ZICOBALL’s Best Moments: The 2019/20 Premier League

The Premier League, as it does every campaign, continues to bless us with its much-celebrated highs and often gut-wrenching lows. 

The 2019/20 season was one like no other. As life stopped around us, so did our beloved sport. Following the resumption of play, the football fan made its introduction with empty terraces and manufactured crowd noise. 

We resistantly bid farewell to any chance of celebrating alongside thousands of others; a trophy lift, clinching European football, or escaping the pull of relegation. 

The journey of a Premier League team, with the addition of being thrust into an unprecedented global pandemic, has the scope to take its fans on a thrilling 38-game ride.

The season, which began just under one year ago, and stands as the longest Premier League season ever, today saw an enthralling conclusion.

The writers at ZICOBALL were tasked to pinpoint their favourite moment and thrust it into the spotlight in no more than 200 words. Here, ladies and gentlemen, are some of their thoughts…

Individual Brilliance in Hotspur White

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In contrast to a season that will likely be remembered for events off the pitch, I wanted to highlight a pure football moment; a moment distilled of all external context leaving behind a totally refined 12 seconds of pure grade footballing genius.

December 7th 2019, 36 minutes into the game, Son Heung Min picks up a loose ball on the edge of the Tottenham 18-yard area. 

From a static start, he carries the ball hesitantly forward scanning his immediate area before letting instinct take over. He runs. He’s surrounded by Burnley shirts, but his touches are impeccably weighted. He reaches the halfway line with Burnley in chase. 

Tarkowski rushes to close him, Son takes an accurate heavy touch, dancing around him into the space behind. Mee is next, but Son is too fast, winning the footrace and taking another heavy touch ripping past Mee towards goal with Lowton and Pieters hot on his heels. 

With a display of balance and athleticism he breaks into the box, each touch delicately weighted so he never has to break stride, and inevitably slots the ball past Nick Pope capping off, in my opinion, one of the greatest goals in Premier League history.

Sam Scott – @SScott93

The Invincibles Stand Alone

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Arsenal fans have had very little to shout about this season or celebrate. Currently out of top 7 and the only hope of European football next season hinges on a Fa Cup finals win against our London rivals, Chelsea. But the most memorable moment, or the highlight of the season in the Premier League for me, doesn’t have anything to do with our on-pitch results. It was in fact when Watford ended Liverpool’s chances of going the entire season unbeaten as well as going 49 games unbeaten, both of which are unique record as well as something which is a matter of pride for all Arsenal fans. 

It may be more than 16 years since Arsenal’s Invincibles season was completed with a 2-1 win against Leicester City on the final day of the 2003/04 season, but our supporters haven’t stopped shouting about it. Even the club’s official Twitter account got involved and tweeted: “Phew…” just moments after Liverpool’s defeat was confirmed.

Other honourable mentions are Gnabry scoring against our London rival, United and the Liverpool victory in the Premier League, Emery’s sacking, and Arteta’s appointment.

@SemperFIArsenal

Neal Maupay Single-Handedly Dismantling The Gunners

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As if like clockwork, Arsenal’s yearly humbling by a Premier League also-ran was followed up masterfully by some scything quotes from the match-winner. Following Troy Deeney’s “they need some cojones” jibe, Brighton’s Neal Maupay provided some choice analysis at full-time to bring the Premier League back from its sleepy hiatus with a bang. 

Arsenal need to learn some humility” and “got what they deserved” was the damning verdict from Maupay when the Seagulls snatched a 2-1 win over the Gunners in late June. Maupay was the centre of attention all afternoon. Having spent the game being berated by Matteo Guendouzi for not earning a sliver of his pay packet and injuring his opponent’s first-choice goalkeeper, Maupay was on hand to deal the crushing blow – no, not the one on Bernd Leno – with a rifled finished in the 95th minute.

A season that hasn’t exactly been short of drama or controversy, Maupay twisting the knife in a fascinating post-match interview, showing more than an inch of personality in the process of cutting a wrestling-style promo live on BT Sport was exactly the kind of diversion from sobriety this pandemic-riddled world needed. When sports crosses paths with entertainment, it’s magnetic.

Liam Baxter – @LiamBxtr

Fabinho’s rocket in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over City

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In such a truncated year, it is hard to find one moment that stands out on the pitch when so much more important things have occurred off it.

However, Fabinho’s goal against Man City in November sticks out as a pivotal moment in the season. Liverpool were already six points ahead of their rivals going into this contest. However, a loss would bring City within one result, and once again risk squandering a cushion over them.

In just the sixth minute, after an energetic start, the home side fly forward on the counter, and the ball drops to the Brazilian thirty yards from goal. Time seems to stand still, and the poise of the strike is sensational. The power with which it flies past Ederson is Gerrard-Esque, so to the magnitude of the goal.

Liverpool win 3-1, once again proving to be City’s toughest obstacle. The nature of this win, controlled and authoritative not to mention the nine-point gap it opened up, was for me was a moment of clarity that Liverpool were finally going to banish their demons and win the league. 

Tom Underhill – @TomD_Underhill

No nonsense Norwich

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The Canaries produced a magnificent all-round performance early on in the season, to shock the nation and the Premier League frontrunners by inflicting Manchester City’s first Premier League defeat since January. 

Astonishingly, Norwich City were missing eight players but shrugged off those woes by causing chaos to the reigning champion’s defence. City, have struggled at the back since Vincent Kompany retired and the absence of Aymeric Laporte that day, highlighted the lacklustre blue’s defence. 

Teemu Pukki’s scintillating form continued from the Championship to the Premier League. He managed to score two goals and was involved in the Todd Cantwell’s opener. The fluid nature of Norwich’s approach miraculously outshone the supposed best team in England. 

How great is Guardiola?

Pep is undoubtedly one of the greatest managers to have ever lived. Revolutionising football as we know it, Guardiola’s tika-taka, interchanging philosophy can be noticed from the top-level to grassroots. Nevertheless, the manager’s prowess will be questioned this year, as City have been somewhat inconsistent. The blues from Manchester have been no match for Liverpool. These questions started that evening at Carrow Road. Kevin De Bruyne left on the bench. Maguire tapped up by their Manchester rivals. Norwich City the Premier League new boys schooled them at their own game. 

What a moment.

Louis Moore – @LouisJohnMoore

Happy New Years for the Gunners

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As an Arsenal fan, it’s not unpopular to say that this season wasn’t quite it. The season was supposed to be the one where Emery finally gets his players and builds on that fantastic Europa League run, but instead we got Lucas Torreira at number 10. 

The silver lining from all of this is that it finally looks like we have a manager who understands the foundations of which this club was built.

The moment of the season for me would be that new year’s day victory against Manchester United. The context made the victory even sweeter, coming from that harsh defeat to Chelsea. 

Mikel Arteta, yet to win his first game as a manager, the opener from Pepe, Granit Xhaka pumping up the fans, it just all seemed to come at the perfect time.

Let’s hope on August 1st, we Arsenal fans get something better to remember this season.

Kashyap Saraiya – @KashyapSaraiya1

The Resumption of Play

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Generally, when picking moments of the season, fans will look to brilliant goals, a young player breaking onto the scene or even those unexpected wins which lead to a teams survival.

However, after the unexpected break in play during the Premier League season which saw us without football for over 100 days, there can only be one moment to choose from, that being simply the return of football.

With everything that was happening away from the football pitch, it was a welcome return to see live football back on our televisions, even if it was without the fans.

Not only was football back, but it was back in abundance, with games nearly every night of the week showing at least three games each time including several on free-to-air TV allowing more fans to enjoy football’s comeback.

The football at first may not have been the prettiest with less shots and more fouls, but fans didn’t mind because of the many weeks without the beautiful game, and now it was back, not quite as we knew it, but nevertheless it was back.

When lockdown was first introduced, many doubted the season would even finish, and some didn’t want it to be. After all this time without it, every fan was nothing less than excited for it to be back.

Ciarán Mcloughlin – @Ciaran_Mc_1

Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea

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This was my favourite moment of the league season because of Chelsea’s brand of football on the night. Chelsea were not given much hope at the beginning of the season due to Frank Lampard’s lack of experience and the transfer ban. However, Lampard’s fearless Blues dominated the ball at the home of the back-to-back league champions. City had just 46.7% possession, which is the lowest for a Guardiola team in all matches at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City.

This game perfectly sums up Chelsea’s season. They dominated the ball but struggled to test the goalkeeper. The Blues only had 2 shots on target. Lampard showed his potential as a coach by dominating play against one of the best coaches the game has ever seen. Chelsea’s ball movement was slick, but defensive lapses cost them the game. Chelsea moved the ball with confidence, and stayed true to their values at the Etihad Stadium, where teams regularly drop deep in two solid defensive lines.

Kepa Arrizabalaga showed his weaknesses when he gave the ball away to Sergio Aguero, who hit the woodwork. The match also hinted at City’s struggles this season; Guardiola’s teams are at their best when they can dominate possession, and they weren’t. Benjamin Mendy’s defending for the Chelsea goal and space in central defence was exposed too.

With some new signings, Chelsea will be contenders for the league title next season. Lampard must fix the defence which has conceded 54 goals this season. This game showed that Lampard and Chelsea possessed the potential to beat the very best in the game.

Hammad – @HAMMAD121997

Gomez meets Sterling 

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This Premier League season and Liverpool’s 19th league title. One of the most memorable for them due to not just COVID-19, but also the rampages they went on, and the culmination of the trophy lift. Liverpool dropped only seven points while the league still mattered; a draw to Manchester United, a loss to Watford, and a draw to Everton. 

But this isn’t all about Liverpool. This is about my self-centred self. My favourite moment of the season was to do with Manchester City winger, Raheem Sterling. I, as you will get to know, am extremely petty, and I mean very. So when Liverpool played Manchester City, I was excited. It was mainly because Sterling was being compared to my favourite player, Kylian Mbappé. 

I wanted Liverpool to slap him around, badly. Yes, I am this petty. The media were saying that Sterling was as good as Mbappé (blasphemy, by the way), so I wanted him to look stupid.

So with the talk pre-game regarding Sterling, I was ready for Liverpool to beat on him. But late in the game, after Sterling was frustrated and beaten down, he squared up to substitute Joe Gomez. Yes, all 6ft 2 of him. Sterling, at 5ft 7, tried to get into his chest. Gomez picked him up like a child, before putting the overrated media darling down. 

It was glorious. An overhyped, spoilt child sat down in his rightful place by his superiors. 

Mustafa Jawad – @Mussy__J10

Wolves 3-2 Man City

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This encounter between two great sides had it all: a Red Card, a two-goal lead lost in the last 10 minutes of play, a VAR intervention, penalties and an immense atmosphere under the Molineux lights, what more could you ask? 

This was Wolves’ 2nd victory in the season over the 2018/19 champions, a demonstration of the outstanding job Nuno has done and why the team in the Black Country should be immensely proud of how they have performed and developed over the past few years. 

This game was also another example of the growth of Adama Traoré who delivered a man of the match performance as his pace and power proved too hot to handle. These have been attributes that Adama has possessed for a while now. It is the added control and intelligence that he has manifested throughout the season, which is why his output has improved so much.

Wolves’ 3-2 victory was a match that encapsulated Premier League football at its best: pure entertainment, filled with goals, drama, pace, and passion.

GenZScouts – @GenZScouts

Foxes on Cloud 9 after mauling of the Saints

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Pick a stand-out moment you ask me? How do you pick one from a season that has had so many?

So many performances and individuals have stood out during the season: Sheffield United’s remarkable season against all the odds; Norwich City beating Manchester City 3-2, kickstarting City’s demise; Watford trouncing the undefeated Liverpool, 3-0, to end the Reds’ hopes of an unbeaten season; and who could forget that wonderful solo goal from Tottenham’s Heung Min Son against Burnley.

However, for me, the 0-9 drubbing that Leicester City handed out to Southampton has to be the stand-out moment of the season.

The Foxes equalled the biggest ever victory in the Premier League, a 9-0 win for Manchester United against Ipswich Town 24 years prior. For one, it is not very often that you get to see a scoreline so one-sided to that degree.

The result was also the second of a nine league game-winning run for Leicester making them, at the time, Liverpool’s closest challengers for the title.

Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Perez both grabbed hat-tricks, not often do you see two players score three goals each, for the same team, in the same game.

That’s it, my favourite moment.

Alex McNulty – @AMcjourno

Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea

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Arsenal’s 2-2 draw away at Chelsea started in a painfully predictable way. David Luiz’s return to his old club lasted only 26 minutes. Hopeless. A man and a goal down, with an hour to play, Mikel Arteta was bold not to make any substitutions. His bravery was rewarded in the 63rd minute. A clearance lands at the feet of Gabriel Martinelli, deep inside his own half.

One-touch. A second touch. Ngolo Kante’s slip. Oh, Christ, he’s through on goal. Does he have the finish? Of course he does. The hope is rekindled. And not just for this game. But for the future of this club. We really might have a generational talent on our hands here. 

All is good for Arsenal fans at last. Maybe. Oh. No, it’s not actually. We concede late on. César Azpilicueta wheels away, tongue poked out. All is not good. Arsenal are in crisis. The hope is gone. Football doesn’t care for anyone, which is why it would make perfect sense that Arsenal grab an 87th-minute equaliser, via the left foot of Hector Bellerin. It’s been a dreadful season for Arsenal, but this game proved there is always hope. Of course, it’s the hope that kills you, but it’s also what revives you. 

Hal Fish – @HalFish95

The Canaries down Pep’s superstars

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Following the depressing end of Norwich’s season, it’s worth remembering the wild burst of madness that was their 3-2 win over reigning champions Manchester City. The world was a different place when the two sides met at Carrow Road last September, and the Canaries were a different side. Finnish sensation Teemu Pukki had just been awarded player of the Month and hope of survival was very much in the air.

Despite missing eight players due to injury, Daniel Farke’s men had no intention of parking the bus. Instead, they came out swinging. Kenny McLean scored a glorious header in the 19th minute, and Todd Cantwell doubled the lead shortly after. Sergio Aguero clawed one back before halftime, but Teemu Pukki sealed the champions’ fate early in the second half. Rodri’s long-distance effort came too late to change the outcome.

We are used to surprising results in the Premier League, but this one felt different. The plucky underdogs did not simply outfox their powerful adversaries. Instead, the Canaries matched City’s intensity and completely outplayed them.

Norwich City are gone now, and the Premier League is poorer for it. However, this match remains a classic affirmation of everything great about English football.

Anton Velchev – @AntonVelchev

Connolly At The Double

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Watching raw, unproven talent come to the fore and bask in the inevitably resultant limelight is always a pleasing aspect of following Premier League football.

Therefore, my favourite Premier League moment of the season was when19 year old Aaron Connolly scored twice for Brighton as they beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at the Amex Stadium back in October.

His second goal, in particular, was a work of beauty, as he cut in from the left-hand side of the penalty area and curled a low right-footed shot into the far corner. It was a perfect demonstration of both his natural talent and confidence. It was a superb solo effort, but it was remarkable that he was willing to try something so audacious on what was his very first Premier League start for the Seagulls.

The performance vindicated Brighton’s decision to replace manager Chris Hughton with Graham Potter prior to the start of the season. This was a far more positive and aesthetically pleasing Brighton side which was what the club hierarchy were looking for when they appointed Potter. It was also the beginning of the end for Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino as it started to become apparent that he had taken the team as far as he could.

Tom Surgay – @TSurgay

Graphics by: Sam Ingram – @SamIngram_