A crazy season of football!
I made some predictions at the beginning of the season for each Premier League team. It’s time to review them and see how each team did and how close I got.
Arsenal – 8th (61 points); Last season (8th – 56 points)
Arsenal got 5 more points than they did last season but finish exactly where they did last season, in 8th. Arsenal started the season with a good win against Fulham and ended the 1st MW as league leaders. From then on it was downhill as they went as low as 15th in the table. Halfway through the season they were 11th and but 5 wins at the end of the season meant that they finished 8th in the table. For Arsenal it’s their first time in 25 years where they don’t have some form of European football. There are rumours about new owners etc and the whole Super League fiasco has not helped the Kroenke’s image. Arteta will probably be around next season as well and he has said that it’s a big summer ahead for Arsenal. The Gunners fanbase is a demanding one but their expectations are never based on reality. Willian was abysmal while Partey didn’t really light it up. Gabriel was decent at the back. The main star once again was probably Saka and that is a player Arsenal will want to hold on to. They beat Man United, Chelsea (twice), Leicester and Spurs, although its nothing to really shout about for a club of the Gunners stature. A season with just domestic football to worry about might just be what Arsenal need but they need a big summer of investment ahead.
Prediction – I predicted Arsenal to finish 6th but they let me down.
Aston Villa – 11th (55 points); Last Season (17th – 35 points)
Villa had an amazing season compared to last year where they just about managed to survive on the final day. A 7-2 win against Liverpool and a win against Leicester in the opening 5 games meant that they were 2nd at MW 5. Halfway through the season though the football had caught up to Dean Smith and team and they were 8th in the table. They remained 9th for a long time but some poor results towards the end meant that they finished 11th. Every single signing that Villa made in the summer brought something to the team. Cash was defensively brilliant until his injury. Martinez was a rock at the back and kept Villa in several games making some brilliant saves. Watkins was their top goalscorer in his first season in the Premier League while Traore brought a flair and creativity to the team. Ross Barkley started the season brilliantly but injuries meant that he was no where near that form towards the end. Martinez kept 15 clean sheets for Villa the 3rd most in the league this season while Watkins finished with 14 goals. Liverpool, Leicester, Arsenal (twice), Everton, Spurs, and Chelsea were the big scalps they took this season. If Villa can have another solid window in the summer then there are no doubts they can build on their success this season. Dean Smith has done really well.
Prediction – I predicted Villa to finish around 17th once again but they clearly proved me wrong.
Brighton and Hove Albion – 16th (41 points); Last Season (15th – 41 points)
Brighton and Graham Potter were one of the nearly teams this season. Some great eye catching football but a lack of clinical touch meant that they lost some key games by fine margins. Their highest position this season was 8th in MW 2 while they never dropped into the relegation zone. They beat the likes of Liverpool, Spurs, and City in the latter half of the season which were some massive results. Their final home game was a 3-2 comeback win against City and with fans in the stadium that would have been a good watch. Graham Potter is a good manager and the signing of Welbeck helped them out while Veltman was also a good acquisition. Lamptey was injured for a long time while Lallana was also in and out. Brighton should hope to keep Potter and maybe sign a good forward up front. The Seagulls have the base to push higher up the table but they need to take their chances.
Prediction – I predicted that Brighton will push no higher than 15th and they did not.
Burnley – 17th (39 points); Last Season (10th – 54 points)
Burnley didn’t have the finest of seasons and after finishing in the top 10 last season they could not replicate that form. Their highest position came at the end of MW 1 as they sat 12th but that was it as they dropped as low as 20th at one point. Mid way through they had risen back up to 15th. A poor transfer window didn’t really help Sean Dyche at all and a team that feeds of the fans energy meant that they had lost that as well. Pope still managed 11 clean sheets though and defensively they were still a top side. Wins against Arsenal, and Liverpool were some highlights of the season. Burnley need to have a good transfer window and freshen up the squad. Sean Dyche is a solid coach but I don’t think another relegation battle is what he wants. Fans in the stadium will help though and hopefully they are a constant next season.
Prediction – I had said that Burnley will finish in the top 5 places but won’t be in threat of relegation. They cut it close though but they just about survived.
Catch the Season Review next week.
Crystal Palace – 14th (44 points); Last Season (14th – 43 points)
Palace got one more point than they did last season and finished in the exact same place. No real improvement but no decline either. Their season started off brilliantly with wins against Southampton, United, and Everton which saw them reach a high of 5th in the table. Mid way through the season though they were 13th in the table. Given that it was Hodgson’s last season and several players are going to be approaching the end of their contracts it is a job well done. This summer will be massive in terms of recruitment for Palace while they still need to find a manager. One of the targets is Frank Lampard though it remains to be seen who is appointed. Ferguson and Eze were two top young signings but both have suffered ACL injuries over the last week or so and will probably be out until the new year. Batshuayi did not work out as expected. Benteke had a renaissance though towards the latter end of the season.
Prediction – I predicted Palace will remain in and around where they are and they did.
Everton – 10th (59 points); Last Season (12th – 49 points)
Everton had a blistering start to the season by MW 6 they were top of the table but realistically it wasn’t going to last. They dropped like a stone till 10th before rising mid way through the season. The eventually dropped back down to 10th after a poor few weeks. 10 more points than last season is an improvement. Alan, Rodriguez, and Doucoure were good signings although if they had stayed fit for longer Everton would have probably finished higher. Godfrey was a good signing at the back as well. Calvert-Lewin got 16 goals and continues to improve season by season. The Toffees beat Chelsea, Leicester, and Arsenal twice. Their highlight will be beating Liverpool at Anfield 0-2 in MW 25. It was a brilliant performance and one which the fans will cherish for many years and will hope to replicate in more seasons. Everton are a well run club, I think they are a solid goal keeper and maybe a winger away from being more consistent. The key is keeping some of those players fit.
Prediction – I had predicted Everton to finish 7th or 6th but those final few weeks really damaged their chances of that.
Fulham – 18th (28 points); Last Season (Play Off Champions)
One day Fulham will get promoted and stay in the Premier League but yet again this was not that season. Fulham were another one of those nearly there teams. Scott Parker has no doubt got them playing some brilliant football but the sheer amount of chances they missed in games meant that they lost by fine margins. They really are a good team to watch and if Parker sticks around I back them to bounce right back into the Premier League. They had a big summer with several signings and I felt that all of the signings did quite well. They did not sign a forward though and Maja in the winter window was a little too late. Areola, Aina, Lookman, Andersen, and Loftus-Cheek were all loan signings and will go back to their respective clubs in the summer. Fulham did reach 17th for a brief moment during the season but remained 18th for the large part of it. Wins against Leicester, and Liverpool along with some solid draws against the big 6 meant that they were good competition but always fell short in the games they should have won. I expect Fulham could bounce right back but Scott Parker and the club really need to address this yo yo movement.
Prediction – I said that Fulham would drop back down but be in a relegation battle for the large part of the season.
Leeds United – 9th (59 points); Last Season – (Championship Champions)
What a season it was for Leeds as they returned to the Premier League after ages. Everyone knew what to expect from Leeds with their gung ho all out style of football under Bielsa but no one really knew until they started the season. Leeds started the season with a 4-3 loss to Liverpool and we felt like we knew what was too come. They reached a high of 7th this season and dropped as low as 15th but they did really well in the 2nd half of the season to balance out to 9th. They beat Leicester, Man City, and Spurs while earning some solid draws against other top 6 sides. They won 18 and lost 15 which meant that it really was an either or season. They also scored 62 and conceded 54 further adding to their unpredictability. Meslier got 11 clean sheets which was a solid output while Bamford got 17 goals and no one really backed him to do that. Harrison had a solid season loan from City while Raphinha was an exciting winger to watch as well. Dallas, Ayling, Phillips, Rodrigo were all players that impressed as well. They almost managed to get back into Europe as well which would have been some accomplishment. If Bielsa sticks around one can expect more of the same but Leeds were more consistent in the latter half of the season and they for sure could build on that with some new signings.
Prediction – I predicted Leeds will finish 11th and just fall short of the top 10 but they did extremely well to finish 9th and inside it.
Leicester City – 5th (66 points); Last Season (5th – 62 points)
Leicester managed 4 more points than last season but yet again finished 5th after yet again being in the top four for much of the season. Leicester were consistent for so long but when the going got tough towards the end they failed to win the head to head fixtures. They did reach the top during the season but also fell to 6th at one point of the season. Halfway through they were 3rd and stayed there until MW 34 after which they lost concentration. 3 losses in the last 4 including a shock 2-4 loss to Newcastle along with Chelsea, and Spurs meant that they dropped to 5th. Looking back though it was a good season, their crowning achievement will of course be the FA Cup win. Wins against Man City (2-5), Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man United were some highlights as well. Castagne and Fofana were very good and Fofana especially looks like a start in the making. Vardy got 15 goals but never really hit the ground running while Schmiechel also managed to keep 11 clean sheets. Justin was a miss towards the end and Barnes had a breakthrough season as well. Iheanacho was the start for them in the final quarter of the season and they will be hoping he can continue that form into next season. Leicester will be playing Europa League football and Rodgers will want to go further in the competition this time out. The other target will be to keep challenging the top four and this time stay in there at the end of the season.
Prediction – I had Leicester finishing 8th so 5th is better than that but I always felt the would not finish in the top four.
Liverpool – 3rd (69 points); Last Season (1st – 99 points)
Liverpool had a shock loss to Villa early on in the season but many felt it was an anomaly more than anything else. The loss of Van Dijk, and Gomez was a major blow early on while they lost Matip, Fabinho, Jota, etc at points in time as well. Regardless though Liverpool sat 1st at the end of MW 16. The decline began from then on and they reached as low as 8th at one point. The major blows came with the dismal home form in 2021. Losses at home to Burnley, Brighton, Man City, Everton, Fulham, and Chelsea meant that they had lost ground on others. The big win for them came against Man United in MW 34 and that boosted them to win their remaining 4 games to seal a 3rd placed finish thanks to teams around them also dropping points. Thiago took sometime to adapt but only really got going towards the end of the season but Jota was a revelation at the start of the season before he got injured. Mane didn’t have the best of seasons while Firmino was also goal shy. Salah with 22 goals was a constant though and a big part in why Liverpool finished in the top four. Given all the circumstances finishing 3rd is a solid win for Liverpool. For next season they need to invest in the squad and create some depth which is severely lacking. Injured players need to be back fit as well. I expect Liverpool will be back challenging at the top next season and they have already bought Konate for the centre back position.
Prediction – I expected Liverpool to finish 2nd although no one knew how poor they would be this season.
Manchester City – 1st (86 points); Last Season (2nd – 81 points)
City managed to get 5 more points than last season but added to last seasons Carabao Cup with another Carabao Cup and most importantly another League title. Not to mention they are still in the Champions League final. City did not have the best of starts and lost 2-5 to Leicester early on. By MW 9 they were 9th in the table. Their rise really began after MW 12. 6 wins followed which meant that MW 19 they were at the top of the table. They added a further 7 wins which meant that they had a solid grip to the top spot. 4 losses in the final 12 games meant that they lost some of that grip towards the end although still finished 12 points clear at the top of the table. City’s great benefit was the great squad depth they had. City essentially had two first teams which could handle the sheer amount of games in a short amount of time. The fact that City’s highest goal scorer was Gundogan with 13 goals shows that they lacked a clinical forward as well. They still scored 83 goals. De Bruyne got 12 assists while Ederson kept 19 clean sheets as he won the golden glove for a 2nd season running. Torres had a decent debut season while Ake was missing due to injury for large parts. The key signing was Ruben Dias. Dias brought that solidity to the back four and the fact that he is still 23 means that City have a stalwart in their ranks. Dias could potentially win player of the year that is how good he was. City for sure will be active in the transfer market in the summer and a forward remains the big area to invest in. Aguero is leaving after 10 seasons at the club and Kane seems like a target for them. If City can add Harry Kane to their team then its going to be tough beating them to the top next season.
Prediction – I had City winning the title and they did.
Manchester United – 2nd (74 points); Last Season (3rd – 66 points)
Manchester United and Ole are one of the greatest mysteries. They got 8 more points than last season and finished in 2nd as well. Manchester United started the season poorly and reached as low as 15th on MW 4 after losing to Spurs 1-6. For Ole thought that meant that he shut up shop. It was more about getting the result from then on out. Ole regardless of what people want to say has a United team that play 45 minutes of solid football and tend to only win games when they go a goal down. 45 minute FC if that’s something. They reached the top of the table at MW 18 but then remained 2nd for the rest of the season. A 9-0 win over Southampton will for sure be a highlight. 12 wins by a single goal is what is going to the key flaw. Those aren’t wins where United dominated and just suffocated the opposition. Those are wins where the opposition was probably better but United had the Fernandes or Cavani or De Gea in goal which solved the trick. Ole is one lucky manager the sheer amount of VAR decisions that go his way really show that the system can be bought. Regardless though fake it till you make it I guess and Ole is doing that. What Ole has is a strong spine but with De Gea potentially leaving can Henderson be that leader at the back. Maguire, Fernandes, and Cavani are the spine of the team. You pluck one of those out especially Fernandes and the team will collapse. Fernandes had 18 goals and 12 assists in the Premier League this season although several of those were penalties. A solid player regardless. Cavani also did extremely well during the latter part of the season and extended his contract thanks to that form. What’s next for United? The fans do have a Glazer out movement going on but the Glazers are going after Sancho to appease the fans. United need a centre back and a CDM though if they want to move further up the table. As for Ole, I still think his luck has to run out sometime. They are still in a Europa League final…
Prediction – I had United finishing 5th or 4th but thanks to Fernandes, Cavani, and De Gea they managed to finish 2nd.
Newcastle United – 12th (45 points); Last Season (13th – 44 points)
Newcastle didn’t have the greatest of seasons and were fighting a relegation battle for much of it although they never dropped into the relegation zone. They managed to finish a place and point higher than last season which is a positive. A poor start to the season saw them sitting 16th halfway through the season they were 17th at MW 34 but some brilliant final results in the last 4 games meant that they finished 12th. That 2-4 win over Leicester will be particularly sweet along with some big draws against top 6 opposition. Hendrick, Wilson, Fraser, and Lewis didn’t have the greatest of debut seasons for the club mostly because they suffered some injuries that kept them out for large periods. Willock who was bought in on loan in January was a key though scoring 7 goals in his final 7 games. Steve Bruce did a solid job and I think he should a get a chance to build on what Newcastle did this season. Keeping the likes of Saint-Maximin will be key while getting Willock on another loan or buying him would be a great signing. That new ownership that Newcastle fans want never really seems to materialise.
Prediction – I predicted that Newcastle would finish between 10th and 13th so got that right.
Sheffield United – 20th (23 points); Last Season (9th – 54 points)
It was a season to forget for the Blades. Last year was such a solid campaign but after what was a great start to life in the Premier League once they lost fans it all went South. We saw since the start of Project restart that Sheffield United were suffering due to the lack of fans backing the players and that continued into this season. They only won their first game at MW 22 by which time they were already deep in the relegation zone. Losing Chris Wilder was also not a benefit and they had back into the Championship not knowing what’s next. The lack of threat up front added to the problems. Ramsdale was a good signing but other than no one made an impact. It’s very much a rebuild now for the Blades but I don’t see them bouncing back into the Premier League. That first season back though will always be a good memory for them.
Prediction – I didn’t expect Sheffield United to finish in top 10 but I didn’t expect a relegation.
Southampton – 15th (43 points); Last Season (11th – 52 points)
Southampton didn’t start well but by MW 13 they were 4th in the table after bouncing back. By MW 19 though they had hit a slump in form and sat 10th in the table. That slump continued and they finished 15th. Those first 17 or so games saw Southampton get some big wins most notably against Liverpool. They suffered yet another 9-0 loss this season this time to Man United and that was a very low point. The signings made no real impact and Southampton also suffered several injuries throughout the season as well. Keeping Hassenhutl is a safe bet for Southampton but they have to back him. The last transfer window as not great and they to add players that can stay fit as well as be good at their job. Southampton have the capability and manager who can finish higher up the table.
Prediction – I expected them to finish 10th this season although that did not pan out.
Tottenham – 7th (62 points); Last Season (6th – 59 points)
Spurs lost their first game of the season but then went on an unbeaten run of 11 games which by MW 12 meant that they were top of the table. By MW 19 though Spurs were still 4th in the table and doing decent under Mourinho. Some major losses followed though and by MW 33 Spurs were 7th and Mourinho was sacked just a week before Spurs Carabao Cup final. It was laughable and they appointed Ryan Mason who then lost and Spurs ended up finishing 7th anyway. 7 will get Spurs a place in the newly formed European Conference League for next season where funnily enough they could meet Jose Mourinho who will be managing AS Roma. On the final day Spurs beat Leicester which got them 7th but it also meant that by beating the Foxes Chelsea secured top four and Champions League football. That is a very Spurs thing to happen to them. A 1-6 win at Old Trafford will be a good memory for Spurs though, touching the top of the table was also a good moment. For Tottenham the key is who they will appoint for next season to manage the team. Harry Kane also wants to leave because he’s going to be 28 soon and he has won nothing. The same can be said for Son. Eriksen left and he has a Serie A title to his name. It’s going to be a tricky summer for Spurs and only then will we know what happens next season. Harry Kane also won the golden boot with 23 goals and the Playmaker award with 14 assists.
Prediction – I had Mourinho and Spurs finishing 4th this season and winning a cup. Suprs without Mourinho finished 7th and with no cup.
West Brom – 19th (26 points); Last Season (2nd – Championship)
On the face of it West Brom had such a solid window. Pereira on a permanent, Diangana, Robinson, Ivanovic, and Gallagher on loan among others. With Bilic as well West Brom were expected to be fighting for survival but make a bigger challenge of it. It did not pan out. Bilic was sacked after MW 13 at which point Sam Allardyce was appointed. There were some solid draws against top 6 opposition while beating Chelsea 2-5 at Stamford Bridge will always be a memory to cherish for them. With Allardyce set to leave though West Brom will need a solid manager to come in and work on the squad. There are some quality players there although whether those players stay is up for debate.
Prediction – I had West Brom fighting for relegation and they did and got relegated.
West Ham – 6th (65 points); Last Season (16th – 39 points)
West Ham were the shock of the season for me and what a season they had. For so many years West Ham always seem to be fighting off relegation and coupled with the toxic fanbase self implosion always seemed to be a certainty. Even this season with the whole Diangana fiasco West Ham and Moyes seemed under pressure. West Ham didn’t start the season well either. By MW 19 though they had risen up to 7th in the table and were looking to move higher. The signing of Lingard in January really worked wonders and they reached 4th by MW 31. A little poor form meant that they dropped but rose back up to finish the season in 6th. I personally think not having the fans in the stadium really allowed Moyes to work on the team and with the players without the fans calling for his head after a poor result. Soucek and Coufal were a revelation and Soucek in particular was a constant goal threat a new Fellaini. Lingard, and Rice along with Antonio was also great while several players play a part throughout the season. West Ham beat Leicester twice, came from 3 nil down to draw with Spurs with that brilliant Lanzini goal while beating Spurs as well. Some solid draws against other top 6 teams were also there. It’s been a great season for the Hammers which will see them in the Europa League for next season. West Ham will have to buy well and add to the squad though because the sheer amount of added games can cause a problem. For now they can relish and basque in a very solid achievement.
Prediction – I had West Ham getting relegated so I was completely off with this one.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – 13th (45 points); Last Season (7th 59 points)
Wolves reached a high of 6th after the first game but never got any higher. It was a steady decline after that and they didn’t reach the heights of last season. Losing Jimenez to a head injury early in the season was a major blow as Wolves had lost their goal threat. Lack of goals really was a major issue for them. Semedo and Silva were decent signings for them but no one else really shined. Wins against Arsenal twice and Chelsea will be some good memories. Nuno also has decided to leave the club and maybe now whoever comes in can bring some exciting football to the club albeit with all the Portuguese players in the squad.
Prediction – I had Wolves finishing between 8th and 10th so I got that wrong.
It was a crazy season of football. From the crazy results at the beginning of the season, the comeback from City, the Super League, no fans in the stadium, and some final day chaos. Credit has to be given to the FA for managing the whole season without going into another pause and it was a reprieve for many who were stuck at home. Credit has to be given to the players as well for playing so many games in a chaotic calendar where some teams played 3 games in a week at times. It was a massive season and hopefully we will never see such a hectic one ever again.