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Matches That Defined the 2022/23 Premier League Season


Matches That Defined the 2022/23 Premier League Season

The 31st Premier League season has come to a close, and many would argue that it has been one of the best in the competition’s history. Despite the fact that Manchester City won the title for the fifth time in six seasons, it was still a season to remember with plenty of other teams and moments who shocked and surprised fans.

Newcastle, Brighton, Brentford and Nottingham Forest all enjoyed seasons that their fans will remember for years, while Chelsea, Southampton, Tottenham and Leeds all endured miserable seasons and will be glad to see this one come to an end.

There were plenty of memorable moments in the 380 matches that took place this year, and many of those full matches will also stick in the mind for a long time. Therefore, we are going to take a look at the particularly memorable and important matches that we feel defined this Premier League season…

Newcastle 3-3 Manchester City

Newcastle’s performance in this game was an indicator of the sublime season that they would go on to have and how they would end up disrupting the traditional top 4, while Manchester City’s quality in fighting back to claim a point was an indicator of how good they would be throughout the year and how tough they would be to be beaten to another league title.

August’s meeting at St James’ Park between Newcastle and Manchester City set the tone for the fantastic respective seasons that the two clubs would go on to have, with the two playing out a six-goal thriller on Matchday three.

Ilkay Gundogan would give City the lead, but Newcastle fought back through goals from Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson, with the Englishman’s 39th-minute strike one of 18 that he would go on to score in the league. Kieran Trippier, one of many Newcastle players who would go on to have a fantastic season individually, made it 3-1 via a brilliant free-kick, and Newcastle looked set for a shock win.

But City, in a sign of the quality and resilience that would be key in them going on to lift the title and potentially part of what could be a treble, fought back in the second-half with 2 goals in the space of 4 minutes, with Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva drawing Pep Guardiola’s side level – it was a great example of exactly how tough it is to beat the Citizens.

Brentford 4-0 Manchester United

This season was the highest-scoring in Premier League history (1,084 goals) since the division changed to a 20-team league in 1995/96, and Brentford’s stunning victory in this game was not only a fine example of the kind of high-scoring matches that we would come to see so often this year, but also an example of the kind of shock results that we would also come to see so often as well.

Brentford stunned Manchester United and the watching world when they thrashed the Red Devils 4-0 in what was just their second game of the season, with the Bees four goals up after a scarcely-believable 35 opening minutes.

Goals from Josh Dasilva, Mathias Jensen, Ben Mee, and Bryan Mbeumo put Brentford into an unassailable lead at the Gtech Community Stadium, and United would end the day bottom of the Premier League after the battering they had received. It was a match that signalled plenty of things; firstly, what an absolute goal-fest of a season we were in for (later shown by a record-breaking 21 goals being scored in the three fixtures being played on the 8th May, a record for a three-game matchday), what a stunning campaign Brentford themselves would go on to have, but also just how many further great games of football we were in for overall.

Nottingham Forest 2-3 Bournemouth

This early season meeting between two of the sides heavily tipped for relegation was dramatic viewing, with the visiting Cherries brilliantly recovering from being two goals down to win 3-2 and claim their first win under caretaker manager Gary O’Neil. It was a game that, despite only being the sixth of the season, was somewhat telling of how the respective seasons of these two clubs would progress.

Cheikhou Kouyate and Brennan Johnson gave Forest a commanding lead going into half-time, but Bournemouth came out firing in the second-half. Still fresh with the scars of their 9-0 defeat to Liverpool from just a few weeks prior, Bournemouth got themselves back into the game through Philip Billing’s effort from distance and Dominic Solanke’s acrobatic strike. And with just three minutes of regular time to go, Jaidon Anthony scored the winner to hand the Cherries a morale-boosting and much-needed second win of the season.

It was their first victory under Gary O’Neil, and a great indicator of the fantastic work that O’Neil had done in such a small amount of time with the squad he had, and where they would go under him for the rest of the season. O’Neil would go on to lead his side to wins over Leeds, Southampton, Leicester, Tottenham and Everton, while also taking points from top-half sides including Newcastle, Brentford and Fulham that all contributed towards Bournemouth guaranteeing their top-flight safety in a year where barely anyone fancied them to.

This game was also a fantastic example of the defensive issues that would plague Nottingham Forest throughout the rest of the season, with Forest conceding at least 3 goals in a game in 11 matches. But they did go 2-0 up in the first place, and that was due to their relatively strong attacking talent. It is that talent that has played a large role in managing to keep Forest up this year, and they had it on display here.

Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United

The last time we saw Unai Emery in English football was when he was at Arsenal, and he left the league a laughing stock following a torrid final few months in charge of the Gunners.

In that regard, more of the same was probably expected when Aston Villa appointed the Spaniard in late October, but Emery shocked spectators as his Villa side ran out surprise 3-1 winners over Manchester United in his first game in charge.

The win signalled a shift in Villa’s fortunes and was somewhat an indicator of the great things that were to come for them, as Emery’s men would go on to finish the season strongly (actually going unbeaten for two months between February and April), and ultimately securing European football.

Aston Villa will be playing in Europe next season for what will be the first time in 13 years, as they secured Europa Conference League qualification on the final day following their 2-1 win over Brighton. Their final-day defeat of one of the division’s best sides shows how good they have been since November, with Unai Emery’s appointment being the catalyst that has transformed the Villans from relegation candidates at the time to now continental football bound. And it was that 3-1 win over the Red Devils back in November that started it all off, with that win being Villa’s first home win against United in the Premier League since 1995.

Only Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta have bettered Emery’s points-per-game average since his arrival, and Villa’s 18 victories in the league this season (of which 15 were under Emery’s management) matches the club’s record amount in the Premier League era.

Arsenal 3-2 Bournemouth

Arsenal’s dramatic 3-2 win over Bournemouth at the beginning of March was the game that made a huge majority of Arsenal and rival fans sit up and actually believe that it was going to be the year that the Gunners would break their title hoodoo.

Despite a nervy few matches prior after just barely scraping past Aston Villa and Leicester, and with the odds being stacked against them in this one as time ticked away, Reiss Nelson scored a remarkable 97th-minute winner to hand Arsenal all 3 points in amazing fashion.

It was a win that seemed to show that the Gunners finally had a team that were ‘mentality monsters’ in the face of pressure, a tag that the club really hadn’t had since the early 2000s. But this late win that came after being 2-0 down after an hour of play against a team that were in relegation trouble showed that Mikel Arteta’s men really did seem to have the mental strength, resilience and grit needed to go on and break their long wait for a league title.

For Arsenal fans, it truly felt like the title was destined after this win. After seeing their team fail to pick up results against smaller sides many times in previous years that derailed title challenges (Birmingham in 2008 instantly springs to mind), this game felt different. Because they had actually overcome the pressure and won. But as we now know, it was not to be.

In hindsight, the fact that they were 2-0 down to Bournemouth in the first place, even going 1-0 down after just nine seconds of play, maybe was an indicator that there were still some deficiencies in this Arsenal team that had to be ironed out before they could truly challenge for a title with Man City and that Arsenal are far from the finished package. But it was still one of the best matches of a season that has had so many memorable games.

Brighton 3-3 Brentford

This 3-3 draw between Brighton and Brentford on the south coast in April was an absolutely thrilling watch, with the Seagulls fighting back from a goal down three times to secure a point in a match that epitomised the brilliance of both clubs involved, and the impressive respective campaigns that they were both having.

It was a fantastic game of football to watch, with the free-flowing, attacking football on display an absolute joy to watch, while also being a further addition to the long list of great games that we have been treated to this year. And naturally, the two couldn’t be separated at the final whistle.

It was Pontus Jansson who opened the scoring after just 10 minutes for Brentford, but Brighton struck back just 11 minutes later through Japanese breakout star Kaoru Mitoma. But as he has done so often this season, Brentford regained the lead through an Ivan Toney goal, with the Englishman’s 17th goal of the season meaning that Brighton had been back on level terms for just 90 seconds.

There was further drama just 6 minutes after Toney’s goal, with Danny Welbeck meeting Solly March’s cross to restore parity. Brentford then went in front for a third time five minutes into the second-half through the impressive Ethan Pinnock, whose goal looked to have secured all three points for the Bees.

But, there was to be one final twist in the tale. Aaron Hickey blocked a goalbound effort with his arm as the game entered the final minute, and Brighton were subsequently awarded a penalty. Alexis Mac Allister stepped up and dispatched the spot-kick to cap off what had been a gripping game, ensuring that the two teams both left with a point, unable to be separated.

Arsenal 1-1 Brentford

This season will also stand out in the memory for the sheer amount of shocking refereeing decisions, with one of the worst ones coming in Arsenal’s largely uneventful game against Brentford in February.

The Gunners had been leading through Leandro Trossard’s goal, but Ivan Toney equalised for the Bees in the 74th minute. The goal was contentious though, because Christian Norgaard, whose cross was headed in by Toney, was in an offside position. However, the VAR at Stockley Park somehow failed to spot this.

It was a result that was a blow to Arsenal’s title hopes, and what will sting worse is the reason given for why the goal was allowed. In the aftermath of the game, it emerged that the official checking the goal, Lee Mason, had apparently forgotten(!) to draw the offside lines when checking the goal.

A Premier League official forgot one of the most basic aspects of their job, and a wrongful goal was therefore allowed to stand. And how big a decision it was, because Arsenal failed to find a winner and the game ended in a draw. Victory would have put the Gunners eight points clear at the top, but because of the draw and Manchester City’s subsequent victories over Aston Villa and Arsenal, it meant that Pep Guardiola’s men went top.

It was arguably the worst mistake of many that referees have made this season, with the PGMOL handing out multiple apologies to clubs for the incorrect decisions made at points this season. By February, it was confirmed by the organisation that eight different wrongful VAR decisions had been made by them, with the likes of Brighton, West Ham, Newcastle and Nottingham Forest all being affected.

Newcastle 6-1 Tottenham

Tottenham’s miserable campaign reached a nadir when they travelled up to Tyneside to take on a Newcastle side who had just lost 3-0 to Aston Villa the previous weekend.

Having suffered an embarrassing defeat to Bournemouth the week prior, it was a chance for Spurs to regain some confidence and momentum against a Newcastle side whose own momentum had been bruised as well. But absolutely nobody could have predicted the state of play at 2:20 pm that Sunday, in what was astonishingly, the third time that a top-6 side would concede six in a game this season.

Manchester United were beaten 6-3 by city rivals Man City in October and also suffered a 7-0 shellacking at the hands of Liverpool in March. Both were unexpected results, but arguably more unexpected was Tottenham’s result at St James’ Park. Spurs were 3-0 down after just 10 minutes had been played, and shipped a further two goals to see themselves 5-0 down in what was a barely believable opening 21 minutes.

The game would end up finishing 6-1 to Newcastle, with Tottenham’s interim manager Cristian Stellini ignominiously being sacked in the aftermath. But aside from the headline-making scoreline and the game emphasising just how poor this Tottenham side had been throughout the year, it was yet another game that showcased just how quickly Eddie Howe had transformed this Newcastle side, and how far ahead of schedule the Magpies were in their project.

As they had been doing all season, they had again ruffled top-six feathers with their scintillating performances, but this was a performance that not only their fans enjoyed, but almost certainly saw the biggest clubs in England truly sit up and take notice of what was going on at St James’ Park.

Liverpool 4-3 Tottenham

In what many will agree was the game of the season, Tottenham made the trip up to Anfield to finish off what had been a torrid April for the club. They had just one nervy win from the five they had played, with embarrassing defeats to both Newcastle and Bournemouth coming respectively in the form of a 6-1 thrashing and conceding a stoppage-time winner, while also dropping points to relegation-threatened Everton after centre-back Michael Keane scored a 90th-minute long-range effort.

It was one of the worst months ever to have been a Spurs fan, but right at the end, it was somehow about to get even worse.

Tottenham found themselves 3-0 down after just 15 minutes, and once again, it looked like they were going to be on the receiving end of a thrashing, with the three early goals from Curtis Jones, Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah eerily reminiscent of the early three strikes from Jacob Murphy and Joelinton the previous weekend. As they had done just a week ago, Spurs fans headed for the exits.

But things didn’t get worse. They actually got better, with Spurs fighting back through goals from Harry Kane and Son. They pushed and pushed further for an equaliser, and finally got their reward in the third minute of stoppage-time when Richarlison headed in from a free-kick for what was his first goal of the season. Tottenham had rescued the unlikeliest of points. After having all of his previous goals throughout the season disallowed, the Brazilian had finally scored one that actually counted and could now take his shirt off in celebration, something he had not been able to do previously. He was booked for it, but that did not matter - Tottenham had clawed back a point.

Diogo Jota then went up the other end straight afterwards and scored the winner for Liverpool after a Lucas Moura error, rendering Richarlison’s solitary goal useless and the Brazilian having picked up a booking for essentially no reason. Classic Tottenham. Pure, unadulterated, Premier League.