Premier League 2019/2020: Full Roundup

It has been a week and a half now since the Premier League season was finally brought to a conclusion after the extension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that fans have cheered, cried, smiled and sighed, I thought it was a good time to finish off my work on the season, before I start to look ahead to 2020/2021 in a month’s time.

In this article, I will look at each team in a school report fashion, giving each team a grade for the season and writing some comments on what went right, what went wrong, and anything else worth mentioning.

The transfers in and out that I have listed are only the more well-known players, who have featured for their parent clubs or loan clubs in the Premier League or EFL, or are just more known. Academy players who are not as well-known are not included.

The teams are listed in alphabetical order, and the names of the teams are in the colour of their shirts (or as close as I could get them. Tottenham Hotspur’s is green because that is their away colours, as white obviously wouldn’t show up).

 

Arsenal

Manager(s): Unai Emery (until 29th November), Mikel Arteta (from 20th December)

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 8th

Carabao Cup: Fourth round

FA Cup: Winners

Grade: B+

Comments:

It has been a season of two halves for Arsenal, with the season starting off in not great fashion under Unai Emery. After he had departed, there have been signs of recovery under Mikel Arteta. Several players who were massively underperforming, such as former captain and Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka, have been brought back in and given another chance, and they seem to have taken it.

The signs for the future look good, but now Arteta has a chance to model the squad how he wants it, rather than it being a squad he just inherited, so this summer is where his first test will be. An FA Cup win in his first season has also added to his growing popularity amongst the Arsenal fans. For their improvement since the former Gunners captain took over, they have earnt themselves as solid B+ for this season. With some good recruitment, and continued improvement under Arteta, next season they could well move up to an A.

Players In: Cedric Soares (Southampton, free), Pablo Mari (Flamengo, undisclosed)

Players Out: None.

 

Aston Villa

Manager(s): Dean Smith

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 17th

Carabao Cup: Runners-up

FA Cup: Third round

Grade: B-

Comments:

It has been a disappointing season for Villa, with some poor recruitment over the season meaning that they have been fighting for their survival for most of the season. This was perhaps expected, given they were newly promoted last season, but players such as Danny Drinkwater, Wesley, Mbwana Samatta and Jota have all turned out to be failed recruits or have not been given enough chances to show what they can do.

However, their final few games saw them pick up the points they needed to just survive, sealing a second season in the Premier League on the final day with a draw against West Ham. Being runners-up in the Carabao Cup was a highlight of the season, but ultimately Villa need a good summer to bring in the quality they were missing at times this season. A B- reflects the disappointment of the majority of the season, followed by the elation of the last few games.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Callum O’Hare (Coventry City, free), James Chester (released), Andre Green (released), Jake Doyle-Hayes (released), Borja Baston (released), Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (released), Ross McCormack (released).

 

Bournemouth

Manager(s): Eddie Howe

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 18th (relegated to the Championship)

Carabao Cup: Third round

FA Cup: Fourth round

Grade: C

Comments:

Bournemouth’s stay in the Premier League came to an end this season, and ultimately it was a case of the defensive issues finally catching up with them, and the goals from the likes of Josh King and Callum Wilson drying up at the other end. Those goals, and the assists of Ryan Fraser, had been what kept them up when they were struggling before. The other thing that was missing was Lys Mousset. The French striker was just about finding his feet at Bournemouth, before he was sold to newly-promoted Sheffield United last summer. He has shown some promise with the Blades, but Bournemouth never brought in someone to replace the goals Mousset had scored towards the end of his time on the south coast.

A C grade for their season shows how they just weren’t able to get anything going, and even though they had a few moments when it looked like their season might kickstart into life, it never materialised into anything.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Jermain Defoe (Rangers, free), Ryan Fraser (released), Jordon Ibe (released), Artur Boruc (released), Charlie Daniels (released), Simon Francis (released), Andrew Surman (released).

 

Brighton and Hove Albion

Manager(s): Graham Potter

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 15th

Carabao Cup: Third round

FA Cup: Third round

Grade: A-

Comments:

When Graham Potter came in, there was some scepticism about whether he was what they needed after Chris Hughton, who had seen Brighton into the Premier League and then kept them there. However, Potter has brought in a new style of play which has seen them play more attacking football, creating more chances, and this has proved to be effective. They have been near the relegation zone, but weren’t sucked into any major relegation battles, which was a big positive in itself.

Next season, with some good recruitment already done in Adam Lallana, who will add quality and experience in the final third, and Ajax defender Joel Veltman, who will help to shore up the gaps they had at the back last season, they should be able to make some progress in the league placings.  A grade of A- reflects how much better they were than everyone expected, not necessarily their overall season. The Seagulls will definitely be a team to keep an eye on next season.

Players In: Adam Lallana (Liverpool, free), Zak Emmerson (Oldham Athletic, undisclosed), Joel Veltman (Ajax, undisclosed).

Players Out: Anthony Knockaert (Fulham, undisclosed), Beram Kayal (released), Ezequiel Schelotto (released).

 

Burnley

Manager(s): Sean Dyche

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 10th

Carabao Cup: Second round

FA Cup: Fourth round

Grade: B+

Comments:

It has been a solid if unspectacular season for Burnley, which sounds bad, but that’s the way they go about their business. They don’t have too many standout moments, and go almost under the radar a bit. This is a credit to Sean Dyche, with some suggesting that this could have been his final season in charge at Turf Moor due to interest in him from other clubs. Whenever they look to be struggling, they always pull away, and end up in a mid to high league finish. 10th place for them is a good result, and a grade of B+ shows how this has been another excellent but understated season from the Clarets.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Joe Hart (released), Aaron Lennon (released), Jeff Hendrick (released), Adam Legzdins (released).

 

Chelsea

Manager(s): Frank Lampard

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 4th

Carabao Cup: Fourth round

FA Cup: Runners-up

Grade: A

Comments:

Frank Lampard’s first season as the manager at Stamford Bridge has been an overall success. They have played some good football most of the season, with a few dodgy results here and there. Their biggest problem has been the defending, particularly at set pieces when they have been too easy to beat, with Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga particularly criticised for his performances. However, their transfer embargo meant that Lampard couldn’t make any new additions to the team last summer. However, that has been a blessing in disguise, as it allowed him to give game time to academy players such as Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, Tammy Abraham, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour, all of whom have had their moments of excellence at times this season.

They have already moved to strengthen the squad this summer, splashing the cash on Ajax’s Morocco winger Hakim Ziyech and RB Leipzig’s Germany striker Timo Werner, with another Germany international, attacking midfielder Kai Havertz, reportedly close to joining them. Add that to the likes of Christian Pulisic and Mateo Kovacic, who have been two of Chelsea’s best players this season, and you can see how they could be a force to be reckoned with next season. Their A grade shows how well they have done this season overall, but the defensive issues have prevented them from getting any higher.

Players In: Hakim Ziyech (Ajax, £37m), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig, £53m)

Players Out: Mario Pasalic (Atalanta, £13.5m)

 

Crystal Palace

Manager(s): Roy Hodgson

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 14th

Carabao Cup: Second round

FA Cup: Third round

Grade: B+

Comments:

Crystal Palace have had a good season overall, even though it petered out after the restart, but overall, they have done exactly what is expected of them. Roy Hodgson has done a really good job since he was appointed back in 2017, steadying the ship and then getting them playing some good football, and, in my opinion, he has redeemed himself after the disaster of Euro 2016. Players such as captain Luka Milivojevic and experienced former Chelsea centre back Gary Cahill have helped them do that, and with striker Alexander Sorloth becoming a goal machine this season on loan at Turkish Super Lig side Trabzonspor, there could be the potential for him to add the goals that they are missing next summer when he returns. Christian Benteke and Conor Wickham have both struggled in the final third, but Jordan Ayew has been good overall.

The news that the club are being linked with Brentford’s 25-goal striker Ollie Watkins, after the Bees missed out on promotion, will certainly delight the fans. Their 14th place finish, despite their poor end to the season, shows how well they did before the lockdown, and their grade of B+ reflects this.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Jason Lokilo (Doncaster Rovers, free)

 

Everton

Manager(s): Marco Silva (until 6th December), Carlo Ancelotti (from 21st December)

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 12th

Carabao Cup: Quarter-final

FA Cup: Third round

Grade: B-

Comments:

Everton have been a club that have struggled over the last few seasons, and I think that has to do with their recruitment more than anything. When Ronald Koeman was appointed, he had built up a reputation as a good manager whilst at Southampton, but he signed more players than he needed in all honesty, and they didn’t turn out to be good enough to play for the team in a lot of cases. Sam Allardyce came in and got them out of trouble, and then Marco Silva came in last summer, and that seemed to be owner Farhad Moshiri’s dream appointment; a young manager who would have the opportunity to build up the team and take it to new places. However, that dream lasted for just under a season and a half, and Everton opted for the experienced and very successful Carlo Ancelotti as his replacement around Christmas time.

Ultimately, he has done what was needed, but now this summer, things need to change. With Ancelotti, they could get up the table next season, especially now he has got Dominic Calvert-Lewin firing again, and the young English striker seems to be the first choice in that position for the Toffees, and rightly so. Their season has been poor, but has looked better since Ancelotti came in, and the B- they got this season could go up next summer if they bring in the right players and get better performances and results in 2020/2021.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Morgan Schneiderlin (Nice, £2m), Kieran Dowell (Norwich City, undisclosed), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax, free), Oumar Niasse (released), Cuco Martina (released), Luke Garbutt (released).

 

Leicester City

Manager(s): Brendan Rodgers

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 5th

Carabao Cup: Semi-final

FA Cup: Quarter-final

Grade: A

Comments:

I think with Leicester, you have to look at their season with an overall perspective. They have had moments of inconsistency, and bad results, like the second half collapse against Bournemouth with only a couple of games to go, but as a whole, they have had a good season. They did miss out on Champions League football, when it seemed all season like they would be returning to the top European competition, but it wasn’t to be. However, it was Brendan Rodgers’ first full season in charge at the King Power Stadium, and whatever you think of him, he has done a good job so far.

The Foxes needed a manager who was going to play more creative attacking football, following Claude Puel who prefers a more defensive strategy, and the former Liverpool manager has brought that. There will be comparisons between Leicester’s collapse and Liverpool’s collapse when closing in on the Premier League title in 2013/2014, but I think if you had told Leicester fans that they would be in European competition, and have been in the top 4 for most of last season, then they would have taken that compared to the last few seasons. Their A grade represents a solid season which just fell away at the end, but was still excellent.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Andy King (released), Nampalys Mendy (released).

 

Liverpool

Manager(s): Jurgen Klopp

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 1st (Champions)

Carabao Cup: Quarter-final

FA Cup: Fifth round

Grade: A*

Comments:

There’s nothing really to say here, so this will be short. Every player played their part in winning this title, from the goalkeeper to the strikers. Jurgen Klopp has worked wonders with the team, admittedly with the investment in the squad from the owners, who also deserve an enormous amount of credit, but you still have to bring in the right players, and the likes of Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have all proven that they were worth the money to bring them to the team. There couldn’t be another grade given to them other than A* for the season they have had and the level of performance they have put on for their fans each week.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Dejan Lovren (Zenit St. Petersburg, £11m), Adam Lallana (Brighton and Hove Albion, free), Nathaniel Clyne (released), Isaac Christie-Davies (released), Andy Lonergan (released).

 

Manchester City

Manager(s): Pep Guardiola

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 2nd

Carabao Cup: Winners

FA Cup: Semi-finals

Grade: A+

Comments:

It has been a strange season for Manchester City, because we saw something that we don’t usually associate with them; nerves. Over the last few seasons, they have been fearless, and have torn apart anyone who dared to stand in their way. This season, there was some hesitancy in their play, and it was telling in the results they had. It could have been the pressure of not many expecting them to keep hold of the title this season, due to Liverpool’s meteoric rise in 2018/2019, or it could be the fact Liverpool ran them so close  that they knew they needed to find another level last season in order to stay ahead of them, and that forced errors that they wouldn’t normally make. Either way, they seemed to crumble by their standards, and in the end, didn’t challenge for the title. However, as we expect from Manchester City, their season was still good, and their A+ grade reflects this.

Players In: Pablo Moreno (Juventus, £9m).

Players Out: Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich, £55m), David Silva (released), Pablo Moreno (Girona, loan).

 

Manchester United

Manager(s): Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 3rd

Carabao Cup: Semi-finals

FA Cup: Semi-finals

Grade: A

Comments:

It has been a long time since we saw Manchester United finish in the top four, and play in the Champions League, but that is what they will be doing next season. There is one moment that we can attribute to this turnaround in form, and it was the January signing of Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes. He has come in and reinvigorated a team that has looked like a group of individuals at times over the last few seasons, and that has brought the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford together; both have had really good seasons.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been under fire recently, but I think this result will help the fans to warm to him a little more. The club now know that, if they can bring in the right players, then they could do even better next season, so it will be interesting to see what they do over the next few weeks, and how that sets them up for next season. Their grade of A reflects how their season and the club as a whole has looked on the up since Fernandes came in, and hopefully they can build on this for next season.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Oldham Athletic, free), Angel Gomes (released), Demetri Mitchell (released).

 

Newcastle United

Manager(s): Steve Bruce

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 13th

Carabao Cup: Second round

FA Cup: Quarter-finals

Grade: B+

Comments:

When Newcastle brought in Steve Bruce as their new manager, replacing the highly popular Rafael Benitez last summer, there were a few eyebrows raised at whether he could do as good a job. However, one year on from that, we have to say that Bruce has done a fantastic job, and some are even saying he has done a better job than Benitez. He has been helped by some excellent recruitment, with the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin, Valentino Lazaro and Jetro Willems all playing their part in the team’s good form. Saint-Maximin in particular has been a revelation, scoring some really good goals, and creating many a problem for opposing defences with his quick, direct, speedy movements. Their B+ grade reflects how they have had a solid season, and, if they can build on this with some good additions this summer, then they may be able to challenge for a place in the top half of the league next season.

Players In: Mark Gillespie (Motherwell, free).

Players Out: Jack Colback (released), Rob Elliott (released), Jamie Sterry (released).

 

Norwich City

Manager(s): Daniel Farke

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 20th (relegated to the Championship)

Carabao Cup: Second round

FA Cup: Quarter-finals

Grade: C-

Comments:

Norwich City were promoted back to the Premier League last season after taking the Championship by storm in 2018/2019. Their lead striker, Finland’s Teemu Pukki, displayed the qualities which showed why Daniel Farke moved to bring him in on a free transfer in 2018, but what promoted teams need to do is to invest in their squad, but in the right way. That involves a mix of quality and Premier League experience, and Norwich seemed to forget this. The players they brought in, such as Switzerland striker Josip Drmic, English full-back Sam Byram, German midfielder Lukas Rupp and Slovakia forward Ondrej Duda, have just not added what was hoped from them.

Ultimately, whilst Farke plays a good style of football, and we have seen how much they have tried this season, they have just not been able to get going, and it was inevitable they would make an immediate return unless they got the January window right, which they didn’t. A C- might be a little harsh, but they just didn’t get the key decisions right last summer unfortunately.

They have already invested in the squad for next season, which proves how much they felt they needed to add, and they have signed some players who could be interesting to watch next season.

Players In: Daniel Sinani (F91 Dudelange, free), Jacob Sorensen (Espjerg, undisclosed), Przemyslaw Placheta (Slash Wroclaw, undisclosed), Bali Mumba (Sunderland, undisclosed), Sebastian Soto (Hannover, free), Kieran Dowell (Everton, undisclosed).

Players Out: Rocky Bushiri (KV Mechelen, loan), Carlton Morris (MK Dons, loan), Mason Bloomfield (released), Diallang Jaiyesimi (Swindon Town, free), Sean Raggett (Portsmouth, free).

 

Sheffield United

Manager(s): Chris Wilder

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 9th

Carabao Cup: Third round

FA Cup: Quarter-final

Grade: A+

Comments:

They may have missed out on European competition next season, but the very fact that they were in the running for it shows you how well they did last season. I have criticised Sheffield United previously for their recruitment of players, selling many six months later, deciding they didn’t need them after all, but that aside, I like the way that the Blades play. It is very risky, in that the centre backs come forward to play on the outside of the wing-backs, effectively creating two layers in the wide areas. It is unlike anything we have seen this season, and is exciting to watch. It has caught out quite a few teams, which has led to their rise up the table.

Next season, they will need to ensure they add a few players here and there (enough but not too many), and they can maybe push on and earn that European place, which would be a massive achievement for them. Chris Wilder deserves a lot of credit for what he has done at his boyhood club, and their A+ grade shows how good they have been this season.

Players In: Wes Foderingham (Rangers, free).

Players Out: Leon Clarke (released), Kieron Freeman (released), Mark Duffy (released), Ben Heneghan (released), Nathan Thomas (released), Ricky Holmes (retired).

 

Southampton

Manager(s): Ralph Hassenhuttl

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 11th

Carabao Cup: Fourth round

FA Cup: Fourth round

Grade: A-

Comments:

Southampton were one of the surprise teams last season, finishing 11th after seeming to struggle at times. One huge low point for them was when they lost 9-0 at home to Leicester, and at that point, we all feared for them. However, led by striker Danny Ings, who has reinvigorated his career following the many injuries and setbacks he suffered whilst at Liverpool, they have come back and played some really good football, picking up some fantastic results, and have stayed well away from the relegation battle. An 11th-placed finish is a credit to this.

When Ralph Hassenhuttl came in, it was always likely that, given he hadn’t been able to make any real marks on the squad in 2018/2019, last season was where he would be marked on, and he passed the test with flying colours. If they can add some more good players, with a centre back a must, as Maya Yoshida has been released, Kevin Danso’s loan has expired, and Jannik Vestergaard has been linked with teams such as Leicester, and perhaps another striker to compete with Danny Ings and Che Adams, adding extra quality in the final third, then they might be able to break into the top 10 next season.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Cedric Soares (Arsenal, free), Maya Yoshida (released), Marcus Barnes (released).

 

Tottenham Hotspur

Manager(s): Mauricio Pochettino (until 19th November), Jose Mourinho (from 20th November)

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 6th

Carabao Cup: Third round

FA Cup: Fifth round

Grade: B

Comments:

What a season Tottenham Hotspur have had. They had arguably the biggest fall from grace, having been a comfortable top 4 challenger for the last few seasons, but something changed last season. Maybe it was getting to the Champions League final that made Tottenham become too complacent, and that led to basic errors being made. Mauricio Pochettino paid the price for this, and Jose Mourinho has come in and done a reasonably good job. The results haven’t been perfect, but they have got themselves, almost under the radar a little bit, up and into the Europa League for next season, which is a big achievement from where they were.

Some of the signings that were made haven’t worked out, and some have, but I think we now have to see what Mourinho does to change the squad around, moulding it into what he wants it to look like. Next season, they could be one to keep an eye on, to see how they have progressed (or if they have progressed) under the former Chelsea and Manchester United manager. The grade B is a good grade, given that before Pochettino left, they were perhaps looking at a C. The performances haven’t been spectacular, but have just done the job, which is what has stopped them getting up into the A’s.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Jan Vertonghen (released), Michel Vorm (released), Troy Parrott (Millwall, loan).

 

Watford

Manager(s): Javi Gracia (until 7th September), Quique Sanches Flores (from 7th September until 1st December), Nigel Pearson (from 6th December until 19th July), Hayden Mullins (caretaker, from 19th July)

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 19th (relegated to the Championship)

Carabao Cup: Fourth round

FA Cup: Third round

Grade: B-

Comments:

If this was down to the ownership of the club, it would be a straight E, because I haven’t been impressed with the way the club has been run – not just this season, but over the last few seasons. Sometime soon, changing their manager every season was going to catch up with them, and this season, having three managers and one caretaker manager was just never going to work, and proved to be their downfall. The third manager, Nigel Pearson, had done a good job when he was surprisingly sacked with two games to go, and given where they were when he came in, rooted to the bottom of the table and almost cut adrift, he got them back into the fight and left them outside the relegation zone. Why the owners felt that it was a good move to sack him then is frankly beyond me.

We don’t know if they would have stayed up if he had been allowed to remain there, but now we will never know. On the field, they have had some good moments, but they were few and far between unfortunately. Their grade of B- comes from their slight upturn in fortunes under Pearson, and not for anything else.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Dimitri Foulquier (Granada, undisclosed).

 

West Ham United

Manager(s): Manuel Pellegrini (until 28th December), David Moyes (from 30th December)

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 16th

Carabao Cup: Third round

FA Cup: Fourth round

Grade: B

Comments:

It has been a difficult season for West Ham, with Manuel Pellegrini ultimately paying the price for a poor start, and David Moyes returning to provide the great escape for the second time. Ultimately, his success in doing this means that the owners were perhaps a little foolish in letting him go after his first spell there, and now need to keep him and give him an opportunity to build the team and try and take them forwards next season, so that they don’t become involved in yet another relegation battle. Moyes is experienced enough, and even though he has had spells at clubs which have proved unsuccessful, such as Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland, at West Ham he has a chance to take a team on and get them looking up the table again.

Whether he does this or not will depend on the recruitment, and whether he is able to bring in the players he wants and needs to help him achieve this. That has always been the big question with West Ham; we know they are capable of it, but will they do it? Their B grade reflects how it has been a season that started off poorly, but then was saved by Moyes coming in, and Michail Antonio in particular has proven to be a player they can rely on, as he pretty much single-handedly kept the Hammers up with his goals at the end of last season.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Carlos Sanchez (released), Pablo Zabaleta (released), Jeremy Ngakia (released).

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Manager(s): Nuno Espirito Santo

2019/2020 League Placing (out of 20): 7th

Carabao Cup: Fourth round

FA Cup: Third round

Grade: A+

Comments:

Given Wolves began their season before most other teams in the league, you have to applaud how good they have been this season. They have had a few really spectacular performances, but overall it has just been a really solid season from them. The likes of Raul Jimenez, who is reportedly closing in on a move to Manchester United, and Diogo Jota have been really good, but Pedro Neto is a player I want to give a mention to. He came in last summer and has proved very capable of playing in the system that Wolves play, with their fast football and speed all over the pitch.

As a team, to consistently play this way comes from a good setup behind the scenes too, ensuring that players are rested when they need it, and that has been another success point for the club. They are still in European competition for this season too, which shows how strong they are as a team, and they have become one of my favourite teams to watch because of all of this. Their A+ grade is a reflection on this strength and quality in their team.

Players In: None.

Players Out: Helder Costa (Leeds United, £16m), Elliott Watt (Bradford City, undisclosed), Ryan Giles (Coventry City, loan), Jordan Graham (released).

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s