From Manchester City’s record-breaking title win to Huddersfield’s unlikely survival, from Liverpool’s incredible unbeaten start to the end of an era at Arsenal, it’s been quite a year for the Premier League.
It ended in appropriately enthralling fashion this weekend as late winners, wonder goals and shock results ensured that the drama continued all the way to the end.
6. Best Example of Spurs Being Spurs
The ‘Best Example of Spurs Being Spurs’ award goes to Spurs for being very Spursy. Eleven goals in the space of four days had breathed new life into talk of a Tottenham title charge, particularly with Manchester City and Liverpool meeting at the Etihad on 3rd January.
When Harry Kane gave them the lead against Wolves, it seemed they were going to move within three points of Liverpool, piling the pressure on the league leaders. But in the final twenty minutes Spurs collapsed, conceding three goals to suffer an unexpected and damaging defeat.
By the end of the day, Tottenham were nine points behind Liverpool, and they slipped below City on Sunday. That title challenge was fun while it lasted.
5. Best Goal
A goal of immeasurable quality and unparalleled importance, Victor Camarasa’s strike will live long in the memories of Cardiff City fans. Their team had survived an onslaught from Leicester and were on course for a second consecutive away draw, which would have been a good result in itself.
A good result became an excellent one when Camarasa collected a Bobby Reid pass on the edge of the area, took one touch to set himself, and then bent a sublime effort into the very top corner of Kasper Schmeichel’s goal, sending the travelling fans into raptures.
That goal means that Cardiff end the year three points clear of the relegation zone – an excellent achievement for a team that most people had predicted to sink without trace.
4. Best Let-Off
Oh Aboubakar Kamara, you lucky boy. When Fulham won a penalty in the 82nd minute against Huddersfield, fans were surprised to see Kamara stepping up to take it. Aleksandar Mitrovic was the designated penalty taker, but neither he nor captain Tom Cairney could convince Kamara to part with the ball.
Kamara had to score, but his penalty was telegraphed and easily saved by Jonas Lossl. You know the situation is bad when Claudio Ranieri, AKA everyone’s favourite football grandpa, said after the game that he ‘wanted to kill’ Kamara for his actions.
Thankfully for Kamara and Fulham, Mitrovic came to their rescue with a last minute winner and Claudio decided not to murder his disobedient striker. Leaving him out of the Fulham team to face Arsenal on New Year’s Day may be a more proportional punishment.
3. Best Save
Cardiff’s Neil Etheridge gave probably the best goalkeeping performance of the weekend with a string of fine saves, including from a penalty. Elsewhere, there were also terrific stops made by David Button, Jordan Pickford and Jonas Lossl for their respective teams.
However, the save which stands above the rest was made by Rui Patricio in the opening stages of Wolves‘ win at Wembley. He leapt to his right to push a goalbound Christian Eriksen effort over the crossbar with one hand in an outstanding display of athletic ability.
That set the tone for Wolves’ dogged defensive display and although Patricio could do nothing about Harry Kane’s piledriver for the opening goal, his earlier intervention proved crucial in the final reckoning.
2. Best Belated Christmas Present
Everyone was getting in the festive spirit at Anfield on Saturday. Three Arsenal defenders laid themselves down before Roberto Firmino in a touching tribute to the three wise men at the Nativity scene, and Michael Oliver was in seasonably generous mood as as he awarded Liverpool two debatable penalties.
It was from the second of these penalties that Mohamed Salah gave the best gift of the day, waiving his penalty-taking duties to allow Firmino to complete a first Liverpool hat-trick. The Egyptian would have taken the outright lead in the race for the golden boot if he had taken the penalty and scored, so it was a nice moment of team spirit.
Firmino made it 5-1 from the spot, completing another memorable win for Jurgen Klopp’s side as they head into 2019 unbeaten.
1. Best Assist
Manchester United are back in the groove and nobody (apart from Paul Pogba) better encapsulates that new-found belief than Marcus Rashford. The English striker’s assist for Pogba’s opener against Bournemouth was a reminder of why he is so highly prized.
Rashford showed impressive footwork and strength to trick his way past Nathan Ake out on the touchline, before a drop of the shoulder left Diego Rico flummoxed. All that remained was to make the final ball for Pogba, and this he did perfectly as well, laying the ball on a plate for the French midfielder.
United continued to play some delightful football as they took their goal tally to twelve in three games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who seems to have the magic touch.