1️⃣ thing we learned about every Premier League club in 2021/22 | OneFootball

1️⃣ thing we learned about every Premier League club in 2021/22

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OneFootball

Dan Burke

The 2021/22 Premier League season was an eventful one with fans back in stadiums and plenty of drama and intrigue on the pitch.

Here is one thing we learned about every club this term.


Arsenal – You can’t win anything with kids

Those were Alan Hansen’s infamous words back in 1995 and 27 years later, you could say he was finally vindicated by Arsenal’s inability to finish in the top four. But it was a decent effort from the league’s youngest team all the same, and Mikel Arteta will be hoping they can learn from what went wrong and put it right next season.


Aston Villa – You can’t replace Elvis with The Beatles

Villa reluctantly sold Jack Grealish to Manchester City last summer and appeared to have reinvested the £100m well, with nine new players brought in over the course of the season. But they finished with 10 points fewer than they did in 2020/21, suggesting Grealish was more important to them than perhaps anybody realised. Steven Gerrard’s side must improve next season.


Brentford – Automatic promotion guarantees nothing

Many expected the Bees to struggle after coming up via the play-offs last season but within a matter of weeks they were already looking like part of the Premier League furniture. Thomas Frank is a strong contender for Manager of the Year but repeating the feat next season won’t be easy.


Brighton – A good defence is better than a good attack

Credit is due to Graham Potter for overseeing Brighton’s highest ever Premier League finish this season, but their stats make for interesting reading. The Seagulls finished with ten points more than they did in 2020/21 despite scoring two goals fewer and conceding just five fewer this season. If you can’t improve your goalscoring output, make sure you tighten up at the back.


Burnley – Sacking your manager can sometimes backfire

The Clarets were widely castigated for parting company with long-serving manager Sean Dyche in April, but it proved to be a masterstroke as caretaker manager Mike Jackson and his backroom team added some life. However, Jackson couldn’t save the club from relegation on the final day. Talk about a new manager bounce.


Chelsea – The ‘missing piece’ can spoil the puzzle

After winning the Champions League last year and re-signing Romelu Lukaku in the summer, Chelsea were expected to mount a strong challenge for the title this season. But Lukaku didn’t live up to expectations and the Blues’ title challenge was effectively over in January. It was a tumultuous season off the pitch and a disappointing one on it.


Crystal Palace – Vieira deserves more respect

Palace hired Patrick Vieira during a summer of squad upheaval last year and many tipped him to be the first Premier League manager to be sacked this season, but the Frenchman proved them all wrong by guiding a burgeoning young team to a comfortable mid-table finish. It will be interesting to see if they can build on it next season.


Everton – Putting one of your rivals’ legends in charge is a recipe for disaster

Everybody but the Everton board knew hiring Rafael Benítez was going to end in tears last summer, and the only surprise was that he lasted until January before being sacked. The Toffees got away with it in the end but they very nearly paid a heavy price for not listening to their own supporters.


Leeds – A new manager doesn’t always fix the issues

Leeds let Marcelo Bielsa go in February, but performances still took a noticeable dip after the Argentine’s departure under incoming manager Jesse Marsch. It was therefore a dramatic final day and the club did just enough to stay up but the Elland Road faithful may not be too confident just yet. There’s still plenty to work on for next season.


Leicester – Defending set-pieces is non-negotiable

Having fallen at the final hurdle in their attempt to finish in the top four in the last two seasons, the Foxes got nowhere near it this year and had to settle for a mid-table finish. A big reason was their inability to defend set-pieces, with 24 goals conceded from those situations in all competitions, 19 of which were corners. Whether it’s a personnel issue or something tactical, Brendan Rodgers has to get it sorted.


Liverpool – Draws are more dangerous than defeats

It was a valiant effort from Liverpool to run the title race until the last day and were it not for Manchester City’s slight superiority, the Reds would still be on for a historic quadruple. But having only lost two games all season (one fewer than City) it has to be the eight draws which cost them the title, most of which came in the first half of the season. The good news is, it seems like an achievable area for improvement next season.


Manchester City – Who needs a specialist striker?

Signing a striker felt like an absolute necessity for City last summer and after they failed to land Harry Kane, many wondered whether they had enough about them to retain the title. In the end they did win the league, scoring more goals than anybody else along the way and playing some wonderful football with a false nine.

Erling Haaland will undoubtedly improve them next season, but exactly how much he will improve them remains to be seen.


Manchester United – Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

It took United until a 4-1 defeat at Watford in December to finally admit that the legendary Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wasn’t up to the task of managing the club and though results haven’t improved much since then, it feels like they are on the right lines with the appointment of Erik ten Hag. Signing Cristiano Ronaldo last summer wasn’t a bad idea but it didn’t end up being quite the romantic return they had in mind, and if United want to become a top team again they must look to the future and forget about the past.


Newcastle United – Money helps but it isn’t everything

Newcastle were like two completely different clubs this season. In the first half of the campaign they toiled under Steve Bruce and looked doomed to relegation, but then Mike Ashley sold the club to the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, Eddie Howe was installed as manager and things immediately started looking up. Money was spent in January but it was arguably a change in tactics and mentality that had a bigger impact on the Magpies finishing the season strongly, and next season looks like an exciting one already.


Norwich – Limbo is a tough place to be

If evidence were needed of the gulf in class between the Championship and the Premier League, Norwich are living proof. Just like in 2019/20, the Canaries stormed into the top flight this season only to be sent straight back down with their tail between their legs. Sacking Daniel Farke and hiring Dean Smith didn’t have the desired effect, but they should be well equipped to mount another promotion push next season. Expect to see them back in the Premier League in 2023/24, and for their sake let’s hope lessons have been learned this year.


Southampton – We learned very little

Maintaining your Premier League status is not to be sniffed at when you’re a club working within Southampton’s budget, but it was a season of stagnation in which they finished 15th for the second year running. There were some memorable moments such as a 3-2 win away at Tottenham and draws with the two Manchester clubs, but overall it was an unremarkable campaign and it’s hard not to wonder whether Ralph Hasenhüttl has taken Saints as far as he can. Still, at least there were no 9-0 defeats this season.


Tottenham – Antonio Conte is The Don

Having tried and failed to lure Conte to the club last summer, Tottenham hired Nuno Espirito Santo instead. But it quickly transpired that Nuno wasn’t the right man for the job and after he was sacked in November, they finally got their man. Knocking Spurs into shape and getting them into the top four is up there with one of the best achievements of Conte’s illustrious coaching career and if the club back the Italian this summer, next season could be a really special one. What a manager.


Watford – Instability will never work

The Hornets were once again relegated from the Premier League this season and once again debate has raged about whether the club’s hire ’em, fire ’em policy actually makes any sense. Xisco Muñoz was sacked in November after less than 10 months in the job, before Claudio Ranieri took over for three months before he was sacked in January. Then Roy Hodgson was installed in the dugout, but just two wins in 18 matches saw them drop into the Championship with the worst home record in the league this term. What was it all for?


West Ham – The Europa League is great

While the Premier League’s Big Six tend to turn their noses up at the Europa League, West Ham fully embraced it and went on a memorable adventure in the competition this season which was brought to an end by eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals. Their seventh-placed finish would suggest the Hammers coped as well as could be expected with the Thursday-Sunday routine, and their supporters can look forward to more European adventures in the Conference League next season. That’s what it’s all about.


Wolves – A good defence is so important

Bruno Lage’s side were the definition of “solid but unspectacular” this season and only Norwich, Watford and Burnley scored fewer than their 38 goals. But a miserly defence enabled them to finish in the top half of the table, and you can’t say much fairer than that. More creativity and firepower are needed if they are going to kick on next season, however.