As another gut wrenching, spine tingling, eye opening, Premier League season draws to a halt, Chelsea are the team who conquered the survival of the fittest challenge.
Waltzing to a 5-1 victory on John Terry’s final appearance for the Blues, it was clear that Antonio Conte’s side were worthy victors.
They have been undoubtedly the best team in the league.
N’Golo Kante who won the league with Leicester the previous year, added to this collection with another title. He was the engine and driving force in the unflawed Chelsea side.
Eden Hazard was back to his brilliant best, Diego Costa was on form, and David Luiz looked a much matured player in his second stint with the club.
The whole team played to a high standard throughout the season. But, their defence was where the key to success laid. Marcos Alonso, who signed in the summer; raised a few eyebrows with his £30 million move, following an unsuccessful spell at relegated Sunderland previously, he was immense however, and as well defending well, he also contributed an impressive tally of goals. Cesar Azpilucueta moved to centre-half for most of the season, following Alonso’s arrival and did a fine job.
Following a poor start to the season, with defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool in the first six league games, Conte switched to a three back formation, with Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso as wingbacks.
After this change, the Blues went on a colossal run of form, winning 13 league games consecutively. This was ended when they lost to Spurs 2-0, in what was their first defeat in months; which sparked talk of a collapse happening after this. But, this was not the case, and Conte’s side collected a record 30 wins in a single season.
Spurs, who ended the season in second place, were fierce competitors and pushed Chelsea to the very end. Similarly, last year they mounted a strong title bid, but it was another case of “so close, but yet so far away “ for Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Harry Kane continued his goal scoring prowess, grabbing the golden boot for a second successive season and effectively silenced his critics who labelled him a one season wonder.
Heung Min Son and Dele Alli were exquisite towards the end of the season and helped Spurs to keep the pressure on the Blues.
A defeat away at West Ham with only a few games to go all but ended hopes of catching the leaders.
The future looks bright under Pochettinho however.
3rd- Manchester City
Guardiola’s City placed in 3rd, a disappointing season for Pep, who had won the league title in his last three seasons with Bayern Munich, before joining City.
The Premier League perhaps proved to be a more complex challenge than first envisaged, having become accustomed to brushing aside the likes of Granada and Darmstadt by six goals, in his last two stints with Barcelona and Bayern.
Many tipped the Sky Blues for the title, this claim seemed probable after 8 games in with City undefeated, but the tides turned in December and Guardiola’s men capsized.
It has become clear; the Premier League is no easy ride.
Things are on the up for City however, Leroy Sane impressed in his first season at the Etihad, and Gabriel Jesus was deadly whenever he played. The Brazilian arrived in January, but missed most of the games following this, as he broke a bone in his foot.
Liverpool secured a Champions League place for only the second time in eight years, and Klopp’s side were worthy occupants of the final European spot. Having been first at one point in the season, around the November stage, things were looking promising and there were was talk of a title challenge like the 13/14 season coming to fruition.
This sense of optimism was sent crashing back down through the ground as injuries crippled any kind of title bid.
Star player, Philippe Coutinho, was ruled out for almost two months in the busiest period of the season (winter period), this cost the Reds dearly and was evident as they slumped to a wretched January which saw them win just once in nine games, with this unimpressive win coming against Plymouth Argyle in an FA cup replay.
Daniel Sturridge endured another season of injury-struck frustration, which saw him side-lined for the majority of the season, as well as captain Jordan Henderson.
Additionally, Sadio Mane, the catalyst for the Liverpool attack, jetted off for the African Cup Of Nations, and fled with Liverpool’s ingenuity. He also suffered an injury in April which kept him out for the remainder of the Reds’ games.
Had they had more luck with injuries, could this season have been a different story?
Consistently impressive, Arsenal, were unimpressively inconsistent this season as they failed to secure a top four finish for the first time in over 20 years.
Wenger in or out was the main concern for supporters for the course of the season, as the relationship between the man who has served the club for a inconceivable amount of time and the fans deteriorated.
News surrounding the club appeared to rub off on the players on a number of occasions, whether it be rumours surrounding the Frenchman’s future, or talk of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil seeking pastures new, which seemed to cause a feeling of uncertainty.
Any team spirit was well and truly disposed of at the turn of the new year.
There was some salvation elsewhere however, the Gunners lifted a record 13 FA cup to end the season on a high.
6th- Manchester United
Manchester United suffered a painful season in Jose Mourinho’s first season as manager.
A 6th placed finish not expected at all after being favourites for the title along with their Manchester counterparts.
World record signing, Paul Pogba, failed to deliver and has been nothing short of underwhelming for all the hype surrounding him.
The theatre of dreams turned into the theatre of draws as the Red Devils slumped to the most draws in the league and dropped a significant amount of points at home too.
It hasn’t been all doom and gloom though, they did manage to secure two major honours in the Capital One Cup, and UEFA Europa League. Success in Stockholm was imperative for qualifying for next season’s Champions League, which they have now secured.
This cup success rescued what would have been another underachieving year.
Mourinho will be hoping for bigger and better things next season, that’s for sure.
Everton secured the final Europa league position in what was a fairly standard season for the Toffees. Romelu Lukaku was the shining light in the side yet again and lead his team to a comfortable seventh place finish.
They enjoyed a successful record at home, had they only been able to duplicate this form on their travels, they could have done much better.
Their key task now is holding onto Lukaku, who has been subject to reports of moving away from Goodison.
Southampton sealed eight place, with a surprisingly low points tally of 46 points. It was another season of departures at St Mary’s, something which has become a reoccurring trend. They seem to escape unscathed each season however, and eight place signifies this.
Southampton have announced they have parted company with manager, Claude Puel, whoever his replacement will be, their biggest priority will be keeping hold of Virgil Van Dijk, who is heavily sought after by all the top teams in the league.
9th- Bournemouth + 10th West Brom
There were surprise packages in the form of Bournemouth and West Brom, who finished in 9th and 10th respectively. Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth just about kept their Premier League status intact after finishing 17th last season, they improved significantly this campaign. Norwegian forward, Josh King, has been at the heart of this success, netting on 17 occasions.
Tony Pulis ensured that his record of never being relegated with a Premier League side continued. The Baggies played some brilliant football at times this season, and were surging up the table, finding themselves situated in 8th place at one point. Performances dwindled in the latter stages of the season, but a top half finish is everything and more that they could’ve wished for.