Five things players will want to forget from the 2018/19 Premier League season

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A relentless title race between Manchester City and Liverpool went right to the wire and will live long in the memory for fans of both clubs and neutrals alike.

But this season has also seen plenty of moments some players would rather forget.

Penalty points for Mahrez

Perhaps we should be grateful to Riyad Mahrez because without his horrible penalty miss in October, the title race might have been very different.

Manchester City went to Anfield looking for their first league win away to Liverpool in 15 years, and were handed a glorious chance to take it when Virgil Van Dijk fouled Leroy Sane in the 85th minute. But Mahrez, having waved Gabriel Jesus away, hit a wild penalty kick way over the bar.

De Gea’s debacles

Having been Manchester United’s rock for so long, a string of mistakes from David De Gea contributed to the collapse of their top-four hopes in the final weeks of the season.

Although it was a draw at Huddersfield which finally ruled them out of contention, the key result was a 1-1 draw with rivals Chelsea at Old Trafford, when Marcos Alonso capitalised on a mistake from De Gea to cancel out Juan Mata’s opener.

De Gea failed to hold what should have been a routine save from Antonio Rudiger, allowing Alonso to fire in the rebound.

Pickford’s troubles

Jordan-Pickford

Several England players seemed to carry a World Cup hangover into the Premier League season, but Jordan Pickford’s lasted the longest. There was his meltdown against Newcastle, rivals of his boyhood club Sunderland, and unsavoury scenes on a night out back home, but the biggest howler came in the Merseyside derby.

Everton were on course for a valuable point at Anfield until his inexplicable mis-handling of Virgil Van Dijk’s soft, looping header in stoppage time gifted Divock Origi a stunning winner.

AK47’s mis-fire

There is not much Fulham will want to remember about a wretched season which saw them get through three managers on their way straight back to the Championship despite huge investment last summer.

But the worst moment of all came in December when they were awarded a late penalty against Huddersfield. Aboubakar Kamara wrestled with team-mate Aleksandar Mitrovic – the team’s designated penalty taker – for the ball but, having won the right to take it, saw a tame effort saved by Jonas Lossl.

Kamara earned the scorn of manager Claudio Ranieri and, following a training ground incident a few weeks later which led to his arrest, was farmed out on loan to Yeni Malatyaspor for the rest of the campaign.

Miss of the season?

There are a few candidates for this crown. Southampton’s Shane Long hitting the post of an open goal against rivals Bournemouth; City’s Sergio Aguero firing wide from point-blank range against Chelsea (mitigated by the fact he went on to score a hat-trick).

But the winner is surely Matt Ritchie, who missed the target from less than a yard against Burnley in November. His only saving grace is that Newcastle won 2-1 despite it.

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Premier League's thrilling season approaches finale with Man City and Liverpool locked in title battle

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Man City and Liverpool set for final weekend in title race.

The Premier League comes to an end this weekend with a gripping title race set for its final blow, as Man City and Liverpool stake their claim for the crown.

While the relegation battle is over and the top-four race is more or less so – Arsenal have to win, hope Tottenham lose, and then need an eight-goal swing in their favour to steal fourth place – this is set to be an exciting finish to a thrilling campaign.

Here’s a look at what’s at stake in the title race and elsewhere in England.

TITLE RACE GOING DOWN TO THE WIRE

When City won with 100 points last season, who would have expected that they could come close to repeating the feat – and that doing so may not be enough to repeat as champions?

Yet that’s the position they’re in, because Liverpool are lurking just behind. One point separates the two sides, City on 95, Liverpool on 94. Brighton having secured Premier League status for a third straight season might make City’s job easier this weekend, though Liverpool are at home against a formidable Wolves side – albeit one that has nothing to play for, having wrapped up seventh place last week.

As long as City win, there’s no complication in the title race. But if they don’t, myriad possibilities open up. A City draw or loss coupled with a Liverpool win hands the title to the Reds.

Liverpool can’t afford to lose. And there’s even the distant possibility of a first-ever play-off for the title – if Liverpool draw 4-4, and City lose 4-0, they’ll be tied on points, goals difference, and goals scored. It’s unlikely, but in a crazy season, does anyone really want to bet against it?

CITY AND LIVERPOOL DESERVE CREDIT FOR STELLAR CAMPAIGNS

The second-place team will finish with either 95, 96, or 97 points this season. If it’s Liverpool, they will finish the season with at most two losses and yet no league title, while City, if they slip up, will have gone from a 100-point season in which they won the league by 19 points to one where even a five-point drop-off, at most, cost them the crown.

A win for City would see them tie the record they set last season for most wins in a season, 32, while Liverpool could set the record for most wins and points without winning the title.

There is definite recency bias in proclaiming this the best title race ever, and such comparisons are rather pointless anyway, but those numbers show without doubt that these have been two remarkable campaigns for both clubs, even if one is destined to end in heartbreak. Both of these teams deserve immense credit.

CHANCE FOR ENGLAND’S BEST TO STRUT THEIR STUFF

Another first this season – all four finalists in Europe’s two premier competitions are from the same country. And though there are technically still two live races in the league, with Arsenal’s small chance of fourth place, this is also a chance for England’s best to strut their stuff.

City racking up the goals while under the pressure of needing a title-clinching win would be some statement, reminiscent of Chelsea’s 8-0 win over Wigan on the final day of the 2009/10 season, with Manchester United just a point behind.

Liverpool could underpin their claim as the best-ever runners-up – or worthy champions in their own right – by doing something similar against Burnley.

Tottenham play their final home game of the season in their new stadium. Chelsea and Arsenal are both warming up for their Europa League final. United have an outside shot of finishing in fifth, and will want to end a disappointing season on a high. All six will be looking to make a statement.

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Fantasy Premier League tips: Paul Pogba is a bold captain pick, Nathan Redmond in for GW38

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Each week, Sport360 will bring you tips for the English Premier League’s official fantasy football game. Fancy pitting your wits against us? You can join “Sport360 Fans League” using the code 2326997-532303.

It’s one last opportunity then for Fantasy Premier League managers to finish as high up the rankings as they possibly can this season.

Gameweek 37 was an underwhelming one with an average of just 48 points and several big-hitters failing to deliver.

The final day of the season however has a reputation of being a bit wild and unpredictable regardless of what’s at stakes for the various teams.

The Premier League title race of course goes down to the wire with Manchester City needing a win at Brighton to remain champions while Liverpool will hope they slip up as they look to take advantage by beating Wolves at home.

Here are a few tips to guide you ahead of GW38.

CAPTAIN – MOHAMED SALAH | LIVERPOOL | 13.3M

Given his recent injury, Mohamed Salah didn’t have to exhaust himself in midweek as Liverpool put in a stunning display to beat Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield and make the Champions League final for a second consecutive year.

However, he will benefit from the momentum and belief that night generated as the Reds hope for a miracle to realise their dream of winning a first Premier League crown.

The Egyptian also leads the goal-scoring charts with 22 strikes to his name and will want to add to that tally in his efforts to secure the Golden Boot.

He’s in superb form as well, delivering returns in seven of the last eight GWs with five goals and four assists in that time. In the last four GWs, he ranks first for shots on target (10), shots inside the box (16) and for frequency of chances created (16.3 minutes per chance created).

Anfield should be buzzing after the win over Barca and Salah could profit from a fast start, making him a prime choice for any Triple Captain chips still knocking about as well.

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

ALTERNATIVES

SERGIO AGUERO (12.0m) definitely remains in the running after he was inches away from scoring against Leicester City, striking the crossbar and drawing a fine save out of Kasper Schmeichel. Another star chasing that coveted Golden Boot.

JAMIE VARDY (9.0m) looks threatening within Brendan Rodgers’ system and will be facing an exhausted Chelsea side who had to play 120 minutes and a penalty shootout on Thursday night to make the Europa League finals. Vardy has had nine big chances come his way in the last four GWs – more than any other player – and his pace should worry Chelsea’s high defensive line.

BOLD CHOICE

PAUL POGBA (8.6m) hit the woodwork twice at Huddersfield and was the only United player who seemed likely to score while creating a few chances as well. United host relegated Cardiff City and will want to give their fans something to cheer. He’s a superb differential captain pick.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

ONE TO WATCH

NATHAN REDMOND | SOUTHAMPTON | 5.5M

With the luxury of playing Huddersfield at home on the final day, Southampton will hope to sign off in style. Nthan Redmond has shown in the past that he can be an explosive FPL asset. He certainly lacks consistency but does have three double-figure hauls to his name this season – one of them coming against the Terriers when he scored and assisted away from home.

The midfielder is playing in an advanced role under Ralph Hasenhuttl and at an ownership of less than six per cent, is well worth a punt – perhaps even as a captain.

Nathan Redmond

ONE TO AVOID

EDEN HAZARD | CHELSEA | 11.0M

Eden Hazard has been in good form, delivering returns in four of the last six GWs with three double-figure hauls as well. However, he played the full 90 minutes last weekend at home to Watford and the entire 120 minutes on Thursday night in the Europa League semi-finals.

With the match at Leicester essentially being a dead rubber, Maurizio Sarri may well decide to keep his star man out of the firing line and ensure he’s injury and fatigue free for the Europa League final against Arsenal.

Eden Hazard

WILD PICK

MASON GREENWOOD | MANCHESTER UNITED | 4.5M

Having impressed in the reserves and at youth level this season, Mason Greenwood has long been tipped for a full debut in the Premier League. Unfortunately, injuries at key moments have denied him that opportunity as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has explained.

The 17-year-old striker has been training with the first team ahead of Sunday’s game though and the United boss has promised to field a few youngsters against Cardiff. At just 4.5m, Greenwood is worth a gamble.

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