Premier League Season Review

Arsenal

A disappointing season that resulted in the end of an era. 22 years after coming into the top-job, Arsene Wenger finally made the decision to leave the the club. The French manager won 17 trophies at the Gunners, however the disappointments over the last few years were key to his decision. Arsenal have failed to qualify for the Champions League in the past two years. They were England’s only participant in the Europa League this year and many expected them to win the tournament. After an exciting run, they bowed out to Spanish side Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals.

Arsene Wenger farewells the fans.

Premier League wise, the season was a disaster. Many had become accustomed to Arsenal finishing in the top-four, however for the second consecutive season they missed out and finished in sixth place. They were on track to lose every away Premier League match in 2018, but a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield on the final matchday prevented that record.

The Gunners made an impressive run to the Carabao Cup final where they faced Manchester City, however a disappointing performance resulted in a 3-0 defeat. An embarrassing 4-2 loss to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup 3rd round did not allow Arsenal to retain their trophy. Overall, a shocking season with a sad end.

Grade: E

Tim Sperliotis

Bournemouth

The Cherries finished in 12th place and can consider their season a good one. Some highlights include the 3-0 away win against Chelsea and a 2-1 victory over Arsenal. They would be disappointed with their late November to December form, where they did not register a win in nine matches across all competitions.

April was also a difficult month for the Cherries, as they went five Premier League matches without a victory. Despite this, they finished off the season on a high, with two wins on the trot and with a few decent signings, they can push towards a top-half finish next season.

Grade: B-

Tim Sperliotis

Brighton

Coming into the season, there was only one goal for the newly promoted Seagulls, survival.

That mission was completed and we will once again get to see them strut their stuff in the big time next season. Despite threatening with the prospect of relegation in the back half of the season, the players stood tall when their club needed it most.

Manager Chris Houghton deserves to be in talks for manager of the season, after a terrific season. Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan drew plenty of plaudits throughout the season and rightfully so, producing several big performances, against the Premier League big boys. While he may have conceded goals, he certainly did stop a lot more finding the back of the net.

Pascal Gross was an exciting acquisition from Ingolstadt in Germany prior to the campaign and the Seagulls may have a battle to retain him with other clubs sure to be interested.

Grade: B

Brayden May

Burnley

Sean Dyche would have to be one of the only men to rival Pep Guardiola for manager of the season. Lifting the Clarets to seventh and subsequently securing a chance at the Europa League title.

While that may sound like a stretch for Burnley, so was finishing anywhere near the top sides of the Premier League 12 months ago.

Burnley managed just the one away win, along with 20 losses and a 16th place finish in the 2016/17 season. This year, The Clarets managed to take a total of 28 points away from Turf Moor as well as just the 12 losses for the entire season.

Dyche has transformed his side into a squad full of young, promising talent with great depth, particularly within the Clarets defensive third.

Burnley only conceded 39 goals for the season, one goal more than 4th place ranked Liverpool and Chelsea. James Tarkowski and Ben Mee lead the Clarets from the back, and rightfully put themselves in contention for team of the season.

New Zealand striker Chris Wood and Goalkeeper Nick Pope took their games to a new level, with Pope stepping up in the absence of Tom Heaton.

Dyche will look to stabilise the consistent efforts he found within his side this year, and perhaps turning to the transfer market to invest in a chance at grabbing a top six spot in 2019.

Grade: A

Mitch Keating

Chelsea

Once again the Blues failed to launch a proper title defence after ending the season as the reigning champions. Several players who helped guide the club to the title last season failed to reach the same heights this year, particularly their defence, which went through a major reshuffle.

On the new signings front, Tiemoue Bakayoko failed to fill the hole left by Nemanja Matic who joined Manchester United (and a player who evidently featured in the English Football Podcast’s Team of the Season). Meanwhile, Alvaro Morata started like a house on fire before being overtaken by January signing Olivier Giroud. Elsewhere, Antonio Rudigier proved to be a more than respectable signing.

Chelsea have failed to recapture their form from last season.

Rumours continued to swirl surrounding the future of Antonio Conte, who often cut a frustrated figure during the season. There was a lot more complaining from the Italian and it was clear he wasn’t happy with how the club was being run. His relationship with the club’s board has dwindled and we shouldn’t be surprised if he moves on.

A big off-season looms for the Stamford Bridge club if they wish to be in the title discussions next season, because as it stands they are a club with big question marks hanging over them. We shouldn’t be surprised if there are big changes during the summer transfer window, possibly with a new manager in charge.

Grade: C

Brayden May

Crystal Palace

The 2017/18 season could not have started any worse for Crystal Palace. After losing their opening four matches without scoring a goal – the first team in 93 years to have begun a top flight season in such fashion, Palace sacked manager Frank De Boer, making him the shortest reigning manager in Premier League history.

De Boer was replaced by Roy Hodgson who also had trouble changing the clubs fortunes. Hodgson lost his opening three matches in charge without hitting the scoresheet, before a 2-1 victory over Chelsea ended the Eagles seven game winless start to the season.

Palace looked like a sure bet to be relegated this season, but in the end Palace easily avoided relegation. A lot of Palace’s good form is due to the brilliance of Wilfried Zaha. The Ivorian played in a more central role this year and scored nine goals in 28 starts. Zaha was also named the April Premier League Player of the Month for his four goals in four games.

Hodgson also deserves a lot of credit for the way he turned Palace’s season around. Hodgson’s reputation took a hit after his failure as England’s national team manager. But his record has always been good in the Premier League and once again guided a team away from relegation.

Grade: C

Christopher Chrysostomou

Everton

At the start of the season Everton were expected to be challenging for the top four. The Toffees had spent A$250 million on new players and the blend of the new arrivals with the talent already at the club was expected to propel them up the table.

But the loss of Romelu Lukaku left a massive void in the team and by mid October, Everton sat in the relegation zone. The Toffees sacked manager Ronald Koeman and replaced him with Sam Allardyce.

Allardyce’s arrival saw improvement in results and quickly the Toffees were out of the relegation fight and moved into mid table. Despite guiding Everton out of relegation, there wasn’t any harmony between Allardyce and the club. Fans protested against the style of play and booed Allardyce’s negative approach at home games. The fans protest were heard by the directors, who sacked Allardyce after their final game of the season.

Majority owner Farhad Moshiri has grand plans for the club and wanted Watford’s Marco Silva to replace Koeman in October. Now that Silva is without a job, Moshiri may try to get his man.

Despite avoiding early fears of relegation, Everton’s season is a failure because they failed to live up to the pre-season expectations.

Grade: D

Christopher Chrysostomou

Huddersfield

The new boys surprised us all in the first part of the season, with a string of victories giving them some confidence. A 2-1 win over Manchester United was no doubt a great moment in their history. Their form then dipped and relegation looked to be inevitable. One win between March and May highlighted this, however the Terriers managed to survive the drop and will compete in the Premier League for another season.

Aaron Mooy has starred this season.

One of the main men was Socceroo Aaron Mooy, who impressed many and featured in 36 of the 38 Premier League matches. Once he burned out, so did Huddersfield’s form, however they could be a team that finishes in the top half of the table next season with some good acquisitions. Overall, they surprised many and will be ecstatic to remain on the top division.

Grade: C-

Tim Sperliotis

Leicester

When Craig Shakespeare departed the club in October 2017, there was a genuine fear that the Foxes could be in for a relegation scrap, just two seasons after claiming the league title. Then came Claude Puel, a former Southampton manager, and his arrival was not very warmly welcomed by sections of the club’s supporters.

Looking back on it now, the Foxes couldn’t have got the appointment any more correct. Puel guided the club to another top half finish, ninth place. He continued to get the best out of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, although the Algerian did prove difficult during the January transfer window.

At the other end of the pitch, Harry Maguire proved to be one of the signings of the season and is only set to develop further next season. As a whole, there is plenty of room for improvement in this team.

Grade: C+

Brayden May

Liverpool

A season which offered so much promise on the domestic front, ended in Champions League qualification once again for the Anfield club. The signing of Mo Salah was easily the biggest bargain of the season, with the Egypt international romping to the Golden Boot with 32 goals – a record in a 38-game season.

Mo Salah was the Premier League player of the season.

On the European front, Jurgen Klopp’s men have one more mountain to conquer, Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 26. As they have shown throughout the season they are capable of anything so we should not be surprised if they do scale the heights of the Champions League mountain.

Throughout the season, Klopp had an instrumental effect on some of the lesser likes in the Liverpool side. That included Dejan Lovern and Andrew Robertson, who arrived from Hull City in the summer, with the pair both becoming important regulars. Consistency was once again the main issue the club faced in the Premier League and if they can fix this ahead of next season there is no reason why they can’t challenge for the title.

Grade: B+

Brayden May

Manchester City

It is hard to believe that Pep Guardiola was ever questioned if he could perform in England. 100 points and 106 goals later see his second season at the helm of Manchester City to be arguably the most dominant in premier league history.

Apart from defeats to rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, City could not put a foot wrong throughout the year. Guardiola has found the best out of every player who has stepped onto the pitch and represented the Sky Blues.

The midfield trio of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho have taken over the league from matchday one. All three rightfully have an argument for a place in the Premier League’s team of the season.

Manchester City were unstoppable this season.

De Bruyne and Silva join winger Leroy Sane as the first trio of players to reach double digits in assists in Premier League history. Along with Sane, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and veteran Sergio Aguero together put on an unstoppable force for City, breaking the single season record for goals by one club.

It wasn’t just the forward half of Pep’s side that stood apart from the rest of the league. It was made clear after City’s record-breaking spending that Pep was looking to bolster his defensive stocks and managed to do so perfectly. Half backs John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have came under immense scrutiny shortly after signing for City and this year made any critic look foolish. Along with Kyle Walker and Brazilian Goalkeeper Ederson, City’s defense managed to concede just the 27 goals for the season, proving to be both an unstoppable force and an immovable object.

City will go into next season outright favourites and with such a youthful side already taking the championship, Premier League fans could be in for more of the same for some time.

Grade: A+

Mitch Keating

Manchester United

A second place finish and a spot in the FA Cup final would usually signal a successful season for a club. That is unless the team is Manchester United.

United 2017/18 campaign will be remembered as a season of unfulfilled expectations. United were supposed to be a title contender, after spending over A$500 million on player acquisitions in the past two years.

The season got off the best possible start, with successive 4-0 victories over West Ham and Swansea. United were on the tails of City until October, when Jose Mourinho parked the bus at Liverpool. From there, the gap between United and City was too large to overcome. United had the opportunity to reduce the deficit when City traveled to Old Trafford in December, but the 3-1 defeat ended any hopes of a title push.

Manchester United became a team to fear again this season.

2017/18 was not all doom and gloom for United. United defeated all the ‘big six’ teams, including an amazing come from behind away victory over Manchester City. United had little trouble coming up against the best sides in the Premier League, however, it was their inability to kill off the bottom half teams that proved costly.

United suffered defeats to all three promoted sides (Newcastle, Brighton & Huddersfield). The Red Devils either drew or lost to seven of the bottom 10 teams in the league. Added to this, they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Bristol City and the Champions League by Sevilla.

Despite their poor record against the bottom teams, United have proven they are a defensively competent team, conceding the second fewest goals and goalkeeper David De Gea awarded the Golden Glove for most clean sheets.

United will be expected to put up a better title fight next season, but to do that they will need to close the gap to a Manchester City side who only look like getting better.  

Grade: C+

Christopher Chrysostomou

Newcastle

The Magpies finished in a respectable 10th position under manager Rafa Benitez. A disastrous November and December left them with only one win and put them at risk of relegation. However, they recovered and results such as a 1-0 win over Manchester United, a 2-1 win over Arsenal and a 3-0 victory over Chelsea on the final day ensured they gained some confidence.

The off-season will be key, as some new signings can make them stronger and allow them to challenge for a European place. Ayoze Perez scored eight goals and got five assists, while Jonjo Shelvey’s looks to only get better.

Grade: C

Tim Sperliotis

Southampton

A Manolo Gabbiadini winner against Swansea confirmed Southampton’s survival in the premiership. While the success of avoiding relegation has brought a sigh of relief to the club, Saints fans should still feel on-edge heading into the new season.

For a side that has finished 8th or higher in the last four years, a 17th placed finish is nothing to celebrate. The Saints’ ability to perform at home has become an ongoing concern with just four wins to show for the season.

The mid-season loss of Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk certainly left a large gap in the Saints defense and soon cost the club its form.

The Saints endured an eight game winless run between February and April and soon found themselves deep into the relegation battle, prompting the sacking of Mauricio Pellegrino.

Mark Hughes failed to lift the Saints’ spirits and soon found himself relying on the poor performances of other sides to help his side stay out of relegation.

Crucial home wins against Bournemouth and Swansea saw Southampton move out of the bottom three and guaranteed a spot in the Premier League next season.

Grade: D

Mitch Keating

Stoke City

After years of mid-table finishes, Stoke City have been relegated and the blame game has begun. Midfielder Charlie Adam said on BBC Five Live that some of his teammates were “getting away with murder”.

“As players, you have your seven or eight in the group that try to make it work, and we failed.

“I think some players have been getting away with murder for a long time and it’s difficult for supporters. It’s not just one or two, I think there are four or five that could be counted.”

Stoke had all the ingredients to cement a top half finish this season. The club had more Champions League winners in their squad then any other Premier League team this season.

But that was also the reason for their failure.

Players like Jese, Bojan and Ibrahim Afellay were frozen out of the squad because of poor performances and attitude. Giannelli Imbula was Stoke’s record signing but he was loaned out to Toulouse. Saido Berahino was once a top transfer target for Tottenham, but has failed to score a goal in his two seasons at Stoke.

Because of the poor form of these players, Stoke had to reply on the old brigade to keep them up. Peter Crouch was relied on to score goals, Adam and Joe Allen were expected to patrol the midfield.

Stoke messed up with their recruitment and paid the price with relegation to the Championship.

Grade: F

Christopher Chrysostomou

Swansea

At Christmas it looked as if Swansea were guaranteed to drop to the Championship, when Carlos Carvalhal took over from Paul Clement and for some time it looked as if they would survive towards the back half of the season. The 2017-18 campaign started in impressive fashion off the field, when the club captured Bayern Munich and Portugal youngster Renato Sanches on a season-long loan.

But just like the South Wales’ club season, that would end in disappointment. The club hit a purple patch between January and April where they lost just two matches to Brighton and Manchester United in a run of 11 games. During that period, Carvahal guided his side pass the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Burnley. And for a time it looked as if they would survive.

Despite their wonderful show of fight, things came to a grinding halt as the club lost five straight matches to end the season. The final nail in the coffin, a 1-0 defeat at fellow relegation battlers Southampton, a result which left the club needing a miracle on the final matchday. A wonderful fightback ended in disaster, as their goal of remaining in the top-flight ended in tears.

Things weren’t made better by Cardiff City’ automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Grade: E

Brayden May

Tottenham

The 2017/18 season was another year which promised a lot, but delivered little for the Spurs. This season will be highlighted by a victory over Real Madrid and finishing on top of their Champions League group.

The Spurs also made the Semi-final of the FA Cup, but let slip of a 1-0 lead to Manchester United. Tottenham will rue their failure in the tournament because they have played home games at Wembley all season and would have had the home ground advantage if they made the final. Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to pick Michel Vorm, instead of captain Hugo Lloris in goal will be questioned for a long time as Vorm was at fault for United’s winning goal.

Tottenham have been arguably the most consistent side over the past three years but have no silverware to reward their good work. The squad is not deep enough to challenge for the Premier League title and their is an over reliance on Harry Kane to score the goals. This season Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool overtook Tottenham in the race for the title and with Chelsea and Arsenal likely to spend big in the summer transfer window, Tottenham may find themselves dropping out of the top four. Lucas Moura was brought in to compliment Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min in attack, but he has struggled for consistency.

Harry Kane showed why he is one of the best strikers in the world.

The Spurs needed to secure Champions League football, ahead of the move to their new stadium. Pochettino was able to deliver on expectations, but it is now time to deliver silverware.

Grade: B-

Christopher Chrysostomou

Watford

No Watford fan would be satisfied with a 14th place finish during their season previews. Yet after the sacking of Marco Silva, Hornets fans would probably have taken anything outside of the relegation zone.

A strong start to the season saw Watford sitting high on the table, losing only one of their first eight matches.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Brazilian forward Richarlison were pivotal in the Hornets early season form but soon faded, along with Watford’s performances in the second half of the season.

Kiko Femenia was another name to burst into the spotlight under Silva but his formed dropped off as the season progressed.

Javi Gracia took over the reigns of first team responsibilities in January but struggled to find any growth in results.

The Hornets conceded 31 goals at home in 2017/18, the most in the premiership and continued to drop points to sides below them in the standings.

Heading into next season, Gracia will look to the transfer market to add to what ended up being a disappointing finish for a side that had the potential to push for the top six.

Grade: D+

Mitch Keating

West Brom

Relying on three managers in the one season sums up the efforts made by the Baggies. Whilst a late run of form under caretaker Darren Moore gave West Brom fans hope, damage had already been done by the tenures of Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew.

The Baggies managed to win their first three games of the season, but were unable to grab a victory in their next ten and soon sent Tony Pulis packing.

The appointment of Alan Pardew had little to no effect on the sides performances with West Brom winning only one of 18 games under the silver fox.

In the midst of their nightmare run, the Baggies were soon under fire after Gareth Barry, Jonny Evans, Boaz Myhill and Jake Livermore were accused of stealing a taxi in Barcelona in February.

Moore took over the managerial position in April. Coming into the caretaker role, Moore soon increased his chances of the full time job with a fantastic run of late form, including a 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Unfortunately, the run was too little, too late as relegation was confirmed with one game remaining. The Baggies have the squad to be successful in the Championship next season and could make a swift return to the Premier League.

Grade: F

Mitch Keating

West Ham

The Hammers finished in a disappointing 13th and manager Slaven Bilic was sacked mid-season. The campaign began with three straight Premier League losses and new manager David Moyes allowed them to find some form, with a 1-0 victory over London rivals Chelsea standing out.

Despite some disappointing results, West Ham finished the season on a high, going undefeated in their last three matches. Marko Arnautovic led the scoring for the Hammers with 11 goals and no doubt they would want to sign some more important players to help them charge up the table.

It was a tumultuous year at West Ham.

David Moyes left the club at the end of the season, after being told by the owners that his position was not guaranteed and that they would be interviewing other candidates for the manager position.

Grade: D

Tim Sperliotis

You can hear Brayden, Mitch, Tim and Chris weekly by subscribing to the English Football Podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud

 

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