So that’s it, the 26th instalment of the Premier League has reached its conclusion. 38 games, 1 winner and 3 losers. The past 9 months have flown by, and here’s how I feel each team has performed compared to their expectations at the beginning of the campaign.
MANCHESTER CITY – A+
Manchester City’s spending over the past year has been ludicrous but you can take nothing away from what Guardiola has done with this side. Pep has built a team that can play his style of football, and one that can most importantly win football matches consistently across an entire season.
It is one thing having video game style budgets but utilising them correctly is a whole different thing entirely and credit to Pep, he has done this perfectly. Strengthening in areas where necessary and bulking out the squad to be competitive in all 4 competitions. City are the first team in the history of the English top flight to amass 100 points over a 38-game season, which is a remarkable feat even if it has taken nearly £500 million to achieve it.
BURNLEY – B+
There is a reason Sean Dyche is a top candidate for manager of the year even despite Guardiola’s successes. What he has done with this Burnley side is nothing short of remarkable. With perhaps one of the lowest budgets in the league, little old Burnely have somehow secured European football for next season. Burnley have been experts at grinding out results particularly at Turf Moor, a place where no team wants to visit. Tarkowski and Pope have been standout performers, both were being suggested for a place within the team of the season, imagine telling that to a Burnley fan in August.
CRYSTAL PALACE – B
Roy Hodgson took over a struggling Crystal Palace side who were cemented into a relegation place, but just a few months down the line the former England manager has led them to an 11th place finish in the league (just 3 goals short of a place in the Top 10). This has been largely down to the leadership of Luka Milivojevic, and the brilliance of Wilfried Zaha, who they will be desperate to keep hold of next term and fight off interest from Spurs.
NEWCASTLE – B
Newcastle fans would’ve been delighted to hear that Mike Ashley was looking to sell before Christmas after what has been years of turmoil under the Sports Direct owner, but its now May and Ashley is still there and showing no sign of loosening the purse strings. Which is why what Rafa Benitez has done is even more impressive.
With a Newcastle squad looking a shell of their former selves, Benitez has managed to find a formula to secure them a Top 10 finish when most fans were openly expecting to head straight back down to The Championship. The jubilation may be short lived though dependent on how much more of the backroom situation that Benitez can tolerate.
TOTTENHAM – B
When Spurs moved into Wembley it was looking like they could be set for a torrid time whilst they wait for their new home to be completed, but they finally found their feet in the national stadium, with Potchettino yet again proving that he is one of the most promising managers around. Kane’s goals and Eriksen’s magic have yet again been enough to secure Champions League football for next season, a feat that is becoming more and more difficult as the teams around them continue to strengthen. The only thing missing is some silverware with the semi final hoodoo continuing to haunt them.
LIVERPOOL – B-
It could be argued that Liverpool warrant the same grading as Spurs given that their seasons have been near identical but towards the latter stages of the season Liverpool massively took their foot off the gas when they should’ve been putting up more of a fight for 2nd place but instead having to settle for 4th due to complacency. Away from the League Liverpool could have something to shout about with the mouth watering tie against Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Kiev coming up later this month. A 6th European Cup would undoubtedly take Liverpool’s ranking to an A/A+
MANCHESTER UNITED – C
The reason United are ranked lower than both Spurs and Liverpool is that United finishing 19 points off their city rivals is completely unacceptable in Jose Mourinho’s books. Any silverware for United this season would be like putting a plaster over a stab wound, it is clear that Mourinho’s number 1 priority is the league. Maybe Mourinho will adapt a more expansive, attacking philosophy next campaign?
LEICESTER – C
A pretty average season for The Foxes but I guess every season will be considering what happened in 2015. Nonetheless Vardy and Mahrez have both been excellent in securing 9th. Claude Puel however isn’t looked upon so admirably, their form towards the back end of the season has been awful and I suspect his days at the King Power are numbered if Leicester want to be going higher up the table next season.
BOURNEMOUTH – C
Similar in many ways to Burnley with slightly less success, no team wants to go down to Bournemouth as Eddie Howe’s team are more than capable of an upset against the bigger sides, which has been a key feature of their season, they have done well to stay clear of the relegation battle.
WEST HAM – C
At one-point West Ham looked like they were on a downward slope with Moyes not able to buy a win and the notoriously rowdy Hammers fans had began to turn against the Board, even invading the pitch and throwing coins at the executive box in the 3-0 defeat to Burnley. Moyes managed to somewhat steady the ship which he does deserve credit for, picking up vital points in numerous “6 pointers” thanks to Marko Arnautovic and Andy Carroll’s goals.
BRIGHTON – C
Glenn Murray has rolled back the years proving that he can still cut it at the top, his goals coupled with Pascal Gross providing the creative flair. Brighton survived with games to spare, surely exceeding their own expectations.
HUDDERSFIELD – C
The lowest placed of the promoted sides but survival would’ve been the aim and they have done just that. All in all, a successful season for David Wagner’s side, the cherry on top would’ve been beating Manchester United earlier on in the campaign.
CHELSEA – D
The reigning champions have not been at the races all season and in my opinion, they will not make any progress with Conte at the helm. There are no doubts that he is an excellent manager but the constant speculation that surrounds the Italian hinders the performances on the pitch. But that aside a squad as strong as Chelsea’s should not be finishing 5th.
WATFORD – D
Watford started the season exceptionally well, occupying a place in the top 4 for a while but as is always the case with Watford, managerial changes had a negative impact on their season which meant their good form began to tail off massively and an overall finish of 14th will be a disappointment, as it would’ve even before the season began.
ARSENAL – E
I can’t imagine this is how Arsene Wenger would’ve pictured his final year in charge of the Gunners, but many will say that this is of his own doing and that he should’ve left with more decorum 5 or so years ago. But it can’t be ignored the legacy he is leaving behind for this huge club and I am excited to see what is next for this Arsenal team. The most shocking stat that I have maybe seen all season is that Arsenal have the WORST away record of any team in the top 4 leagues in English football, it genuinely baffles me how a side with such huge amounts of quality could manage such a feat. Wenger’s predecessor will be hoping for a different outcome to Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor at United.
EVERTON – E
After an incredible summer of spending the hopes were high for the blue half of Merseyside but how that quickly disappeared. The Lukaku money was spent on all positions other than striker, how did they really plan on replacing Lukaku’s 25+ goal contribution? Rooney came back to his boyhood club but with little effect, and as I write this it would appear that a move to the MLS seems imminent. Everton still don’t loom ready to make that step up to consistent European football just yet but promising youth players beginning to come through suggests the future may be bright.
SOUTHAMPTON – E
The years of being a selling club looked to have finally caught up with the Saints as they narrowly avoided the drop, their performances this season have probably warranted a relegation and they should count themselves incredibly lucky. The constant outpour of talent seems to have halted and it would seem that only serious, intelligent investment can spare them next season.
SWANSEA – F
A torrid campaign looked to have been rescued by the introduction of charismatic boss Carlos Carvalhal but it has been too little to late, and Swansea have been relegated to the championship following a fruitful few years in the top flight. In hindsight they just did not score anywhere near enough goals to even have a hope of surviving.
STOKE – F
On paper Stoke should be a side in the top half of the table but a complete lack of cohesion across the whole squad has meant that their fait has been sealed. No doubt they will lose Premier League calibre players such as Allen, Shaqiri and Butland, meaning they will have a big restructure ahead of them to regain their place in the top flight.
WEST BROM – F
Darren Moore’s introduction gave many hopes of another great escape for the baggies but unfortunately, they just didn’t have the necessary firepower over the 38 games, with many pointing the finger at Alan Pardew after his horrendous spell at the Hawthorns left them with a mountain to climb. Results at the back end of the season will give them encouragement but I think they may remain a Championship side for the next few seasons at least.