We are reaching the end of this season and, inevitably, teams around Europe and worldwide are preparing themselves for the summer transfer window. The focus for many will be on exciting prospects and young talents from around the globe. Here is a list of 13 talented African footballers who are going to be high on […]
Well, it’s all over. The Premier League 2016/17 season is done, Chelsea are the champions, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull City will spend next season in the Championship and Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Liverpool will join the champions in the Champions League.
In a final weekend with little riding on it, we were treated to plenty of goals and some memorable performances. Which players made our final Names of the Premier League of this season?
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 22, 2017
Tottenham Hotspur finished the season in style as they thumped already relegated Hull City 7-1 at the KCOM Stadium. Striker Harry Kane grabbed his second hat-trick in a week to make sure he retained the Golden Boot.
Kane’s hat-trick means the England international scored eight goals in his last three matches of the season and ended the league campaign with 29 goals despite – missing a few months due to injuries. It took just 11 minutes for Kane to net his first.
A low left-footed strike rooted David Marshall to give Spurs the lead. Kane added his second a couple of minutes later with a tap-in from a Kieran Trippier cross. His third and Spurs’ fifth of the game came after 72 minutes. Dele Alli set Kane clear and he calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net.
Kane has shown that he can score all types of goals and has become one of the best strikers around – not just in the Premier League, but in the world. Spurs will feel that with Kane and just a couple of additions they can win the league next season and not just be the team that mounts a late challenge once again.
Georgino Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
Liverpool needed a win on the last day of the season to cement their Champions League place and they got just that with a 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough at Anfield.
The game was tense for the first 45 minutes. That was until Georgino Wijnaldum fired Liverpool into the lead at the end of the first half with a powerful strike, a massive relief to both fans and players of Liverpool as before that goal other scores meant Liverpool were in danger of slipping out the top four.
The burden that had been lifted by Wijnaldum’s goal was clear to see. Liverpool came out in the second half looking far more confident. They doubled their just six minutes into it through a Philippe Coutinho free kick. Five minutes later and it was three for Liverpool, Wijnaldum this time turned provider with his cushioned header allowing Adam Lallana to run onto the ball and slot in. The goal secured Champions League football for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Liverpool finishing inside the top four may not be a surprise to most, but considering they finished eighth last season they have done well to be back in the top four, especially when of Sunday’s starters, only Wijnaldum and Joel Matip were not there last season.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Like Liverpool, Manchester City needed a result on the final day to ensure Champions League football. Despite City only needing a draw they destroyed a poor Watford side 5-0 at Vicarage Road.
There have been suggestions that Sergio Aguero may leave Manchester City this summer due to Gabriel Jesus’ emergence as a goal scorer for the Citizens. However, once again Pep Guardiola played both Aguero and Jesus from the start – and both ended up on the scoresheet.
Aguero struck twice in the match. His first came after Kevin De Bruyne played him through and the Argentine made no mistake by confidently striking into the corner of the net. Aguero’s second was far simpler. David Silva and Leroy Sane combined before the German’s ball across the box gave Aguero an easy finish from close range. There were signs again of a partnership between Aguero and Jesus, too. The former set up the latter for City’s fifth and final goal of the game.
Pep Guardiola caused some shock in the week when he stated he would’ve been sacked if he’d had the season he had with City at either Barcelona or Bayern Munich.
Guardiola is probably correct but only because those two sides are established powers in world football with teams capable of dominating competitions. City had an ageing squad before Guardiola took over and still needs some additions to make it a side that can consistently challenge both domestically and in Europe.
There are beautiful goals, then there's @aguerosergiokun's second against Watford 😍
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 22, 2017
Josh Harrop (Manchester United)
— Josh Harrop (@joshharrop23) May 22, 2017
Manchester United warmed up for their Europa League final by defeating Crystal Palace 2-0 at Old Trafford. The game saw Jose Mourinho name United’s youngest ever Premier League lineup, including full debuts for four youngsters.
One debutant was attacking midfielder Josh Harrop. Harrop had scored a hat-trick for United’s Under-23 side on Monday in front of a watching Mourinho, and was rewarded with a start. The 21-year-old did not look overawed. In fact, he looked confident and assured in possession.
It didn’t take long for Harrop to show what he could do as he gave United the lead after just 15 minutes. He latched onto a fine pass by Paul Pogba and cut in from the left onto his right foot before firing past Wayne Hennessey into the far corner. Pogba doubled United’s lead just a few minutes later when he got on the end of a Jesse Lingard pass to strike left-footed into the back of the net.
The likes of Harrop will be hoping that they now get more chances next season, especially after seeing the rise of Marcus Rashford. The England striker was playing for the Under-23’s just last season but is now likely to be leading the line for United in Wednesday’s Europa League final.
Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)
Chelsea finished their title-winning season in emphatic fashion with a 5-1 win over Sunderland. The game was John Terry’s final appearance as a Chelsea player, with the defender unlikely to be involved against Arsenal in the FA Cup final.
Javier Manquillo gave Sunderland a surprise early lead but goals from Willian, Eden Hazard and Pedro allowed Antonio Conte to replace Hazard and Diego Costa with the cup final in mind. However, one Chelsea substitute may have just given Conte a decision to make.
Michy Batshuayi came on and scored twice to stake his claim for a cup final place. The Belgian showed sharp movement to finish a Pedro through ball in stoppage time before hitting a strong accurate left-footed effort just a minute later.
Batshuayi has now scored four goals in his last three matches and was preferred by Conte to start the cup semi-final against Spurs. Though he’s been linked with a move away, Batshuayi has also put his case forward to stay and replace Costa in the long term if the Spaniard does move to China or back to Spain in the summer.