Arsenal, Newcastle and Baines end the Premier League season on a high
The season ended with a bang for Arsenal, a whimper for Spurs and a bomb scare for Man United. And the latter incident ramped up the tension for many ESPN FC Premier Fantasy managers who had to wait until Tuesday evening's rescheduled United vs. Bournemouth match to discover their final score for the campaign.
Here's how one of the more surreal season endings panned out.
Managerless Everton brushed aside relegated Norwich, with previous ESPN FC Premier Fantasy stalwart Leighton Baines (£6.9m) leading the way courtesy of a goal, from the penalty spot, and a rare clean sheet for 15 points.
Newcastle's surprise 5-1 mauling of Spurs earned big points for Dutchmen Georginio Wijnaldum (£7.5m) and Daryl Janmaat (£5.2m). The midfielder scored twice, taking him to 11 goals for the season, all of which came at home. His 15-point haul was one better than Janmaat, who had a goal and an assist. Rather tellingly, the defender finished with as many assists for the season (four) as he managed clean sheets.
Arsenal's Olivier Giroud (£7.6m) finished the campaign with a bang. His hat-trick against Villa earned him 15 points and he recorded 31 points from the last three Gameweeks.
Last-day teams often bear little resemblance to those that have slogged their way through the 37 previous matches, particularly for those sides with an eye on a cup final or with nothing to play for at all. And this weekend was no different.
Europa League finalists Liverpool fielded an entirely different XI, and also managed to find space on the bench for Jordan Henderson (£7.1m) and Danny Ings (£7.5m) as they continued their recoveries from injury.
Sunderland made nine changes, with only Lamine Kone (£6.3m) and DeAndre Yedlin (£6.1m) retained from the side that secured their top-flight status in midweek.
Crystal Palace surprisingly only made five changes to their side ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final, while Arsenal and Everton swapped four players apiece.
For the Gunners, two of those incomers were of particular interest, Jack Wilshere (£6.2m) starting his first match of the season and Santi Cazorla (£7.9m) making his return from a knee injury after five months out.
At Goodison Park, Tim Howard (£6.2m) said an emotional goodbye to his home for the past decade and Phil Jagielka (£6.4m) returned from six matches on the sidelines with a hamstring issue -- but not quickly enough to make England's Euro 2016 squad. Midfield youngsters Tom Davies and Kieran Dowell also came in for their first league starts.
Two days later, Louis van Gaal bucked the trend by picking a very strong Man United side despite the increased proximity of their FA Cup final appearance.
Wayne Rooney (£8.6m) caught the eye with goal and an assist for 10 points, but pity the 13.8 percent of ESPN FC Premier Fantasy managers with Chris Smalling (£7.2m) in their side.
The England centre-back's late own goal against Bournemouth scuppered United's hopes of a final league clean sheet of the season, taking his Gameweek score from seven to zero and, we suspect, creating any number of hard luck stories for managers.
THE NUMBERS GAME
The stats, they say, don't lie, although you might want to try telling Tottenham fans that. Spurs had the league's best goal difference, courtesy of the second most prolific attack and the second tightest defence. But they finished third.
Individually, however, the stats backed up the reality.
His 25 league goals earned Harry Kane (£10.0m) the Golden Boot, one ahead of Sergio Aguero (£11.1m) and Jamie Vardy (£10.1m), and the Spurs man bossed the striker tables. His 158 goal attempts was a full 39 ahead of his nearest rival, Aguero, and his 105 attempts in the box well clear of Vardy's 96.
Kane also topped the charts for shots on target and accuracy, while Arsenal's Giroud led the way for headed attempts, with 41 compared to the second-placed total of 33 from Newcastle's Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.2m).
Mesut Ozil (£9.7m) finished his season in typical style -- with an assist. In all, he created 19 of them, and the 144 chances he created was well clear of his main rival: West Ham's Dmitri Payet (£8.8m), who had 116.
The German's 21.9 minutes per chance average, 42 though balls and 40.8 percent cross completion stats were also league-leading figures, but Payet did trump Ozil when it came to successful crosses -- 94 to 93.
Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld (£7.5m) was ESPN FC Premier Fantasy's highest points-scoring defender -- and not just because of his side's defensive stability.
The Belgian's 13 clean sheets were backed up by four goals and three assists and his 40 attempts on goal was topped by just one player: Sunderland's Patrick Van Aanholt (£6.4m), who managed 46.
The Dutchman recorded less than half Alderweireld's clean sheet tally, but hit six goals and provided four assists.
As a team, Spurs excelled at both ends of the pitch, managing a league-leading 657 attempts on goal (Liverpool came in second with 629), 248 attempts on target and a chance every 5.5 minutes.
Only Man City, Liverpool and Man United allowed fewer chances than Tottenham, while the most generous defence in the league when it came to shots conceded in the penalty area wasn't Villa, their two relegated rivals or even Sunderland, but... Everton.
Whoever takes over the reins at Goodison Park has a clear steer on how to improve matters nice and quickly.