After what seemed like an eternity, the 2019/2020 Premier League season finally wrapped up last weekend. Liverpool were crowned champions of England after 30 years, Manchester United and Chelsea managed to squeeze into the last two European spots, while Norwich City, Bournemouth, and Watford were relegated to the Championship. This season saw plenty of thrills and spills, with the race for European spots, and the relegation dogfight going down to the wire. Let’s take a look at the ten best games from the world’s most competitive league.
10. Sheffield United vs Manchester United
It’s safe to say Sheffield United were the Premier League’s surprise package of the season. Many predicted their relegation before the season’s start, but they proved doubters wrong by not only surviving in the league, but thriving. The Blades beat the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, and Spurs at home, and were unlucky not to add Manchester United to that list. During an eventful night at Bramall Lane, Sheffield took the lead in the first half through John Fleck, and went one better in the 52nd minute through Lys Mousset.
Sheffield looked home and dry until the 72nd minute. A superb strike by youngster Brandon Williams gave Manchester United hope, and in the space of seven minutes, they turned things around through Mason Greenwood (another youngster) and Marcus Rashford. It looked like United had sucker-punched Sheffield to a famous comeback victory, but Welsh striker Oli McBurnie found the back of the net in the 90th minute to save his side. A rollercoaster of a match.
9. Manchester City vs Watford
Manchester City faced off against Watford at the Etihad Stadium on gameweek 6. What followed next was flat out domination by the home side. City have a habit of tearing Watford apart, but this took it to another level. Just months after routing Watford 5-0 in the FA Cup Final, City were able to replicate that scoreline after 18 minutes, thanks to goals by David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, and Nicolas Otamendi. Watford fans might have feared the worst, but their counterparts only managed to add three more goals for the remainder of the match. Bernardo Silva scored twice more to grab his first hattrick in English football, and Kevin De Bruyne tallied another in the 85th minute. City ran out 8-0 winners on the day, but the result surprisingly wasn’t the heaviest victory of the Premier League season. Bonkers.
8. Southampton vs Leicester City
So what was the heaviest victory of the Premier League season in 2019/20? Just ask Leicester City. The Foxes traveled to the St. Mary’s to face off against Southampton on gameweek 10. What ensued next was as unbelievable as their 5000/1 odds to win the league in 2016. Leicester were fortunate to take the lead after some good play by left-back Ben Chilwell. Earlier in the play, referee Andre Marriner deemed Ryan Bertrand’s challenge on Leicester’s Ayoze Perez a yellow card offense and played advantage for the away side. A VAR decision then led to Bertrand’s sending off, yet the goal still stood even though Marriner had played advantage on a red card challenge. Southampton went a goal and a man down after ten minutes, and the match eventually went from bad to worse.
Youri Tielemans and Ayoze Perez added to the Foxes‘ tally nine minutes later, as the away side kept running riot. Leicester were up 5-0 at the break thanks to another strike by Perez and talisman Jamie Vardy. Vardy and Perez then completed a hat-trick in the second half, and James Maddison added a ninth in the 85th minute to seal a famous victory for the away side. Leicester finished the match with 25 shots compared to Southampton’s six. A complete and utter humiliation.
7. Bournemouth vs Leicester City
This was a contest between two teams heading the total opposite direction in the table. Bournemouth were fighting for their lives down in the relegation zone, while Leicester City were trying to secure a Champions League spot for the first time in four seasons. Things went according to plan for the away side in the 23rd minute when Jamie Vardy gave them the lead. Bournemouth responded in the second half courtesy of a Junior Stanislas penalty. The Cherries then went one better three minutes later. Dominic Solanke scored his first of the season at a crucial time, giving his side a 2-1 lead. A skirmish inside the Leicester goal led to Caglar Soyuncu getting sent off, after the Turkish defender had kicked out at Bournemouth forward Callum Wilson.
The home side took full advantage of the situation and attacked the Foxes at will. Stanislas’ wayward shot in the 83rd minute met Jonny Evans, and the defender couldn’t help himself from scoring an own-goal. Four minutes later, Bournemouth made it 4-1 thanks to Solanke’s second of the match. Leicester were shell-shocked and capitulated to a less-fancied Bournemouth side in true Premier League fashion.
6. Newcastle vs Manchester City
Manchester City’s three-peat hopes took a huge blow after their gameweek 14 result against Newcastle United. The defending champions traveled to St. James Park needing to keep pace with league leaders Liverpool, after already slipping behind to Leicester City in third place. They took the lead thanks to Raheem Sterling’s strike in the 22nd minute. The home side didn’t back down, however, and it only took them three minutes to draw level thanks to Jetro Willems’ right-footed drive.
Manchester City kept searching for goals down the Newcastle end for the remainder of the match. Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez both had opportunities to regain the lead for the away side, but it wasn’t until Kevin De Bruyne produced one of the goals of the season that they did. The Belgian cooly chested down Fabian Schär’s headed clearance and unleashed a rocket that no goalkeeper in the world could save. City thought they had won the match, but the Magpies continued to dream. Six minutes after De Bruyne’s belter, the home side responded with a super-strike of their own. Christian Atsu played a short free-kick to the legs of Jonjo Shelvey, and the Englishman hit a beautiful, first-time curler past a helpless Ederson in front of the Toon Army. The game ended all-square at 2-2, and City’s title grip grew weaker by the week.
5. West Ham United vs Chelsea
This match was a proper London Derby with a lot at stake. Chelsea traveled to the London Stadium needing a win to maintain a six-point lead over Manchester United and Wolves in fourth. West Ham meanwhile needed a win to stay outside the relegation zone since they were level on points with both Bournemouth and Watford. Both sides went toe-to-toe with each other, as West Ham’s Michail Antonio and Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic both missed great chances to put their team in the lead. The home side thought they had scored first in the 34th minute. Tomáš Souček’s shot scrapped its way into the goal, only for VAR to rule it out due to Antonio’s interference with the play whilst in an offside position. Six minutes later, Chelsea took the lead thanks to Willian’s cool penalty, after Pulisic was brought down inside the box by Issa Diop. West Ham did level the match in the dying embers of the first-half. This time Souček’s effort was legitimate, and too good for Tammy Abraham to clear off the line.
The match got even tense in the second half. West Ham took the lead just five minutes after the restart after good play by Antonio, Declan Rice, and Jarrod Bowen led to a tap-in for the former. Fifteen minutes later, Chelsea were level-pegging thanks to a superb free-kick by Willian. Once again, a streaking Pulisic was brought down–this time by Rice–and the Brazilian made no mistake, even though Fabianski gambled by going to his right side first. The match was there for the taking and it was the home side that nabbed all three points. A quick counter-attack saw West Ham substitute Andriy Yarmolenko one-on-one with Antonio Rudiger. The Ukrainian cut inside his favorite left foot and put a fierce shot past Kepa Arrizabalaga’s net to secure a famous victory for the Hammers.
4. Liverpool vs Manchester City
This was a contest between England’s best. The two heavyweights met at Anfield in November in what was an early Premier League decider. Liverpool hadn’t missed a beat all season, so Manchester City had to win to stay in second and fend both Leicester City and Chelsea off, and also reduce Liverpool’s lead at the top to three points. The game didn’t go City’s way, especially at the start. The home side took the lead in the sixth minute thanks to Fabinho’s super strike. There was controversy, however, as the ball looked to have been brushed off the hands of both Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and City’s Bernardo Silva earlier in the play. VAR didn’t call the goal back, despite the City players and manager continued protests. The away side did have two glorious chances to equalize, but both Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero couldn’t put Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the back of the net.
Things continued to go Liverpool’s way in the second half. Jordan Henderson did well to fend off City’s defense and send a looping cross from the right-hand side to a diving Sadio Mane, with the Senegalese making no mistake. City found themselves down 3-0 at Anfield after 51 minutes. To their credit, they kept creating chances to score but the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Aguero, and Sterling just couldn’t score. By the time Bernardo Silva’s sweet strike hit the back of the net, it was too little, too late. Liverpool won the match 3-1, taking a gigantic step towards their first ever Premier League title.
3. Norwich vs Manchester City
This was undoubtedly the shock result of the season. Just a week after this match, Manchester City destroyed Watford 8-0 at home, and the Hornets can blame the Canaries for feeling City’s wrath. The reigning champions traveled to Carrow Road looking to win a match nobody expected them to lose. Not only were Norwich City newly promoted, but they also had plenty of injury worries to deal with. Manchester City were healthy all around, although they did keep Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne on the bench. To everyone’s surprise, the home side took the lead in the 18th minute through a powerful header by Kenny McLean. The Manchester side was in shock again ten minutes later when good play by Teemu Pukki led to the Finnish striker finding Todd Cantwell in the back-post for an easy finish. Just like that, it was 2-0 to Norwich and everyone was stunned.
City did find a way back in the game through Sergio Aguero right before half-time, but Norwich weren’t deterred. Slow play by City defender Nicolas Otamendi led to the Argentine getting dispossessed right outside his penalty area by fellow countryman Emiliano Buendia. Buendia then found Pukki and he made no mistake to put his side up 3-1 against the champions of England. Rodri managed to claw another goal back for City in the 88th minute, but Norwich held on to secure a victory for the ages.
2. Watford vs Liverpool
Liverpool were on course to win their first English top-flight title in 30 years before traveling to Vicarage Road, with everyone wondering if their undefeated streak would last the season. Not many expected the home side to get anything from the match, but boy did they save their best football for the champions-elect. Watford winger Ismalia Sarr had just recently found his feet in English football after famously squandering great chances against Liverpool in the revere fixture. This time around, the Senegalese dominated Liverpool’s backline in the second half, scoring two goals in the space of six minutes.
Terrible defending by the Liverpool backline gave Sarr his first goal, as he caught Dejan Lovren, Virgil Van Dijk, and Andrew Robertson sleeping to poke one home. Six minutes later, he continued his reign of terror by getting in-between Van Dijk and Lovren and chipping past Allison to put his side in dreamland. The route was complete on the 72nd minute when Troy Deeney capitalized on another defensive error, this time by Alexander-Arnold, to slot one inside a virtually open goal. Watford seized the day, won the game, and won everyone’s hearts.
1. Wolves vs Manchester City
This game was absolutely ridiculous from start to finish. Wolves are a really good side at home, and many expected a clash of titans when Manchester City traveled to the Molineux on gameweek 19. The away side started the game off on the wrong foot when goalkeeper Ederson rushed off his line and clipped Wolves forward Diogo Jota into the ground. Referee Martin Atkinson had no choice but to send the Brazilian off for his actions. Things got better for City in the 25th minute, but not without more drama. Leander Dendoncker stepped on Riyad Mahrez’s foot inside the box, and VAR awarded City a penalty after Atkinson originally gave a goal kick to Wolves. Raheem Sterling stepped up for City, but Rui Patricio raised the roof by saving his penalty. VAR stepped in again, however, and awarded the penalty to be retaken after Patricio was ruled guilty of encroachment. Sterling’s penalty was saved again, but he tapped in the rebound to give his side the lead. Astonishing.
Five minutes after the restart, Sterling was on the scoresheet again to make it 2-0. Kevin De Bruyne’s through ball split the Wolves backline like a knife, and Sterling beat Patricio with a clever dink. Wolves looked down and out, but it only took them five minutes to find a way back into the game. Adama Traore found the ball in the middle of the park and hit a low, driven shot off the post and inside Claudio Bravo’s goal to light the Molineux up again. Things got better for the home side in the 82nd minute. This time Traore outmuscled Bernard Mendy’s foolish attempt to shield the ball out of play and found Raul Jimenez inside the box for the Mexican to tap in the equalizer. Seven minutes later, the comeback was complete thanks to Matt Doherty’s sweet left-footed strike. There was more drama in injury-time when Sterling’s free-kick clipped the crossbar, but Wolves held on to do the double on the champions in a game that had red cards, missed penalties, a retaken penalty, and near misses. This ladies and gentlemen is the Premier League.
Those were my top ten Premier League games of the season. This season was filled with surprise results, make or break moments, and a relegation scrap for the ages. Fans will look forward to the transfer window, and the 2020/2021 season is set to begin on September 12th. We all look forward to more action next season, from the world’s most competitive league.
featured image credit Liverpoolfc.com