Every Premier League Team’s Season Rated

Every Premier League Team’s Season Rated
May 21, 2017


Back in August, the birds were singing, the sun was shining and we previewed how each side would fare in the 2016/17 Premier League season.

So, with the 2016/17 season finally coming to an end, Chelsea lifted the Premier League – whilst Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland were sent through the relegation trapdoor.

We look back at how all 24 sides fared in a pulsating Premier League season, both domestically and in the league.

If you want to view our pre season predictions, you can click here.

Arsenal: C

League Finish: 5th 

After pipping North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to a runner-up spot behind Leicester City, hopes were high for Arsenal to win their Premier League title in 13 years. Big money arrivals of Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia and midfielder Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach raised many preliminary hopes – and the arrival of Spanish striker Lucas Perez for £17.1m gave the Gunners something different to look forward to in attack.

Arsene Wenger’s side made a good start to the season – embarking on a 13-match unbeaten streak at one point which saw them top the league on 10 December following a 3-1 home win vs Stoke City. A 3-0 home win to champions-elect Chelsea stood out.

However, they were sent back down to earth with a bump just following the turn of the year. Successive defeats to Watford, Chelsea as well as Liverpool & West Brom raised questions about the side’s mental & tactical fragility against bigger sides in the division.

This poor league form coincided with uncertainty regarding manager Arsene Wenger’s future, as well as a humiliating Champions League exit to Bayern Munich (10-2 on aggregate).

It is likely the Frenchman will stay on at the club, despite bearing the brunt of supporters’ anger. If Arsenal are to mount a sustained title challenge next term, first on the agenda will have to be sorting out Alexis Sanchez’s and Mesut Ozil’s contract situation; they among others have just over a year remaining on their contracts. Wenger will be looking to agree on a new contract with them – as they will be vital to Arsene Wenger’s vision going forward.

A central defender, left back, central midfield, playmaker and striker wouldn’t go amiss in the summer – big change is needed over this summer at the Emirates or it is difficult to envisage them as title contenders next season.

Of course, the jury could change completely if they can triumph in the FA Cup Final against champions Chelsea on 27 May.

Game Of The Season: Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea

Burnley: A

League Finish: 16th.

Tipped by many to go down, Sean Dyche had the solitary but arduous task of achieving survival in the Premier League – something no Burnley side had ever managed in the top flight since the inception of the Premier League. In their previous two Premier League campaigns (2009/10 and 2014/15), they had been relegated in their first season.

Fast forward 9 months later though, and you can’t do anything but applaud the job that Dyche has done with Burnley. Having worked on limited resources, he has built the Clarets into a very admirable proposition. He has also rejuvented Turf Moor into somewhat of a fortress – having lost on only four occasions at home this term. Their workmanlike attitude and burning spirit has yielded some fantastic results; take the 2-0 home win over Liverpool in August as an example.

Despite their poor away form, the Clarets have never really looked in danger of relegation back to the Championship. Sean Dyche and Burnley can take spirit from what has been a very good season for the North West side.

Game Of The Season: Burnley 2-0 Liverpool.

Bournemouth: A-

League Finish: 9th

The phrase ‘second season syndrome’ is a cliché often overused in the modern game. Having secured Premier League status the previous season, Bournemouth were looking to do the same in 2016/17 under the tutelage of Eddie Howe. They have secured their Premier League status, and have enjoyed a terrific season.

Just like Dyche, Eddie Howe has done a fine job with the Cherries this season. Having seen key players such as Lee Tomlin and Matt Ritchie leave the club in the summer, he was always working on burrowed resources. The decision to spend £15m on flop Jordan Ibe and not strengthen the full-back position was criticized, but he has still managed to make the most out of a very small side.

They had a very poor start to 2017, but at the 7th attempt they finally got their elusive first win of the year against West Ham United in a thrilling contest. The resurgence of Josh King towards the second half of the season has not gone unnoticed, with the Norwegian scoring on 16 occasions this term (all competitions) as well as the form of midfield maestro Jack Wilshere – Howe will be looking to snap him up on a permanent basis.

Bournemouth are a side who have gained a reputation for eloquent passing football and dynamic wide play – and rightly so. Eddie Howe has done a good job with the Cherries this season; although a few defensive signings wouldn’t go amiss.

Game Of The Season: Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool

Chelsea – A*

League Finish: 1st

Back at the start of the season, I cannot think of any neutral who predicted Chelsea to be champions. Following a monstrous 10th position last term, the priority was to at least get Champions League back on the Stamford Bridge horizon for the 2017/18 season.

With no European football though, it in fact proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Blues as Antonio Conte’s first season ended in an assault on the Premier League title.

The signing of N’Golo Kante from reigning champions Leicester gave Chelsea the elusive power from midfield as well as someone that could ultimately anchor their midfield and do the unheralded work in the middle of the park. The signing of Marcos Alonso has given the Blues the perfect wing-back balance, and the £30m capture of David Luiz as added some much needed steel to what was a calamitous Chelsea defence last season.

Successive defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool at the start of the season saw many pundits write Chelsea off as title challengers, even in September. However, Conte’s tactical accumen was again divulge when he chose to switch from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3 formation. This has suited their interchanging, fluid attacking players, and has generally proved a very flexible formation.

They embarked on a 12-match winning streak, culminating after their 2-0 defeat at White Hart Lane on 4 January. However, they continued grinding out results and frankly looked unbeatable on certain days. Antonio Conte did something in his first full season in England that his counterparts couldn’t achieve – win a domestic trophy. They’ve been simply formidable.

Match Of The Season: Chelsea 4-0 Man United 

Crystal Palace – B

League Finish: 14th

Crystal Palace invested heavily in the summer – bringing in Steve Mandanda from Marseille, Andros Townsend from Newcastle, James Tomkins from West Ham, Christian Benteke from Liverpool, Jeffrey Schlupp from Leicester, van Aanholt from Sunderland and Luka Milivojevic from Olympiakos; just to name a few.

But Alan Pardew’s side started the season in the same vein they ended the last. Just four wins in sixteen games had left the Eagles in relegation fodder – leading to Alan Pardew’s dismissal in December. Ex-England boss Sam Allardyce was installed as manager in an attempt to sure up their leaky defence; and at the 5th time of asking he got his first win away at Bournemouth on January 31.

Palace then started to slowly regain their form, with four successive victories (including at the home of the reigning champions) proving to be the catalyst for survival. An away win at Liverpool and the 3-0 hammering at home to Arsenal highlighted how rejuvented the Eagles were against the big sides, showing a statement of intent.

Big Sam has done well to steer the ship to survival – now he needs to build on it.

Match Of The Season: Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace

Everton – A-

League Finish: 7th.

Having endured a very poor 11th placed finish in 2015/16, Roberto Martinez lost his job – with Ronald Koeman leaving his Southampton post to become his successor.

The Dutchman has enjoyed a very stable start to his Everton post, with the Blues only losing twice at home all season. Despite going through a slightly barren run early in the season, the Toffees eventually recovered and have been one of the form teams in 2017. Idrissa Gueye was a very shrewd investment from Aston Villa – as he has added some much needed versatility and balance to the midfield.

It’s also been a good year for Everton’s youth academy too; the likes of Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have broken into the first team. The challenge for Ronald Koeman will be to retain the services of star players Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley – with the 54-year old admitting he wasn’t particularly confident regarding the latter’s future. If he can keep both at the club and strengthen the defence, the Toffees can hope for a Europa League finish next season.

Overall, a solid season for Everton.

Match Of The Season: Everton 4-0 Man City

Hull City – F

League Finish: 18th.

Hull were many people’s tip for relegation in the summer and despite giving relegation rivals Swansea City a close run for their money towards the backend of the season, it was not enough for another season in the Premier League.

With Steve Bruce leaving the club before the start of the season after leading the Tigers to promotion, Hull were suddenly plunged into a state of turmoil and instability. Mike Phelan was installed as a temporary manager until they could find a replacement for Steve Bruce.

Hull started the season very well, though, with two straight wins at home against the reigning champions and away at Swansea. Phelan was later installed as temporary manager in October, but the Humbersiders were dropping like a stone and fast. After a run of just one win in seventeen games, ex-Olympiakos manager Marco Silva was appointed as his replacement.

This did spark a big revival for the Tigers – they had to dig in deep for an away draw against Manchester United and a home win against Liverpool. During Silva’s tenure, they lost just once at home in all competitions. The Portuguese led Hull to an EFL Cup semi-final tie against Man United; which they narrowly lost, despite a valiant effort. January transfer signings Kamil Grosicki and Lazar Markovic proved key to this run.

However, they failed to win a single Premier League match on their travels all season, and a 4-0 defeat away at Crystal Palace last Sunday sealed their fate. Hull will be playing Championship football next season.

Leicester City – C

League Finish: 12th.

Having begun the season as reigning champions,  in all honesty, very little were expecting Leicester to repeat a similar feat this season or even challenge for the top 4.

The loss of deep-lying midfielder N’Golo Kante to Chelsea proved key, but they squandered the money from the Kante sale – on players such as striker Islam Slimani, who proved to be a flop. A further £34m was wasted in fellow striker Ahmed Musa, Ron-Robert Zieler, Nampalys Mendy and Wilfried N’Didi; all of which proved to be flops.

The Foxes made a poor start to the season – only winning five from their first nineteen matches, leaving them just four points above the relegation zone at Christmas. The loss of Kante affected the defence too, as there was not not sufficient protection from the centre backs or sitting midfield for the full-backs. Leicester’s ageing centre back partnership in Robert Huth and Wes Morgan was beginning to tell. Claudio Ranieri, dubbed the ‘Tinkerman’ during his Chelsea tenure from 2000-2004, was accused of rotating formations too often – this made several supporters disillusioned.

Confidence was low between teammates, as reports intensified of a fall out between Ranieri and players; this was thought to be the leading reason for him losing his job. A five match goal drought then followed, leading to Claudio Ranieri’s sacking in February. This did inevitably anger a lot of the press and the footballing sphere, with many believing the Italian should’ve been afforded more time to turn things around.

Assistant manager Craig Shakespeare was installed as temporary manager, immediately implementing the 4-4-2 formation that was so successful for them in 2015/16. They then embarked on a five match winning run, coinciding with the regain in form for Jamie Vardy and co.

The Foxes had a Champions League campaign to be proud of – only losing once in the group stage and turning things around to beat Jorge Sampaoli’s Sevilla on aggregate, who had impressed in La Liga. However, with a heavy heart, they were unable to repeat the same feat against last season’s finalists Athletico Madrid, who went through on aggregate.

Overall, Shakespeare has done a good job to steer Leicester to survival, in what threatened to be a dark season. Like Allardyce, though, the job will be to build on it. He will need to amend an ageing defence.

Match Of The Season: Leicester 3-1 Liverpool.

Liverpool: A

Having enjoyed a promising season in 2015/16 under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool were looking to build on the previous season and hopefully restore some silverware, if not Champions League football back to Anfield.

They did miss out on Champions League football this season after a 3-1 Europa League Final defeat to Sevilla – but this actually proved to be a blessing in disguise. Klopp learnt from his predecessors and made some very shrewd investments in the transfer market.

Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum came in for eye-watering prices of £34m and £25 respectively, which saw a lot of skeptics on how they’d fit into Klopp’s 4-3-3 tactical blueprint.

Mane hit the ground running immediately, proving how direct a threat he was with his pace and end product, whilst Wijnaldum was slightly under the radar at first. However, the Dutchman eventually improved after the turn of the year and is beginning to improve in big games.

The Reds made a terrific start to the season, ruthlessly punishing sides who dared come to Anfield with an attacking gameplan; overturning them with a pressing philosophy which caused many big sides problems this season. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham were all defeated by Liverpool this season – Jurgen Klopp’s side finished the season undefeated against the big guns this season.

This pressing game worked until January, when Liverpool’s over-reliance on Mane and lack of squad depth was exposed. Klopp’s 4-3-3 proved very ineffective against low block sides, and his stubborness to change this alienated a lot of supporters.

Many were also doubtful of Liverpool’s mental block against lesser sides, accusing the side of being too complacent against smaller sides – dubbed by many as the reason of the Reds’ struggles against lesser sides.

The Merseysiders embarked on a barren spell from early January until late February, and that’s when the Reds finally recovered.

Liverpool began to grind out scruffy wins at last (e.g Burnley H, Stoke A, West Brom A, Watford A), which hinted that there were signs of progress. Reverting to a 4-4-2 diamond delighted fans, as this coincided with the side finding the back of the net more often. Qualification for the Champions League was sealed with an emphatic 3-0 win at home to Middlesbrough.

A central defender, left-back, central midfielder, right winger and striker wouldn’t go amiss for 2017/18. Until this is amended, Liverpool will not end their wait for a title.

Match Of The Season: Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal

Manchester City – C

League Finish: 3rd.

After an inconsistent 2015/16 season, Manchester City turned to Pep Guardiola as Manuel Pellegrini’s replacement – with the Spaniard coming in as a reputation as one of the best managers in the world.

Many expected Man City to give Manchester United and Chelsea a close run for the money in the title race, after spending £168,850,000 on transfers in the summer, including £64m for young stars Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus. It looked that way after starting the season with six straight wins, but the warning signs were there after a first defeat of the season at Tottenham on 2 October. Consecutive defeats at home to Chelsea then away at Leicester hinted at a fraility against counter-attacking teams – with John Stones being among those criticised.

Claudio Bravo was another under-fire for a string of uncommanding performances in goal, with Willy Caballero taking his spot towards the latter stages of the campaign. It’s been a disappointing season for Man City considering the expectations they had for the season – with no domestic success whatsoever, it has to be seen as an underachieving season.

The Blues crashed out to Monaco in the Round of 16 in the Champions League, Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals as well as losing in the Manchester Derby in the EFL Cup. A lot is to be desired in Pep Guardiola’s second season.

However, Guardiola got the best out of young talents in Sane and Jesus, as the Citizens embarked on a run of just one defeat in their last sixteen matches of the season. Their ability to grind out wins (e.g Manchester United A) is a trait of Guardiola’s acumen and it’s a massive season ahead for Pep. Strengthen the defence and more balance to the midfield, and City can mount a sustained title challenge next term.

Match Of The Season: Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City

Manchester United: B+

League Finish: 6th.

Having endured an uninspiring season in 2015/16, ex-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was installed as manager of Man United. He delighted Manchester United fans immediately by signing Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba for £89m and ex-Dortmund midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan for £27-30m in the summer. However, the biggest coup of all perhaps was the signing of Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free – expectations were very high for the Red Devils to hopefully land their first title in four years.

Mourinho’s men started the season with three straight wins, but it all went unravelling in the Manchester Derby in September. United lost the game 2-1, and they never were in the frame for the title after that. Despite embarking on an impressive (but ultimately pointless) unbeaten run in the league from 29 October to 7 May, they failed to keep the pressure on leaders Chelsea and instead spent most of the campaign in 6th place.

Home draws proved to ultimately be the difference between a top three finish and finishing where they did. They drew too many games at Old Trafford that they should’ve been winning (e.g Stoke, Burnley, Arsenal, West Ham, Hull, Bournemouth, West Brom and Swansea) – Mourinho has beared a lot of the media criticism for a below-par league campaign, but in fairness, is it his fault if strikers can’t put away chances?

It may sound a blasphemy to state this (especially with the wealth of options the Red Devils have), but United will need another striker to challenge for the title next season. Their defence has been excellent, with only Spurs conceding less. However, they seem to lack and and out goalscorer who can clinically put away chances when needed -costing them a lot of dropped points this season.

Domestically, though, it has been a better season for Manchester United. They began the season with a 2-1 win over Leicester in the Community Shield, following this up with a somewhat fortunate League Cup win over Southampton in February. They can still add to this next week if they beat Ajax in the Europa League Final – but we’re afraid it goes down as a disappointing season overall.

Game of the Season: Manchester United 2-0 Chelsea.

Middlesbrough – F

League Finish: 19th.

Ironically, very few tipped the North East side for relegation at the beginning of the season following promotion to the top flight. Many believed they had a good enough squad depth to survive the Premier League under Aitor Karanka, but we were all proven wrong in spectacular fashion.

With very good young players such as Viktor Fischer and good attacking options in Alvaro Negredo, nothing could prevent a dire season for Middlesbrough.

Despite being renowned for their defensive organisation, they struggled to score goals too – only scoring 29 all season. Negredo was their best bet for goals all season, but they lacked any other mobile attacking options bar him. The Teesiders went on a 15 match winless run in the league, leading to Karanka’s dismissal on 16 March. The problem with Boro wasn’t their application – it was just inferiority in the midfield.

The mentality in the Middlesbrough side has been poor on ocassions, and the board must ponder a replacement for Aitor Karanka with caretaker manager Steve Agnew struggling to get results. Losing Ben Gibson would be a massive blow to their hopes too. The future isn’t very bright for the Boro.

Southampton – C

League Position: 8th.

Following Ronald Koeman’s dismissal at the end of last season, it was always going to be difficult for Southampton to emulate the success of previous seasons having recycled their squad to good effect. After losing key players Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama, Graziano Pelle and Jose Fonte, Claude Puel’s side struggled for consistency all season long.

Many slated the Saints’ lack of goals, and lack of tangible options going forward bar Manuolo Gabbiadini. Claude Puel has beared the brunt of Southampton fans’ anger this season due to some questionable tactics, despite reaching the EFL Cup Final and giving Man United a real run for their money.

It’s not been a terrible season for Southampton, but not a great one either. Attacking players must be brought in the summer, and a versatile midfielder wouldn’t go amiss either.

Stoke City – C

League Finish: 13th.

Another of these normal but unadventurous mid table finishes for Stoke City. Having enjoyed an impressive 9th placed finish in 2015/16, Mark Hughes’ side slipped into 13th.

They made their customary slow start, winless in seven games, but soon recovered. Joe Allen came to the fore in Stoke’s campaign though, adding guile and creativity from midfield – something Stoke have been lacking for a while now. Nothing much really to write about, one of these standard, midtable seasons with not much to it.

Sunderland: U

League Finish: 20th.

It’s been a frankly miserable season for Sunderland, who have gone down with a whimper. David Moyes paid the price for some terrible investment in the transfer window – opting for ageing defensive and attacking players, instead instead of promising foreign investement. The departure of Patrick van Aanholt for me made a difference, even if it didn’t categorically show on the pitch.

Moyes ultimately paid for not investing in a tangible attacking option to take the burden off star striker Jermain Defoe’s back. It’s very difficult to make a case for either Defoe or goalkeeper Jordan Pickford staying at the club next season; and if they leave in the summer, it will be a very difficult summer ahead for Sunderland.

They had to wait 11 matches for their first win of the season away at Bournemouth, but really struggled to find a catalyst for a winning streak somewhere. David Moyes can blame the chairman for not giving the cash injection needed, but his tactics have ultimately let the Black Cats down all season.

They are a team devoid of ideas. The fact that their relegation was confirmed four games before the end of the season really speaks volumes.

Painful times ahead.

Game Of The Season: Crystal Palace 0-4 Sunderland

Swansea City: C-

League Finish: 16th

Made a poor start to the season under Franceso Guidoin, where the Swans were criticised for a negative approach consistently. They made a surprise choice and appointed ex-USA manager Bob Bradley as coach – but a mere two wins as coach meant he was sacked on 27 December, with ex-Derby manager Paul Clement named his assistant. For me, this is where their fortunes changed around.

Signing Tom Carroll was an inspired decision, as he added a creative influence and provided guile from deep. They seemed to be lacking leaders due to the sale of Ashley Williams, but Clement inspired them to survival with some famous results along the way, stinging a few big scalps. Despite a five match winless streak, they were unbeaten in their remaining five games. Fernando Llorente’s revival of form at the perfect time was integral.

Game of the Season: Swansea 5-4 Crystal Palace, Liverpool 2-3 Swansea.

Tottenham Hotspur – A+

League Finish: 2nd

At the start of the season, there were actually people who believed Tottenham were a one season wonder. Believe it or not. This season, Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs have sent a massive statement of intent, that they are a side who have regained their identity. There have been so many factors contributing to Tottenham’s brilliant season, but for me, the signing of Victor Wanyama was integral to that.

He added that elusive balance to midfield, and Pochettino has done a terrific job to mould him into the defensive midfielder that suits the Lillywhites’ 4-2-3-1 system. He’s provided spectacular cover to the back four that has been so unbreakable all season along with Moussa Dembele.

In my opinion, they were my pick for the title if it weren’t for Chelsea’s ruthless streak. Obviously, there is inevitable frustration that they couldn’t capitalise at the start of the season – drawing four successive matches from October to November made a big difference. They have matchwinners all around the pitch; Son, Kane, Alli, Eriksen and Lamela. Moving Dele Ali just behind the lone striker proved to be an influential decision, as it’s given him the freedom to attack and have a better output.

Also, had Harry Kane not been injured for six-eight weeks, you could make a case for Tottenham being title winners too. If Pochettino can find a way to bring in another striker similar to Kane and play to his strengths and fix the mental block in big games, there’s no reason not to expect Spurs as contenders again.

With the North London outfit leaving White Hart Lane this season, it’ll be interesting to see how they cope at Wembley in 2017/18

Game of the Season: Tottenham 2-0 Chelsea

Watford – D

Overall, a disappointing season for Watford. After securing survival in their first season, Walter Mazzarri was appointed with Watford fans seemingly fed up with predecessor Quique Sanchez Flores’ negative tactics throughout 2015/16.

It wasn’t all bad for them – there a few famous wins along the way including a 3-1 home win over Manchester United and a 3-2 win over Everton built on resilience. Watford were 7th at this point in the league. That’s when things unravelled.

Despite the signings of M’Baye Niang on loan from AC Milan, Mauro Zarate from West Ham and Stefano Okaka from Anderlecht, this wasn’t enough for the Hornets to continue their momentum going into the new year. A 2-1 win away at Arsenal was the sole highlight in a disappointing 2017, with manager Walter Mazzarri bearing a lot of fans’ anger with perceived negative tactics.

Injuries may have had a lot to do with it, but it doesn’t change the fact that whoever comes in as manager next season, the defence and more attacking options must be a priority.

A disappointing season, as more was expected.

Match of the Season: Watford 3-1 Man United.

West Brom – B

League Finish: 10th.

The Baggies have been punching above their weight for much of the season, and despite attracting criticism for negative tactics, Tony Pulis has done a good job at the Hawthorns this season.

West Brom have proven themselves to be a typically organised defensive unit which many sides have found it difficult to break down all season. They have also have done well to recycle a very limited squad, which has been mainly built on home performances and resilience away from home.

They looked set to finish 8th at one point, but they have stagnated in recent weeks, with their season petering out. West Brom have dropped to 10th following a run of eight winless matches – but regardless, a good season.

Game of the Season: West Brom 3-1 Arsenal.

West Ham – C

League Finish: 11th

Having enjoyed a terrific 2015/16 season in 17th, West Ham went back down to earth with a bump in 2016/17.

Investing into the likes of Sofiane Feghouli, Andre Ayew, Alvaro Arbeloa etc all seemed very intelligent buys at first – but it wasn’t soon until the Hammers got overwhelmed by the new London Stadium. This coincided with stadium unrest and poor performances on the pitch. Having only won seven times all season at home, it’s not been a happy venue for West Ham.

The loss in form of Dimitri Payet and selling James Tomkins to Crystal Palace both contributed to the Hammers’ slump – only winning on six occasions by Christmas. Slaven Bilic was criticised at this point for a negative 4-5-1 approach, leading to star player Dimitri Payet leaving the club in January.

Injuries may have played a part, but it’s been a medicore season for West Ham, leaving Bilic’s tenure at the club in doubt. They did keep 4 consecutive clean sheets for the first time since 2010 towards the end of the season as well as ending Spurs’ title hopes – but it’s not been good enough for Bilic’s side.

Attacking reinforcements are needed.

Game of the Season: West Ham 1-0 Tottenham.

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