Football Features

From Ten Hag’s fortress, to Firmino’s farewell: 14 things you might have missed from the final Premier League day

By Ben Green

14 things you might have missed from the final Premier League day copy

Published: 18:54, 28 May 2023

The 2022/23 Premier League season is finally over — and it was another typically-frantic last day.

With both the title and the top-four race having been already sewn up before matchday 38, attention turned to the relegation fight, and to a lesser degree, the scrap for a Europa Conference League place between Aston Villa and Tottenham.

Sticking to tradition, the ‘as it stands’ table endured plenty of changes throughout a nerve-jangling 90 minutes up and down the country, but the drama is finally over, and we now know who is safe, who is going down, and which clubs will be battling it out in Europe.

Leicester gave it a good go, but the former Premier League champions will be heading down after a valiant display against West Ham. Everton are safe after their heroics against already-safe Bournemouth, while Leeds never appeared within a chance against Spurs.

Plenty of action occurred across the land beyond the games where the stakes were club-defining — and here we rattle through some of the most notable talking points.

1. Another Kane record

Harry Kane will have his eyes set on more prestigious milestones, notably Alan Shearer’s Premier League record for most goals, but that doesn’t mean he won’t lap up the plaudits when lesser-recognised achievements occur. It took the 29-year-old just two minutes to get on the scoresheet in Tottenham’s game against Leeds at Elland Road, and by doing so, he became the first player in Premier League history to score 10 goals on the final day.

2. And… another

It has been another sensational scoring season for Kane who, in Spurs’ win over Leeds, managed to notch a brace, bringing his overall tally for the campaign to 30 goals. By doing so, he has become the first player ever to bag  30 or more goals in two separate 38-game Premier League seasons, also doing so in 2017/18. Unfortunately, like that 2017/18 campaign, Kane also didn’t win the Golden Boot.

3. Frank’s leaky backline

Chelsea have been an omnishambles this campaign — and that pattern has stretched across three different managers. The latest to come under fire is Frank Lampard, whose interim stint has been marred by some truly horrific and uninspiring displays. During his second tour of duty, his side have failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 Premier League games, the latest of which came against Newcastle as Anthony Gordon opened his club account in the ninth minute.

4. Esteemed company

In the end, Nottingham Forest remained in the Premier League with little fuss. That turnaround can largely be levelled at the scoring prowess of Taiwo Awoniyi, who has become one of only four players to score 10 or more Premier League goals in Forest history, alongside Nigel Clough, Stan Collymore and Bryan Roy. His strike on the half-hour mark against Crystal Palace got his tally to double digits, and what a maiden campaign it has been for the Nigerian forward.

5. Mitro’s spot-kick nightmare

Some players just have the minerals from 12 yards, a cold-bloodedness akin to apathy. Aleksandar Mitrovic is not one of those players. For one reason or another, the Serbian forward seems to lose his composure from the spot and fluff his lines. He was presented with the opportunity to double Fulham’s lead against Manchester United only 26 minutes into their contest at Old Trafford. But his penalty effort was denied by David de Gea, which means he becomes the first player in Premier League history to fail to score four penalties in a single campaign.

6. Granit Xhaka’s first — and his last?

For the first time in his career, Granit Xhaka has scored two Premier League goals for Arsenal in a single match — but did it come in his final game? The Gunners raced into a 2-0 lead at the Emirates against Wolves, and Xhaka bagged both in a three-minute span. The Swiss stalwart has been heavily linked with a move to Bayer Leverkusen and posted a cryptic “Thank you Gunners” message on his Instagram pre-match. If it is to be a goodbye, what a way to bow out.

7. Trossard’s brilliance

Leandro Trossard only joined Arsenal in January, but his impact has been instantaneous. In just 20 Premier League games for the club, he has provided 10 assists. That means that two Arsenal players have provided 10 or more Premier League assists in a single season for the first time in a decade, with Trossard joining Bukayo Saka for 2022/23. The last playmaker pair were Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott in 2012/13.

8. Olise’s magic

Eberechi Eze recently grabbed headlines by receiving his first England call-up, but spare a thought for Michael Olise, who has enjoyed a scintillating campaign, and capped it off with another playmaker flourish against Forest. The tricky winger set up Will Hughes just past the hour mark to restore parity in Palace’s final game of the season, and in the process, brought up his 11th Premier League assist this term. In fact, no U21 player in Europe’s top five divisions has provided more league assists this season than Olise.

9. Arteta’s artillery

Mikel Arteta will be disappointed with how the season ended, but when the dust settles and he has time to reflect, he will be proud of how far his Arsenal team pushed Man City in the title race. In the end it came down to just five points. The Gunners rounded off their campaign with a thumping 5-0 win over Wolves, with those added strikes meaning they have scored more goals in 2022/23 than they have ever managed in a single Premier League season — breaking their previous record of 87 from the 2004/05 campaign.

10. Bobby’s farewell

If there was a game that sums Roberto Firmino up, it would be Liverpool’s final day 4-4 draw with Leicester. Fitting then that it was his final game for the club — and, of course, he was able to impact the scoreline. A player who can conjure up magic in the blink of an eye and raise you from your seat, Firmino encapsulated that spirit against the Saints in an utterly ridiculous eight-goal affair. He was always going to go out with a bang!

11. Ten Hag’s fortress

It wasn’t a bad maiden campaign for Erik ten Hag in the Man Utd hotseat, and it’s still not over, with an FA Cup final against Man City still to come. With a League Cup already in the bag and Champions League football secured, Man Utd fans will be feeling pretty satisfied with the club’s managerial appointment last summer. And to add to the first-season accolades, Man Utd’s final-day win over Fulham — thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes — means he has equalled the club’s all-time club record for most home wins in a single campaign, which came in 2002/03 under Sir Alex Ferguson.

12. Everton’s resolve

By the skin of their teeth, Everton have staved off the threat of relegation, remaining in the Premier League after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s second-half strike against Bournemouth provided them with the necessary points to retain their top-flight status. Next season will now be the club’s 69th consecutive campaign in the English top flight — Arsenal are the only club in the competition’s history with a longer streak.

13. Leicester’s fall from grace

Leicester fulfilled their end of the bargain on the final day by beating West Ham 2-1, but it was ultimately not enough to prevent them from slipping down the ladder as Everton also achieved maximum reward in their crunch clash. The Foxes are now just one of four clubs in English football history to have been promoted to the top-flight, won the league and then been relegated within 10 seasons.

14. The most Premier League goals in 20-team season

Doucoure’s strike against Bournemouth had significance for two reasons: it kept Everton in the top flight, and it means that this is the highest-scoring Premier League season in the competition’s history since the reformatting to 20 clubs. Incredibly, that Doucoure finish was the 1,073rd of the campaign, surpassing the previous tally set in 2018/19 of 1,072.

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