Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Other 14: Who were the Winners and Losers of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 26 May 2022

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Managing to reclaim their Premier League crown with a stunning turnaround 3-2 victory against Aston Villa last weekend, Manchester City topped off what was a famous final weekend of the 2021/22 campaign.

Eventually holding off Jurgen Klopp’s side by just a single point after a remarkable title chase this year, England’s top-flight has produced a host of interesting stories from up and down the table.

With Tottenham also booking their Champions League return at the expense of north London rivals Arsenal a few days ago, we still have plenty to digest following a turbulent Premier League season.

So, away from English football’s ‘top-six’, we have taken a look at a few winners and losers from this year’s campaign.

Winners

Brighton

Opening the 2021/22 campaign in the midst of a remarkable purple patch and battling it out in the top-four chase, it appears that things finally started to fall into place from Graham Potter’s Brighton side.

Signing off a stellar campaign at the Amex with a 3-1 victory against Europa League semi-finalists West Ham, the one-time Swansea boss has seen his side gain a host of plaudits from across the country.

With their end-of-season run highlighted by a stunning 4-0 romp against Manchester United on May 7th, the Seagulls also pinched their first-ever top-half Premier League finish.

Likewise, losing just one of their final nine top-flight outings, including back-to-back wins away at Arsenal and Tottenham, some have even tipped Brighton to make a shock European charge next season.

With the hugely-impressive Marc Cucurella making an immediate impact since arriving on the south coast last summer, Potter’s side have plenty of positives to take away from a personal best campaign.

Newcastle

With it finally announced back in November that Eddie Howe would be the man to replace Steve Bruce at St. James’ Park, even the most stringent of Newcastle fans wouldn’t have expected such a stellar rise over recent months.

Despite coming under real scrutiny after their Saudi-backed takeover was confirmed last year, the former Bournemouth boss has certainly brought a level of pride back to the north east.

While the Magpies might have opened 2022 in the midst of a real relegation scrap, Newcastle came roaring back as they eventually finished the 2021/22 campaign just two points adrift of clinching a top-half finish.

With England international Kieran Trippier becoming a real fan favourite since making the move from Atletico Madrid, it appears that the mood around St. James’ Park is at the highest it has been in recent memory.

Signing off the spectacular second-half of the season by collecting 18 points from their final eight Premier League appearances, Newcastle will be desperate to keep up this momentum over the summer.

Brentford

Although Brentford might have been last seen on the final weekend getting hit with a 2-1 loss at home against Leeds, that result shouldn’t dampen the mood in their camp after a hugely impressive run.

While Thomas Frank’s side might have only secured a maiden Premier League campaign last summer, the west London outfit have done a remarkable job of adjusting to life in England’s top-flight.

Making their Premier League debut by grabbing a famous 2-0 victory against Arsenal back in August, Brentford eventually cruised their way to safety with plenty of time to spare.

With attacking talisman and ex-Newcastle starlet Ivan Toney also gaining a host of plaudits after bagging 12 top-flight goals, Frank’s men have certainly been a welcomed addition to the division this season.

Mixing it with England’s elite and gaining a reputation for their brave style of play, the Bees could even have their sights set on securing a shock top-half finish next time around.

Losers

Norwich

Putting in another toothless display on the final weekend and blown away thanks to a 5-0 drumming against Tottenham on home soil, that display almost epitomized another dreadful campaign for Norwich.

While the Carrow Road hierarchy might have made the call to replace Daniel Farke with ex-Aston Villa boss Dean Smith back in November, it almost seemed impossible that anyone could save Norwich from the drop.

Once again lifting the wooden spoon and free-falling their way back down to the Championship, the east Anglia out could only sign off another nightmare Premier League campaign with a single point from their last seven contests.

Only cementing their spot as English football’s ultimate yo-yo side, fans around Carrow Road will know that there must be fundamental changes behind the scenes if they’re to be taken seriously.

Now hit with an immediate relegation following each of their last four top-flight campaigns, Norwich also signed off their season with the worst attacking and defensive records in the division.

Everton

While Everton might have managed to hang onto their Premier League status following that remarkable turnaround victory against Crystal Palace on May 19th, that doesn’t cover what has been a nightmare campaign at Goodison.

Signing off their woeful season with a 5-1 drumming away at Arsenal, the Toffees have spent almost £500million on their squad over recent years and appear to have taken some major steps backwards.

Despite the Everton fans finally getting their wish after Frank Lampard was brought in to replace former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez back in January, the ex-England midfielder has failed to offer them any kind of boost.

Only just about dragging themselves over the finish line, the Blues appear lightyears off finally bringing European football back to the blue half of Merseyside.

Mustering just 11 Premier League victories throughout the 2021/22 campaign, the Blues are also dealing with some rather public financial issues as speculation surrounding a potential FFP breach have come under increasing scrutiny.

Aston Villa

Suffering that famous second-half collapse away at the Etihad last weekend, it is fair to say that Aston Villa should be disappointed by another lacklustre campaign in the Midlands.

While the one-time European champions might have made the decision to appoint Steven Gerrard as Smith’s replacement back in November, they largely failed to find any real form under the former Rangers boss.

Including signing off their campaign with a 3-2 defeat against Manchester City, Villa managed to muster just a pair of Premier League victories from their final 11 attempts.

Struggling to fill the void left by Jack Grealish following his £100million move to the Etihad last summer, Gerrard’s men eventually had to settle for a sluggish 14th-place finish and were a mile off mounting any kind of European charge.

Although Villa might appear to be on the verge of bringing in Marseille starlet Boubacar Kamara on a free transfer, the ex-Liverpool skipper will know that his side must find some much-needed stability next season.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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