players for their approach but an inspired show by Eden Hazard and a solid defensive show towards the end of the season was enough to win over the fans.
United in Trouble
Disappointing performances, a change in management and lackluster show from star players - it was a season full of challenges for Manchester United. Big names like Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial did not have a good start to the season and that the impacted the team’s performance drastically. The rumoured spat between Pogba and manager Jose Mourinho became perfect fodder for the media and in December, Mourinho faced the axe with United 19 points behind then table toppers Liverpool.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the job as a caretaker and was an instant hit with the players as well as the fans. Pogba started scoring at will and with an impressive winning streak, he was soon offered a permanent spot by the board. But, the tide soon turned and with just one win in their last six matches (including a 2-0 loss against Cardiff City on the final day), they finished sixth with 66 points.
Mid Table Warriors
It was a season to remember for Wolves who impressed everyone with their brand of football and an eighth place finish was perfect for the side who gained promotion in 2018. Raul Jimenez was the star with 13 goals and Nuno Espírito Santo established himself as a manager to watch out for. Wolves were followed by Everton and Brendan Rodgers’ rejuvenated Leicester City who mainly had inconsistent runs in the 2018-19 season with occasional sparks of genius.
It was game over for Huddersfield, Fulham and Cardiff City as they were relegated from Premier League with all three teams struggling to get going in the competition. Huddersfield crashed out of the league quite early as they ended up with just 16 points and Fulham followed suit few gameweeks later as they could manage just 26 points. Cardiff City, who defeated Manchester United on the final day of the season, were entangled in a race to safety with Brighton but with 24 loss out of the 38 games, it was a rather forgettable season for the Wales-based club.
A Year of Tragedy
It was a tough year for Leicester City and Cardiff City because of two tragic off-field incidents. Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was among the five people who lost their lives in a helicopter crash near the King Power Stadium. The Thai businessman was a huge supporter of the club and around 10,000 fans took part in a memorial walk before their next home game.
Cardiff City was also shook by the untimely death of Emiliano Sala who died in a plane crash while on his way to the club. He signed for the side from Nantes but his aircraft was found at the bottom of the English Channel and his body was found after thirteen days along with the pilot of the plane.
First Published: May 13, 2019 18:07 IST