- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
The end of the 2021/22 Premier League season is cause for celebration for some club and their supporters, while also being little more than a relief for others.
Regardless of how it panned out across the nine months between mid-August and late May, at different points every club has had hope and cause for optimism, for this year or beyond.
Here’s a look back at the biggest highlight of the campaign for each of the 20 teams in the top flight this term.
Just for a few days, Arsenal fans were able to believe they were not just going to make it into the top four, but were actually, properly, verifiably back. The streakiest team in the league, across a three-day period in April they emerged from three straight defeats to beat Chelsea and Man United in back-to-back encounters. The Champions League spot was there for the taking and the Gunners had form, morale, optimism. It only lasted another fortnight, but could at least still offer hope for the future.
There were some great results for Villa along the way this season, but for excitement and giving real optimism for the future, the signing of Philippe Coutinho in January is hard to beat. The Brazilian arrived on loan from Barcelona and had an immediate impact: a debut goal off the bench against Man United and two assists and another goal against Leeds a couple of weeks later. Now he’s in permanently and there’s surely more to come.
Pick a day! Into the top flight for the first time in the Premier League era, a new stadium which was bouncing every other week and some incredible results, including the season’s opener with a 2-0 win over Arsenal. Add in the signing and impact of Christian Eriksen and the fact they didn’t just survive, they thrived - this was a year-long party for the Bees.
Their end-of-season run of form gives a hint as to what the Seagulls are capable of and the last eight games included wins over Arsenal, Spurs, Wolves and West Ham. Oh, and the absolute pinnacle of the campaign for Brighton: A 4-0 drubbing of Manchester United. It could have been more – they were as sensational as the Red Devils were awful.
After the sudden and surprising sacking of Sean Dyche, plenty were quick to suggest the Clarets had erred. As it turns out they may well have been right, given their final-day relegation, but initially Burnley fans had reason to hope as Mike Jackson led the team to a draw and three wins in his first four.
A succession of late winners seems to have been a theme of sorts for the Blues’ season in domestic terms – none more dramatic, perhaps, than the 1-0 over West Ham: a red card for the visitors, Jorginho missing a late penalty to spurn the chance of the three points... then Christian Pulisic won them anyway, deep into stoppage time. Outside of the Premier League it’s an easier choice: Club World Cup champions in February courtesy of Kai Havertz.
A campaign of splendid progress for the south London side, giving real cause for future hope. They lost fewer matches than five of the 11 clubs which finished above them, too. The biggest moment of pride might have been to see no fewer than three of their stars on the pitch for England: Tyrick Mitchell, Marc Guehi and the on-loan Conor Gallagher against Switzerland.
This was by and large an awful season and one Everton have to learn lessons from fast, but there’s a lot to be said for the way the supporters rallied at the end of the season and created the atmosphere which definitely helped the team earn crucial wins in the end. Top of the pile has to be the second-half comeback from two down to beat Crystal Palace on home soil and secure their survival for another year in the penultimate game.
Has to be the final day of the season, right? The Elland Road club looked to be heading down after taking two points from the previous 15 available, but produced the performance they needed at Brentford – including a last-minute pressure-valve-release winner – to take the points, leapfrog Burnley and save their skins for another year.
The run through to the Europa Conference League semi-finals would have given fans a real lift amid a domestic campaign of maddening inconsistency. Individual results were occasionally surprising – a 1-0 win over Liverpool - and once or twice fully merited, such as perhaps their most complete showing in a 4-2 mauling of Man United. Patson Daka’s four-goal haul against Spartak Moscow will always bear remembering!
A season of so close but so far in the league, but elsewhere the Reds have been rampant and could end the year champions of Europe again. In league terms, their best is a toss-up: a 10-game win streak between early January and the start of April to haul themselves back into the title race, or a single afternoon at Old Trafford where they humiliated their biggest rivals Man United, flying into a 5-0 lead before effectively declaring with over half an hour to play.
Most of the league season was one long highlight for the team who ended up as champions, but for a side who have often automated their way to victory, an incredible six minutes on the final day of the season had everything: mental resilience, technical quality, unbeatable emotion. Three goals, three points, one title.
Quite possibly a campaign fans wish they could wipe from the record books, for on- and off-pitch matters. Yet this is Man United, so they are still capable of moments of greatness – chief among them this year maybe the wild league double over Spurs, first a 3-0 trouncing of them in north London which saw Nuno Espirito Santo sacked, then a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick securing a 3-2 rollercoaster at Old Trafford. There was certainly optimism when Ralf Rangnick joined too, but that was soon shown to be misplaced.
There’s an obvious caveat to the obvious answer: the mid-season takeover. Magpies fans had waited a long time for it, and when it arrived it came with a more-or-less instant managerial change, a handful of January transfers and an eventual upward shift in results. There are of course unavoidable questions which go hand-in-hand with the new ownership and Newcastle will have to keep answering those questions along the way, like it or not. But from the perspective of supporters and the way they celebrated the news – and their ensuing survival – there’s still no doubting the biggest moment of the season for them.
Five wins, 11 goals fewer than any other team scored and a massive 84 conceded. It’s slim pickings for positives with the Canaries this year again. But the short-lived moment of hope they did have came just after Dean Smith joined as manager: Back-to-back wins over Everton and Watford in the league, plus an FA Cup victory over Wolves. For a brief week or two, the dream lived on that they might compete to survive. It didn’t last long.
This was a strange year from Saints, who didn’t win a game by more than a goal until January and only won once from the start of March to season’s end. The best run was around February: unbeaten in five including a stunning late turnaround to beat Tottenham 3-2. Fans will want more next term, to be blunt.
A vital, and impressive, north London derby win toward the end of the campaign. It ramped up the pressure on Arsenal for the top four and, while Spurs cruised home with three straight wins, the Gunners crumbled. Champions League: incoming. Antonio Conte’s arrival was of course key.
It feels a million years ago now, but at one point this season Claudio Ranieri was Watford manager. He also oversaw a crazy start which, in his first five matches, saw him thrash Everton 5-2 and end Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure with a 4-1 battering of Man United. That was as good as it got. The Hornets had more managers than home league wins this season.
West Ham United
A magical ride to the semis of the Europa League and a bouncing, thriving London Stadium along with it. Across the course of the season, David Moyes’s side beat or drew with Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham – the entire top four. Receptions for Mark Noble’s departure and Andriy Yarmolenko’s return also stand out.
A great overall start to the season saw Wolves thrive thanks to their defensive record, which provided consistency rather than great moments. A late Joao Moutinho winner against Man United stands out though, as does the fast start and 2-0 win over Conte’s Spurs in February. There looks a lot more to come from this side next year.