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(L-R) Arsenal winger Alexis Sanchez, Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane and Hull City manager Marco Silva (Photos: AFP)
After 10 months of near-relentless action, 370 games played, 1024 goals scored, the English Premier League’s 2016-17 season is finally winding down.
The penultimate Gameweek of the Premier League had plenty of eye-caching headlines, and in case you missed the live action, The Statesman has chosen the ones that brought forward a multitude of emotions for fans.
Harry Kane is the best striker in the Premier League, bar none (sorry Sergio Aguero!).
Well, for starters, the 23-year-old has taken the lead in the race for the Golden Boot despite missing three months of the season with an injury. With 26 goals and seven assists from 28 appearances, Spurs have an all-round striker unlike any other in the Premier League. He can head the ball, finish from both feet, isn't afraid to get physical and scores against big and small sides alike.
His four-goal salvo against 2015-16 champions Leicester City was jaw-dropping, especially if one considers the last three came with less than half an hour to play.
It was his third hat-trick in a truly remarkable season and it beggars belief that more clubs are not striving to sway him from the capital-based club in the summer.
Any player who scores 20-odd goals in a single season deserves to be at a team challenging for the title.
Considering Sanchez is primarily a winger, the fact that he has noticed 23 goals and 10 assists is awe-inspiring.
Fine, he has played plenty of games as a striker, but let’s not take away the fact that his best position is on the wing. Add his spat with Arsene Wenger into the mix, (The Frenchman benched Sanchez for a few games) and Gunners fans know this may well be the last season the Chilean graces the Emirates pitch.
Considering Arsenal are looking at a season without Champions League football next season (more on that later), Sanchez should move to a bigger club (Chelsea, maybe) in the summer. Even if they do qualify, it’s not like the Gunners are considered serious contenders in Europe or even England for that matter.
At 28, he is in the prime of his career and as mentioned earlier, is well within his rights to demand a move to a club that is considered elite.
It didn't matter which club they supported, but thousands of football fans were in unison when they saluted City’s long-serving full-back Pablo Zabaleta in his farewell game on Wednesday. The 32-year-old has been a shadow of his past since 2015, of that there is no doubt but one cannot discount the sterling service he gave the club ever since his 2008 transfer from Espanyol.
A true warrior, he was in his prime from 2011-15, motoring up and down the right flank with an almost indefatigable engine. Almost impossible to beat one-on-one, his defensive capabilities were matched only by his dependability. Rarely was he ever injured, perhaps that is why he accumulated over 200 appearances and won five major trophies with City (Two Premier League and League Cups, one FA Cup)
Considering his transfer fee was reported be under £10 million, he is one of the few players City managed to get at a bargain.
Hull finally confirmed their Championship status on the weekend, with Swansea living to fight for another season.
Under Silva, Hull got the prize scalps of Liverpool and Manchester United (EFL Cup) and looked like they would stave off relegation
What the million-dollar question is, where will their in-demand manager be off to?
For the Portuguese tactician has done well wherever he has gone (Estoril, Sporting Lisbon, Olympiacos) and will surely not be managing Hull in the second-tier of English football next year.
Watford have announced Walter Mazzarri will be leaving the club in the summer and Silva seems to be a readymade fit for the Hornets. With Leicester City unsure about Craig Shakespeare, the King Power Stadium might be the place the 49-year-old calls home next season.
At this moment there are plenty of permutations and combinations, but whoever makes the call first, will likely get their man.
With Chelsea finally confirming their status as Premier League champions and the bottom three set, this is the only race that will go down to the wire.
Liverpool, have the advantage as they are one point ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal. While the Gunners have a tough fixture at home against Everton, the Reds entertain relegated Middlesbrough.
However, considering Liverpool’s form against the smaller teams this year, there is an outside chance that some drama might be in the offing.
Since Arsenal are in brilliant nick at the moment, it would be hard to deny them a win, especially if you consider Everton have confirmed seventh place and their participation in next year’s Europa League.
So both Liverpool and Arsenal play teams with nothing to play for, but who will get that elusive fourth spot?
While Jurgen Klopp’s men are a little inconsistent, Middlesbrough are too unadventurous to cause a shock defeat at Anfield and a draw is perhaps the best they can achieve.
Which would, in theory, be enough for Arsene Wenger’ side to overhaul Liverpool, considering they beat Everton at the Emirates. It’s just too close to call!
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