So another Premier League season has come to a close, and it was one of the most closely contested in recent years. The quality may not have been the best – at least not at the top – but a pretty epic relegation battle has nevertheless seen three decent sides condemned to the Championship. So how will each team look back on this season? For a full account, you’d have to ask a fan of each club, but here’s a quickfire review of how I see the top ten – the bottom half follows later.
1. Manchester United (P38, W23, D11, L4, F78, A37, Pts80)
Well, a season in which you end up as champions can only really be called a success, but it will have hurt to end by being outclassed by Barca at Wembley and United weren’t as imperious as you’d expect of the leagye winners this season, so Sir Alex will know that he has a busy summer ahead of him if United are to improve and ensure they can remain on top next season.
2. Chelsea (P38, W21, D8, L9, F69, A33, Pts71)
Disappointment for Chelsea, for whom only a late run of form and the quick drop off in Arsenal’s form salvaged any respectability at all from this season. Despite starting with all guns blazing, they hit a real low point in mid-season which ruined their title hopes. Whoever replaces the disacrded Ancelotti will certainly need to freshen up an ageing squad and revitalise a certain expensive striker.
3. Manchester City (P21, D8, L9, F60, A33, Pts71)
What is essentially a joint second place finish for Man City will be looked upon as a job well done by most fans of the Eastland club, but I have to feel that they’ve underachieved a little. In a season where so many of the top teams looked a shadow of themselves, and given City’s flamboyant spending, this could have been City’s chance to make a big splash. They won the FA Cup and qualified for the Champions League, but will need to improve next season – especially reducing their reliance on their talisman Tevez.
4. Arsenal (P38, W19, D11, L8, F72, A43, Pts68)
For so long they seemed to be United’s main challengers for the title, but once more Arsene Wenger’s increasingly less-inexperienced side showed a damning failure to be able to see a season through. Battling for trophies on four fronts at one stage, they blew it all in a few short weeks and end trophyless again. Every time Arsenal end without silverware the voices speaking against Wenger at the Emirates grow louder, and despite all he’s done for Arsenal, are now starting to make quite a din. Next season, he simply has to deliver.
5. Tottenham (P38, W16, D14, L8, F55, A46, Pts62)
Spurs had a wonderful season in the Champions League, really making the most of dining at Europe’s top table with two epic clashes against the Milan sides. But their League form suffered as a result, and fifth place is a disappointment for many a Spurs fan who will find it hard not reliving their Champions League adventure. That said, Spurs are still a force to be reckoned with and if they can hold onto Van Der Vaart and Modric, arguably the League’s best centre midfield partnership, then next season could see them in the top four again.
6. Liverpool (P38, W17, D7, L14, F59, A44, Pts58)
What looked like being a disastrous season for Liverpool was rescued, to an extent, by their being taken over by new owners who took the swift action of replacing Hodgson with Kenny Dalglish and injecting a huge cash injection. Liverpool fans with their blinkers on will claim that “King” Kenny is a managerial genius but the truth is merely that a team with plenty of talent finally started playing like it should helped by the expensive new strikeforce that the owners lavished upon their new toy. Expectations are high for next season now though.
7. Everton (P38, W13, D15, L10, F51, A45, Pts54)
The Toffees got off to our usual disastrous start, which effectively quashed the ambitions we held for this season. Ultimately our season was over before Christmas, and only the traditional post-Christmas revival kept us froma relegation battle, even despite the also annual slew of serious injuries to important players. Missing out on Europe is a blow for the club in terms of attracting new faces, but unless any money is forthcoming recruitment will be limited to freebies and unknown gems anyway.
8. Fulham (P38, W11, D16, L11, F49, A43, Pts49)
An odd season for the Cottagers really. After the highs of last season under Hodgson, it took Mark Hughes quite a while to get to grips with his team and as such Fulham ended up being the best of the thirteen clubs who were realistically threatened with relegation at some point in the second half of the season. Their recovery suggests brighter things for Fulham fans next season though, especially if they suffer fewer injuries.
9. Aston Villa (P38, W12, D12, L14, F48, A59, Pts48)
Things looked really bad for Villa for a while. Relegation seemed a real possibility, and for a squad with as much talent as they have, indeed a squad that has essentially challenged for Europe consistently for the last few seasons, that is unacceptable. However, you feel that Villa fans will be somewhat content, they’ll be relieved that an emergency was averted and quietly hopeful that nex season could be better – though most would probably like a new manager.
10. Sunderland (P38, W12, D11, L15, F45, A56, Pts47)
I’m going to get sick of typing this soon which shows how tight the bottom half of the table was, but Sunderland’s 10th place position somewhat flatters them. In fairness, they suffered from the loss of Darren Bent in January and a quite astonishing list of injuries to their remaining strikers. But all too often their problems were self inflicted, and Bruce will know that he can’t keep flattering to deceive in the North East.