All 20 Premier League teams ranked on this season’s performance
With the Premier League campaign having concluded last Sunday, it’s time to consider which sides stood out the most.
Manchester City was deservedly crowned champions. The Citizens’ dominance left neighbours Man United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Liverpool to pick up the remaining top-four places. Other achievers, including Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town, and Newcastle United, succeeded against the odds. West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City, and Swansea, meanwhile, all surrendered their top-flight status.
Taking into account performance over the last ten months as well as pre-season expectations, we rank the 20 Premier League teams.
20 - Stoke City
Stoke’s fate was ultimately sealed with a 13-game winless run, extending from January’s end to the last contest. Finishing in 19th position, three points from safety, the Potters also owned the division’s joint-worst defence. Neither Mark Hughes nor Paul Lambert had the answers.
After nine consecutive years in mid-table comfort, Stoke showed no signs of wanting to improve further. The club spent the least amount in England’s top flight last summer, with only £24.5 million paid on permanent signings. The Potters must increase their ambitions or risk becoming a yo-yo side.
19 - West Bromwich Albion
West Brom propped up the table. Despite Darren Moore’s valiant effort, helping the side recover from eight consecutive defeats to claim 11 points from his six matches in charge, including victories over Man United and Tottenham, it proved too late. Alan Pardew’s four-month spell had condemned the Baggies to the drop.
Fans at the Hawthorns demanded better football than what Tony Pulis offered. The Welshman, however, is a master in staving off relegation. The grass isn’t always greener. Any team outside the big six can be dragged into survival mode. With that nightmare gone through, West Brom must now focus on rediscovering their identity.
18 - Swansea City
Scoring only 28 goals, Swansea had the Premier League’s joint-worst attack. Paul Clement couldn’t maintain last season’s performance. His replacement, Carlos Carvalhal, had an instant impact, winning five of his first nine games. A faltering run in, however, picking up only two points from eight matches, ensured the Swans were the third team relegated.
Swansea adhered to their footballing principles in recent times, employing managers such as Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers to promote an attacking, attractive style. Going off course led to the club’s downfall. The Welsh outfit must reinstate their former values next season.
17 - Southampton
Southampton experienced serious relegation trouble before a crucial 1-0 victory over Swansea in the penultimate game. Despite hanging on, the Saints had a poor campaign. Mark Hughes only achieved what was expected following Mauricio Pellegrino’s slump to just a single win in his last 17 matches at the helm.
Once known for possessing a clear vision under both Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman, Southampton have slowly slipped off the rails since. The club requires stabilising to avoid similar problems next season. Is Hughes the right man to deliver at St Mary’s?
16 - Chelsea
It has been a dismal last ten months for Chelsea. After incorporating a unique system to claim the Premier League title in Antonio Conte’s debut season, the Blues were 30 points off the pace this time around. They couldn’t even salvage a Champions League spot, finishing a disappointing fifth.
Despite expectations to challenge both Manchester sides, problems running through Chelsea, including Conte’s rift with the board over transfer policy, translated on to the pitch. The Italian’s position is now in serious doubt. Regardless of who’s in the dugout come August, a winning mentality needs bringing back to Stamford Bridge.
15 - West Ham United
Lingering resentment over moving to the London Stadium, lacklustre displays, Slaven Bilic’s sacking, and the competition’s joint-worst defence all combined to cause animosity among West Ham fans. David Moyes’ arrival last November didn’t improve matters, either. Although the Hammers eventually rallied to safety, 15th place is not good enough.
West Ham’s board promised big-name signings and better things to come. Neither happened though. The uncertainty surrounding the East London club needs addressing properly before the Hammers can meet their targets. A top half finish should be the bare minimum.
14 - Arsenal
Sixth place with 63 points meant it was Arsenal’s worst ever campaign under Arsene Wenger. As well as conceding 51 goals, the most among the top six, the Gunners picked up only four victories away from home. They don’t deserve more than Europa League football next season. A refusal to splash the cash has North London’s red half playing catch up.
Wenger’s departure will continue to be felt over the coming months, yet Arsenal’s new boss must build on the inevitable optimism it brings. If a significant amount is spent to recruit genuine quality in this transfer window, achieving top-four is once again possible.
13 - Everton
Having forked out £142 million last summer, Ronald Koeman was tasked with taking Everton to the next level. The Dutchman failed miserably, however, suffering five defeats in his last seven games. Sam Allardyce soon rescued the Toffees, although his direct style of play and perceived arrogance didn’t endear him to supporters.
Everton must forget their flirt with danger in the season’s opening months. With Allardyce now out of the picture, the club’s ambitious board, as well as the incoming manager, can aim to give the fans what they crave: consistency, commitment, and excitement. Better times are surely on the horizon at Goodison Park.
12 - Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace’s season got off to the worst possible start. During a run of seven straight defeats, where the Eagles failed to score, Frank de Boer was replaced by Roy Hodgson. The former England manager then used his vast experience to guide Palace up the table, finishing in 11th place.
Although Hodgson doesn’t offer Crystal Palace a long-term solution, the 70-year-old almost guarantees survival. The Eagles experimented with playing expansive football under De Boer, albeit for only four matches. It didn’t work. Sticking to basics next season will likely achieve another mid-table finish.
11 - Watford
Watford looked to have backed a winner in Marco Silva. The Portuguese coach collected 15 points from this season’s first eight games. It all soon fell apart, though, as the Hornets suffered 11 losses in the next 16 matches. Javi Gracia’s arrival in January somewhat steadied the ship.
Most clubs need continuity. Watford, however, thrive under new management. Quique Sanchez Flores and Walter Mazzarri both made the Hornets Premier League prepared during one-campaign tenures. With the last six permanent managers averaging less than eight months at Vicarage Road, Gracia shouldn’t get too comfortable.
10 - Leicester City
Craig Shakespeare had the Leicester gig until results dropped. Just one win in this season’s first eight games signalled the Englishman’s end. Claude Puel’s reign began a week later, during which he helped the Foxes jump from relegation trouble. Securing ninth position was a three-place improvement on 12 months ago.
Despite unexpectedly lifting the Premier League trophy in 2015/16, Leicester fans remain realistic. Competing with the bigger boys’ wealth and power is an impossible task over the longer run. The Foxes’ sights should be set on maintaining their current top-flight standing.
9 - Manchester United
Manchester United surpassed almost all major challengers to finish second this season. However, trailing their fierce City rivals by 19 points was deemed insufficient. Jose Mourinho’s cautious approach in games was partly at fault. The Red Devils scored 68 goals, fewer than four of the other top six sides.
Having spent nearly £170 million last summer, Man United were expected to mount a serious title push. Especially with Mourinho in charge, a manager who’s won eight domestic championships in four different countries. If United don’t come closer next campaign, it may be time for a change.
8 - Huddersfield Town
Not many believed Huddersfield could avoid relegation before a ball was kicked. Under David Wagner, though, the Terriers adapted seamlessly to pick up nine points from the first six matches. Draws away at Man City and Chelsea in the last 12 days further demonstrated the Yorkshire outfit’s dogged determination.
Huddersfield possess a togetherness rarely witnessed on football pitches. Expectations are somewhat low yet courage is extremely high. With a few quality signings in this window, particularly proven goalscorers, the Terriers can become a regular feature in England’s top division. Holding on to Wagner is imperative, however.
7 - Bournemouth
After two superb seasons in the Premier League, Bournemouth delivered another impressive campaign to end 13 points above the drop zone. Collecting 15 points in eight games from the halfway stage onwards built real momentum. The Cherries don’t only punch above their weight, Eddie Howe ensures his side produce an entertaining, attack-minded brand of football.
Survival remains Bournemouth’s main priority. But what’s next? Stoke, Swansea, and West Brom were all established top-flight teams before succumbing to relegation. To avoid the same fate, Howe’s south coast crew must continue their journey. Standing still won’t cut it.
6 - Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton’s first season in England’s top division since 1983 couldn’t have gone more according to plan. The Seagulls grafted their way to the magic 40-point mark, leaving relegation worries seven points behind. Chris Hughton’s men performed at their peak throughout to remain fighting for another year.
Despite lavishing £42 million last summer on new recruits, topping both other promoted teams, Brighton had to play above their level to compete. Hughton’s ability to get the most from his players was crucial to success. Without a doubt, the 59-year-old has proven he belongs at the highest level. As do the Seagulls.
5 - Liverpool
Although Liverpool’s European exploits have eclipsed domestic performance, Jurgen Klopp’s charges still managed to secure an all-important top-four position. Scoring 84 goals, at an average of 2.21 per game, meant the Reds’ attack was only topped by Man City. Progress continues on all fronts at Anfield.
With no league title in 28 years, Liverpool’s fans are desperate for a genuine challenge. Klopp fully understands the immense weight on his shoulders. The German is getting ever closer to building a unit which shows consistency through 38 matches. Two or three new faces this summer could enable the Merseysiders to contend for the top spot.
4 - Tottenham Hotspur
After reaching the Champions League last 16, Tottenham have earned another shot next season. Mauricio Pochettino’s star-studded team triumphed in 11 of 14 league contests from December’s end to April, helping lock in the third position. Wembley frets were also abolished as Spurs won 13 matches in their temporary accommodation, suffering only two defeats.
Since taking over at Tottenham four years ago, Pochettino has assembled a side capable of challenging Europe’s elite. Unlike most formidable managers, the Argentine improves players rather than rely on a blank chequebook. The time has come, though, to turn Spurs’ great potential into silverware.
3 - Newcastle United
Newcastle’s ability to grind out wins over the struggling sides played a big part in avoiding the season-end relegation scrap. Against all odds, the Magpies rocketed up the ladder with four consecutive victories from March-April. Rafael Benitez’s tactical nous and defensive discipline were both essential components.
Benitez worked wonders on a tight budget, guiding Newcastle to a tenth place finish. With his experience at clubs such as Inter Milan and Real Madrid, he can ensure the Magpies remain competitive in the Premier League. The Spaniard will need significant financial backing, though, to achieve greater things at St James’ Park.
2 - Burnley
The Premier League’s surprise package, Burnley recorded more wins than losses to improve nine positions on last campaign. Building from the back created the division’s joint-sixth best defence. Sean Dyche deserves huge credit all round. The Englishman masterminded the Clarets’ awakening, taking them from Championship mediocrity to top-flight excellence in less than six years.
Burnley’s supporters are living the dream. Their relatively small, family-oriented club now resides in England’s highest order. Although maintaining form will prove difficult next season, fans won’t be left disappointed. Relegation seems impossible with Dyche in the dugout.
1 - Manchester City
Record breakers, history makers, Manchester City had the perfect season. After failing to lift English football’s major trophy 12 months ago, Pep Guardiola’s side returned with a vengeance. The Citizens romped to glory with the most ever points, wins, goals, opponents beaten, and consecutive victories.
No team has defended their Premier League crown since Man United in 2008/09. City, with a young, talented squad, will begin favourites to triumph again next campaign. As well as having unlimited funds, Guardiola has retained a domestic title four times in five attempts at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.