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Premier League

Club by club review of the Premier League season



Manchester City won their third straight Premier League crown after Arsenal’s title challenge collapsed, big-spending Chelsea could only finish in mid-table and 2016 champions Leicester City were relegated.

Following is a summary of the campaigns of the 20 top-flight clubs, listed in order of their final positions:


While City trailed Arsenal by eight points as late as mid-March, Pep Guardiola’s side so mercilessly sliced through opponents over the final few weeks that it felt as if they had just been toying with their London rivals, like a cat plays with its prey.

The team described by pundits as a “machine” and a “monster” captured their fifth Premier League title in six seasons with three games left to play, giving Guardiola some breathing room with both the FA Cup and Champions League finals on the horizon.

City were led by Norwegian bulldozer Erling Haaland, who scored an astonishing league-record (36) goals in his debut season. But teamwork remains the cornerstone of mastermind Guardiola’s style, and City showed their immense depth when they beat Chelsea 1-0 with a second-string lineup.


Their sheer dominance has left many wondering if anyone can knock them off the trophy podium next season.


The last six weeks aside, Arsenal enjoyed a massively positive season as they proved the pundits wrong to threaten a first league title since 2004, only to buckle in the home straight under pressure from a relentless Man City.

There is an argument that Arsenal blew a rare opportunity, with City starting relatively slowly, Liverpool off the pace and Chelsea nowhere, and manager Mikel Arteta will be all too aware that standing still this summer is not an option.

Arsenal’s young squad was eventually found wanting with an injury to William Saliba in March having a catastrophic effect on their defence for the run-in.

Having brought Champions League football back to the Emirates, Arteta should expect big financial backing to strengthen the squad this summer with West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice seen as a key target.



Erik ten Hag’s first season as manager has been encouraging with a top-four finish in the Premier League, the League Cup trophy and a place in the FA Cup final to show for it.

With little to celebrate since Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013, there is a feeling of optimism again at Old Traffod because Ten Hag has shown far more tactical acumen and man management skills than any of his recent predecessors.

Old Trafford has become something of a fortress once again but embarrassing capitulations at Brentford, Manchester City, Liverpool and Sevilla proved that the Dutchman has plenty more work to do.

It will be an important summer transfer window with the signings of an experienced striker and quality midfielder the priority as well as tough decisions about offloading players including goalkeeper David de Gea, defender Harry Maguire and forward Anthony Martial.


The speed at which Newcastle have broken up the established big six has surprised even the club’s most optimistic fans.


When Eddie Howe took charge in November 2021 in the wake of the takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the club were winless and mired in a relegation battle.

Now they are making plans for a return to the Champions League after a 20-year absence and there is a sense that the club’s upward trajectory will grow steeper.

Yes, Newcastle have spent 250 million on new players since the money rolled in, but it has been spent extremely wisely on the likes of Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes and Nick Pope.

Some marquee signings this summer are expected and it will be no surprise if Newcastle take another step next season and put some silverware in the cabinet.


Liverpool’s season failed to get going until it was far too late and despite a sprint finish they could not salvage a top-four spot.


Whether it was a hangover from their efforts to achieve an unprecedented quadruple last season, their failure to adequately replace Sadio Mane, key injuries in their forward line or an aging midfield, Liverpool looked leggy and off the pace for much of the campaign.

They were already out of the Champions League and both domestic cups and languishing in eighth in the Premier League when manager Juergen Klopp made a major tactical switch by converting Trent Alexander-Arnold into a right back/midfielder hybrid.

The move paid dividends as Liverpool regained some of their old steel, embarking on an 11-match unbeaten league run that included seven straight wins but a Champions League place still remained agonisingly out of reach.


Not even the departure of much-loved coach Graham Potter for Chelsea could derail a big breakthrough season for Brighton & Hove Albion, which ended with a first qualification for Europe and the possibility of millions to come in player transfers.

The south coast club have become the template for those outside of the Premier League’s top six, picking up players cheaply and selling them on at a huge profit while developing their eye-catching football under new coach Roberto De Zerbi.


They will have to prepare themselves for the prospect of losing players like World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister, but Seagulls fans have a strong belief in the ability of their coach and board to find replacments that will keep them in the top half next season.


Aston Villa’s decision to perform a hard reset by sacking coach Steven Gerrard in October after six losses in their opening 11 Premier League games paid off as Unai Emery came in and delivered European football for next season.

Given that Villa were 17th when Gerrard was shown the door that was no mean feat. Villa were thrashed 4-0 by Newcastle United just after Emery’s appointment, but by the time the two sides met again in mid-April they were a side transformed, winning 3-0 at home.

With stability restored, the 1982 European Cup winners will be setting their sights on the Europa Conference League next season, and with Emery’s previous successes in the Europa League with Arsenal and Sevilla part of the reason they hired him, Villa fans have a lot to be positive about.


A shambolic season for Tottenham ended without a full-time manager, sporting director, missing out on Europe and with a squad requiring major surgery.


Talisman Harry Kane could hardly be blamed if he decided to look elsewhere with the club seemingly going backwards.

Former coach Antonio Conte’s often disparaging remarks about the squad and the club’s lack of winning culture were eventually vindicated with an eighth placed finish. Kane’s 30 goals apart, there were no positives for Tottenham whose top-four challenge proved an illusion.

A summer of squad strengthening is essential but more than that, Tottenham need a coach who can rediscover the club’s identity.


Brentford’s second season in the Premier League turned out even better than their first, the Bees finishing comfortably in the top half of the table and ahead of West London rivals Chelsea and Fulham.

Thomas Frank’s impressive but inexpensively-assembled side celebrated big wins over champions Manchester City (2-1), Manchester United (4-0), Liverpool (3-1) and Chelsea (2-0) along the way.


Even an eight-month ban imposed on striker Ivan Toney, the third highest scorer in the Premier League this season, for betting offences could not throw them off their stride as they romped to a 3-1 victory at Tottenham Hotspur in their penultimate game and became the only team to beat Manchester City home and away this season after their 1-0 home win on the final day.


A top-half Premier League finish for the first time in 11 years will give Fulham fans hope that they can finally shed their reputation as a ‘yo-yo club’ flitting between the top flight and the second-tier Championship.

Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic put a calamitous 2020-21 Premier League season behind him to spearhead their charge, repaying Marco Silva’s faith in him with 14 league goals despite an eight-match ban late in the season.

He was ably helped by the Brazilian trio of Carlos Vinicius, Andreas Pereira and 34-year-old Willian, who has revived his Premier League career after returning from Brazil and will hope for a contract extension to stay in London.

In his longest stint at a club since 2014, Silva has laid the foundations for Fulham to retain its top-flight status for the long-term as they look to compete with bigger teams after renovating Craven Cottage and increasing its capacity.



Palace were aiming to avoid relegation when Roy Hodgson took the reins in March but the fact that they have earned a comfortable 11th-placed finish is testament to the remarkable turnaround engineered by the former England manager.

When Palace sacked Patrick Vieira, they were three points above the drop zone after a 12-game winless run in the league. They also struggled for goals, having scored only 21 times in 27 games at that stage.

Eberechi Eze, who struggled for minutes under Vieira, spearheaded Palace’s dramatic upturn in results with six goals as Palace won five and drew three of their 10 games under Hodgson to end any lingering fears of relegation.

Hodgson was enticed out of retirement at 75 to take over until the end of the season and the pending managerial appointment will be Palace’s first priority, with the future of Wilfried Zaha, whose contract runs out in June, a close second.


Chelsea’s big-spending American owners have had a first season to forget after buying the club in a deal worth 4.25 billion pounds a year ago. They ended up finishing 12th – one of their lowest positions ever in the Premier League.


Their early-season decision to fire Champions League-winning coach Thomas Tuchel and replace him with Brighton & Hove Albion’s Graham Potter proved disastrous – despite more than 500 million pounds ($631 million) lavished on a host of new players – and Potter was himself fired in April.

Former Stamford Bridge hero Frank Lampard was drafted in for the remainder of the campaign but he won only one of his 11 games with the same lack of cutting edge in front of goal dogging his time in charge.

Todd Boehly and his fellow co-owners are now expected to turn to former Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino in the hope of transforming their expensive squad into a force in the 2023/24 season, without Chelsea’s usual distractions of European football after their 12th-placed finish, the worst since 1994.


An ultimately comfortable 13th-placed finish fails to adequately tell the story of a turbulent season in which Wolverhampton Wanderers spent weeks flirting with relegation, had two managerial changes and struggled in front of goal.

Wolves had sacked Bruno Lage in November with the club in 18th spot. Steve Davis was named interim boss until the end of the season, but failed to impress before being replaced by Julen Lopetegui, under whom Wolves won nine games to secure safety.


Forwards Raul Jimenez, Hwang Hee-Chan and Diego Costa had a combined output of four league goals as Wolves ended the season with the league’s lowest tally of 31 goals — proof that reinforcements are needed in attack for the coming campaign. Whether those signings will arrive remains to be seen.

Lopetegui’s future at the club is uncertain amid financial restrictions that will complicate any moves in the transfer market, and coming weeks will be crucial in determining their ability to compete in the Premier League next season.


West Ham are into their first European club competition final in 47 years and will fancy their chances of winning the Europa Conference League final against Fiorentina in Prague on June 7.

But whether continental success is enough to save manager David Moyes after a disappointing domestic season remains to be seen.

The Hammers were in a battle to avoid relegation until vital wins over Manchester United and Leeds United lifted them clear of the danger zone.


They had finished seventh last season and the club record 51-milion purchase of Brazilian Lucas Paqueta held out hopes of another competitive season but it proved anything but, hastening the expected departure of captain Declan Rice.


In their first campaign back in the top flight since 2019-20, Bournemouth nearly dropped back into the Championship when they were rock bottom in March before Gary O’Neil engineered a remarkable survival bid for the south-coast club.

Bournemouth had sacked Scott Parker when they were thrashed 9-0 by Liverpool and O’Neil was named interim boss before taking up the role on a permanent basis, a decision the club nearly regretted when they lost six in a row in all competitions after the World Cup break.

A 3-2 loss in the 97th-minute at Arsenal would have deflated most bottom clubs but O’Neil picked up the pieces and guided Bournemouth to six wins in nine games — including victories over Liverpool and Spurs — to seal their top-flight status.


Forest’s reaction to their Championship promotion playoff win over Huddersfield at Wembley at the end of last season, and end of a 23-year exile from the top flight, was to plunge into the transfer market with an incredible 22 summer signings, adding a further nine in the January transfer windows.


In the end, the verdict on the near-complete overhaul of their squad has to be positive as they managed to stay up after spending more time in the bottom three than out of it.

There were times when manager Steve Cooper’s position looked precarious but he remains a fan favourite and saw the side into the League Cup semi-finals.

By winning their last three home games, including against Arsenal, Forest made sure they would not be making a hasty return to the Championship.


A last-day home victory over Bournemouth had the home fans in delirious mood but when the dust settles it will be seen as another dire season for a club who have spent 700 million pounds on players in the last six years yet almost been relegated for two seasons in a row.

The campaign was a struggle from the start as, having failed to adequately replace Brazil forward Richarlison, they carried almost no attacking threat in the near-constant injury absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.


Sean Dyche replaced Frank Lampard as manager in January but there were only minor signs of progress until the remarkable 5-1 win at Brighton lifted hopes of survival and, allied to the appalling form of their relegation rivals, left them with the opportunity to save themselves on the final day.

They will now stretch their record of spending more years in the top flight than any other club but the team needs radical surgery if they are to avoid going through the same pain next year.


Champions seven years ago in one of the greatest stories ever told in English football, Leicester City must now contemplate life in the Championship following their home win against West Ham United that was not enough for safety.

Foxes fans may be wondering how they got here having celebrated a first ever FA Cup final victory in 2021, but former manager Brendan Rodgers spotted trouble as early as September when he hit out at chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha for failing to refresh the squad, claiming “this isn’t the club that it was a couple of years ago”.

Wesley Fofana, Kasper Schmeichel, Ayoze Perez, Marc Albrighton and Ademola Lookman all left ahead of the season and were not replaced with the same quality as Leicester took five points from the first 30 available and never recovered.


Many outsiders looked at a squad that appeared too good to go down, but when Rodgers was sacked in early April, the arrival of Dean Smith as his replacement made no difference and he could not secure the points needed to save them.


Leeds United’s return to the Championship was confirmed when they lost against Tottenham Hotspur in their final fixture at Elland Road to finish 19th and end a turbulent season that saw them have double the number of managers (four) than away wins (two).

Having won promotion at the end of the 2019-20 campaign playing high-octane, attacking football under the guidance of Marcelo Bielsa, they ended this season with barely a whimper.

Jesse Marsch started the campaign as manager, but it became a procession in the dugout as caretaker Michael Skubala, Javi Gracia and crisis specialist Sam Allardyce all had a go. None could get the team to click.

They had the worst defence (78 goals conceded) in the top flight and won seven of their 38 games amid off-field uncertainty as majority shareholder Andrea Radrizzani steps up his bid to acquire Italian side Sampdoria.


There is a potential buy-out of his Leeds shares from 49ers Enterprises, a corporate venture capital arm of The San Francisco 49ers.


A spiritless, soulless season saw Southampton slide out of the Premier League with barely a whimper. A campaign that saw Saints deploy more managers than out-and-out strikers tells its own story, and the bizarre three-month tenure of Nathan Jones as boss encapsulated Southampton’s surreal lurch from crisis to crisis.

A first home-and-away league double over Chelsea since the 1980s and a thoroughly-deserved 2-0 win over a full-strength Manchester City in the League Cup — a shock victory which could well end up depriving Pep Guardiola’s mighty Manchester City of winning the quadruple — showed what Southampton’s mercurial squad was capable of.

But repeated limp defeats to fellow strugglers, and an embarrassing loss to League Two Grimsby in the FA Cup, revealed what they had the stomach for.

Finishing rock bottom of the Premier League with a paltry 25 points, Southampton lost 25 of their 38 matches and must hope for an instant reset to stand any chance of coming back up from the Championship at the first time of asking.


Having sacked Ralph Hasenhuettl and Jones as managers during the season, and with Ruben Selles having led Saints for the last time in the final match against Liverpool, they will have a brand new manager and probably an entirely new-look side with the likes of captain James Ward-Prowse, Romeo Lavia, Armel Bella-Kotchap, Kyle Walker-Peters, Mohammed Salisu and Mislav Orsic all also expected to leave.


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Sancho back in training with Man United after positive meeting with Ten Hag



Jadon Sancho was back training with Manchester United for the first time in 10 months, with a club source confirming the winger and manager Erik ten Hag have resolved their differences following their public fallout last year.

Sancho and Ten Hag had a positive meeting at Carrington Training Centre and the two have decided to draw a line under last season’s drawn-out argument, the club source said.

The 24-year-old Sancho made just three appearances for United last season, spending the second half of the campaign on loan to Borussia Dortmund after his relationship with Ten Hag soured in September.

Ten Hag had left the winger out of his squad for United’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, saying Sancho’s performances in training had not warranted a place in his team. Sancho immediately lashed out on social media, accusing Ten Hag of making him a “scapegoat.”

He was banished from the first team and trained with United’s youth squad before returning to his former club Dortmund in January, where he shone during their Champions League semi-final victory against Paris St Germain, earning praise from Ten Hag. Dortmund were beaten by Real Madrid in the final.


“(Sancho) is a very good player… he showed why Manchester United bought him and he showed he represents a high value for Manchester United, which is good,” Ten Hag told reporters following Dortmund’s 1-0 win over PSG in the first leg.

“I’m happy for Jadon, for the performance, and we’ll see what is going to happen in the future.”

Sancho will not travel with the team to Norway for their pre-season opener against Rosenborg since he began training later than the other players but the club source said he would be available for selection after that.


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Another Nigerian blood replaces Ndidi at Leicester



Wilfred Ndidi who has just left Leicester City will have another Nigerian blood replacing him.

Leicester has never been without a Nigerian since Ahmed Musa joined in 2016. Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho joined in 2017.

Another Nigerian blood, Caleb Okoli, a centre back, has just been signed from Italian  Serie A side Atalanta on a five-year contract. Born in Itali, Caleb Okoli is Igbo and Yoruba by descent.

The 22-year-old, who spent the last season on loan at Frosinone Calcio, represented Italy at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

“I think now is the right moment (for me) to make a step forward and a very big one. I’m very happy with the choice I made, so I’m very excited to start in the Premier League,” Okoli said in a statement. The clubs did not disclose financial details of the deal.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy returns to Man United



United legend Van Nistelrooy is expected to be announced as one of Erik ten Hag's assistants

Manchester United legend, Ruud van Nistelrooy has been spotted being driven into Carrington, the training ground of Manchester United.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (left) and Rene Hake arrived at Manchester United’s training ground

Reports have it that the Dutchman is set to be appointed as one of Erik ten Hag’s new assistant coaches.

He played for Manchester United from 2001 to 2006.

Now  48, he reportedly turned down job offer from Burnley to return to his old club, having previously led PSV Eindhoven to second place in the Eredivisie and victory in the Dutch Cup.

He is being joined by Rene Hake, 52, who was persuaded to give up his job as Go Ahead Eagles manager despite leading the Deventer-based club into Europe for only the third time in their history.

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