A dramatic Premier League season has drawn to a close with Manchester City beating Liverpool to the title
One of the most dramatic seasons in Premier League history has come to an end with Manchester City crowned champions by the narrowest of margins.
Pep Guardiola’s side defended their crown by just a single point ahead of Liverpool after a fierce title race, whilst Chelsea and Tottenham bettered Arsenal and Manchester United in an intriguing race for the top four.
At the other end of the table, Huddersfield and Fulham were relegated a few weeks before the end of the season with Cardiff City eventually joining them in heading back to the Championship.
There was also an interesting battle for seventh, eventually won by Wolves, who will be hoping for a shot at Europa League football next season as Watford eye a chance to snatch the opportunity from them by beating Manchester City in the FA Cup Final.
With mixed fortunes for all 20 sides in the Premier League, here’s a run-down of how each club has fared along with a grade for their season.
While new head coach Unai Emery was unable to secure a return to the Premier League top four, the Spaniard has led the Gunners to the Europa League final against Chelsea. Their away form and porous defence again often proved Arsenal’s undoing but in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette they boast a deadly strike duo.
An impressive 20 points from their opening 10 games paved the way for Eddie Howe’s side to secure another comfortable mid-table finish. January’s 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea, Callum Wilson’s first England cap, and David Brooks’ fine debut season in the top flight were major highlights for the Cherries.
Chris Hughton’s Seagulls scraped safety following dreadful form in 2019 which produced just 11 points from a possible 54 and only 13 goals. Record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh failed to justify his £17million fee, but a first FA Cup semi-final since 1983 and an England debut for Lewis Dunk were memorable milestones.
Last season’s seventh-place finish was always likely to be an impossible act to follow for Burnley . The Europa League and injuries upset Sean Dyche’s well-established formula and they flirted seriously with relegation. Top-flight survival should never be sniffed at for the Clarets but recruitment remains a major stumbling block.
The death of record-signing Emiliano Sala in a January plane crash and the ensuing transfer dispute with Nantes cast a dark cloud over Cardiff. Boss Neil Warnock did remarkably well in such circumstances to keep hopes flickering until the penultimate game, but lack of quality meant relegation was inevitable.
When Chelsea lost 6-0 at Manchester City in February, Maurizio Sarri barely seemed likely to complete one season at Stamford Bridge. Three months on and the Blues have sealed a top-four finish for Champions League qualification and a Europa League final against Arsenal. A remarkable turnaround, but even that might not be enough to keep Sarri in the job in the long-run.
For the first season since their promotion to the Premier League in 2013, Crystal Palace have avoided being involved in the battle against relegation, which unquestionably represents progress. They also did so after losing key players, and while overseeing Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s encouraging development. Perhaps they are ready for the top 10.
Consistency has been the killer for Marco Silva in his first season. The Portuguese has to work out how a side can beat Manchester United 4-0 a week after losing 2-0 to already-relegated Fulham. Everton’s squad still needs major work, especially with the futures of the on-loan Kurt Zouma and Andre Gomes uncertain.
Fulham’s net spend over the past two transfer windows was the third highest in the Premier League. In Scott Parker they are also working with their third manager of the season, and yet their investment has brought them little reward. They were relegated with barely a whimper in April, having aspired to considerably more.
Huddersfield’s Premier League fairy tale had an unhappy ending as they became only the second club since Derby in 2008 to be relegated in March. Their summer recruits made little impact and after a poor start the Terriers never looked like repeating the heroics which had seen them win an unlikely promotion and then stay up.
Another season of change at a club which has struggled to find an identity since winning a shock title three years ago. Brendan Rodgers replaced Claude Puel in February after the Frenchman’s forgettable reign and Rodgers has shown in his brief tenure they can progress under him next season. Leicester handled themselves with dignity and professionalism after the helicopter crash with killed chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in October.
Despite coming up short in the tightest of title races, Liverpool’s season cannot be classed in any way a failure, finishing second with the third-highest tally in Premier League history as well as reaching a second successive Champions League final. They matched a Manchester City side who ran away with the league last season blow-for-blow and pushed them all the way to the final game.
Grade : A
Another outstanding campaign for Pep Guardiola’s exhilarating champions. They matched the phenomenal standards they set last season but, with Liverpool fighting them all the way, they needed to show all their qualities to prevail in a remarkable title race. Their victory over the Reds in January proved crucial and Guardiola’s men could yet finish the season with a domestic treble.
This has been a sub-standard campaign at Old Trafford. Divisive Jose Mourinho’s sacking was followed by a honeymoon period under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but many of the same issues reappeared once his appointment was made permanent. Without Champions League football next season, a painful rebuilding summer job awaits at a club in flux.
Rafael Benitez was always confident Newcastle would recover from a 10-game winless start to the season and once again, he was proved correct. Club-record signing Miguel Almiron’s January arrival helped to spark a recovery, fuelled by a famous victory over Manchester City, which ended their relegation fears with three games to spare.
Saints dispensed with manager Mark Hughes, vice-chairman Les Reed, and chairman Ralph Krueger during a season of upheaval. After Hughes registered just one win from 14 games, the decision to recruit Ralph Hasenhuttl proved a masterstroke. The Austrian brought enthusiasm, organisation and an identity to St Mary’s, banishing relegation fears.
Securing a fourth successive top-four finish, alongside a run to the Champions League final, has to be Mauricio Pochettino’s best achievement yet, given the circumstances. Tottenham’s season began with 11 of their players not returning back from the World Cup until the Monday before kick-off and has consisted of long delays over their new stadium, no signings and a crippling injury list.
Whatever the result of the FA Cup final, Watford boss Javi Gracia has overseen a campaign of stability and progress at Vicarage Road. The Hornets have delivered some impressive displays to help secure a best-ever Premier League finish of 11th place, with Spanish forward Gerard Deulofeu emerging as a stand-out performer.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side impressed in their first top-flight season since 2012 and reached the FA Cup semi-final. A seventh-placed finish, which may have come as a surprise, should have always been in reach given the quality in the squad and financial muscle of owners Fosun. Wolves could still qualify for the Europa League if Watford lose the FA Cup final to Manchester City.
Manuel Pellegrini has endured a frustrating first season in charge, summed up by wins against Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United, and creditable draws against Chelsea and Liverpool, in contrast to dismal defeats by Brighton , Cardiff, Wolves, Burnley and Watford. Injuries did not help and a mid-table finish is about par.