We’ve reached the end of the Premier League season and it’s time to reflect back on another instalment of English football’s top flight.
There were highs and lows across the division in a season that saw Manchester City crowned champions for a sixth time, though there was less success for Norwich, Watford and Burnley who will watch on from the second tier next season after relegation.
Following a thrilling conclusion to the 2021/22 campaign, we’ve decided to grade each club’s Premier League performance.
Arsenal – B
There will be no doubt disappointment among the Arsenal support after a late season slump saw the Gunners miss out on Champions League qualification, losing five of their final ten games to fall out of the top four.
At a glance however, it has been a season of progress for the North Londoners after successive eighth-place finishes in the past two campaigns, securing a return to Europe for next season.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 23, 2022
Mikel Arteta’s recruitment – criticised following a nightmare start to the season – has proven shrewd and the profile of the side, boasting the youngest average age in the Premier League this season, is reason for optimism next time around.
This summer will be crucial to the Gunners hopes of challenging England’s elite in the coming seasons, with key additions needed in central midfield and at centre-forward.
Aston Villa – D
Pre-season perceptions were that Aston Villa had been savvy in the transfer market, reinvesting the £100m received for Jack Grealish on Danny Ings, Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia as the club looked to share the creative and goalscoring burdens.
It hasn’t worked out as hoped with each of that trio underwhelming, whilst Dean Smith was sacked in November and replaced with Steven Gerrard.
"We'll work tirelessly in the background to strengthen this team and this squad.
"That starts now.
"In fact, it's already started." pic.twitter.com/yyvpQ8DRwu
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) May 23, 2022
Villa ended the season in 14th after hopes of pushing towards the top eight and the challenge will now be for Gerrard to to put his own stamp on the side and get the club upwardly mobile next season.
Brentford – A
Brentford rank as the biggest overachievers of the Premier League season, never looking in real danger of relegation in the club’s first top-flight campaign since 1947.
Promoted through the play-offs and working on a fraction of the budget enjoyed by Premier League rivals, the Bees have taken points from Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool on route to a 13th-place finish.
💬 "If someone had said to us before the season you would end 13th, we would have been happy and everyone would have applauded us"@PJansson5 on a good first season in the #PL#BrentfordFC pic.twitter.com/blbv4Gequ1
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) May 23, 2022
Thomas Frank has emerged as one of the Manager of the Season candidates for his work this season, whilst the January signing of Christian Eriksen proved inspired as Brentford won seven of their final 11 games to cruise to safety.
A welcome addition to the Premier League this season.
Brighton – B+
Graham Potter has guided Brighton to their best-ever Premier League finish, with the Seagulls ending the campaign in ninth after another season of progress.
Brighton were unable to improve their lack of goals, but an improved defensive record contributed to their success this season with Marc Cucurella emerging as one of the signings of the season.
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) May 22, 2022
The highlight of the Seagulls’ season was a 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United at the Amex Stadium and Brighton can improve again next season if Potter can find a reliable source of goals to lead the line.
Burnley – E-
Burnley’s six-season spell in the Premier League is over after relegation was confirmed on the final day of the campaign, a continued lack of investment catching up with a club who have punched above their weight in recent seasons.
The Clarets gambled on a new manager bounce after sacking the long-serving Sean Dyche, but it failed to have a sustained impact as the club dropped out of the Premier League.
This is not the outcome we wanted and for that we are sorry.
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) May 22, 2022
It could be a long road back for Burnley given the financial repercussions of their relegation.
Chelsea – B
Chelsea were backed to challenge for the Premier League title this season, but found themselves a distant third behind Manchester City and Liverpool.
Romelu Lukaku proved an awkward fit for the West Londoners after his club-record arrival from Inter Milan, scoring just eight league goals after being hailed as the missing piece of the club’s Premier League puzzle.
Thomas Tuchel added silverware to the cabinet with UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup success, whilst only defeat on penalties in both domestic cup finals prevented more trophies arriving at Stamford Bridge.
He gets it. 🤝 pic.twitter.com/0KPKUgtU5W
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 23, 2022
The task for the German now will be bridging the gap to top two next season.
Crystal Palace – B+
Heavily backed as relegation candidates and with Patrick Vieira tipped as the first manager to be sacked, Crystal Palace made a mockery of those pre-season predictions.
Vieira deserves huge credit for the job he has done with the Eagles, overseeing a mass overhaul of the squad and building a youthful side with real talent at Selhurst Park.
"I will see you all next season with higher ambition" 📈
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) May 22, 2022
Palace have performed above expectations to finish 12th and all with an attractive brand of football, a welcome sight for the Eagles support after the mundane viewing served up in the latter stages of Roy Hodgson’s reign.
Everton – D-
Everton’s season stopped short of the ultimate disaster, but it’s been a season of real struggle for the Merseysiders who looked in genuine danger of an ignominious relegation.
The decision to appoint Rafael Benitez as manager was latest in a long line of bad decisions from the club’s management, given his Liverpool connections, and set the tone for a campaign of unrest.
It ended in predictable fashion, with Frank Lampard arriving to steer the Toffees to safety in somewhat unconvincing fashion despite building an encouraging rapport with the supporters.
📈 | “We have a lot of improving to do, we are not just going to come back in and think we’ll automatically have a better season.
“There is work to be done – the manager has made that clear."@22Demarai 💙
— Everton (@Everton) May 23, 2022
He faces a huge task in returning this side to a place that matches the fans’ expectations and ambitions. Everton’s 16th place finish was their lowest in the Premier League since the 2003/04 season (17th).
Leeds – D
Leeds dramatically secured Premier League survival on the final day of the season, after the Marcelo Bielsa era came to a sudden end.
Leeds were unable to build on last season’s success and the popular Argentine departed in February, with Jesse Marsch arriving as his replacement.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) May 22, 2022
Question marks remain around the American despite leading Leeds to safety late in the season, though he has at least instilled a fighting spirit that saw the club score four 90th minute winning goals in 2021/22 – the most in the Premier League.
Leicester – C
Leicester were unable to build on consecutive top five finishes in 2021/22, but an eighth-place finish and European semi-final appearance represent a solid season that has been disrupted with injury problems.
Brendan Rodgers has missed various components of his defence this season and it has contributed to a poor record in defending set-pieces, with only Everton (22) having conceded more from set-piece situations than the Foxes (20) this season.
James Maddison’s form has been a major bonus for the Foxes after the most productive campaign of his career, whilst Jamie Vardy – who scored 15 goals in just 20 league starts – remains an evergreen forward threat.
Liverpool – A
For the second time in four seasons Liverpool finished as runners-up to Manchester City by just a single point, having clawed back a significant gap over the second half of the season to take the title race to the final day.
Jurgen Klopp has won a domestic cup double to complete the set of major trophies in English football, whilst a second Champions League trophy could arrive as the Reds take on Real Madrid in Paris next weekend.
We’re not done yet. pic.twitter.com/IiBuC0d9WN
— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) May 23, 2022
Should the club be crowned European champions, Liverpool will have been just one point from an unprecedented quadruple and perfect campaign.
Manchester City – A
Manchester City remain the division’s dominant force after holding off Liverpool’s title challenge, securing a fourth Premier League crown in five seasons after a nerve-jangling final day.
Pep Guardiola’s side won the league with the most goals scored (99) and joint-least conceded, spending almost the entire campaign at the top of the division to reemphasise their claim as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever sides.
Premier League Champions 21/22!!! 🏆💙 pic.twitter.com/FzOuKblPZd
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 22, 2022
Just one side has won the Premier League three seasons in a row (Manchester United 1999-2001 and 2007-2009), but with Erling Haaland set to lead the line next season it would take a brave man to bet against City following suit.
Manchester United – E-
A lowest-ever Premier League points total (58), record number of goals conceded (57) and the first time since 1989/90 that the Red Devils have ended a season without a positive goal difference (0).
It’s been a disastrous season for Manchester United whose staggering £1.17billion spend since 2013 has resulted in continued stagnation and regression, a largely unlikeable side having endured a number of lows this season including humiliating losses to Manchester City (4-1) and Liverpool (5-0).
Man United haven’t won a single game without Cristiano Ronaldo this season. pic.twitter.com/wwxZJx74Vn
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 22, 2022
The incoming Erik ten Hag has a seismic task to rebuild this side to former glories, with a sixth-place finish a huge disappointment given the fanfare that surrounded last summer’s recruitment.
Newcastle – C+
A season of two halves for Newcastle, who began without a win in 14 games and with the much-disliked Mike Ashley still in control.
In came billionaire new owners with promises of a bright future, appointing Eddie Howe in place of the unpopular Steve Bruce and backing the new boss with January investment.
From 15pts to 49pts. What a few months we’ve had 🤩 Huge thank you for all your support 🖤🤍 pic.twitter.com/f0sm97SBpj
— Matt Targett (@Mattytargett) May 22, 2022
Newcastle soared up the division to finish 11th and there is huge optimism at St James’ Park over what can be achieved in the coming seasons.
Norwich – F
Norwich appear to have learned little from their yo-yo spells between the divisions and their latest experience of Premier League football was largely miserable.
The Canaries sold their best player on the eve of the season and replaced Emi Buendia with an eclectic mix of imports, few of which have appeared the standard required in a testing campaign.
The league’s lowest scorers and worst defence, their goal difference of -61 is the second-worst posted in the Premier League era, behind only the infamous Derby County side that won just 11 points in 2007/08.
Southampton – E
Are Southampton going backwards?
There appears to be little progress being made at St Mary’s after a 15th-place finish in 2021/22, a run of one win from their final 12 fixtures making earlier hopes of European football appear a hazy memory.
That end-of-season slump included emphatic losses to Aston Villa (4-0), Chelsea (6-0) and Leicester (4-1) with the Saints capacity to implode remaining evident.
Great at their best and awful at their worst, Ralph Hasenhuttl needs to find greater consistency if the Saints are to escape mid-table mediocrity each season.
Tottenham – B+
Antonio Conte oversaw a superb transformation of Spurs after the ill-fated reign of Nuno Espirito Santo, with only the Premier League’s top two taking more points across the second half of the season.
Champions League qualification provides Conte with a chance to add to an encouraging core, with the front three of Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and January addition Dejan Kulusevski having been formidable on occasion.
A special season for #Sonny
🎥 Every one of his 23 Premier League goals pic.twitter.com/ol2BPhhSaJ
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 23, 2022
Rodrigo Bentancur and Kulusevski were shrewd signings from the Italian and more additions of a similar calibre can have Spurs dreaming of ending their wait for major silverware.
Watford – F
A predictably chaotic campaign for Watford who went through three different managers with limited success, dropping back into the Championship after just one season in the Premier League.
Watford won just twice at home in a miserable season at Vicarage Road, conceding a huge 46 goals in 19 games in the process.
Emmanuel Dennis was a bright spark in an otherwise dreary season and the challenge now will be to bounce back at the first attempt. Former Forest Green Rovers boss Rob Edwards has been handed that sizeable task.
West Ham – B+
David Moyes continues to impress at West Ham, with the Hammers earning European qualification for the second successive season and embracing their Europa League venture.
Moyes’ side reached the semi-finals of the Europa League in a memorable continental campaign, whilst looking like challengers for Champions League football before the demands of their campaign caught up on a squad lacking the resources of their rivals.
Over land and sea, you have always been right behind us. Thank you for your support this season, Hammers 👏 pic.twitter.com/8xJTsIchLG
— West Ham United (@WestHam) May 22, 2022
Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen were the stand-outs from the club’s 2021/22 season and keeping the duo at the London Stadium will be key to continuing their upward trajectory.
Wolves – C+
Bruno Lage’s arrival failed to bring the attacking football hoped at Molineux this season, but an organised side battled to a top-half finish.
Goals were the major problem for Wolves, with just 38 scored all season and leading scorer Raul Jimenez mustering just six in the Premier League.
Addressing that imbalance will be key to success next season following a difficult campaign to assess for one of the Premier League’s most peculiar outfits.