Ten simultaneous matches on Sunday close the 2013-14 English Premier League season. Though, unfortunately for television networks, the dust has largely settled. The top four is set, the bottom three has been all but determined. Uber-billionaire plaything Manchester City need a single point from their final match against West Ham at home to claim the title.
The Inevitable: There’s nothing quite like the joy of watching a team accomplish the absolute minimum that should be expected given its disproportionate squad expenditure.
The Special Bus: Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea. So did his dour brand of anti-football. The Blues competed for a title. They also played 11 matches where one goal or fewer were scored.
So Close: The title was in Liverpool’s hands, until it wasn’t. Steven Gerrard slipped, setting up a Chelsea goal in an eventual 2-0 defeat. The Reds blew a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 against Crystal Palace. An 11-match win streak, albeit one where Liverpool conceded two or more goals five times, appears to have been for nought. Barring a Manchester City choke-job, the title drought since 1990 will continue.
The Meme: David Moyes got his dream opportunity to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. He failed, miserably. The Red Devils will finish, at best, 20 points off last year’s title-winning pace with almost the same squad. They won just one of 12 matches against the six teams ahead of them in the table. Their seven losses at Old Trafford equaled the number from the club’s past four seasons combined.
The Most Interesting Man: Vincent Tan was the most interesting man in the Premier League. He turned blue people into red people as owner of Cardiff. He made the “Vincent Tan,” tucking a soccer jersey into suit pants, the fashion statement of the year. His impact, however, will be brief. The
Bluebirds Dragons or something have been relegated.
The Disgruntled Professor: Arsenal finished in the Top Four for the 17th-straight year and put up their strongest title challenge since 2008. They look poised to end a nine-year trophy drought in the FA Cup. Yet, fans will still wonder why the team did not make the obvious signings that may have pushed them further. Embarrassing defeats against their supposed competitors have become the norm. The wrinkles and bags on Arsene Wenger’s face only grow deeper.
The Disgust: A lone Newcastle fan delivers the two-fingered salute, departing the team’s final home match in protest in the 69th minute. All but safe after a solid start, Newcastle promptly sold their best player, midfielder Yohan Cabaye, to Paris St. Germain and lost 15 of their final 20 matches to close the season.
Depression: The difference between stability and disaster for a mid-table Premier League side? A season. An aging squad and, perhaps, an ill-timed removal of the infamous Michael Jackson statue portended badly for Fulham FC. The club cemented their relegation with a 4-1 defeat in a must-win match against Stoke. This ended a run of 13-straight seasons in England’s top flight.
The Racists: John Terry and Luis Suarez both had excellent seasons, sufficient proof that karma has no influence over human affairs.
The Magician: Tony Pulis inherited a Crystal Palace team with just four points after its first 13 matches on Nov. 23. Whether it was his penchant for naked shower fights or the magic contained within his baseball cap, he went 13-9-4 over the season’s remainder, a run that included wins over Everton and Chelsea. The EPL’s best fans sit at the adult table for another year.
[Photos via Getty]