Gameweek 38 would see the 2016/17 Premier League season draw to a close, with the race for the two-remaining top four places still to be decided. With all twenty teams in action simultaneously, three sides would compete for spots among Europe’s elite next season. In third place prior to the start of the action was Manchester City, who would face Watford at Vicarage Road. In fourth, Liverpool would host an already-relegated Middlesbrough side. Finally, chasing them would be fifth place Arsenal, who knew no less than a win would be enough to move into the spots, and even then, they would be relying on a slip-up from at least one of the sides above them. The season would finish with a flourish, with no fewer than 37 goals being scored across the ten matches.
So, for the final time this season, here’s the FPL Gameweek 38 Review…
Jack Butland – It’s been a very tough season for England international ‘keeper Jack Butland. The former Birmingham City man spent almost the entire campaign out injured, while watching stand-in Lee Grant enjoy a superb season. Grant, who was on loan from Championship side Derby County, won the club’s Player of the Year award, after a fine season in which he impressed enough for the club to make his move permanent for a fee of £1.3 million in during the January transfer window. It remains to be seen what will happen regarding the Potteries’ number one shirt, although most would likely make Butland favourite given the interest from a number of elite clubs including Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Meanwhile his Stoke side have enjoyed a season that while fairly successful, looked to promise a bit more.
Vincent Kompany – Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany seems to have his shooting boots on at the moment, and helped his side to a strong end of season after returning from a long-term injury to play a key role at centre-half. Many were unsure whether or not the Belgian International would have a future at the club after Pep Guardiola’s arrival. This combined with a series of severe injuries and the arrival of John Stones looked like they may have signalled an end to his time with the club he captained to their first ever Premier League title. However, Kompany’s goal at Vicarage Road on Sunday would be his third goal in just seven games since his return. It came at the right time as well, as a thumping win for City would see them seal a third place finish and a place in next season’s Champions League.
Geoff Cameron – Stoke rounded their season off with a 1-0 victory away at Southampton, whose manager Claude Puel has come under increasing pressure, in no small part due to their abysmal home record of late. The Saints fielded a strong side for the final game of the season, and will have been delighted to see their top-scorer, in former QPR man Charlie Austin. He scored six times in just twelve games this season before a shoulder injury all-but ended his campaign, meaning he would miss the capital one cup final. Anyway, Stoke would secure the three points when a cross from Geoff Cameron would land on the head of Peter Crouch, who nodded in at the back post to the delight of the travelling faithful.
Demetri Mitchell – Manchester United would field their youngest line-up in Premier League history as they prepared to face Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, with both sides’ fates confirmed. United couldn’t move from sixth, meanwhile Palace knew they would survive regardless of what happened on the day. The United eleven would include no fewer than eight academy graduates, as they featured Joel Pereira, Tim Fosu-Mensah, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Axel Tuanzebe, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Josh Harrop. They would also bring on another prospect in Angel Gomes, who becomes the first player to feature in the Premier League having been born in the year 2000. Several of these youngsters enjoyed fantastic displays, in a game with little pressure at Old Trafford. Manchester United will be looking forward to the Europa League final on Wednesday.
Georginio Wijnaldum – Liverpool recorded a massive final day win to secure the Reds a place in next seasons Champions League qualifiers. It brings to an end a season of ups and downs for Jurgen Klopp’s side. They will take heart from their results against the top sides, and this could give them a real base to kick on next season. However, they’ll have to improve against the so-called ‘lesser sides’, against whom the Reds have struggled. Despite this, they were heavily triumphant against an already-relegated Middlesbrough side. After an edgy start to proceedings, the game sparked into life when Gini Wijnaldum hammered home at the near post. This came in first half injury time. Two goals in the first ten minutes of the second half would seal the points, courtesy of Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana.
Andre Ayew – West Ham ended the season with a hard-fought away victory at Turf Moor against Burnley. However, the Hammers wouldn’t have it all their own way, as they went a goal down when Sam Vokes passed home after a low cross from Andre Gray. Despite the early setback, it wouldn’t be long before they were level, as Sofiane Feghouli finished off a fine move just four minutes later. Slaven Bilic praised his side’s character, in what was otherwise a meaningless end-of-season clash. The winner would come courtesy of summer signing Andre Ayew, who was alert inside the six-yard box to head home following confusion in the Clarets defence after Tom Heaton tipped the ball onto the bar. It remains to be seen whether or not Ayew will remain at West Ham, with Marseille set to make a move to bring their former forward back to the Stade Velodrome.
Victor Wanyama – Among many Spurs players to enjoy a strong season, Kenyan Victor Wanyama has been in fine form this campaign, remaining solid in the middle as the White Hart Lane club mounted yet another unsuccessful title charge. Having arrived from Southampton for £11 million last summer, he has been another good piece of business, as Spurs came close to the Premier League title. Few would be surprised to see this Spurs side take another crack at the title next season, provided they are able to retain their players and manager ahead of the new season. They will also be hoping to continue their superb home form as they make a twelve-month move to Wembley stadium for the 2017/18 season. They will also have another season in the Champions League, which will bring its own challenges, that will no doubt be relished by Mauricio Pochettino.
Paul Pogba – Manchester United have had an interesting campaign, having gone on a massive unbeaten streak, albeit containing too many draws for Jose Mourinho’s liking. They ended the season with somewhat of a stroll against Crystal Palace. They started superbly, when Josh Harrop cut inside onto his right foot before hammering into the top corner after just fifteen minutes. They doubled their lead after just twenty, when Paul Pogba drilled home a low strike. United will be playing Champions League football next season, after they were deserved 2-0 winners in the Europa League final over Ajax. After resting many key players, Jose Mourinho will be delighted that his side can celebrate a place among Europe’s elite next season.
Harry Kane – What can you say about Harry Kane over the past few weeks? He scored yet another hat-trick as his Spurs side recorded a magnificent 7-1 victory over Hull City at the KCOM Stadium. It would be an unfortunate way to end his time at the KCOM for Portugese manager Marco Silva, who has been linked with a number of jobs including Porto, Crystal Palace and Watford. He has since resigned from his role with the Tigers. His tenure will end in glorious failure, as they were just too far adrift to save. Goals from Kane, Dele Alli, Victor Wanyama, Ben Davies and Toby Alderweireld would see Spurs end the season on a high, and their funs impatiently waiting for the new season, and another chance at securing the club’s first Premier League title.
Sergio Aguero – Like Liverpool, Manchester City wouldn’t give Arsenal a sniff of a Champions League place, as they dismantled a poor Watford side at Vicarage Road. This would bring the tenure of Walter Mazzari to an end, after the club hierarchy determined that he had not had the team playing well enough this season. After Vincent Kompany opened the scoring five minutes in, the floodgates would open, as Argentine forward Sergio Aguero netted a quickfire brace, before Fernandinho added a fourth. This was all before half time, and left the home fans reeling. They were expecting a much better performance after the interval and were able to stem the tide, that was after Gabriel Jesus had added a fifth for Pep Guardiola’s side. Both sides head into next season hoping for better given the potential at their disposal.
Fernando Llorente – Few knew what to expect when Swansea City announced the signing of veteran Spanish striker Fernando Llorente in summer. After struggling for game time under Bob Bradley and Francesco Guidolin, it would take the arrival of Paul Clement to kick-start the forward’s Swansea career. In the end, the Spaniard scored the majority of the Swans’ decisive goals in their fight for survival. His aerial prowess, combined with the set-piece and crossing ability of Gylfi Sigurdsson gave the Swans a strong footing for their late charge. They ended the season with a 2-1 home win against West Brom. After going a goal down, Swansea displayed the character that has seen them secure survival, and netted twice in the final fifteen minutes. These goals came courtesy of January signing Jordan Ayew, before Llorente himself volley home his fifteenth goal of the season to secure a great three points.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)