Football

How did each club fare this season? A – L

The dust has settled following a pretty routine final day of Premier League fixtures.

 

Chelsea are champions but before they can reflect on a sensation season, they need to sort out Antonio Conte’s future.

 

Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho will be amongst those wondering where things went wrong this season. Others will however be keen to build on their achievements.

 

Alphabetical review of the 2016-17 season from Arsenal to Liverpool.

 

Arsenal

 

Arsenal have to be disappointed with how this season turned out.

 

They had a strong start and looked set to be in title contention at end of January, which would of made the championship battle more interesting.

 

As rumours about Wenger’s future and fans protests began to heat up in February, the squad just seemed to give up and produced some shambolic performances.

 

The Gunners haven’t exactly shone in February for years so could forgive them for the odd defeat but this time, there are no excuses for such poor effort, regardless of the manager’s future or not.

 

I saw their trip to West Brom and they were just a complete joke. The lack of desire for starters was unacceptable and their set piece defending there renders no words. Quite frankly, it’s difficult to say anything positive here.

 

Things didn’t exactly improve till the trip to Middlesbrough when they switched to a 3-4-3 formation. Even then, they had to work for the win against an impressive Boro side that rainy night.

 

Since then, they have shown considerable improvement, despite becoming the first squad under Wenger to not achieve a top four finish.

 

All in all, an average season saved by reaching the FA Cup final.

 

Grade – C

 

Bournemouth

 

Eddie Howe should be proud of how his side has performed this season.

 

They were impressive in the first half of this season with Nathan Ake in the side. Results were strong with a notable comeback to beat Liverpool at home 4-3 being amongst the highlights.

 

Ake’s departure clearly upset the defence because since he returned to Chelsea, they have leaked far more goals than they should of. If they hadn’t of let it get to them, they could of hauled West Brom in sooner and potentially bagged eighth place.

 

Through that bad patch, the shining light has to be Joshua King, who finally showed his talent to pull the Cherries away from possible freefall.

 

All in all, the players should be proud of where they are now, especially those who have hauled the club up from the football league to the ninth best team in England.

 

Defending however has to be an area to improve on over the summer, if are to achieve further success.

 

The main thing to learn here is not to let the departure of a young defender affect their season. Do this then I don’t see why they can’t fight Southampton and Everton next season for a possible Europa League spot.

 

Grade – B

 

Burnley

 

Sean Dyche should be rejoicing at Burnley finally ending their record of instant relegation, once in top flight.

 

Their home record has been impressive but the away form is just appalling. Only one win on the road all season says it all about how lucky they’re to have survived.

 

Andre Gray and Sam Vokes have been a joy to watch this season up front so keeping them two together will be key next season.

 

Even though their form dipped since February, I expect to see them come back fresh and hopefully scoring more points away from Turf Moor.

 

To summarise, this has been a strong season in term of achieving their target – survival regardless of away record.

 

Grade – C

 

Chelsea

 

Wow just wow.

 

Last season saw them mount a pathetic title defence by finishing tenth, after nearly approaching the drop zone.

 

This time around saw them produce some extraordinary results en route to a fifth Premier League crown and a fourth consecutive domestic league title for Antonio Conte.

 

A modest start saw them head towards midfield till the half time evolution at Arsenal, switching to a 3-4-3 formation. Since then, they went unbeaten till the start of 2017 when Tottenham picked them apart at White Hart Lane.

 

After a brief blip, they embarked on another high flying run that was only ended by a shock home defeat against Crystal Palace last month.

 

To their credit, they didn’t let that defeat shatter their confidence as Spurs breathed down their necks en route to securing the title at the Hawthorns on the penultimate weekend.

 

N’Golo Kante once again settled swiftly at his latest club to win back to back league titles, having done it with Leicester last season.

 

Now, Conte needs to decide if he wants to stay and continue this evolution, even though he could do a trophy double by winning the FA Cup next weekend.

 

Grade – A*

 

Crystal Palace

 

The Sam Allardyce effect has worked again.

 

A poor start saw the Eagles looking set to land back in the Championship. Sam Allardyce was parachuted in, just months after being sacked as England boss and struggled to initially improve things.

 

His transfer buys didn’t seem to work till March, when things came together culminating in a shock victory at Stamford Bridge after the International break.

 

I did have Palace down as certain to be relegated given their difficult run in but am glad to see Big Sam’s magical touch still working, when it comes to relegation battles.

 

All in all a mixed season but potential is there to build a strong squad and fight higher up midfield.

 

Grade – D

 

Everton

 

Ronald Koeman seemed a fool to leave Southampton for a club that finished below them last season.

 

He has however proved critics wrong by putting a strong team together with some clever signings.

 

On the pitch, the Toffees have been impressive with an unbeaten run at Goodison Park between January and end of April to boast.

 

Their away form is however shaky with too many inconsistent results. That area needs to improve if Koeman wants to achieve Champions League football with Everton.

 

Romelu Lukaku has been brilliant with 25 league goals this season to finish runner up to the Golden Boot. His future however is uncertain but hopefully he will stay on Merseyside and take the Blue side of Liverpool forwards and upwards.

 

I am pleased to see youth players getting chances to shine with Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman being two notable highlights. Hopefully we will see more youngsters given chances in the first team as Everton do battle on both domestic and European fronts next season.

 

Grade – C

 

Hull

 

‘Bright start but stumbled and failed to fully recover’ is what most fans are probably thinking to sum up Hull’s season.

 

Their return to the top flight got off to a flyer with two wins on the bounce, including an opening day shock home win over the champions – Leicester.

 

Things then unravelled as they slid down the table towards relegation, resulting in Mike Phelan’s departure. Their away form too was dreadful meaning that the KC Stadium would be pivotal to any survival hopes.

 

Marco Silva came in and boy did he turn their home fortunes around going unbeaten till May. Unfortunately, they slipped up at the worst time possible when Sunderland visited and relegation was confirmed through another away day nightmare at Crystal Palace.

 

As the Tigers crawl back down to the Championship, they can take heart from how far the squad have come from being sparse in August and scraping results to a competitive outfit.

 

Grade – D

 

Leicester

 

Leicester will be wondering what went wrong this season as they struggled to twelfth place, easily the worst title defence since Manchester City went from champions to relegation fodder in 1938.

 

Success laid in Europe for most of this season, which is a valuable lesson in how not to prioritise Champions League football over the domestic league. You can’t fault their European effort but domestically, they were dreadful on the defensive front.

 

Once Claudio Ranieri was sacked, things improved with a five game unbeaten run under Craig Shakespeare.

 

Their issues at the back remain a problem so expect work on that area in pre season.

 

All in all, a poor campaign only saved by Shakespeare with their run to the Champions League last eight being something to celebrate.

 

Grade – D

 

Liverpool

 

Jurgen Klopp should be delighted with how his first full season in England has turned out.

 

The Reds have impressed when facing their fellow big name clubs but have underperformed against bottom half sides.

 

Liverpool are lucky to be enjoying Champions League football next season after a disastrous winter saw them throw away the FA and League Cups alongside many points against sides like Sunderland and Hull.

 

Even though they eventually scraped a top four result by the skin of their teeth, next season MUST see better results against those below them.

 

Shining lights have to be Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho, who delivered on a consistent basis when others dipped in form.

 

Grade – B

 

Check back tomorrow for a review of the remaining clubs from Manchester City to West Ham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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