EPL Season Wrap Up

 

The Premier League has been over for just a few short days but it feels like an age. If it wasn’t for the FA Cup this weekend and the World Cup in June, hardcore soccer fans like myself would have to find something else to do like go outside or become productive members of society. Luckily, there’s no need, but we will have to wait a few months for our Premier League fix.

Week 38 was all quite routine, going the way most expected it to go with Swansea failing to win on the last day and rounding out the bottom three that will spend their season in the Championship next year. Fellow Welsh team Cardiff City will replace them in the Premier League, so unfortunately there will be no Welsh Derby next year.

Stoke City and West Brom were the two others relegated to the Championship, with all three relegated teams getting less than a point and a goal a game.

As stated in a previous column, I think if any of the three will make their way back up to the Premier League at the first opportunity, it will be West Brom. Without Alan Pardew at your club, you can really do anything, Darren Moore or no Darren Moore!

Chelsea, Arsenal and Burnley qualified for the 2018/19 Europa League with no late top four drama on the final day. Chelsea were battered by Newcastle, and with Tottenham beating Leicester late, Spurs and Liverpool rounded out the top four in third and fourth respectively.

So, without further ado, let’s see how terribly I predicted the Premier League.

(editor’s note: The first number is the ranking Ryan originally gave each team. The number in parentheses is the position at which that team finished the season.)

1. Manchester City (1st)
Well, we all know how this one ended up.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Manchester United (2nd)
Two for two, not so bad! And an FA Cup Final to look forward to this weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Chelsea (5th)
Not exactly an unsurprising pick for third place, considering they were champions the season before. Unfortunately, after the mind games between Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho in January, Chelsea never looked the same and continued to drop down the table. They’ll spend next season in the Europa League, and regardless of their performance in the FA Cup Final this weekend, they’ll presumably have a new manager too.

 

 

4. Liverpool (4th)
Three for four so far, which is not bad at all. Liverpool could be kicking themselves for how they closed out this season, however. A real opportunity presented itself to nab 2nd away from Manchester United on a couple occasions, but it wasn’t meant to be, and luckily for them they didn’t slip down further. They’ll play Real Madrid in the Champions League Final in two weeks, but their qualification for next year’s competition will not be on the line.

 

 

5. Arsenal (6th)
Just one away from my prediction for Arsenal in what turned out to be Arsene Wenger’s swan song. Arsenal followed a pattern they’ve been on for the past few years, and it’ll take an extraordinary manager with some new ideas to really push for Premier League titles again. Mikel Arteta is the favorite to take the top job, and at just 36 years old, I question his experience at the top level managerially to push Arsenal forward.

 

 

6. Tottenham (3rd)
I was pleasantly surprised and proved wrong by Tottenham this season, but despite this I still do think they should be performing better and potentially challenging for titles. Next season will be a massive one for Mauricio Pochettino if they lose some of their star players. Even if they keep them, they’ll face immense pressure to succeed in a new stadium with fans that’ll soon grow tired of “putting pressure on.”

 

 

7. Southampton (17th)
There’s not really much else to say other than big changes are needed for them to bounce back next year. Finally selling their best players and filling the squad with poor replacements has caught up to them, but with Mark Hughes rumored to be signing a new contract, we’ll see if he can bring in the right targets to push them back up the table.

 

 

 

8. Stoke City (19th)
It’s all falling apart. Not surprising after the dreadful season that they’ve had that they ended up going down. Big changes need to be made next season if they’re to come back up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they spent a lengthy spell in the Championship.

 

 

 

 

9. Leicester City (9th)
Routine, mid-table finish for Leicester, and if they can hold on to their best players they’ll have a good chance of pushing for the Europa League next season. Still riding on a high from the Premier League win a couple years ago, they’ll have money to burn in the transfer window.

 

 

 

 

10. West Bromwich Albion (20th)
In my defense, I made this prediction way before Alan Pardew took over at the helm following the dismissal of Tony Pulis. Had I known Pardew would be coming to West Brom, I never would have suggested they’d finish so high. Overall a pathetic season by the manager who’s desperate to be one of the lads, redeemed only by Darren Moore towards the end. I do hope they find their way back soon!

 

 

11. Burnley (7th)
The first team I wasn’t generous enough to! Sean Dyche and his Burnley boys went about their business rather quietly and qualified for the Europa League despite nobody picking them to challenge for it at the start of the season. They’ve delighted their fans and made them very proud, and with the right additions to the squad they should be able to get the depth they need to perform on all fronts.

 

 

12. Everton (8th)
Everton really redeemed themselves in the latter part of the season, starting very poorly and looking as if they might even finish in the bottom half. I’m not sure why I went 12th in the first place but I was almost correct! Sacking Sam Allardyce this week shows their willingness to move forward with a fresh soccer mind instead of somebody who just wants to eat pies and gravy. Good on them.

 

 

13. Huddersfield (16th)
A very promising start couldn’t stop Huddersfield from being a bit shaky towards the end of the season. They easily could have gone down too if Swansea weren’t so shit. Massive for them to be staying up, however, and the prize money for 16th could put them in a great position next year.

 

 

 

14. Bournemouth (12th)
A run of the mill season for the Cherries who are now a Premier League staple, but they’ll have seen Burnley’s success this season and it’ll definitely prove to them that it can be done. Next season could be massive for Bournemouth.

 

 

 

15. West Ham United (13th)
I’m getting very close with no payoff with these picks, but that won’t matter to West Ham who could have easily gone down as well. David Moyes lost his job as well as Sam Allardyce this week (dream team with Pardew incoming?) so the Hammers will also look to provide better management for their players next season. Moyes would still have one year left on his contract if he’d have stayed at Manchester United. What a joke…

 

 

16. Swansea City (18th)
We all know how this one turned out. Łukasz Fabiański’s tears on the last day were actually tears of joy as he knows he will definitely not be following Swansea to the Championship next year.

 

 

 

17. Newcastle (10th)
The absolute master of the North East Rafa Benitez guided Newcastle to a top 10 finish back in the Premier League where they’d begun to forget how it felt. Only made sweeter by lengthening the gap between them and Sunderland who were relegated to League One.

 

 

 

18. Brighton (15th)
Unbelievable season that sees Brighton stay up and further draws in to question my validity as a pundit. Fantastic wins throughout the season against big clubs means that they’ll be able to build and climb their way up the table with the right investment.

 

 

 

19. Watford (14th)
Early problems with Marco Silva re: Everton made me think this team were destined for the Championship, but with Javi Garcia taking the helm and guiding them to a lower-mid-table finish, the future is bright!

 

 

 

20. Crystal Palace (11th)
Oh, Jesus. Let me take you back to September 22nd where I said this of Palace’s new hire Roy Hodgson. “The same Roy Hodgson who put 6’2” Harry Kane on corners at the European Championships Last Summer. The same Roy Hodgson that refused to drop Wayne Rooney in his biggest slump, and even played him out of position constantly to try and force him in to the England team. The same Roy Hodgson that currently sits at an average win percentage of 35% as a Premier League manager at four clubs.

“At least he’s nothing but consistent.

“The appointment is so uninspiring that I wouldn’t be surprised if Crystal Palace continue to get worse. I can’t even imagine to think what the players are thinking. I’ve said, and will continue to say that Crystal Palace has a mediocre first team. Now they can truly match that with a mediocre manager in Roy Hodgson.”

Being proven wrong is never nice, especially when it’s about Roy Hodgson or *shudder* Alan Pardew, but I have to give credit where it’s due and barring any major departures (Wilf Zaha), Palace should be good to go in to next season.

Well, there you have it. The end to a long (but maybe not long enough) Premier League season that saw massive highs with Manchester City and terrible lows with West Brom. Next season, every team will want to strengthen to try and catch up to their rivals, but in the mean time we’ll have the World Cup to look forward to over the Summer. I’ll be writing about that as well, so if you thought you were going to get rid of me that easy then (though unlike Italy, the Netherlands, and the USA) you’ll be hearing from me!

 

 

Ryan Oldham is a Manchester native and a lifelong supporter of Manchester United. He knows far more about English Premier League football than you do, and therefore was selected to write a weekly update on the most popular professional sports league in the world. Contact him at ryanoldhamntw@gmail.com

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