So the season is over, and what a season it’s been. The most unpredictable Premier League campaign in history has seen Leicester City crowned the most unlikely of Champions, with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool well off the pace. We’ve already seen who the best players have been in the Talk the Sports awards, but it’s time to see which sides have performed at their best, and which have been below average.
Another season, another year that promised much for Arsenal but delivered little. A place in the top four has been secured again, but there is a stage where this just isn’t enough anymore, and this was it for Arsenal fans. In a year where all the other big teams slipped up, Arsenal have failed to capitalise. This was their best chance to win the title since the Invincibles in 2004, and they haven’t taken it. Next year looks likely to be Arsene Wenger’s last in charge of the North London club, simply because they need change.
Rating out of 10: A top four place, but performances against the lesser teams have cost them the title. 6.5/10
What a disastrous campaign it has been for Aston Villa. A massive club that have been nothing short of a massive disgrace. The fact that these players have continued to earn thousands of pounds a week while playing so badly is just a joke. With just 17 points won all season, they have to go down as the worst team in Premier League history. The points level is higher than what Derby County managed, but these players have the quality to be so much higher up in the division, it is their lack of commitment that has let them down. The real disaster is that these players will continue to make ridiculous amounts of money wherever they go, and it’s the backroom staff, the catering staff and security men who have nothing to do with what happens on the pitch who will lose their jobs. These players should be ashamed of the role they have played in the demise of this club, and justice would see them forced out of football because no club wants them on their books.
Rating out of 10: There are no numbers that I can give them that show just how bad they have been, and in the end I’m being generous by giving them 0/10
In stark contrast to what we have seen at Aston Villa, the Cherries have had a wonderful season. Many had them down as favourites to go straight back down to the Championship, and in the end, they finished comfortably above the drop zone. Eddie Howe deserves huge credit for the job he has done, especially given that most of the players that he bought in the summer, as well as first choice striker Callum Wilson, missed much of the season with injury. It seems that next year may be a tough one for the club in terms of retaining their Premier League status again, but there is no doubt they can do it again.
Rating out of 10: As good as safe with games left against all the odds. 9/10
The worst title defence in Premier League history. What else can be said? Last season’s PFA Player of the Year has been nearly invisible, and too many of the senior players simply haven’t turned up. Blame may be put on the club’s failure to improve the squad in the summer, or Jose Mourinho’s public fallout with physio Eva Carneiro, but the players simply haven’t been good enough, that’s why they’re tenth. Antonio Conte will bring big changes at this club, and it will certainly be a summer of transition.
Rating out of 10: Guus Hiddink steadied the ship, but still not good enough. 4/10
It’s difficult quite what to make of the Eagles’ season. At the turn of the year we were talking about Alan Pardew’s men possibly challenging for a place in Europe after a series of impressive results. However the dreadful few months after Christmas which saw them become the last team in the Football League to claim a league win in 2016 made us wonder if they would finish the year a Premier League club or not. Reaching the FA Cup final gave them some respite, but it was still only 15th in the league.
Rating out of 10: FA Cup final, but should certainly have finished in the top 10. 5/10
The league’s biggest underachievers. Talented, big name players, a manager with a big reputation, but a familiar tale for a Roberto Martinez side. The attacking talents of Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku have produced, but not regularly enough. In fact the only consistency has come at the other end of the field, where the defence has continued to leak goals, and John Stones has proved he isn’t worth £50 million. Throwing away a 2-0 lead to lose at home to West Ham summed up their problems, and a 3-0 defeat at the King Power Stadium was the final straw for the new owner, and Roberto Martinez was sacked.
Rating out of 10: A team so much better than 11th place. 4/10
What can be said that hasn’t already been said? The Foxes have pulled off the most incredible underdog story in sporting history, and are deserved Premier League champions. Throughout the season I have written articles praising Leicester’s players and the manager. There is no way to criticise members of this squad. All the praise will go to the likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, but the roles of the lesser names in the squad cannot be underestimated. There are no superlatives left that haven’t already been used to praise this side, or manager Claudio Ranieri.
Rating out of 10: The easiest rating I’ll give, it has to be 10/10
It is easy to say that Liverpool have done well under Jurgen Klopp, having made it to both the League Cup and Europa League finals. However if you look at what they have really achieved, there isn’t much to write home about. There will be no Champions League football, or even Europa League football for the Reds next season. Eighth place simply isn’t good enough for a team who have spent so much money over recent years, and Klopp may now regret his decision to rest players for Europa League matches. There are still weaknesses in the Liverpool defence, and until they sort this out, they will not be winning any trophies.
Rating out of 10: It is difficult to look past the fact they haven’t secured European football next season. 5.5/10
By the standards that Man City have set themselves in recent years, this just wasn’t good enough. On paper, they had by far the strongest squad in the Premier League, and with so many of the other big clubs failing, they should have won the Premier League. Eventually they were lucky to make the top four after Manchester United failed to beat West Ham. A Champions League semi final did break new ground for the club, but even then they could easily have made the final if it wasn’t for such a tame performance at the Bernabeu. In the end, it seems they were clearly affected by the announcement of Pep Guardiola as their new manager in February.
Rating out of 10: Champions League football secured, but it should have been so much more. 6.5/10
It is difficult to judge Manchester United’s season. They were regularly criticised for the style of football that they played, and the fact they never hit top form in the league. However when you look at it, the squad Louis van Gaal had at his disposal wasn’t really good enough to make Champions League football. Players like Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger never really lived up to the hype, and their season was virtually saved by youngsters Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. To sack van Gaal just days after winning the FA Cup was incredibly harsh, and even though Jose Mourinho is a proven winner, I don’t see the glory days returning to Old Trafford any time soon.
Rating out of 10: Missed out on the Champions League, but the squad was never really good enough for that. 6.5/10
Where can I start? For the first time since their promotion in 2010, Mike Ashley has properly invested in the squad. Unfortunately, he has bought all the wrong players, and picked the wrong manager to take control of them. Steve McClaren never seemed to get the squad playing how he wanted, whatever on earth that was. In the end the decision to replace him with Rafa Benitez came far too late, and their end of season form was too little, too late. Relegation to the Championship is a disaster for a club of the size of Newcastle, and they really need to come straight back up.
Rating out of 10: A team that large going down just shouldn’t happen. 1.5/10
There isn’t really much to be said about Norwich. The squad always seemed too weak to stay in the league, and they showed it. The defence grew stronger as the season went on, but the same can’t be said about the strikers. Quite frankly, if Cameron Jerome is your number one centre forward, then you’re going down. Delia Smith famously asked “Where are you?” Now we all know, they’re in the Championship.
Rating out of 10: Failures in the transfer market ultimately sent them down. 3.5/10
Things looked pretty bleak for Southampton around the halfway stage of the season. At the time, even Ronald Koeman admitted that they were in a relegation battle. Since the turn of the year however, they have been magnificent, and fully deserved Europa League football. The Saints have one of the most dangerous attacking line ups in the division, something shown by the fact that in Graziano Pelle, Shane Long and Sadio Mane, they are the only team in the league to have three players in double figures in terms of goals.
Rating out of 10: To finish just three points short of the Champions League is an excellent achievement, especially after two years of selling their best players. 8.5/10
For the third season in a row, Stoke have finished ninth. Again, they have comfortably stayed in the Premier League, but again, they haven’t really made a serious challenge for the European places. In the end they totally fell off the pace in the closing weeks of the season, conceding four times in three consecutive games in April.
Rating out of 10: Another solid season, but there has to be a time when Stoke make progress to challenge for European football. 6.5/10
This is becoming a yearly routine for the Black Cats. Start the season with optimism after just surviving relegation the previous campaign. Start badly and change your manager with relegation looming. Comfortably beat Newcastle just a few weeks after your new manager comes in. Pull off some incredible results to keep yourself in the Premier League against all the odds. Sam Allardyce was the man to keep them up this year, but with a lot of help from Jermain Defoe.
Rating out of 10: An excellent run of form at the back end of the season kept them up again, but soon enough their lives will run out. 6/10
This season has been a reality check for Swansea. This was the first time they had ever been in real trouble in the Premier League, and you got the feeling they didn’t really know how to handle it. The decision to sack Garry Monk came about very quickly, and I’m sure he would have kept them in the league if he was still there. In the end, Francesco Guidolin did a good job to keep them up. But this has been coming for Swansea. There has been some poor transfer business taking place at the Liberty Stadium over the past couple of seasons, and the £30 million from the sale of Wilfried Bony was never invested back into the playing squad.
Rating out of 10: Made it up to 12th, but a distinctly average season. 5/10
I don’t think anyone expected Tottenham to be anywhere near challenging for the title this season. Instead the younger members of the squad have shined, in particular the likes of Dele Alli and Harry Kane. They may have missed out on the ultimate prize this time around, but you get the feeling that there is a lot to come from this side. The season was slightly tainted however by the fact they managed to come third in a two horse race.
Rating out of 10: A great season, but fell away at the end and played a disgraceful part in the battle of the Bridge against Chelsea. 8.5/10
The Hornets took a massive risk at the end of the season by bringing in so many players from abroad in the summer, 13 to be exact. In the end it was the players who got them out of the Championship who were the stars of the show, with strikers Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney scoring 28 league goals between them. Their performances fell in quality after Christmas, but it was still a ridiculous decision to sack Quique Sanchez Flores. He kept them up and got them into an FA Cup semi-final, what else do they expect?
Rating out of 10: Finished comfortably safe from the drop, and played some decent football. 7/10
This was the sort of thing I could have written before the start of the season. You know what you’re going to get with Tony Pulis in charge. West Brom don’t play the most pleasing style of football, but they were always going to get to 40 points. This will continue to be the story while Pulis remains in charge, but something has to be done about the future of Saido Berahino, because that has certainly begun to affect the striker’s performances on the pitch.
Rating out of 10: 14th is just about where we expected them to finish, nothing too special. 6/10
With this being their final season at Upton Park, this was always going to be a crucial season for West Ham. They couldn’t afford to risk moving to the Olympic Stadium without Premier League football, and in the end they’ve had a brilliant campaign. Slaven Bilic was an excellent appointment who has got them playing attractive, attacking football. The star of the show was undoubtedly Frenchman Dimitri Payet, who has proved a bargain at £10.7 million.
Rating out of 10: Strong performances, and Europa League football for next season. 8/10
The season is over but there isn’t long to wait until it’s back on our screens, when Euro 2016 begins next Friday. This may also really get the transfer market underway, and with so many new managers in the Premier League, you get the feeling it could be a decisive summer.