What a year. What...a...year!
While the final day on Sunday didn't have a ton of drama—Manchester City beat West Ham 2-0 to win the title, but even a draw or a Liverpool loss would have sufficed; all three relegation spots were sewn up; the Champions League spots had been decided, too—the duration of the season most certainly did.
Let's take a look back at some of the top moments from the season after we review the Premier League table for one last time.
|13||West Ham United||38||11||7||20||40||51||-11||40|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||38||7||15||16||43||59||-16||36|
There are so many moments from this season that will be etched in our minds for years to come. But perhaps none will stick in the memory quite like a the roller-coaster ride Liverpool took to close the year.
When Liverpool beat Manchester City 3-2 on April 13—with just four games remaining for them and their destiny in their hands—with an animated Steven Gerrard gathered his teammates in the middle of the Anfield pitch. It looked like it might be the defining moment of the season.
Was this the year Liverpool's title drought finally ended?
But how things would change two weeks later.
This time it was Chelsea that came to town—a Chelsea side sitting many of its starters in order to rest them for the Champions League semifinal. Surely at home, Liverpool would beat this weakened Blues side.
But again it was Gerrard who provided the iconic image, as his slip on the pitch sprung Demba Ba for a breakaway goal. Chelsea would add another goal late, and suddenly the title was slipping from Liverpool's grasp.
Still, they took a 3-0 lead against Crystal Palace in their next match and continued to press, knowing if they finished tied on points with City that goal differential would come into play. But then the unthinkable happened—Crystal Palace scored three goals in the final 11 minutes, and the new iconic image was Luis Suarez burying his face in his shirt, overcome with emotion at the disappointing draw.
That was, at least, until the final week, when the iconic image became City celebrating with their Premier League title trophy.
There were huge upsets throughout the year, of course, and truly wild finishes. Who could forget Fernando Torres scoring a 90th-minute goal against City in October, caused by a huge defensive gaffe? Or how about the wild finish between Everton and Liverpool in November, with Romelu Lukaku scoring two goals in 10 minutes to give the Toffees a 3-2 lead with eight minutes remaining, only to see Daniel Sturridge even things up in the 89th?
While there were more good times than bad for clubs like City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, the entire season was a disaster for Manchester United—their first without Sir Alex Ferguson—as they finished seventh and sacked David Moyes before the campaign had concluded.
Was it really that disastrous?
Oh yes, it was really that disastrous, as Purely Football tweeted:
Surely they'll be back. But this year is one they'd like to forget.
For as long as Arsenal spent atop the table, they'll have a few laments themselves. Had they stayed healthier, might they have stayed in the title race longer? Perhaps. But their performances against top competition away from the Emirates were pretty sobering as well.
|December 14||at Manchester City||Loss (6-3)|
|February 8||at Liverpool||Loss (5-1)|
|March 22||at Chelsea||Loss (6-0)|
|April 6||at Everton||Loss (3-0)|
Still, Arsene Wenger got his men back into the Champions League. And he also got into one of the most entertaining managerial spats with Jose Mourinho we've seen. ESPN recapped the war of words in February:
Jose Mourinho's war of words with Arsene Wenger has taken a new turn after the Chelsea manager described his Arsenal counterpart as a 'specialist in failure'.
But speaking at a press conference ahead of Chelsea's FA Cup tie with Manchester City this weekend, Mourinho said: 'He's a specialist in failure. I am not.'
Arsenal fans might now point to Mourinho's trophy-less season, while the Gunners will play in the FA Cup final.
Mourinho's return to Chelsea and the Premier League was one of many important returns this season. After a summer in which he looked certain to leave Anfield, Suarez not only stayed with the club, he led the Premier League in scoring with 31 goals and finished second in assists with 12.
His campaign was one of many that impressed. His teammate, Sturridge, had a breakout campaign, scoring 21 goals. Manchester City's Yaya Toure made a strong case he deserved to be Player of the Year, scoring 20 goals from his midfield position. Eden Hazard continued his rise to superstardom. Adam Lallana made a strong case he was one of England's finest. Sergio Aguero and Aaron Ramsey each were excellent when they were able to stay healthy.
New arrivals to the league had a major impact. Moyes didn't shine in his United debut, but Roberto Martinez did so for Everton, as did Manuel Pellegrini in his. Mesut Ozil tapered off down the stretch, but for a period early in the season, the new Arsenal man was arguably the league's top player. Willian played a major role for Chelsea, while Wilfried Bony scored 16 goals for Swansea City, and loanee Romelu Lukaku notched 15 for Everton.
There was heartbreak, of course. Managers were sacked. Fulham, Norwich City and Cardiff City were relegated. Players like Theo Walcott and Jay Rodriguez were lost for the season due to injuries, ruining their World Cup hopes.
But in the end, the good outweighed the bad, and while all eyes now turn to the World Cup, next season will surely be as thrilling as this one.
City will look to defend their title even in the wake of possible Financial Fair Play violations. Chelsea will surely add a striker. Liverpool might just steal Lallana from Southampton. Arsenal will retool. United can't possibly be worse. Tottenham will likely add a new manager and perhaps find a true star to lead them on the pitch.
Parity, at least at the top of the table, should again be the name of the game. Plenty of teams will feel they can claim the title. If this season was any indication, it should be brilliant stuff.