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Now This Has Been Another Year to Remember


Now This Has Been Another Year to Remember

Put all the betting odds into the mix.

Remember the betting tips that went right…and the ones that went wrong!

Add nine months’ worth of football games into the equation and what have you got: another never-to-be-forgotten season in the English Premier League.

It was the season that Manchester City were in a class of their own.

Runaway champions, the first top-flight club to reach 100 points, the first Premier League club to score more than 100 goals (106) and the highest winning margin (19 points clear of their nearest challengers) since 1897.

Yes, they have spent more than any other club in world football over the last decade—it is 10 years this summer since Sheikh Mansour took over and changed the landscape of English football—but their football over the past nine months has been simply scintillating.

No longer is this club best known for the black comedic history which peppered its modern existence before the Abu Dhabi revolution began.

Despite their collective and individual brilliance, one man deservedly took all the individual accolades.

In Mohamed Salah, Liverpool had the player of the season on all levels.

He is the first player to score 32 league goals in a 38-match Premier League season—more than Cristiano Ronaldo, more than Alan Shearer, more than Luis Suarez.

And there will be few greater individual campaigns if he can inspire the Merseysiders to Champions League glory.

However, as English football admired an Egyptian king, it said farewell to a French maverick, precisely 1,235 games after his first at Arsenal.

While there is no doubt it is the time to move on for both club and coach, the Gunners said farewell in style and with a salute that oozed class and dignity.

Away from the top six, on a different league financially to the rest, the emergence of Burnley provided one of the stories of the season.

They finished 16th a year ago and sold their best two players—Michael Keane to Everton and Andre Gray to Watford—ensuring they were among the bookies’ favourites for the drop.

Thanks to Sean Dyche and Co., they have finished seventh and qualified for European football for the first time since 1966.

Unlike some others, anyone who pulled on a claret shirt this season was beyond reproach when it came to commitment, pride and focus.

The likes of Stoke and West Brom, both relegated, used to be like this but lost their way. The owners at those clubs also panicked in changing manager mid-season, especially the Baggies, while drifting Southampton acted just in time to bring in sacked Stoke boss Mark Hughes for Mauricio Pellegrino.

Carlos Carvalhal restored belief and results for a while at Swansea, but ultimately the club fell short after failing to replace key departures last summer.

In contrast, all the promoted clubs didn’t panic and were rewarded with survival, with Brighton and Huddersfield particularly triumphing against the odds.

Crystal Palace entrusted a pensioner to work with modern day millionaire footballers and took them from potential despair, from no points and no goals in their first seven games to a very good campaign.

And then there was former Everton boss David Moyes ending the season at West Ham and former Hammers manager Sam Allardyce ending the season at Everton.

It’s unlikely both will linger too long at their respective clubs, particularly Allardyce, but that is the nature of modern day football and the desire for instant results.

There will certainly be new faces in the dugouts and on the pitch next season, there will be more success for the haves over the have-nots, there will be more stories to warm the heart and more casualties and record-breaking attempts along the way.

That is inevitable in the most exciting league in the world.

That was 2017/18.

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