PL Stories - Ep 18Nov 30
Premier League 2021/22 review: The winners and losers after a stunning season
BTSport.com takes a look at how the Premier League season played out for each of the 20 teams over the course of a memorable campaign.
After a truly remarkable season of thrills and spills, BTSport.com takes an in-depth look at the fortunes of each of the 20 Premier League sides.
Read on below or click to skip to the team of your choice to read our 2021/22 Premier League review.
Arsenal - 5th
Mikel Arteta’s second full season in charge at Arsenal proved to be something of a rollercoaster over the course of an entertaining campaign.
It’s easy to forget the Spaniard endured intense scrutiny over his position at the start of the season after a miserable run of three defeats in their opening trio of fixtures.
However, his young side battled back over the next eight months to secure the highest ever Premier League finish for a team who lost each of their first three games of the season.
The big disappointment was that it could have been so much more having looked a near certainty to secure Champions League football before successive defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle saw them surrender fourth for fifth in the final fortnight.
While there’s no doubt that the Gunners’ collapse will have left a bad taste in many fans’ mouths, given some breathing space most will look at this years’ achievements as a step in the right direction.
Over the course of his tenure, Arteta has engineered exits for some of the club’s highest earners – including former club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January – while helping blood youngsters from Arsenal’s fabled youth academy.
The result means that Arsenal fielded the Premier League’s youngest average starting XI this season by more than a year (24y 308d to Brentford’s 25y 319d) while freeing up finances to continue Arteta’s long-term rebuild.
Consequently, despite Arsenal’s failure to secure Champions League football, significant investment is expected once again this summer – but big money signings will certainly raise expectations.
Most fans are on board with Arteta’s pragmatic revolution in north London, which this season continued unburdened by the rigours of Europa League football.
However, with the dreaded Thursday-Sunday fixture gymnastics returning to the Emirates next season, patience may well be tested among the North Bank faithful over the course of a tricky campaign ahead.
Can Arteta build on the platform of a satisfactory season to challenge for silverware next year?
Player of the Season: Bukayo Saka
Breakthrough Star: Takehiro Tomiyasu
Top scorer: Bukayo Saka (11)
Aston Villa - 14th
This felt like the season Aston Villa consolidated themselves as truly having returned to the top flight for good – or at least fans will hope so.
Dean Smith became one of the season’s early managerial casualties when he was given his marching orders back in November, making way for Steven Gerrard in the Villa Park dugout.
The former Liverpool legend made an instant impact, becoming only the second manager in Villa’s history to win his first two Premier League games after John Gregory in 1998.
Since then, the 41-year-old has gradually begun to imprint his philosophy, attempting to fortify up a leaking defence while demanding more quality on the ball from his side.
The sensational January acquisition of Phillipe Coutinho – a loan deal since made permanent – helped provide an uptick in form during the spring and the arrival of Gerrard’s former Liverpool team-mate also sent an eye-catching statement of intent across the European football landscape, signalling lofty ambitions from the ownership for the years ahead.
Coutinho – whose goal at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday briefly looked as though it may have proven decisive in costing Manchester City in the Premier League title race – has looked a class above those around him in the Villa side at times.
But the emergence of midfield dynamo Jacob Ramsey is arguably the story of Villa’s season throughout 2021/22; the sky looks to be the limit for the Villa youth academy prospect, who scored six league goals and made 33 appearances in the top division.
Matty Cash is another player who acquitted himself well over the course of the campaign and, had he not pledged his allegiance to the Polish national side in recent years, the Slough-born 24-year-old may well have been in with an outside chance of England honours during a World Cup year.
A big summer of recruitment ahead has been promised by Gerrard – and indeed has already begun with the permanent additions of Coutinho and highly-rated Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara on a free transfer.
But after further investment, the top half must be the absolute minimum Villa aim for next season.
Player of the season: John McGinn
Breakthrough star: Jacob Ramsey
Top scorer: Ollie Watkins (11)
Brentford - 13th
Brentford’s remarkable Premier League debut feels like it has been overshadowed somewhat amid a spectacular season of entertainment in general – but Thomas Frank’s achievements in west London deserve serious recognition.
The Dane – who has been nominated alongside the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola for the Premier League's Manager of the Season award – has helped his side make a mockery of most people’s pre-season expectations, keeping the Bees clear of trouble all year while picking up some memorable results along the way.
Their 4-1 demolition job on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge will live long in many fans’ memories, as will a dramatic 3-3 draw with Liverpool and season-opening 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Brentford Community Stadium.
Only two sides have ever won more games in their first ever Premier League season (Wigan 05-06 (15) and Reading 06-07 (16)) – a remarkable feat given the relative chasm that now exists between the second division and the top tier of English football.
Top scorer Ivan Toney managed to carry over his goalscoring threat from the Championship, notching 12 despite missing a few important games through injury.
But it was the arrival of Christian Eriksen in January that had a transformative effect on the team; the former Spurs and Inter playmaker took a few weeks to get back up to match fitness but once he did, the 30-year-old instantly elevated a mediocre midfield into one of serious quality.
Frank hopes he will be able to convince Eriksen to stay beyond his short team deal, which expires this summer, with the lure of regular football ahead of the World Cup in November.
If he manages to keep hold of both Eriksen and Toney, the future looks bright in Brentford – but Premier League second season syndrome has proven to be a frighteningly real condition in recent years (see Sheffield United) so the Bees cannot rest on their laurels this summer.
Player of the season: Christian Norgaard
Breakthrough star: Rico Henry
Top scorer: Ivan Toney (12)
Brighton - 9th
European football once briefly looked on the cards for Graham Potter’s Brighton this season – an almost unimaginable prospect not that long ago.
Potter’s stock has continued to rise with his continued transformation of the south coast side into one of the most watchable teams in the league.
The Seagulls secured 51 points this season – their highest tally ever in a Premier League campaign alongside their highest ever finish in the table.
Some on the outside may feel as though it could have been so much more for Brighton this year but their long-standing problems in the final third reared their head once again throughout the campaign.
Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard finished as the team’s joint top league scorers with eight apiece; only Wolves, Burnley, Watford and Norwich scored fewer goals than Brighton this season.
Potter will be desperate to add a prolific striker to his ranks this summer. His side registered an xG of 54.3 but scored just 42 times and finishing with the fourth-worst shot conversion rate in the league.
Despite those frustrations, there’s no doubt it’s been another successful year at the Amex Stadium with the likes of Marc Cucurella and Adam Webster rising to prominence in an impressive back line.
Both have been subsequently reported to be on the radar of some of the league’s top sides, alongside perennial transfer target Yves Bissouma, who has only a year left on his current deal.
Can Potter convince his stars to hang around for another push towards continental football next season?
Player of the season: Marc Cucurella
Breakthrough star: Jeremy Sarmiento
Top scorer: Neal Maupay & Leandro Trossard (8)
Burnley - 18th
Burnley’s eventual relegation from the Premier League always felt as though it would be inevitable at some point given – and thus it has proven to be so after a catastrophic campaign at Turf Moor.
Fortunes always felt against the club this season, from the Covid-impacted fixture crisis that saw Burnley forced to play catch-up on their relegation rivals to the shock departure of attacking talisman Chris Wood to Newcastle in January.
There was also a hint of desperation about the dismissal of Sean Dyche shortly before the end of the season; a significant gamble by the club’s ownership given Dyche’s credentials in relegation battles over the previous few years.
But it almost paid off as interim boss Mike Jackson, assisted by club captain Ben Mee, helped pick up some big results against Southampton, Wolves and Watford.
However, an untimely three-game winless streak before a final day defeat at home to Newcastle sealed their fate and handed Leeds an unlikely escape route from the bottom three.
Burnley have always looked short of quality over the course of their six-year stay in the Premier League but reliant on organisation, determination and spirit, they had managed to stave off trouble for as long as possible.
Now faced with a bleak future given the financial implications of a controversially financed takeover, it may yet be a while before we see Burnley return to the top flight.
The likes of Maxwel Cornet, Wout Weghorst, Dwight McNeil and Nick Pope are likely to be cashed in to help the Clarets relieve their financial uncertainty, while star defender James Tarkowski also looks set to leave the club on a free.
Player of the season: Maxwel Cornet
Breakthrough star: Nathan Collins
Top scorer: Maxwel Cornet (9)
Chelsea - 3rd
Coming into the Premier League season as Champions League winners, many fancied Chelsea to pose the first real threat to the Man City-Liverpool title duopoly in years.
The signing of Romelu Lukaku was believed to be the missing puzzle to help push Chelsea over the line – and it looked as though that’s the way it would play out when the Belgian hit the ground running in his first few weeks back at his boyhood club.
But trouble began brewing in December after a public dispute with manager Thomas Tuchel over Chelsea’s changing style of play with Lukaku suggesting he would even be open to an immediate return to Serie A club Inter.
In truth, the Blues’ season never really recovered from that self-inflicted turmoil as Man City and Liverpool disappeared off over the horizon once more, leaving Chelsea defending their place as the third best team in the land for most of the year.
Amid the context of an unprecedented crisis of ownership in the background, perhaps it is cruel to judge Chelsea’s achievements on the field in the second half of the season too harshly.
However, football is a ruthless business and if the same form that saw the Blues pick up just four wins from their final 10 Premier League games continues into next season, Tuchel may find himself a man under pressure with new ownership watching over him.
Player of the season: Antonio Rudiger
Breakthrough star: Trevoh Chalobah
Top scorer: Mason Mount (11)
Crystal Palace - 12th
There were genuine concerns about Crystal Palace’s Premier League future at the end of last season, which seems bizarre to countenance after the campaign Palace fans have just enjoyed.
An exodus of experienced players last summer along with the arrival of Premier League managerial novice Patrick Vieira may have provided the recipe for trouble – but instead the Eagles cooked up a sensational season lit up by some of the finest young talent in the country.
Vieira’s nomination for the Premier League Manager of the Season award shows his work has not gone unnoticed outside of south London – although it would be tough to ignore after transforming his side from relegation battlers into a tricky mid-table outfit, enjoying an FA Cup semi-final along the way.
The French coach has improved Palace across almost every measurable statistic, keeping hold of the ball better while scoring more goals and conceding far fewer.
Palace were beaten just 12 times this season, their lowest ever tally in a single Premier League season and might well have picked up a few more victories that they would have fully deserved had they managed to be more clinical at key moments throughout the campaign.
Wilfried Zaha played his part however, enjoying the best goalscoring season of his career with 14 in the league; if Palace can find a top marksman to compliment the Ivorian in the final third, they may well prove to be a serious proposition next season.
French youngster Michael Olise will also be one to watch next year having enjoyed a fine debut campaign in the top flight; the 20-year-old former Reading man now looks an absolute snip at just £8.5m, bringing much-needed flair and creativity to the team from out wide.
Palace’s defensive duo of Marc Guehi and Joachim Anderson deserve a mention for their superb contribution to this rejuvenated side, instilling a composure in possession not often associated with the football played at Selhurst Park in recent years.
Player of the season: Wilfried Zaha
Breakthrough star: Michael Olise
Top scorer: Wilfried Zaha (14)
Everton - 16th
When the Rafa Benitez experiment finally met the end many believed it would after he was relieved of his duties in January, Everton fans may have felt the only way was up given how maligned the Spaniard was during his brief tenure on Merseyside.
However, it did not prove to be thus with the Toffees going on to endure the biggest scare of their Premier League tenure yet, only securing their status in the top flight with one game to go.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly one thing that went wrong for Everton over the course of a truly miserable campaign but the appointment of former Liverpool legend Benitez certainly got the ball rolling in the wrong direction last summer.
Benitez may argue he was not handed the tools to succeed given Everton’s much-publicised financial troubles but his uninspiring brand of football did little to help win patience among fans or the Everton hierarchy.
It was hoped Frank Lampard’s subsequent arrival would help breathe life into the underperforming outfit but it took a long while for the 43-year-old to get a tune out of Everton too.
Alex Iwobi’s 99th minute winner for the 10-man Toffees against Newcastle at Goodison Park in March eventually helped turn the tide with Everton then going on to beat Manchester United and Chelsea at home.
The euphoria of beating the drop with a win over Crystal Palace last week will live long in the memory – but this season cannot and will not be allowed to play out again next year.
Everton’s 16th place finish was their lowest in the Premier League since 2003-04 (17th), while their 66 goals conceded is the most they’ve ever shipped in a single campaign in the competition.
A major squad shake-up is desperately required this summer but after reporting eye-watering financial losses earlier this year, it remains to be seen how well backed Lampard will be.
Player of the season: Jordan Pickford
Breakthrough star: Anthony Gordon
Top scorer: Richarlison (10)
Leeds - 17th
Leeds’ blistering return to the Premier League last season saw them become the neutral’s favourite side thanks to their swashbuckling style of football under Marcelo Bielsa.
But how quickly things change in the world of football; a year later, the legendary Argentine is unemployed and Leeds dramatically secured their top flight status on the final day of the season.
Bielsa-ball was reluctantly abandoned in February with the Whites in absolute freefall; crushing defeats had become the norm and a rot was evidently setting in around Elland Road.
Given a heroes farewell, Bielsa knew his time was up and Jesse Marsch was swiftly appointed as his successor.
The American coach has hardly engineered a revolution in Yorkshire – and indeed, some feel the jury is still out on his appointment – but Marsch should be given credit for helping secure Leeds’ status ahead of a vital summer coming up.
Marsch also played his part in fortifying Leeds’ inimitable team spirit; that same spirit helped Leeds score more 90th minute winning goals than any other side in the Premier League this season (4), with the last of those coming on the final day to ensure their survival against Brentford.
Key man Raphinha again showed he belongs at the very top level despite his side’s struggles this year and, along with hometown boy Kalvin Phillips, the pair are rumoured to be among the potential departures this summer.
The Brazilian top scored for his side in the league with 11 this year while Phillips, who missed a significant portion of the season through injury, showed how influential he is on the team in his absensce with Leeds sorely missing his presence in the middle of the park.
Last season's top scorer Patrick Bamford only featured in nine Premier League games this season after an injury-ravaged campaign and will hope to put a miserable year behind him to force himself back into the England reckoning for the World Cup.
Player of the season: Raphinha
Breakthrough star: Joe Gelhardt
Top scorer: Raphinha (11)
Leicester - 8th
Perhaps it’s a measure of how much is expected of Leicester these days that this season hasn’t felt like a particular success to those watching from afar.
But in steering his side to another top eight finish alongside a European semi-final, Brendan Rodgers will be proud of the work carried out at the King Power Stadium over the past few months.
A fantastic late season rally, led by the rejuvenated James Maddison, helped put the shine on a campaign which threatened to extinguish into disappointment after agonising last-gasp results against Newcastle and Everton not long ago.
Maddison scored in each of the Foxes’ final four games of the Premier League season as well as laying on three assists to provide a timely reminder of his quality ahead of this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.
Injuries played their part in curtailing Leicester’s progress once again this season with a several key men spending significant time on the treatment table at points over the course of the year, from Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans to Jamie Vardy and Wilfried Ndidi.
The subsequent chopping and changing of Leicester’s back line certainly played a role in the team conceding 16 Premier League goals from corners this season, the joint-most on record (since 2006-07) in a single campaign in the competition.
Those mistakes will need to be eradicated over a busy summer if Rodgers wants his side to resume their role as gatecrashers among the top six.
Player of the season: James Maddison
Breakthrough star: Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall
Top scorer: Jamie Vardy (15)
Liverpool - 2nd
So close, yet so far!
For the third time in four years, Liverpool raked in more than 90 points in a Premier League season – but Manchester City’s continued dominance ensured they must settle for another runner-up medal this season despite an exhilarating campaign.
Jurgen Klopp will feel his side could not have done more over the course of an exhausting year that saw Liverpool play the maximum number of possible games thanks to their progress in all the cup competitions.
In almost any other era of the Premier League, this side would have won multiple titles.
Top scorer Mohamed Salah won his third Premier League Golden Boot while no goalkeeper kept more clean sheets than Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold continued to redefine the full-back position in tandem with fellow assist machine Andy Robertson, and Virgil van Dijk may reasonably claim to be the world’s best centre-back.
Somehow, though, it was not enough. It’s difficult to find reason to criticise Liverpool this season too; the only previous gripe some fans had was a lack of squad depth beyond the starting XI - but with the arrivals of Luis Diaz and Ibrahima Konate in recent times, those concerns have been emphatically addressed.
Diaz’s impact since joining from Porto in January has been outstanding with the Colombian livewire fitting seamlessly and immediately into Klopp’s system, providing limitless energy and top class quality from out wide.
But Konate’s influence should not be overlooked either; since joining from Leipzig last summer, the Reds have not lost when the 22-year-old has been in the side.
The disappointment of missing out on another Premier League trophy could be forgotten this weekend as they face Real Madrid in the Champions League final, exclusively live on BT Sport, in search of their seventh European crown.
Can Liverpool finish the season as treble-winners for the first time since 2001?
Player of the season: Alisson
Breakthrough star: Luis Diaz
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah (23)
Man City - 1st
Mission accomplished for Pep Guardiola as his side delivered a fourth Premier League trophy in five years after a dramatic final day victory over Aston Villa.
They tend not to do things the easy way at the Etihad but trailing 2-0 to Steven Gerrard’s Villa certainly was not in the script on Sunday afternoon.
Thankfully, three goals in five minutes turned the game – and the title race – on its head as the inspired introduction of two-goal hero Ilkay Gundogan helped break down a resolute Villa side to claim a stunning win.
Despite the slender one-point gap to Liverpool in second place, it’s tough to argue City don’t deserve their continued success; Guardiola has built one of the most impressive, dominant sides in Premier League history.
In total, City spent 168 days atop the Premier League during the current campaign, scoring a league-high 99 goals, conceding the joint-fewest along with Liverpool (26).
The imminent addition of goalscoring sensation Erling Haaland will strike fear into their Premier League rivals with City likely to enter next season as title favourites once again.
Can they become only the second side to win three Premier League titles in a row?
Player of the season: Kevin de Bruyne
Breakthrough star: Joao Cancelo
Top scorer: Kevin De Bruyne (15)
Man United - 6th
Where to start with Manchester United?
It’s been a truly shocking season both on and off the field at Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s departure at the end of November was supposed to be the catalyst for a fresh start for the underperforming giants – but instead it proved to be the death knell with United slowly disintegrating into complete dysfunction over the months to follow.
Interim boss Ralf Rangnick’s temporary tenure appears to have only worsened the fissures that were evident during Solskjaer’s time at the club and the German coach often appeared exasperated at his own side’s performances in recent times.
The resulting mess means United finished the season with their lowest ever Premier League points tally (58) while failing to finish a top-flight season with a positive goal difference (0) for the first time since 1989-90 (-1).
The season that began with Cristiano Ronaldo’s triumphant homecoming ended with a team in crisis; reports of dressing room disharmony, player revolt and toxic relationships behind the scenes have plagued United for months.
News of incoming manager Erik Ten Hag's arrival looks to be one of the only bright spots on the horizon and the former Ajax boss has promised to restore United to former glories in competing with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool during his reign.
An exodus is expected during a pivotal summer to begin a long-overdue rebuild with the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani likely to be the first of many to depart.
Player of the season: David De Gea
Breakthrough star: Anthony Elanga
Top scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo (18)
Newcastle - 11th
It was a tale of two seasons on Tyneside this year as Newcastle United transformed into one of the form teams in the league after a historically poor start to the campaign, eventually securing their Premier League status at a canter.
The much-maligned Mike Ashley was finally relieved of his control of the club in October when a long-awaited takeover financed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, PIF, was given sudden, unexpected approved by the Premier League.
It saw Newcastle, at the time winless and mired in relegation trouble at the foot of the table, instantly become the richest club in world football – at least on paper – and sparked a frantic push to preserve the team’s Premier League status.
Under-fire coach Steve Bruce was given the boot a fortnight after the new owners arrived with Unai Emery on the verge of succeeding him until pulling out of the move at the 11th hour.
The consortium then turned to Eddie Howe, out of work for more than a year since departing Bournemouth after their relegation from the Premier League, to pull Newcastle clear of trouble.
Armed with a significant transfer kitty for the first time in recent memory, the Toon also recruited smartly during January to bolster their chances of staying up, prioritising pragmatic recruits with Premier League experience before rolling the dice with the glamour addition of the coveted Bruno Guimaraes.
The results that followed have been nothing short of remarkable with only Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham picking up more points than Newcastle over the second half of the season, despite long-term injuries to key men Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier.
Newcastle’s £93m January outlay cannot be ignored in helping play a part in the team’s revival – but Premier League Manager of the Year nominee Howe has also significantly improved many of the existing playing staff during his short time at the club so far.
Joelinton’s rebirth into a destructive box-to-box midfielder would be the obvious example but the form of ex-outcasts Ryan Fraser, Emil Krafth, Jacob Murphy and Fabian Schar also demonstrate Howe’s effect.
For once in a long while, the future looks bright for the boys in black and white.
Player of the season: Joelinton
Breakthrough star: Bruno Guimaraes
Top scorer: Callum Wilson (8)
Norwich - 20th
Norwich finished the season with a goal difference of -61, the second worst in a single campaign in Premier League history behind only Derby (-69 in 2007-08).
If ever a statistic illustrated a team's season perfectly, it is that.
Norwich have been miserable for almost the entire campaign, showing they’ve learned little from their most recent sojourns in the top flight.
It looked as though things might be different this time around with boss Daniel Farke handed a decent transfer kitty to recruit 11 players over the summer leading into their Premier League return.
But Farke’s failures in the first months of the season eventually cost him his job as he was swiftly replaced by ex-Aston Villa boss Dean Smith.
Smith, though, was unable to turn around the Canaries’ ailing fortunes as they limped towards the end of the season, finishing 16 points adrift of safety.
Teemu Pukki at least provided something for Norwich fans to cheer, scoring 11 goals for the second time in the Premier League.
Player of the season: Teemu Pukki
Breakthrough star: Jonathan Rowe
Top scorer: Teemu Pukki (11)
Southampton - 15th
From the outside, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where Southampton are making progress under Ralph Hasenhuttl.
In four seasons under the Austrian, the Saints have finished 16th, 11th, 15th and then 15th again after a 4-1 mauling by Leicester on the final day of the season.
The south coast side do not have limitless resources to compete with those above them in the table but there does appear to be a thematic surrender during large stretches of their seasons.
Earlier this year, they were merely five points off the European places - but ended it 16 points adrift of West Ham in seventh.
Despite those frustrations there has been plenty to be cheerful about; James Ward-Prowse’s fine form from central midfield appears to have given him a good chance of making England’s World Cup squad while team-mate Kyle Walker-Peters was handed his full international debut earlier this season too.
Young full back Tino Livramento was also enjoying a stellar breakout campaign before cruelly being struck by a serious knee injury in April that could keep him out of action for the rest of the year.
But what do Southampton want from their time in the Premier League? Should they be striving for more than mid-table mediocrity every season?
Perhaps these are questions Hasenhuttl is asking himself amid rumours that his future in football may not be completely certain any more.
Player of the season: James Ward-Prowse
Breakthrough star: Tino Livramento
Top scorer: James Ward-Prowse (10)
Tottenham - 4th
Tottenham performed what Antonio Conte described as a “miracle” in securing Champions League football, emerging from the unlikeliest of positions earlier on in the season to deny Arsenal for fourth spot.
Spearheaded by the explosive return to form of Harry Kane and the still-underrated Heung-min Son, Spurs’ points tally in the second half of the season was bettered only by Manchester City and Liverpool.
Son’s brace during a final day 5-0 trouncing of Norwich – a victory that sealed fourth spot – saw him win the Premier League Golden Boot (23) for the first time, sharing the honour with Liverpool’s Mo Salah.
But while the free scoring front trio of Kane, Son and impressive January signing Dejan Kulusevski took most of the plaudits, Spurs’ defence improved considerably at the right time too.
Anchored by Cristian Romero and Eric Dier, the back line helped keep five clean sheets in their final eight games to maintain their charge up the table.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is due for talks with Antonio Conte over the coming weeks to convince the Italian coach they have similar ambitions for next season.
Conte is believed to want several new recruits in order to make a push for silverware – and on current form, Levy would surely be a fool to deny him what he wants.
Player of the season: Heung-min Son
Breakthrough star: Ryan Sessegnon
Top scorer: Heung-min Son (23)
Watford - 19th
Just the three managers took charge of Watford on their latest brief visit to the top flight, with the retiring Roy Hodgson the last man out of the door after a miserable campaign this time round.
The season began with Spaniard Xisco in the dugout having helped steer the Hornets back to the promised land from the Championship – but loyalty is short-lived in owner Gino Pozzo’s world and the 41-year-old had been swapped for Claudio Ranieiri by the start of October.
Leicester’s title-winning coach never looked like the right fit for Watford though and by late January, he too was giving his marching orders after a disastrous reign.
Roy Hodgson then readied himself for one last battle in the Premier League but may have wished he hadn’t bothered given the malaise his side found themselves in.
No matter who the manager was, the team could not stop shipping goals; Watford conceded 46 home goals this season, the most of any side in a single campaign in Premier League history.
The talents of Ismaili Sarr, Emmanuel Dennis and Cucho Hernandez arguably gave Watford one of the most talent-rich forward lines in the bottom half but amid such chaos on and off the pitch, their influence was largely reduced to the odd moment of brilliance in games here and there.
Former Forest Green Rovers boss Rob Edwards has since been appointed as the outgoing Hodgson’s successor – a move many have interpreted as Pozzo’s acceptance of hire-and-fire tactics having run their course.
Fans will surely be hoping Edwards will be given time to build something in his own image over the coming season.
Player of the season: Emmanuel Dennis
Breakthrough star: Joao Pedro
Top scorer: Emmanuel Dennis (10)
West Ham - 7th
Some may consider David Moyes unlucky not to have found himself among the nominees for Manager of the Season considering the job he continues to do at the London Stadium.
Now genuine troublemakers for the so-called ‘Top Six’, the Hammers narrowly missed out leapfrogging Manchester United into the Europa League following a poor 3-1 defeat on the final day of the season to Brighton.
But that should not colour what has otherwise been another fantastic year for the east London outfit as they also reached a European semi-final for the first time in 46 years.
The form of Declan Rice continues to impress; the England midfielder is now arguably the best player of his position in the Premier League and continues to draw suitors from prying eyes across London and in Manchester.
Moyes will be desperate to keep the man he will surely appoint permanent captain after Mark Noble’s retirement this season – particularly given the emergence of another England star in waiting, Jarred Bowen.
Bowen reportedly worked tirelessly on his body last summer in order to meet the demands placed upon him as a Premier League forward; that work has been repaid tenfold this year with 12 Premier League goals and 10 assists to his name.
His contributions, along with the tireless Michail Antonio, up front helped the Hammers score at least once in all 19 of their home league matches this season – only the third time they’ve managed such a feat in in their history.
Player of the season: Declan Rice
Breakthrough star: Jarred Bowen
Top scorer: Jarrod Bowen (12)
Wolves - 10th
It was always likely to be a season of transition after Nuno Espirito Santo’s departure from Molineux – and thus it has proven to be so under new man Bruno Lage.
At times, Wolves looked as though they were ready to compete with the top six yet they finished the season looking like relegation battlers.
The lack of goalscoring threat this season has been stark; in fact Wolves became only the third team to finish in the top half while scoring as few as 38 goals.
Mexican striker Raul Jimenez top scored in the league with just six – two behind Newcastle’s Callum Wilson, who played almost half his number of games.
Pedro Neto’s lengthy spell out with injury no doubt impacted Wolves’ efficacy in the final third. The Portuguese winger looks like the next star in the making for the Midlands club and will not be short of suitors this summer.
However, it was Wolves’ rearguard action that helped keep them clear of any real trouble this season with keeper Jose Sa outperforming his expected goals prevented tally by a miraculous 7.6 goals.
David De Gea was the next best keeper on the list, preventing 2.9 more goals than expected, showing the staggering gap between Sa and the rest of the competition.
Defender Max Kilman also continued his rise to prominence alongside club captain Conor Coady in the heart of defence, fitting the mould of the modern defender perfectly with his blend of ball-playing composure and physical dominance.
Lage will likely want his back line to be slightly less busy next year however and with funds to invest if Ruben Neves makes the big money departure many are expecting, we could see a transformed Wolves team ready to make a splash next season.
Player of the season: Jose Sa
Breakout star: Max Kilman
Top scorer: Raul Jimenez (6)