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Premier League season reviews: Clubs 4-1

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With the 2017-18 Premier League season now done and dusted, it’s time to review the campaigns of all 20 clubs.

[ MORE: Grades for all 20 PL clubs ]

Below we finish our season reviews by analyzing the key moments, the star men and how the managers performed for the teams who finished 4th to 1st in the PL table.

[ MORE REVIEWS: Clubs 20-15 | Clubs 14-10 | Clubs 9-5 ]

Let’s get to it…


Liverpool

(Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

Final place: 4th with 75 points
Defining moment: At the end of the day, two teams can say they beat Manchester City, who will arguably go down as the greatest PL team of all time, the season: Manchester United and Liverpool. The Reds were the first to do it, ending the runaway champions’ unbeaten start at 22 games with a thrilling 4-3 victory at Anfield in January.
Biggest victory: Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal — the game that made it abundantly clear to the entire world that Liverpool knew one way, and one way only, to play the game: emphatically and without mercy.
Low point: After losing 4-1 to Tottenham Hotspur on Oct. 22, Jurgen Klopp‘s side sat 9th in the PL table, 12 points behind Man City, and had won just one of their previous six games. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can rise from the ashes: Liverpool would go 14 games unbeaten following that awful outing at Wembley Stadium.
Star man/menMohamed Salah swept all the major PL awards after scoring 32 goals and tallying 10 assists in his first season at Anfield. Roberto Firmino notched 15 and 7 to go with 10 and 7 from Sadio Made.
Manager(s) marks out of 10: Jurgen Klopp (9/10)
Grade for the season: A-


Tottenham Hotspur

(Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Final place: 3rd with 77 points
Defining moment: In between playing Man City away in December and at home in April, Tottenham played 14 league games, and they lost none of them and drew just three. In back-to-back-to-back games, they beat Man United, drew Liverpool and beat Arsenal.
Biggest victory: Breaking the 28-year drought at Stamford Bridge will, in a season full of highs while playing in a temporary home venue, go down as the fanciest feather in Mauricio Pochettino‘s cap.
Low pointLosing to Arsenal in mid-February sent Spurs into their worst run of results all season — winless in four (two draws, two losses) — before rebounding quickly and kicking off the aforementioned 14-game unbeaten run.
Star man/men: Kane scored 30 PL goals for the first time in his career (somehow once again besting successive seasons of 29, 25 and 21); Christian Eriksen hit 10 goals and 10 assists for the first time in the PL; Dele Alli fell just short of the double-double with 9 and 10; Son Heung-Min scored a dozen of his own and set up a half-dozen for others.
Manager(s) marks out of 10: Mauricio Pochettino (8/10)
Grade for the season: A-


Manchester United

(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

Final place: 2nd with 81 points
Defining moment: From Dec. 23 to Dec. 30, Man United played three games — away to Leicester City and home against Burnley and Southampton — and drew all three. It would be incredibly harsh to call an 81-point season a disappointment, but that week-long run of results was simply too commonplace for the Red Devils this season.
Biggest victory: As mentioned above, United are one of only two sides to beat City all season, and they did so in thrilling fashion in early April to delay City’s inevitable title celebrations.
Low point: Heading into the season’s first Manchester derby, the gap between City and United stood at just eight points — a manageable deficit to overturn for Jose Mourinho’s men. A win would have cut it to five, but the real-life result — a 2-1 win for City — pushed it to 11, and the title race was over.
Star manRomelu Lukaku led the way with 16 goals (plus 7 assists), yet many fans and pundits alike have taken a harsh view of his first season at Old Trafford. Paul Pogba chipped in with 6 and 10, while Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford scored 9, 8 and 7 goals, respectively.
Manager(s) marks out of 10: Jose Mourinho (8/10)
Grade for the season: A-


Manchester City

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Final place: 1st with 100 points
Defining moment: Setting the following single-season records, among others: points (100), wins (32), goals scored (106), goal differential (+79).
Biggest victory: Numerically, 6-0 over Watford. In terms of meaning and intent, 5-0 over Liverpool, or 4-1 over Spurs.
Low point: Each of the aforementioned defeats — the only PL defeats on the season — will have stung badly: Liverpool, for the end of the unbeaten dream; United, for the missed opportunity to celebrate the title against their most bitter rivals.
Star man: The quartet of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane averaged 14.25 goals and 12 assists this season. Take your pick, pick your poison, etc.
Manager(s) marks out of 10Pep Guardiola (10/10)
Grade for the season: A+

Brazilian player Taison banned in Ukraine for response to racism

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) Brazilian player Taison has been banned for one game for his reaction to racist abuse in a Ukrainian league game.

The Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder showed his middle finger to Dynamo Kyiv fans who had abused him with monkey chants and kicked the ball into the stands during a game Nov. 10. Taison was shown a red card.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

The Ukrainian Football Association ordered Taison to serve a one-game ban plus a suspended two-game ban.

Dynamo has been fined 500,000 hryvnyas ($20,000) and ordered to play one game behind closed doors. Another one-game sanction is suspended.

World players’ union FIFPro says “sanctioning a victim of racial abuse is beyond comprehension and it plays into the hands of those who promote this kind of disgraceful behavior.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

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Yes, Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League and, sure, both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini are in managerial hot seats, but is there any match more intriguing than Man City and Chelsea squaring off with the knowledge that a bad outcome could see them double digits out of first?

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.


The Jose Mourinho Era begins against a familiar foe

  • West Ham v. Tottenham Hotspur — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho have matched wits many times, which could help the former in his bid to get ready for a rankled Spurs side to kickstart the Premier League weekend.

Mourinho has only matched up with six managers more than Pellegrini in his career, and boasts a 7W-3D-4L record. Can he quickly get Spurs put together for a visit to a desperate Irons side.


Chelsea, Man City put slim title hopes on the line

  • Manchester City v. Chelsea — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC

Both Pep Guardiola‘s City and Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea have lost to Liverpool, meaning their chances to directly affect the Reds’ title hopes are limited. Matches like this one are the ones that get the Reds salivating, in fact, knowing that only one team can snare three points.

City enters the day nine points back of first and a point behind Chelsea and Leicester City. The Top Four race sure looks clear cut right now — the chasing pack is eight points behind fourth — but failure to win on Saturday will likely leave either side double-digit points back of first.


Knock off the Red Devils? Wilder things have happened

  • Sheffield United v. Manchester United — Sunday, 11:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has the newly-promoted side in fifth place on the table, one point better than his celebrated visitors. The Blades will sit no worse than five points back of the Top Four if they can beat Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Red Devils, adding another big name to a season of results which already includes a defeat of Arsenal and draws against Chelsea and Spurs. United is still without Paul Pogba and now will also miss Scott McTominay. Another upset brewing?


Reds hope to get back to business as usual in title fight

  • Crystal Palace v. Liverpool — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

A week removed from a glitzy show against Man City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds now visit a Palace side who is probably getting sick of facing the Premier League’s best. Roy Hodgson‘s table rise has been stunted by a four-match winless run that includes 2-0 losses to Man City, Leicester City, and Chelsea to go with a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

A Liverpool win will boost it clearer of Man City and/or Chelsea, as the Reds seek a double-digit lead on the field (Second-place Leicester City is away to Brighton and Hove Albion).


Arsenal looks to right wobbly league ship versus slumping Saints

  • Arsenal v. Southampton — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Unai Emery‘s Gunners may be doing fine in the Europa League, but they’ve taken just two points from 12 since an Oct. 6 defeat of Bourrnemouth at the Emirates Stadium. Saints only win since mid-September in any competition is a 4-0 demolition of rivals Portsmouth. If Arsenal cannot get right here, well…

The 2 Robbies break down Tottenham’s big switch from Poch to Mou

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Maybe you saw the firing of Mauricio Pochettino coming, and maybe you even though Jose Mourinho could be in the running to take his place, but the whole thing happening in rapid fire fashion calls for something different.

Call it an emergency podcast for The 2 Robbies.

[ MORE: Ederson back in training ]

Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle respond to the shocking and divisive news coming from North London earlier this week.

Tottenham Hotspur sacked Pochettino and quickly replaced him with The Special One. This episode also includes some of Jose’s first words as the new Spurs Head Coach.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Pochettino leaves emotional whiteboard message to Spurs

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Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff have left Tottenham Hotspur, but not without fond words for the North London set.

Pochettino’s backroom staff was also dismissed, with assistant Jesus Perez and coaches Miguel D’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez leaving to make room for Jose Mourinho’s crew.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

And Perez wanted to make sure that the world knew the final words Pochettino left for his players, something that has Tottenham supporters even more emotional.

It also surely plays as a political piece which will increase the villain status of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who’s been under fire for not helping Pochettino by selling players who did not want to be in North London.

Even Mourinho heaped praise on his predecessor.

“Mauricio, for the work he did, this club will be always his home,” Mourinho said. “He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he work with. The door is always open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”

Get your tissues, Spurs fans.