Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy and other top goals from 2017-18 Premier League season

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The Premier League season provided plenty of drama and a number of stunning goals.

Here, we rank 10 of the best strikes from the campaign.

10. Antonio Valencia (MANCHESTER UNITED v Everton, September 17)

Captain on the day, right-back Valencia led by example when he ran on to a Nemanja Matic cross to lash a thunderous strike which dipped and swerved beyond Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

9. Ashley Barnes (West Brom v BURNLEY, March 31)

Barnes quickly adapted after Aaron Lennon’s cross was delivered into the box behind him, launching himself into the air to acrobatically volley home his fourth goal in four games.

8. Victor Wanyama (Liverpool v TOTTENHAM, February 4)

Spurs’ Kenyan midfielder seized on a poor punch by Liverpool keeper Loris Karius in spectacular fashion, unleashing a first-time thunderbolt with the outside of his boot which flew into the top left corner from almost 30 yards.

7. Mark Noble (Leicester v WEST HAM, May 5)

After a Joao Mario free-kick was partially cleared, Hammers captain Noble showed superb technique to smash a right-footed volley across goal and into the bottom left corner from 25 yards.

6. Christian Eriksen (Chelsea v TOTTENHAM, April 1)

Chelsea appeared to be in little danger when Eriksen collected the ball 30 yards from goal but he advanced slightly and then let fly with a wickedly dipping drive which deceived Blues goalkeeper Willy Caballero and dropped just below the crossbar.

5. Jamie Vardy (West Brom v LEICESTER, March 10)

The England striker, who scored in similar fine style against Tottenham in November, went one better at The Hawthorns with a superb first-time volley on the turn following Riyad Mahrez’s perfectly-weighted long pass forward.

4. Charlie Daniels (BOURNEMOUTH v Manchester City, August 26)

Cherries left-back Daniels has surely never struck a ball so sweetly, smashing a powerful shot from wide on the left which flew in via the underside of Ederson’s crossbar.

3. Willian (Brighton v CHELSEA, January 20)

The Brazilian crowned some superb, intricate interplay around Brighton’s box by rifling the ball home following successive back-heeled passes from Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi.

2. Sofiane Boufal (SOUTHAMPTON v West Brom, October 21)

With the game drifting towards a dour goalless draw, substitute Boufal collected the ball deep inside his own half and powerfully dribbled the length of the pitch, beating several Baggies defender before calmly rolling the ball past Ben Foster and into the bottom right corner.

1. Wayne Rooney (EVERTON v West Ham, November 29)

The former England captain rolled back the years to complete his first Everton hat-trick in sensational style, drilling home a first-time 60-yard strike from inside his own half – which almost struck referee Michael Oliver – after Hammers keeper Joe Hart had raced off his line to clear the initial danger.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Antonio Conte on his way out but underlying issues at Chelsea and other things learned from Newcastle loss

Matt Jones 13/05/2018
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Chelsea ultimately fell short in their bid to secure Champions League football next season, but of more pressing concern to manager Antonio Conte was the nature of their meek surrender to Newcastle United a week out from an FA Cup final showdown with Manchester United.

The Blues were second best on a day when they would have wanted to keep the pressure on Liverpool, as well as serve a warning to the Red Devils and former manager Jose Mourinho, who lie in wait at Wembley next Saturday.

The Magpies flew out of the traps and took a 1-0 lead into the break thanks to Dwight Gayle’s headed opener. Slack Chelsea defending led to Ayoze Perez scoring a second-half brace as Rafa Benitez stuck the knife into his former side.

Here, we look at some talking points from the game.

HARDLY IDEAL PREPARATION FOR A FINAL

Antonio Conte lined his bench with the players he will likely call upon when Chelsea try to dress up a woeful season with a little glamour next weekend as they look to lift a fifth FA Cup title in 12 years.

Alvaro Morata, Willian, Marcos Alonso and Cesc Fabregas all looked on as the Magpies picked off the visitors, with the game over before any of them were summoned.

The top-four was a remote possibility before kick-off but that was barely a secondary concern here, with a shot at redemption and a piece of silverware within reach next weekend.

Even the FA Cup would not render this season a success for Chelsea, but Conte will have been concerned by the total lack of appetite shown by his players.

The only contribution from Eden Hazard, who has been resurgent in recent weeks, was the ninth worst passing accuracy of all 22 starters (80 per cent success rate), and he was outshone by Jonjo Shelvey.

Olivier Giroud almost scored a spectacular goal to rival his scorpion kick for Arsenal against Crystal Palace last season, but otherwise contributed little, while Tiemoue Bakayoko remains worryingly cumbersome, his poor clearance leading to Newcastle’s game-clinching second goal.

On this evidence, the casual spectator would think it was Newcastle preparing for an FA Cup final, not Chelsea. Former Blues manager Jose Mourinho would have been watching with a wry smile adorning his face.

Eden Hazard has been in decent form of late, but was poor against Newcastle.

Eden Hazard has been in decent form of late, but was poor against Newcastle.

MORE TO COME FROM NEWCASTLE NEXT SEASON?

Their penultimate four games of the season aside, the Magpies have been soaring in the second half of the campaign.

Rafa Benitez’s high-flying side launched themselves from a perilous position just before Christmas to a 10th place finish upon promotion a year ago.

On Boxing Day they lost 1-0 to Manchester City – a ninth defeat in their last 11 games – so you would have forgiven Toon Army fans for feeling less than festive.

But Saint Nick it seems was simply just delayed on his way to Tyneside, as he’s bestowed some belated New Year cheer on the club – who lost just two of the next 13, winning six, with a succession of four straight victories over Southampton, Huddersfield, Leicester and Arsenal seeing them steadily ascend the table.

With this progress in mind, what is Newcastle’s ceiling for next season? Safety assured on their top-flight return, the Magpies must now look to spread their wings in 2018/19.

They’re a big club with a following and stadium to rival the biggest in England, but a title challenge is beyond them. A return to Europe, however, isn’t. Just look at Burnley.

It was only six years ago when Newcastle finished fifth in the Premier League and qualified for the Europa League. With a manager of Bentiez’s talent and experience, a solid squad with room for improvement, rejoining the elite and striving for European football must be the ambition.

The Magpies must use their end of season run to push on for more next season.

The Magpies must use their end of season run to push on for more next season.

CHELSEA SHOWING LITTLE FIGHT SHOWS DEEPER ISSUES LIE BENEATH

Newcastle were excellent, especially when their hard work had been completed weeks ago and little was riding on the final game of the season for them.

That makes Chelsea’s lifeless display all the more worrying. True, a top-four finish was an extremely remote possibility. They needed Liverpool to lose at home to Brighton, who secured their safety a week ago.

And with Conte surely on his way, there was predictably little appetite from a set of players who will be far from unhappy to see him leave in the summer.

We all know the rise of player power over the last decade can lead to managers’ authority being regularly undermined, but for two title-winning managers to depart under dark clouds in under three years screams of an epidemic of epic proportions at Stamford Bridge.

Everyone knows Mourinho is a divisive character. But for the Portuguese to be pushed out the door at a club that owes its current standing and success to him, was an early indicator all is not well. Conte’s troubles are a gigantic flashing distress signal.

After the disastrous 2016/17 campaign in which they finished 10th – their worst Premier League position since 1995/96 – Conte restored order. The title was reclaimed and the previous year’s problems were heralded over and laid at Mourinho’s door.

But another 12 months on, Blues fans are feeling off-colour once again. And while fifth is better than 10th, Chelsea are only a point closer to the champions than they were two years ago. Their issues go beyond the manager.

Anotnio Conte may be on his way out, but there are underlying issues at Chelsea.

Anotnio Conte may be on his way out, but there are underlying issues at Chelsea.

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Gabriel Jesus strikes at the death as Man City reach 100-point landmark

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Champions Manchester City became the first club to amass 100 Premier League points after Gabriel Jesus scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner at Southampton.

Pep Guardiola‘s record-breaking side looked like missing out on an historic win on the south coast before substitute Jesus lobbed home to secure a 1-0 success with almost the final kick of the game.

Struggling Saints knew before kick-off that only a highly unlikely 10-goal swing in goal difference could send them down and a defeat for relegation rivals Swansea meant they were never in serious danger of the drop.

Guardiola’s formidable City side set new records for points gained, goals scored and games won in a Premier League campaign by beating Brighton 3-1 on Wednesday evening.

And they ensured a remarkable season would end on a high as Sunday’s sensational climax ensured those figures became 100, 106 and 32 respectively.

Southampton’s crucial midweek win against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium all but ensured a miserable campaign would not be compounded by dropping into the Championship.

That result helped create a celebratory atmosphere among supporters who have witnessed their team register just four league wins and 20 goals on home turf during a wretched 10 months.

City controlled first-half possession but Saints, buoyed by the positivity from the stands, almost took an early lead with Dutch defender Wesley Hoedt heading against Claudio Bravo’s crossbar from a Dusan Tadic corner.

With Sergio Aguero still injured and Jesus on the bench, Guardiola deployed Raheem Sterling as a false-nine.

The England forward appeared isolated and struggled to influence proceedings, firing well over with his only sight of goal in the opening 45 minutes.

City are due to celebrate their title success on Monday with an open-top bus parade through the streets of Manchester.

They began the second period camped in the hosts’ half, albeit continuing to lack a goal threat, epitomised by captain Fernandinho somehow volleying against the scoreboard on the top of the stand from 12 yards out.

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Guardiola was clearly intent on victory and, after an attacking substitution which saw forward Jesus replace left-back Fabian Delph, Sterling struck the right post with a deflected effort before John Stones’ header from the resultant corner was tipped over by Alex McCarthy.

While City continued to press for an opener, the attacking change left them with a three-man defence and more vulnerable at the back.

Dusan Tadic, who played a prominent role in Saints’ survival with both goals against Bournemouth a fortnight ago, almost took advantage of the extra space, rounding Claudio Bravo twice before his powerful goal-bound effort was blocked on the line by Fernandinho.

Guardiola introduced youngsters Brahim Diaz and Phil Foden late on, ensuring both players have registered five appearances to earn a Premier League medal – with Foden becoming the youngest ever winner at 17 years and 350 days old.

The game appeared to heading for an uneventful draw but, six years to the day since Sergio Aguero’s dramatic winner against QPR, Jesus found space in the final moments to lift the ball over McCarthy and spark mayhem among the travelling fans.

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