When the revered Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City in 2016, the instant success that was expected didn’t quite happen, but when Pep eventually got it right, he really got it right and guided the City to the first-ever 100-point tally for a championship-winning side. As City entered the history books, it was the end of a historically significant period for Arsenal as Arsene Wenger departed the Gunners after 22 years to much emotion, even if he did lose the support of a minority of fans towards the end of his tenure. It was a superb campaign for the promoted sides, Newcastle, Huddersfield, and Brighton, as for only the third time in Premier League history all three preserved their top-flight status.
Guardiola’s responded to a first season which fell below expectations by going on the offensive in the transfer market. Over £220m was spent on new recruits including Ederson, Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy. Chelsea’s title defence was bolstered by the purchases of Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater, Antonio Rudiger, and Davide Zappacosta. Manchester United meanwhile took Nemanja Matic from the Blues, as he joined Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof at Old Trafford. But the shrewdest acquisition came from Liverpool, as they spent £37m on Roma’s Mohamed Salah, who went on to claim the Premier League golden boot.
Crystal Palace attempted to revamp their playing style by replacing Sam Allardyce with Frank de Boer, with disastrous results. Mauricio Pellegrino came in at Southampton boss and Marco Silva joined Watford, though neither would survive the season.
Signs that all was not well at champions Chelsea were revealed on the opening day of the season as Burnley arrived at Stamford Bridge and promptly won 3-2; the visitors would go on to enjoy a superb season under Sean Dyche to eventually finish in seventh and qualify for Europe.
Chelsea’s run of five defeats in seven Premier League matches, including a damaging 3-0 loss to Bournemouth, effectively ended their title chances and they would end the season in fifth, outside of the Champions League positions.
Between August and December, Man City won a record-breaking 18 matches in a row, with the attacking options of Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, and David Silva combining to create some of the most relentless attacking football the league has ever seen. The campaign was not without its low points; their unbeaten run was ended by Liverpool in one of the games of the season, a 4-3 loss at Anfield, while they blew a 2-0 lead in the derby against Man Utd, losing 3-2 in a game where they could have clinched the title.The Red Devils would return the favour, however, as it was their surprising 1-0 loss against West Brom in April which would hand the league to their rivals.
United finished the season as runners-up, but they were closer to the 63 points achieved by Arsenal in sixth rather than the 100 recorded by City.
They started the season promisingly but cracks would show when Jose Mourinho was forced to continually defend his pragmatic tactics and team selection. The Portuguese admitted as early as December following a loss at home versus City that his team’s title hopes were “probably over”, and a well-publicised falling out with star player Paul Pogba also summed up United’s uneven campaign.
We are delighted with what we have done and the way we have done it. At the start of the season, you never know what is going to happen. You just have to prepare the team well and the title was the consequence.Pep Guardiola
Liverpool emerged as the clear rivals to City in the entertainment stakes. Their talented trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and the imperious Salah were enthralling for much of the season, and impressed in Europe, too, taking Liverpool to the final of the Champions League. Jurgen Klopp’s men proved in the league and in Europe they could stand up against City, but suffered too many dropped points at vital times, such as the 2-1 loss against United in March, scuppered any championship charge.
Tottenham once again proved a model of consistency, if one that perhaps maximised what the club’s wage constraints could achieve. Harry Kane enhanced his reputation as one of the best strikers in the world, finishing second only to Salah in the golden boot, netting 30 times. Across north London it was a tumultuous season at the Emirates, with Wenger finally parting company with Arsenal. Any early-season positivity evaporated following a 4-0 loss to Liverpool, while the sight of empty seats during home games increased, the fans finally losing their patience with Wenger. They did, however, offer the three-time Premier League winner the send-off he deserved following a 5-0 win over Burnley, though they had to settle for sixth.
Towards the bottom of the table, Palace rallied after the dismal tenure of De Boer and brought in Roy Hodgson, who successfully guided them to safety. It was an awful season for Stoke, West Brom, and Swansea, whose poor points tally was only matched by their abject brands of football. Huddersfield, despite a minuscule budget and ragtag group of players, surprised everyone by surviving, as did Brighton, who did so comfortably under the savvy Chris Hughton.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
The Spaniard’s affect on his team left pundits and fans alike wondering whether his City team were the greatest in the history of the competition.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON
The German’s lightning pace and dribbling ability terrorised defences all season, which makes it all the more baffling that he was not selected for the 2018 World Cup by Germany.
MOHAMED SALAH - 32 GOALS
The Player of the Year also netted the most goals, and they were not all tap-ins but some of the most inventive we have seen.
TEAM OF THE SEASON
GOAL OF THE SEASON
SOFIANE BOUFAL takes on the entire West Brom team, jinking past plenty of tackles before nestling a finish in the corner.
MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER
Everton to MANCHESTER UNITED
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
Early in the season, City made their ruthless intentions known when they comfortably outplayed defending champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, winning 1-0. To add insult to injury, the superb winning goal was lashed home by former Chelsea player, Kevin De Bruyne.