When it comes to the final round of Premier League fixtures, our viewing priorities will be clear. The three relegated teams have been decided and the battle for the top four is effectively over and done with, but even if that wasn’t the case, we’d remain focused on Manchester City and Liverpool in the race for the title.
Unless you’re at one of the other eight games, you’ll be focused on the events at the Amex and Anfield, and depending on your allegiances you might not even bother watching the Match of the Day highlights.
No biggie, right? You knew what happened.
Well, yes and no. By skipping the last Match of the Day in recent years, you will have missed out on some great goals lost to the sands of time.
Jack Wilshere won the goal of the season award in 2014 for finishing off a flowing team move against Norwich City, but he seemed unlikely to repeat the feat the following year by virtue of, well, barely playing.
However, after sitting out the entirety of November through May due to injury, the England midfielder played himself into form and finally scored his second goal of the campaign on his final day. After Gabriel played a bit of hot potato on the end of the Albion box, finally unloading the ball to the nearest teammate, Wilshere didn’t even need to take a touch before leathering the ball beyond Boaz Myhilll.
Did it deserve to win goal of the season? Possibly not. Was it a great finish? Absolutely.
The dead rubber between Middlesbrough and Manchester City wasn’t supposed to be a game of any note whatsoever. Boro had secured their Premier League status the previous week, while City had been winding down with a couple of narrow defeats but still comfortable in mid-table.
We were wrong to write it off, though. City boss Sven-Göran Eriksson seemed determined to bow out with a performance of note, though this probably wasn’t what he meant. Afonso Alves scored a hat-trick in an 8-1 win for Boro which still equals the third-widest winning margin in Premier League history, but the best goal was scored by another Brazilian.
Fábio Rochemback was playing his last game for Boro, and had hardly been prolific before that afternoon, but stepped up for a 30-yard free-kick like a man who knew exactly where he was sending the ball. Admittedly, it’s easier to do this when you’re already 5-0 up, but we’re taking nothing away from the strike. Wall or no wall, Andreas Isaksson stood no chance. We’re impressed the City keeper even bothered diving for it.
You could be forgiven for not paying much attention to Wigan’s meeting with Wolves in 2012, what with the Agüeroooooooo game taking place at the Etihad and Spurs and Arsenal battling for third, but if you gave it a swerve then you missed out on a beauty from the most unlikely of sources.
Emmerson Boyce ended his career with 24 goals in more than 600 games, with fewer than half of those strikes coming in the Premier League, so we reckon this effort against Wolves was – if not the best of the defender’s career – certainly up there.
Yes, the ball sits up nicely for the Barbados international. Yes, Carl Ikeme might have got a hand to the ball in different circumstances. But you won’t find many more sweetly-struck efforts than this.
Tottenham’s 5-4 victory over Leicester has to be in contention for the crown of ‘least notable nine-goal thriller of all time,’ and we bet some of you had already forgotten it had happened.
Spurs came back from 3-1 down to win on the final day less than a year ago, and after watching Kelechi Iheanacho miss a late chance against Manchester City which could have turned the 2019 title race upside down, it’s hard to think he was capable of this sort of brilliance so recently.
The Nigerian striker scored 10 goals in his first season with the Foxes, and the last of those showed why the club was willing to spend big to bring him to the King Power Stadium. After holding off a couple of challenges, he rifled home the sort of shot that makes the term ‘postage stamp’ seem insufficient. It was if someone had placed a second, smaller postage stamp on the top corner of the first one, only for Iheanacho to find that one too.