England wrapped up its club soccer season today with Manchester City crushing Watford in the FA Cup final, 6-0. The victory gave City a “triple.” It won the EPL championship, the FA Cup, and the League Cup (as I call it). In the history of English football, which extends back to the 19th century, this has never been accomplished before (though 20 years ago, Manchester United achieved an even more impressive triple — the EPL title, the FA Cup, and the European club championship).
City didn’t win the EPL crown easily. In fact, the title race went all the way to last day of season, with Manchester City needing to win its final match to edge Liverpool by just one point.
Although the title race went down to the last day, the key date was more than three months earlier, March 3 to be exact, when Liverpool met Everton at Goodison Park. Heading into that match, Liverpool would win the title if it prevailed in all of its remaining matches. After that day, because Everton drew with Liverpool, it was Manchester City that, if it won out, would capture the title.
Both teams did win the rest of the way. Thus, Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Everton was turning point in the title race.
For Everton fans, this is sweet payback. Earlier in the season, the two teams were headed for a 0-0 stalemate at Anfield when, with virtually no time left, the Shite scored a fluke goal.
The point Everton dropped that day didn’t cost us a place in European football next season, though for a long time it looked like it might. We finished in eighth place, three points behind Wolverhamption, a promoted side (but with a better goal difference than Wolves). A seventh place finish would have gotten us into Europe.
Whether we’ll have a squad next season capable on paper of competing effectively in both Europe and the EPL remains to be seen. The point is moot, though. There will be no European nights for Everton.
Everton were eighth last season too. However, we picked up fewer points last season and played a less attractive brand of soccer. Thus, it’s fair to say we made a bit of progress. But depriving Liverpool of the title was the best thing about this season. Beating Manchester United 4-0 was a close second.
Here are my selections as the best players in the EPL in 2018-19:
Lukasz Fabianski — West Ham United
Aaron Wan-Bissaka — Crystal Palace
Andy Robertson — Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk — Liverpool
Aymeric Laporte — Manchester City
Fernandinho — Manchester City
Bernardo Silva — Manchester City
Raheem Sterling — Manchester City
Eden Hazard — Chelsea
Sadio Mané — Liverpool
Sergio Aguero — Manchester City
Alisson — Liverpool
Trent Alexander-Arnold — Liverpool
Lucas Digne — Everton
David Luiz — Chelsea
James Tarkowski — Burnley
Paul Pogba — Manchester United
David Silva — Manchester City
Mohamed Salah — Liverpool
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — Arsenal
Alexandre Lacazette — Arsenal
Harry Kane — Tottenham Hotspur
Ben Foster — Watford
César Azpilicueta — Chelsea
Ben Chilwell — Leicester City
Jan Vertonghen — Tottenham Hotspur
Fabian Schär — Newcastle United
“Gana” Gueye — Everton
Luka Milivojevic — Crystal Palace
Christian Eriksen — Tottenham Hotspur
Matt Doherty — Wolverhampton Wanderers
Son Heung-Min — Tottenham Hotspur
Raul Jiminez — Wolverhampton Wanderers
Players who just missed:
Ederson — Manchester City
Luke Shaw — Manchester United
Shane Duffy — Brighton
Felipe Anderson — West Ham United
Ryan Fraser — Bournemouth
Player of the Year: Van Dijk
Runner up: Hazard
Everton Player of the year: Digne