Each Premier League Side's Best Moment of the 2013-14 Season
As the Premier League reaches the conclusion of another season on Sunday, there is still plenty to play for—although perhaps not quite as much as some people envisaged a few weeks ago.
The title is still to be decided, just about—but elsewhere the significant European qualification spots and relegation battles are all decided, barring some quite dramatic events on the final day.
With that in mind, then, we take a look at each side's best moment of the past season. For some, the pickings are richer than for others...
Manchester City: Blowing Apart Arch-Rivals United at the Etihad
Manchester City's high point may well still be ahead—clinching the title always tends to rank pretty highly, especially considering this has been a campaign where the Blues have seemed to sneak toward the title rather than stride to it.
It seemed to be slipping away from them plenty of times—the two defeats to Chelsea, the late loss at Liverpool—but it looks like they will get there in the end, although perhaps we should all expect a little more drama on Sunday after such an unpredictable campaign.
With that being said, City's most enjoyable moments perhaps came against their cross-city rivals Manchester United, whom they beat twice by three-goal margins.
In February they went to Old Trafford and won 3-0 with belligerent ease, but it was back in September when they were most devastating—dominating their hated rivals in a 4-1 triumph.
City were 4-0 up with just 50 minutes gone, following a brilliant display of attacking football that had the fans elated. At that moment it felt like no one could stop them—certainly not David Moyes.
Liverpool: Stunning City at the Death to Draw Title into Reach
This has been a campaign of numerous highs for Liverpool—something that the club's fans will no doubt keep in mind this weekend, where disappointment is likely to be the instant emotion for some.
Liverpool started the season with a brilliant moment—Simon Mignolet saving a last-minute penalty to secure a 1-0 win over Stoke—and had many more along the way, culminating in the 3-2 victory over Manchester City that put Liverpool in control of their own title destiny.
What has happened since will only inspire winces among Reds fans, but everything up to that point was worth savouring. A fine campaign, highlighted by that instinctive Philippe Coutinho finish.
Chelsea: Textbook Display Puts Man City to the Sword
It should be a measure of concern to Jose Mourinho that Chelsea are likely to finish the season having beaten Liverpool and Manchester City twice, yet still ending up behind them in the final standings.
The Blues also went unbeaten against Arsenal and Manchester United, but a series of poor results against lesser sides let them down massively in the final reckoning.
The high point of the season, then, perhaps came against Manchester City at the Etihad—with Mourinho installing a perfect tactical game plan and his players following it to perfection, as they stole a 1-0 win that put them in control of the title race.
It felt like a defining moment, although unfortunately it did not quite turn out that way. For a while afterward, however, Chelsea fans could see the path to the title.
Arsenal: Ramsey-Inspired Liverpool Win Creates Genuine Title Hopes
Perhaps Arsenal's highlight is still to come, as they bid to win a first trophy in nine years in next Saturday's FA Cup final.
But, for now, the best moment perhaps came early in the season, when the Gunners comfortably beat Liverpool 2-0 at the Emirates thanks to goals from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey.
That November win put Arsenal five points clear at the top of the table with 10 games gone, sparking very real belief around the club that they could go on to win the title.
Wenger's side would continue to set the pace for a number of months, but eventually the series of alarmingly big defeats to rival sides caught up with them, as they slipped down to fourth at the business end of the campaign.
Everton: Arsenal Thrashing Makes Top Four a Real Prospect
Everton fans might have as much cause as any set of fans to be satisfied with their season's work, a campaign that has seen them play a more attacking, vibrant brand of football, while also seriously contending for the Champions League.
Unfortunately they have fallen just short in that bid in the end, but until recently it looked very possible they might pip Arsenal to fourth. At no point was that more the case than when they faced the Gunners at Goodison Park, eviscerating their rivals on the way to a 3-0 win that had the whole ground jumping.
There were other great wins—the two over Manchester United, and David Moyes, stand out—but this win over the Gunners suddenly had everyone genuinely believing the Champions League was a viable target.
Tottenham: Last-Gasp Winner at Cardiff Keeps Them Among Pace-Setters
It seems that the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas in December will be made to look more foolish and knee-jerk with the continued passing of time, such has been the general fall in performances and enthusiasm around the club over the second half of the season.
Tim Sherwood's tenure provided an initial boost in results—including a sixth successive win at Old Trafford—but over the long term has only seemed to accelerate Spurs' decline away from where they should be: fighting to finish in the top four.
It is all such a far cry from the start of the season, when Spurs won five of their first six games to keep them firmly among the pace-setters in the Premier League. The fifth of those wins, against Cardiff, was perhaps the most dramatic—Paulinho's 90th minute winner sparking genuine talk about title pursuits and European qualification.
Unfortunately, a draw with Chelsea in the next game was followed by a loss to West Ham, and by the time Spurs lost 5-0 to Liverpool in December the decision was taken to remove Villas-Boas.
Manchester United: Beating Swansea Creates High Hopes for Moyes Era
It has not exactly been a season to remember for Manchester United. Perhaps the high point actually came on the first day, when David Moyes celebrated his first game in charge with a 4-1 away win over Swansea City.
The triumph suggested moving on from the Sir Alex Ferguson era would not be so painful—the reality would be so very different.
Southampton: Hull Victory Shows off Young Talent
Perhaps Southampton's proudest moments came when they were not actually playing, as young players like Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Luke Shaw gained international recognition with England—the sort of nod that reflects well not only on them but on the club that has nurtured them too.
That wealth of growing talent reflected on performances and results on the pitch, with the Saints establishing themselves as something of a neutral's favourite as they navigated their way to a comfortable top-10 finish.
There were many good performances, but perhaps the best moment came in the 4-1 win over Hull—a dominant triumph highlighted by a superb third goal. Adam Lallana's solo run and finish seemed to embody everything good about Mauricio Pochettino's side.
Fans will wait anxiously to see how many of their stars they can keep in the transfer window, and what next season holds in store.
Newcastle United: Cabaye the Hero in United Victory
Newcastle's season can effectively be divided into two periods: W.C. (with Cabaye) and A.C. (after Cabaye).
The sale of the Frenchman in the January transfer window coincided with a marked decline in results and performances on Tyneside, a turn of events that has left Alan Pardew facing questions about his future at the club this summer.
But, while Cabaye was still in black and white, there were a number of impressive performances from the Magpies—not least of which was the 2-0 victory over Chelsea at St James' Park in November.
A month later, however, came the crowning glory—as Newcastle went to Old Trafford and snatched a 1-0 win. The goalscorer? Yohan Cabaye, of course.
Stoke City: Assaidi's Brilliant Strike Leaves Mourinho in Awe
Stoke's move from Tony Pulis to Mark Hughes has appeared to have paid off, with the club set to finish inside the top 10 playing a slightly more attractive brand of football.
The high point perhaps came early in the campaign, when a side still finding their feet beat Chelsea 3-2 thanks to Oussama Assaidi's blistering right-foot finish.
Jose Mourinho, watching from the sidelines, could only congratulate the on-loan Liverpool winger as he celebrated with his team-mates.
Crystal Palace: Eagles Stun Liverpool in Miraculous Comeback
The first league win of the season against Sunderland at Selhurst Park was a spectacular moment, but Palace fans then had to go through the darkness for a while before Tony Pulis miraculously delivered the Eagles to safety.
There were a lot of key wins along the way, but perhaps the most memorable came away to Cardiff—Jason Puncheon scoring twice as the London side effectively secured Premier League survival, something they had never managed in four previous attempts.
Nothing, however, compared to the excitement and enjoyment derived from Palace's last home game of the season, when even with safety secured they came back from 3-0 down against Liverpool to draw 3-3, with all three goals coming in the final 11 minutes.
Selhurst Park, home of the best atmosphere of any Premier League ground all season, was rocking.
West Ham: Spurs Battering Enjoyed by All Hammers
It probably did not get much better for West Ham fans than the two victories over Tottenham, particularly the game at White Hart Lane which saw Ravel Morrison run half the length of the pitch before nonchalantly chipping Hugo Lloris to complete a 3-0 win.
Morrison was not even in the West Ham team for the return game at Upton Park—having long since been farmed out on loan to QPR—but Sam Allardyce's side nevertheless won again, effectively securing Premier League survival in the process.
There were a lot of low points in between, but those two wins will stand out for many fans.
Swansea City: Revenge Is Sweet Against Cardiff
Swansea are another side whose season may not be remembered with great fondness in the fullness of time, although considering the achievements of recent campaigns that is perhaps unsurprising.
The highlights were fleeting but nevertheless enjoyable—with perhaps the revenge gained in the 3-0 triumph over Cardiff the pick of the bunch for fans of the club. The fact that it was a big relegation clash, and the Bluebirds would eventually go down, only heightened the enjoyment.
Wilfried Bony's 90th-minute penalty winner at Newcastle, securing three points that effectively clinched the Swans' survival, was another big moment.
Sunderland: The Great Escape
Where do you start? Sunderland's complete inadequacy for much of the season only set the stage for them to pull off miracle moment after miracle moment in the run-in, culminating in Wednesday's victory over West Brom which guaranteed their Premier League survival.
Seven points off safety with six games remaining, the extent of the Black Cats' achievement cannot be overstated. Of the wins on the way, the away triumph over Chelsea was perhaps the most memorable—coming as it did just days after Vito Mannone's error had prevented them picking up a similar triumph against Manchester City. Remarkable.
Aston Villa: Survival Hopes Boosted by Chelsea Victory
Aston Villa are another team whose fans can safely say have not had a campaign to remember, with turgid, uninspiring displays coupled with an ongoing fear of possible relegation.
There were high points in the earlier part of the campaign—beating Manchester City at home, Christian Benteke inspiring them to victories over West Brom and Norwich—but perhaps the best moment came when Paul Lambert's side beat Chelsea thanks to Fabian Delph's improvised effort.
Not only was it a hard-fought win over one of the league's title challengers, it was a crucial three points to help alleviate the pressure in the relegation battle.
Delph had previously produced a thumping strike to give his side a 3-2 victory over Southampton at St Mary's, another moment to savour.
Hull City: Tigers Stun Liverpool at the KC Stadium
Clearly, next weekend's FA Cup final—coupled with Premier League survival—will go down as Hull's most memorable moments.
Their season was built more on consistency than any real run of results, with perhaps the most memorable single result coming in December against Liverpool, as the Tigers stunned everyone with a comfortable 3-1 victory.
West Brom: Berahino Puts United to the Sword at Old Trafford
Remember when West Brom beat Manchester United at Old Trafford? Such defeats would become something of a regular occurrence for United but back then they were still pretty surprising—the Baggies stunning everyone as Morgan Amalfitano and Saido Berahino completed an impressive 2-1 win.
The goal would briefly turn Berahino into one of the most high-profile prospects in English football—with reports about his contract situation becoming almost a daily affair. By the end of the campaign, however, he was more famous for being punched in a changing-room disagreement with James Morrison, an indication of the way West Brom's season has deteriorated.
Survival was perhaps more about luck than judgment by the end.
Norwich City: West Ham Comeback Lifts Mood at Carrow Road
Norwich's season has been one of struggle and strife for almost the entire campaign, and it looks set to end exactly the way most fans feared—with relegation from the Premier League.
Most of the club's summer signings have been a disaster. Chris Hughton slowly lost the ability to motivate his players and Neil Adams has not fared much better, but at least on one November night at Carrow Road it all threatened to be so much better.
Norwich were already in the relegation zone when West Ham came to town, before finding themselves in an even deeper hole when Ravel Morrison opened the scoring for the visitors in the first half.
But a second-half comeback from Gary Hooper, Robert Snodgrass and (in the last minute) Leroy Fer turned things around for the Canaries, jumping them to safety as Carrow Road bounced around like it had not done all season.
If only that feeling could have continued a little longer.
Fulham: Kasami's Wonder Goal Does Not Hint at Troubles to Come
You cannot really say much in praise of Fulham's season, which has seen three managers all fail to arrest the club's inexorable slide into the Championship.
If there was a high point in there somewhere it perhaps came near the start of the season, as Pajtim Kasami scored one of the goals of the season against Crystal Palace in a 4-1 win. Everything about the goal—the first touch, the technique on the volley, the ball's trajectory as it found the top corner—was almost perfect.
That could not be said on many other occasions for Fulham during the season.
Cardiff City: Winning Wales Derby Inspires Hopes of Better Season
For a team that is highly likely to finish bottom of the pile at the season's end, Cardiff actually had a number of high points to celebrate—it's just unfortunate that almost all of them came in the early part of the season.
Cardiff City Stadium was the site of most of their successes, with the home victories over Manchester City and arch-rivals Swansea perhaps standing out.
Unfortunately for the club's fans, Vincent Tan's meddling and the departure of Malky Mackay ensured the remainder of the campaign saw only low moment after low moment.