So, the curtain closes on another Premier League season, and once again it provided spills, thrills and incredible drama right down to the last couple of minutes. Going into the final game, it was the first one in history where every club could change position. There were also issues to be settled in the title race; the battle for fourth place and the last remaining Champions League place; the fight for Europa League qualification and of course, at the other end of the table, the scrap to stay in the league.
The title race may not have provided us with one of the great underdog stories like in the 2015/16 season, but it was thrilling nonetheless and involved the standout top two teams in the country. It also showed how competitive the league is, with teams with nothing to play for on paper playing with an energy and passion that further boosts the integrity of the league. So which teams were the losers and winners of the season?
You have to include the league winners, though despite being magnificent for 98% of the season, once the hangovers and smoke from the flares have lifted, they will be left with a feeling they could, and probably should have achieved so much more. The Champions League defeat will still hurt.
As with their title rivals, they can’t not be on the winner’s list, after going so far into the season with a historic quadruple squarely in their sights. The fact they got so close to clinching their 20th league title but ultimately fell short will always cast a cloud over what was still a magnificent season.
It looked like it was going to be one of those seasons for Spurs. It started with the Kane issue seeming to have derailed the England captain and the club’s season before it had even begun. A poor start saw a change in the dugout, and in Conte, there was real hope he would turn them into the force they had been threatening to be for far too long without actually realising it. They rallied, then looked like they were going to do what Spurs so often do. As it turned out, they – Kane, the club and Conte – found a new lease of life, just when they needed it and beating Arsenal to that fourth spot will feel so so sweet.
This was the season when West Ham really announced themselves as a real force to be reckoned with. Everyone was predicting that their Europa League campaign would be too much and would ruin any momentum they could take from the previous season. How wrong everyone was. Their European ventures were a joy for everyone involved and really should have ended with them lifting the trophy in Seville. It was also the season that their stadium finally became their home.
The change of ownership was of course the big story, not just who came in, but who left. Newly appointed manager Eddie Howe still had a lot to do to secure their place in the EPL next season, and he did it very well, ensuring they finished comfortably in mid-table. The summer and next season will be intriguing.
As soon as they got promoted, Brentford were favourites to go down. Now a lot of the talk is about the dreaded second season syndrome, but the West London outfit have been a breath of fresh air to the EPL, and if they can stick to their principles and policies, they could very well make people eat their words again.
Norwich, Watford and Burnley
Burnley put up a fight and going into the last day looked like they were in the box seat, but it wasn’t to be for the perennial relegation battlers. Norwich did what Norwich do, as did Watford. This relegation could very well be the end of Norwich’s and Burnley’s EPL ambitions for a while.
Another woeful season for United, capped off by a defeat at Palace on the last day. Their new man has come in, and there is optimism he will be able to get them looking and playing like a top-four, if not a top-two team again, but he has a hell of a lot to do, and you can’t help but feel that we have been here before.