Manchester City stormed it and the Premier League’s final day confirmed Liverpool’s season wasn’t a complete disaster.
But how did each team fare based on the expectation of them at the start of the season? Here’s our alternative expectation table…
1) West Ham
What. A. Season. Three of us had them going down and David Moyes has made the majority of us look very daft after we backed him to be the first manager sacked. They moved up ten places through winning 26 more points – a 67% improvement – and bettered their goal difference by a whopping 28.
Tony Pulis was the last non-title-winning boss to claim the Premier League Manager of the Season award in 2014. Moyes has got to be in with a great chance.
2) Aston Villa
Villa were widely tipped to struggle with their claret and blue counterparts having stayed up on the final day of last season. But they bought brilliantly and were on course for Europe before captain Jack got injured. Further progression looks almost inevitable.
Oh, guys. They’ve been in the Champions League qualification spots for 95% of the last two seasons and spent 242 days in the top four this term – more than any other Premier League club. And yet it’s Europa League football again for the Foxes.
But no-one predicted they would finish so high again this season. We surely won’t make the same prediction errors again. If Brendan Rodgers, Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans all stay they’ll be there or thereabouts, right? But then again, Jamie Vardy’s getting on and missing chances…
A delightful number of Leeds fans fell for our tongue-in-cheek headline on Sunday. And funny as it would have been had the long-suffering Leeds fans seen one home game before relegation back to the Championship, we can’t wait to see this Marcelo Bielsa side take on the likes of Manchester United in front of a packed Elland Road next season.
5) Manchester City
They put on an outstanding show to demolish Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge and from that point, it was never really in doubt. They’ve been comfortably the best team in England this season and probably the best in Europe. If they do go for Harry Kane, the rest can give up.
6) Manchester United
Steady improvement from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who have gone up a place and claimed eight more points compared to last season. But the “odd bunch” remain a bit odd and are still very reliant on Bruno Fernandes. A Europa League win could turn a par season into a good one, but no matter what happens on Wednesday they need plenty of reinforcements if they are to make a better fist of it in the Champions League and mount a genuine title challenge.
Those Spurs goals at the King Power Stadium were the difference between Chelsea being in the top and bottom half of this table. Thomas Tuchel said from day one his primary target was to secure Champions League qualification and it looked like they would walk into third place for a while, before the missed chances really started to hurt them. Maybe they do need a striker.
At the start of March they were one point behind fourth-placed Chelsea with a game in hand; they finished tenth after three wins in their last 12, in which they scored just eight goals and lost at home to Sheffield United. Carlo Ancelotti is “not a magician”, guys.
Them being eighth on this list is the perfect example of the impossibility of the winners narrative.
Somehow, from nowhere, Steve Bruce managed to lead Newcastle to a higher Premier League finish and win one more point than last season. He’s one of few managers who will likely not be looking forward to full houses next season.
10) Crystal Palace
A mid-table finish here for a Roy Hodgson Crystal Palace side doing exactly what was expected of them: comfortable Premier League survival but no more, thank you very much. This could well be where the comfort ends with safe-hands Roy on his way and 15 first-team players out of contract this summer. Yikes.
11) West Brom
Slaven Bilic was sacked before Christmas after one win in 13 games. Sam did slightly better, winning four of the remaining 25. But in truth, any manager would have struggled – the starting XI wasn’t good enough and the squad far too shallow. See you in 2022-23, Baggies.
Scott Parker Could Well Be In with Sir Alex Ferguson, he was tipped to be the man to stop Spurs Prangin’ Out and talked as if he was going to Push Things Forward at Fulham. So, how Has It Come To This?
We all had them going down, but that was before some very solid signings were made. 28 points and 27 goals was a poor return with that squad.
Don’t mug yourself- The Streets
Scott Parker’s Fulham beat Leicester! pic.twitter.com/sCYwc7LmE5
— Adam Collings (@Adam_Baron23) December 1, 2020
It’s no longer a surprise when Sean Dyche keeps Burnley in the Premier League, but that shouldn’t make it any less remarkable. They spent less than £1million in the summer.
This was in fact the worst of their five top-flight seasons in terms of both points and where they finished, with seven defeats from their last nine representing a significant release of their foot from the gas. But that was only possible having all but secured their safety by mid-March. Again – remarkable.
If only they had a goalscorer. They ranked tenth in possession (51.3%), seventh in key passes per game (9.18) and eighth in shot-creating actions per game (19.84). Had they won the points they ‘should have done’, they would have finished above Arsenal.
Brighton finish the season with the largest disparity between points (41) and Expected Points (61.47) of any team since our records began. pic.twitter.com/dI42TfJiDG
— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) May 23, 2021
Thoroughly looking forward to Jose Mourinho citing points tallies in claiming Spurs improved this season. The final day win over Leicester meant they eclipsed their previous total by three points, despite finishing a place lower in the table and thus securing Europa Conference League joy.
The Harry Kane saga is huge; the managerial appointment is possibly even bigger. This may well be the most important summer in Tottenham’s Premier League history.
“We made progress last year in terms of points,” Mikel Arteta said after Arsenal missed out on European football for the first time since the 1995-96 season. “Sixty-one points last year would have taken us to fifth but it shows the way the league is developing and the level we need to get to.”
They’re not the sort of comments that will be welcomed by Arsenal fans. Arteta made it very clear that he felt they could challenge for the Champions League spots this season and they never looked like getting close. The squad needs a massive overhaul.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s stock was very high at the start of the year; he was mooted as a possible replacement for Frank Lampard with Southampton just four points off top spot after 17 games. But Saints then lost an incredible 15 of their remaining 21 games, conceding 48 goals in that time.
Nuno Espirito Santo can leave Molineux with his head held high after consecutive seventh-placed Premier League finishes having earned promotion with Wolves in 2018, but this has been a very forgettable campaign. Raul Jimenez’s injury cost them dear at the start of a season in which they were tipped to challenge for a top six spot.
Just one defeat and nine wins in their opening 14 had Liverpool four points clear at the top of the table on Christmas Day; eight wins and two draws in their last ten saw them surge from eighth to third in an incredible last two months of the season. Those two enviable spells were split by a nightmarish 14-game run of just three wins, 14 points and six consecutive home defeats on the back of 68 unbeaten.
The much-vaunted front three were questioned, Thiago Alcantara was a jinx and the classiest man in England was being a bit of a prick. They avoided disaster on the final day, but it was the fourth worst title defence in history and only Sheffield United dropped more points compared to last season.
20) Sheffield United
They weren’t likely to better or even match their extraordinary performance last season, but no-one expected it to go this badly. They claimed just 42% of the points of that memorable first season back in the Premier League and failed to score in 21 of 38 games.