That’s it, the 2016/17 Premier League season is in the books. And what a year it was.
Here’s a look back at 13 of the most powerful moments from the course of the campaign.
Hull’s Opening Shock
Hull weren’t in a good place last summer following their return to the Premier League. The ownership situation saw manager Steve Bruce quit in July and few new signings, combined with several injuries, meant the Tigers had only 13 senior players to call upon for opening day.
Lining up against reigning champions Leicester, things looked decidedly bleak until Hull sprung the kind of surprise that only English can. Adama Diomande gave the new boys a shock lead, while Robert Snodgrass scored a second half winner after Riyhad Mahrez struck back.
‘Welcome to Zlatan’
Seven years after the infamous sky blue ‘Welcome to Manchester’ banner bearing the face of Carlos Tevez, it was ‘Welcome to Zlatan’ that was hoisted high in the city centre last summer.
Manchester United had signed veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer against a backdrop of much scepticism, only for him to go and score 28 goals in all competitions before a serious injury ended an otherwise sublime season from the 35-year-old. A goal on his Premier League debut against Bournemouth was the perfect way to silence critics.
Bradley’s Big Day
The whole country has come to know the story of Bradley Lowery over the course of the season, the brave, young Sunderland superfan who is battling neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that is sadly now terminal despite being the first person in the UK to receive a pioneering new treatment.
Bradley was first invited to be Sunderland mascot back in September as his Black Cats faced Everton. He’s since struck up a close bond with striker Jermain Defoe, has led out England, and led out Sunderland at their final home game last week. He was even invited to Chelsea’s trophy presentation, where Sunderland finished their season, but was unfortunately too ill.
Pep’s Stumbling Block
When Pep Guardiola was announced as Manchester City manager last February, a lot of people happily assumed the sky blues would walk the Premier League this season. That feeling was only increased when the team won six games on the spin to kick off 2016/17.
But City hit a brick wall on 2nd October after being outclassed and outwitted by Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Claudio Bravo crumbled and Spurs had the result wrapped up inside the first half, while it took City all month to win their next game.
Conte Rouses the Stamford Bridge Crowd
Jose Mourinho was on the receiving end of a total humiliation when he took his new Manchester United back to Stamford Bridge for the first time in October. It took just 30 seconds for Pedro to put Chelsea ahead and the visitors’ gameplan immediately went up in smoke.
But with Chelsea 4-0 up in the closing stages, the only voices that could be heard in Stamford Bridge came from the pocket of travelling away supporters. Sick of the sound, Antonio Conte got up from his seat and urged the home fans to respond. Mourinho, of course, took offence.
Everton’s Kids Are Alright
It doesn’t matter who you are in football, you have to turn up on the day and motivation, energy and desire will nearly always trump greater ability alone.
That was what Everton found out when they came up against a less than prepared Manchester City side at Goodison Park in January. The 4-0 win made a star of home-grown Toffees teenager Tom Davies after a marvellous performance, while teenage forward Ademola Lookman also marked his debut with a goal.
Hazard Stays Strong
A lot is made these days about players, particularly those brought in from overseas, going down too easily and shying away from actually playing football in order to simply win cheap free-kicks or penalties.
That was not a criticism possible to throw at Eden Hazard when Chelsea faced Arsenal in February. Immediately prior to his sublime solo goal, the Belgian could have won a free-kick from the overzealous attentions of Francis Coquelin but he simply shrugged off the Frenchman and kept running towards the goal before firing home.
When Barkley Celebrated Early
Everton midfielder Ross Barkley was so confident that he would score his team’s sixth goal in a heavy win over Bournemouth in early February that he threw his arms up in the air in celebration while he still had the ball at his feet.
Romelu Lukaku had already scored four times and the Toffees were 5-3 up deep into stoppage time at Goodison Park. As Barkley ran clear, he rounded Cherries goalkeeper Artur Boruc and knew he simply couldn’t miss with the goal gaping.
Leicester Return From the Dead
Few expected Leicester to stay near the top of the table this season, despite their incredible title win, but a startling run of awful form threatened to see the Foxes become only the second ever English team to be relegated as reigning champions. It cost Claudio Ranieri his job.
Assistant Craig Shakespeare took over and Leicester immediately roared back into life, comfortably winning their first game of the new regime against Liverpool after surging into a 3-0 lead courtesy of goals from Jamie Vardy (2) and Danny Drinkwater inside the hour mark. The game finished 3-1 and the Foxes soon climbed the table to comfortable safety.
Palace’s Spanner in the Works
Until Crystal Palace humbled Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on April Fool’s Day, no one had beaten the would-be champions in the league since 24th September. Few, if any, could have possibly expected relegation threatened Palace to break that run.
Despite going behind after five minutes, the Eagles struck back and then took the lead mere moments later, heroically holding on for a famous win. The three points from that day, combined with follow up wins over Arsenal and then Liverpool are what have kept Palace up.
Batshuayi Wins the League
Football is a squad game, they always say, and that was never more the case than when Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to score the elusive winning goal as Chelsea finally secured a fifth Premier League title with a narrow victory over West Brom in May.
The Belgian striker had barely been given a look in all season and was starting to be written off as a flop at £33m, but it he was he who pushed the club over the line and, after three further goals in the two games since, will hope it proves to be the catalyst for a much better second season for him personally in 2017/18.
White Hart Lane Finale
In their last season at the old White Hart Lane, Tottenham enjoyed their best campaign in 54 years, since the days of Bill Nicholson, Dave Mackay, Danny Blanchflower and Jimmy Greaves, as they secured a second place finish.
Manchester United were the visitors for the last home game of 2016/17 earlier this month as fans prepared to say their goodbyes to the stadium. It was only fitting that Spurs would win, with goals coming from Victor Wanyama and home-grown hero Harry Kane, before a final post-game farewell.
Kane’s Second Golden Boot
Two separate ankle injuries saw Harry Kane miss as many as eight Premier League games over the course of the campaign. He still scored 29 goals, though, his best league season tally to date, to scoop a second successive Golden Boot award in spectacular fashion.
Kane trailed Romelu Lukaku with just two games left to play, only to score four in Tottenham’s penultimate fixture to overtake the Belgian, followed by a hat-trick on the final day to make sure. He became the first player to win back-to-back awards since Robin van Persie four years ago, and the first Englishman since Michael Owen shared it in 1997/98 and 1998/99.