The 2021-22 Premier League season may have been down to the familiar dominant pairing of Manchester City and Liverpool but along the way it delivered plenty of drama and it took an action-packed final day full of twists and turns to eventually produce a champion. So now that the dust has settled on the season, it is time to reflect on what we saw in 2021-22 and what we can expect next season.
It finished just a while ago but Manchester City’s Premier League victory has already been added to the history books and will be rated one of their most resilient, as they were pushed hard by their regular rivals. Liverpool too, can be proud of their efforts this season, with two trophies already in the bag, so for less obvious winners we have to look further down the table.
Tottenham Hotspur had a nightmare start to the season that ultimately led to the departure of Nuno Espirito Santo, and were then badly hit by a COVID-19 outbreak. At one point, even manager Antonio Conte was suggesting that Tottenham might represent the first failure of his managerial career. And yet, Conte was somehow able to turn things round, producing vintage performances from Harry Kane and a joint-Golden Boot winning effort from Son Hueng min that propelled them to fourth.
Brighton once again punched above their weight, securing a top half finish, while Crystal Palace thrived under Patrick Vieira, but the biggest winners were probably Newcastle. Doomed to relegation at one point, the arrival of multi-billion dollar investors, a new manager and a hefty dose of spending in the January window completely transformed their season to the delight of the St James’s Park faithful.
Having reached the final of the Europa League last year and then adding Ronaldo to the squad, the season began in an optimistic fashion for Manchester United. But the problems at Old Trafford are deep-rooted and ultimately proved beyond both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick. United ultimately clung on to sixth place, just about good enough for the Europa League.
It was ultimately a disappointing season for both Leicester City and West Ham United. They finished seventh and eighth respectively, and West Ham will at least have a taste of European football in the Europa Conference League, but the gap between the top clubs and the rest is as big as ever.
Most UK bookmakers are predicting a 2022/23 season that will be dominated by the big two once again, and it is hard to argue with that conclusion.
A repetition of Manchester City’s early-season dominance in 2021/22 (all the scores are here in case you missed something) would not be a surprise, but the Champions League will be top of their agenda in 2022/23. The signing of Erling Haaland could be a game-changer, however, and it will be fascinating to see how Liverpool respond as they try to keep pace with their big rivals.
We can probably expect further improvement from Spurs, and we shouldn’t be surprised if Antonio Conte steers them into third place, while London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal face uncertainty over the next few months. Will the next Chelsea owner bring stability? Was Arsenal’s long run of form in the middle of last season the true reflection of their ability or was it the drastic loss of momentum towards the end?
Further down the table, we may see new teams emerging from the pack to challenge for the Europa League and Europa Conference places, perhaps overtaking West Ham and Leicester in the process. And it will be fascinating to see how Fulham and Bournemouth fare on their return to the top flight.