Last 5 – Premier League Final Day Matches
Sunday sees Liverpool play their final Premier League game of the season still in with a chance of lifting the Premier League title. That was last a reality 5 years ago where Liverpool and Manchester City were both vying for the league. Here, I look back on the last 5 matches that have taken place on the final day.
2013-14 – Anfield – Liverpool 2 Newcastle United 1 – 11th May 2014
Just like this season, Liverpool went into the final day knowing there was a possibility that the long wait for the Premier League title could end. It was out of Liverpool’s hands as they either needed Manchester City to lose and Liverpool to win by any scoreline, or West Ham to draw with Man City and Liverpool to win 13-0. Goals either side of half-time from Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany meant that the title went to Manchester and made the result at Anfield irrelevant.
All 3 goals were scored at the Kop End whilst I was at the back of the Anfield Road lower. Martin Skrtel’s own goal gave Newcastle the lead on 20 minutes but Liverpool secured all 3 points with 2 goals in 2 minutes just after the hour mark. A Steven Gerrard free-kick was converted by Daniel Agger for Liverpool’s 100th Premier League goal of the season and just minutes later, you could be forgiven for thinking we’ve just seen that as another Gerrard free-kick was put into Tim Krul’s net, this time by Daniel Sturridge, the man who scored our 1st PL goals of the season, in a similar position to that of Agger moments earlier. No League title but a return to the Champions League awaited.
Liverpool XI – Mignolet, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Flanagan, Gerrard (C), Henderson, Allen, Sterling, Suarez, Sturridge
Subs used:- Cissokho (for Flanagan), Coutinho (for Allen), Lucas (for Sturridge)
Unused subs :- Jones, Toure, Sakho, Aspas
2014-15 – Britannia Stadium – Stoke City 6 Liverpool 1 – 24th May 2015
It was meant to be a fitting send-off for the Liverpool captain and legend Steven Gerrard but the game descended into 1 of the worst results in the club’s history. With Raheem Sterling and his agent angering the travelling supporters with comments that would soon see him head to Mancheter City for £50m, a lot of anger was directed at the England winger who spent the match on the bench as Liverpool started the game without a recognised striker,as Rodgers opted to leave Rickie Lambert on the bench. Having initially been let down for a ticket outside the ground, I was able to locate another spare and enter the ground just before kick off.
Liverpool had gone into the game 5th in the table ahead of Tottenham and Southampton knowing defeat could see Liverpool finish 7th but Southampton were beaten at Manchester City and Tottenham won at Everton, meaning a Europa League place for Liverpool and a 6th place finish. Charlie Adam could have given Stoke the lead against his former side early on but his shot sailed over Mignolet’s crossbar but it was an early warning. Liverpool did an early chance to score but Coutinho fired over when better options may have been available had he passed. Lallana also missed before the deadlock was broken. Emre Can was easily beaten to the ball by Marko Arnautovic who was able to find Charlie Adam who saw his shot turned into the path of Mame Biram Diouf by Mignolet who could not miss from about 5 yards out. He added his 2nd a few minutes later shooting at Mignolet from the edge of the box and the Belgian ‘keeper failed to keep the effort out.
Walters was able to make to it 3-0 before the half hour mark thanks to a header from Emre Can falling into his feet and despite Mignolet blocking the first effort, he was able to head the rebound in and send the home supporters into jubiliation once again. After Gerrard’s cross-field pass found Lallana, he tried to turn away from Geoff Cameron and went down but not convincing the referee to award a penalty. Charlie Adam had already given Liverpool some warnings so when he beat Lucas Leiva to the ball, he struck a ball that found it’s way through Martin Skrtel’s legs and the bottom corner of the net. It was 5-0 in the 4th minute as Steven Nzonzi hit a strike from outside the area that bent into the top right hand corner. In the concourse at half-time fans were united in a chorus of Rafael Benitez chants as late first half chances from Steven Gerrard and Mamadou Sakho failed to trouble the scoreboard.
Rodgers responded at half-time by throwing Kolo Toure and Jordon Ibe on for Alberto Moreno and Emre Can and moments after Gerrard had fired wide, he was through on goal again as Marc Muniesa halted his run holding his hamstring and Gerrard slotted beyond Asmir Begovic for his final competitive goal for Liverpool on his final appearance. That sparked Liverpool into life and Coutinho almost got a 2nd for Liverpool a minute later but another penalty shout for Lallana also went begging. It was former red Peter Crouch who ended the days scoring with an unchallenged header on the 86th minute. Liverpool’s new away kit hadn’t got the best first outing although it would be worn just over 6 months later in a 6-1 victory for Liverpool at Southampton in the league cup.
Liverpool XI – Mignolet, Sakho, Moreno, Skrtel, Gerrard (C), Coutinho, Henderson, Lallana, Lucas, Can, Allen
Subs used:- Ibe (for Moreno), Toure (for Can), Lambert (for Allen)
Unused subs :- Ward, Lovren, Sterling, Markovic
2015-16 – Hawthorns – West Bromwich Albion 1 Liverpool 1 – 15th May 2016
The first time Jurgen Klopp was naming a side for a final Premier League match and having already seen their hopes of European football extinguished, this result confirmed an 8th place finished and barring a win against Sevilla in Basel in the Europa League final the following Wednesday, there would be no European football for Liverpool in 2016-17 and his team selection supported his focus on that final. West Brom painted 96 of the seats in the away end red each bearing a silver plaque with a name of a victim of the Hillsborough disaster on.
Before the match, I ran into one of the greatest ever Liverpool players (many would say greatest but the debate rages on) in Kenny Dalglish and shared a joke with him before heading into the Hawthorns for my first visit. 17-year-old Jonathan Leko avoided a number of challenges before finding Salomon Rondon who was able to beat Adam Bogdan at his near-post. Cameron Brannagan had a shot saved easily but just a few seconds later, he took the ball in his own half before a clever turn got him away and he proceeded to run all the way into the box and fired home the equaliser as one of the more experienced players in the XI. Rondon had a header come back off the post and another effort drifted just wide of the post.
The biggest note of the game was the return of Jordan Henderson and Danny Ings from injury just after the hour mark. Danny Ings who had been injured just before Jurgen Klopp took charge after injuring his knee in training and Jordan Henderson making a surprise early return from a knee ligament injury picked up against Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the Europa League quarter final. Liverpool subsequently were defeated by Sevilla in the Europa League final so there would be no European football at Anfield for the first full season of Jurgen Klopp’s reign.
Liverpool XI – Bogdan, Skrtel, Flanagan, B.Smith, Lucas (C), Allen, Brannagan, Ibe, Stewart, Ojo, Benteke
Subs used:- Ings (for Ibe), Henderson (for Allen), Canos (for Ojo)
Unused subs :- Mignolet, Ilori, Randall, Chirivella
2016-17 – Anfield – Liverpool 3 Middlesbrough 0 – 21st May 2017
Liverpool headed into the final day seeking a return to the Champions League and what would inadvertently become the first step on the road to Kiev. A win guaranteed Liverpool a place in the Champions League, if Man City lost or drew and there was a 3-goal victory for Liverpool, it would mean 3rd position and a place in the group stages. Failure to win opened the door for Arsenal to claim a top 4 place once again under Arsene Wenger.
Liverpool wore their new 125-year anniversary shirt for the first time and sticking with 1sts, it happened to be the 1st time I sat in Kop block 109 for a match and Nathaniel Clyne was almost the first as Milner’s cross missed those in the centre and as Clyne brought it down, he fired wide. Emre Can fired over and Coutinho warmed the ‘keepers gloves as well as dragging an effort wide as Liverpool sought that first goal. Sturridge and Firmino also had efforts before the deadlock was broken right on the stroke of half-time as Clyne found Firmino who fed it through for Wijnaldum to smash Liverpool into the lead.
Early in the 2nd half, plans for the Champions League could begin to be written as Coutinho’s free-kick ended up in the net past Brad Guzan and the icing on the cake was sealed when Adam Lallana won the ball in the area and headed it down to Wijnaldum before he received the ball back and took it into his stride and finished into the net. Coutinho then was denied by Brad Guzan and a rare chance came to Patrick Bamford but for Middlesbrough, who had already been relegated, the effort didn’t cause Mignolet too much concern. Sturridge then had another effort before Lucas Leiva was introduced to the action for his final appearance for the club before he headed to Lazio.
Liverpool XI – Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Milner (C), Matip, Wijnaldum, Coutinho, Lallana, Can, Firmino, Sturridge
Subs used:- Lucas (for Firmino), Origi (for Sturridge), Moreno (for Milner)
Unused subs :- Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Klavan, Grujic
2017-18 – Anfield – Liverpool 4 Brighton and Hove Albion 0 -13th May 2018
Due to a largely stuttering end to their league campaign, Liverpool still needed a positive result on the final day of the season as Chelsea somehow found themselves still within a shout of Champions League qualification with Liverpool pre-occupied with winning the trophy in Kiev. Draws at Everton and West Brom along with their defeat at Stamford Bridge the previous week meant due to their better goal difference, a point would be enough to secure a return to the Champions League although a win and results in their favour involving Tottenham could see them finish the season in 3rd position. Tottenham would eventually beat Leicester 5-4 whilst Rafa Benitez guided Newcastle to a 3-0 victory over Chelsea confirming Liverpool finished 4th for the season. Just like the final day of the previous season, it was a new position for me to watch the match, this time from the brand new upper tier of the new main stand.
An incredible debut season from Mo Salah meant he only needed 1 goal to break the record for most goals in a 38-game Premier League season eclipsing former red Luis Suarez as well as Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer with whom he was tied on 31 going into the match. Liverpool had a couple of early penalty shouts, the first from an Alexander-Arnold cross appearing to strike the arm of a Brighton defender and then Salah was brought down with no touch on the ball from the defender. Sadio Mane then shot straight at the goalkeeper but Liverpool weren’t to be denied for long and it was Salah who turned and finished to break the record after Solanke had played the ball through.
Liverpool should really have seen the record climb from 32 to 33 but hesitation when through on goal with Mane and Salah saw the keeper deny the Egyptian before his goal-bound effort was cleared just short of the line. Before half-time the Kop was erupting again as Robertson delivered a perfect ball for Dejan Lovren to rise highest and head home. Dominic Solanke would then have the favour returned from Mo Salah and fired high into the Anfield Road end net to make it 3-0 for his first competitive Liverpool goal. Salah then turned provider for Roberto Firmino but the keeper made a good save to deny the Brazilian. The scoring was completed when substitute Danny Ings, making his final competitive appearance for the club, sent a ball into the middle but the defender’s block could only find Robertson who thumped the ball into the net for his first goal for the club albeit striking the defender on the line on its way in.
Liverpool XI – Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Henderson (C), Firmino, Salah, Mane, Solanke
Subs used:- Lallana (for Mane), Woodburn (for Salah), Ings (for Firmino)
Unused subs :- Mignolet, Clyne, Klavan, Moreno