The season began with Manchester City’s new £51m signing, Erling Haaland, scoring … a lot. The Norwegian struck twice on his Premier League debut at West Ham, scored another against Newcastle where City rescued a 3-3 draw, and then racked up back-to-back hat-tricks against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest. Contrast that with Darwin Núñez, Liverpool’s big summer recruit, who netted on his league debut at Fulham before head-butting Palace’s Joachim Andersen to earn a red card and suspension. The highlight (lowlight?) of the month came after Chelsea’s match with Tottenham, when the rival managers, Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte, became locked in a comically fierce handshake.
Football paid its respects to Queen Elizabeth II following her death on 8 September. After a week of postponements, the action resumed at Villa Park where Steven Gerrard’s men beat Southampton 1-0. Elsewhere, Manchester City’s Jack Grealish copped a nasty kick in the crown jewels, Manchester United’s £82m new boy Antony scored on his debut as United ended Arsenal’s 100% start to the season, while West Ham were left fuming after a VAR check controversially ruled out Maxwel Cornet’s late equaliser at Chelsea. It was Tuchel’s last Premier League match in charge at Stamford Bridge. The Blues soon poached Graham Potter from Brighton, who signed Roberto De Zerbi as his replacement.
Arsenal won the season’s first north London derby against Tottenham, before Manchester City put six past Manchester United thanks to hat-tricks from Haaland and Phil Foden. Elsewhere, Liverpool’s erratic early season form continued as they beat City before losing to the strugglers Nottingham Forest and Leeds. Potter suffered a torrid return to Brighton where his expensively assembled squad were thrashed 4-1 and, by the end of the month, Newcastle had emerged as top-four contenders at Chelsea’s expense – their eye-catching victory at Tottenham followed up by a 4-0 thrashing of managerless Villa.
After weeks of sulking and being dropped to the bench, Cristiano Ronaldo departed Manchester United in November saying he had been “betrayed” by the club and had no respect for the manager, Erik ten Hag. His last match was a 3-1 defeat by Aston Villa, who had their new manager, Unai Emery, at the helm for the first time. Elsewhere, Leeds were involved in successive seven-goal thrillers, and Brentford’s 2-1 win at Manchester City courtesy of Ivan Toney’s 98th-minute strike meant that City lay five points behind the leaders, Arsenal, going into the mid-season break for the World Cup. At the foot of the table lay Wolves, Southampton and Nottingham Forest.
Following Argentina’s win at the World Cup in Qatar, Premier League football resumed on Boxing Day. The month layoff did little to dent Arsenal’s momentum as they registered a 3-1 win over West Ham in front of their former manager, Arsène Wenger. Newcastle leapt into second place thanks to their sixth straight win but ended the month in third. Bruno Guimarães, their Brazilian midfielder, was among those to pay personal tribute to the late, great Pelé, who died on 29 December at the age of 82 from cancer.
Brighton and Brentford both put three past Liverpool as they climbed into European contention, while Aston Villa’s resurgence under Emery continued apace with a 2-0 win at troubled Tottenham. Manchester City’s loss at Old Trafford coupled with Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Tottenham the following day saw the Gunners open up an eight-point lead at the top of the table. Elsewhere, João Félix, one of Chelsea’s many January recruits, was sent off during a lively debut against Fulham, who went nine points clear of their London neighbours, while Southampton recorded a sixth successive defeat, losing 1-0 at home to Forest.
Harry Kane became Tottenham’s all-time record goalscorer in February with his 267th strike for the club. It was the only goal of the game as they beat Manchester City. Their north London neighbours, Arsenal, must have been delirious at City’s dropped points, having succumbed to an unlikely defeat themselves that weekend at Everton, who were led by a new manager in Sean Dyche. At the foot of the table, Southampton fans found mirth in the demise of their hapless manager, Nathan Jones, wishing him farewell with a P45 ahead of what proved to be his last game, a 2-1 defeat at home by Wolves.
Arsenal fans might have thought the Premier League title was destined for N7 after their stunning comeback victory against Bournemouth. Having been two goals down with half an hour remaining, Mikel Arteta’s excellent young side celebrated Reiss Nelson’s 97th-minute winner deliriously. The next day Liverpool crushed Manchester United 7-0 – the biggest win in the history of the fixture – with six second-half goals. It didn’t count for much, however, as the following weekend the Reds lost to Bournemouth after Mo Salah’s penalty miss. Match of the Day viewers that evening had a curious experience: there was no commentary or punditry alongside the action footage, following a mass walkout by BBC employees in protest at the way the corporation had reprimanded Gary Lineker for his tweet about the government’s asylum policy.
On the day when the government sent a test emergency alert to people’s mobile phones, there were alarm bells ringing in Tottenham’s defence as they shipped five goals in the first 21 minutes at Newcastle. Travelling fans departed en masse before half-time, while the temporary head coach, Cristian Stellini, was given the boot the next day. Brendan Rodgers also lost his job at Leicester in April with the club in deep trouble. Elsewhere, Arsenal’s title charge blew up spectacularly as they squandered two-goal leads in successive matches, then rescued a point against lowly Southampton, before losing a game they surely had to win against Manchester City.
Brighton killed off Arsenal’s title challenge with a 3-0 win at the Emirates, leaving Manchester City to clinch an inevitable fifth Premier League crown in six seasons. Pep Guardiola’s side ultimately amassed 89 points, five clear of the Gunners, and Haaland broke the goals tally for one season, scoring 36 in 35 games. Behind them, Newcastle sealed a place in the Champions League for the first time since 2005 leading to emotional celebrations at St James’ Park. At the bottom, Southampton, Leeds and Leicester were relegated, while Everton survived thanks to an absolute screamer by Abdoulaye Doucouré on the last day of the season.
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