Join us this Tuesday (5/22) for our Season Finale CST EPL Roundtable. The show will start at 7 P.M. at Rhinehaus in OTR. We’ll discuss the season that was, needs that should be addressed this offseason as well as the 2018 Champions League Final. We look forward to see you this Tuesday night.
1.🏆MANCHESTER CITY (100 pts, GD + 79)
LAST GAME: 1-0 W at Southampton
It was an incredible year for Manchester City. Pep Guardiola and his men broke a plethora of records and put together the best season we’ve ever seen in the Premier League this season.
Here are all the records City broke this season:
– Points: 100 (the first team in the history of the top-flight to reach 100 points.)
– Most away points: 50
– Wins: 32
– Away Wins: 16
– Consecutive Wins: 18
– Goals: 1
– Goal Difference: +79
– Point gap to 2nd: 19
– Fewest minutes trailed: 152
Key Player of the Season: It’s hard to pick one, but it has to be Kevin De Bryune. KDB won the PL’s first Playmaker Award for the most assists in the season and he was the engine that made that made city purr.
One Player They Still Need: It seems crazy that after the season they just had that City still need new players. One player City does need a replacement for is Fernandinho. Fernandinho was crucial to City all season, but at the age of 33, City won’t have much time left with him. Ilkay Gundogan played well filling in for him, it’s clear Pep wants another player to fill that role. Hence, the constant links to Napoli’s Jorginho.
- MANCHESTER UNITED (81 pts, GD +40)
LAST GAME: 1-0 W vs. Watford
United had an up and down season, but they did improve on their sixth-place finish from a year ago. City set themselves apart from all the teams in the league, but it’s United who is the closest of the bunch. United was the only team to beat City at the Etihad this season. That win at the Etihad delayed the inevitable for City, but it was by far the best game and the best result of the season for United. It seems cruel to call an 81-point season a disappointment, but with the quality this team has, the title gap should not have been 19 points.
Key Player of the Season: Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian finished the season with 16 goals and 7 assists. There was a time in the middle of the season where Lukaku went through a scoring drought and it hurt the team. Despite that drought, Lukaku definitely helped United in front of goal this season. David De Gea also deserves a shoutout for winning his first golden glove award for most clean sheets.
One Player They Still Need: United, like their cross-city rivals, need another holding midfielder. Another holding midfielder that can play alongside Matic will give Pogba the creative license to move up the field and be the dominating force he can be. That may require the selling of a few players, but I believe that Mourinho is going to sell some big names anyway.
- TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (77 PTS, GD +38)
LAST GAME:5-4 W vs. Leicester
Despite not winning any silverware again this season, Tottenham still had a fantastic year. Tottenham hasn’t won any silverware since 2008, but they have qualified for the Champions League for the third straight season. Tottenham nearly clinched a spot in the last eight of the Champions League, but Juventus’ experience overpowered Tottenham. It’s no secret that the PL title is on the mind of everyone at Spurs, but with the top six getting better and better every year, the harder the title will be every year. I said that Tottenham needs to have higher expectations for themselves other than celebrating a Champions League spot, but they did play well enough to earn that spot.
Key Player of the Season: Harry Kane. Who else would it be? Kane set a new record for goals in a season with 30, which is one better than last year. Since his first season in the PL in 2014/15, his goal tally has gone up every season. Kane has been fantastic for Tottenham every year, but his dominance has come with class off the field that it’s hard to not like him. Kane will be at Tottenham for a long time and he will be a big factor in Tottenham’s next major title, when and if it comes.
One Player They Still Need: Their signing of Lucas Moura from PSG during the winter transfer window wasn’t a bad signing, but it also wasn’t a signing that made Tottenham better. Lucas only made six appearances (four of which he came on off the bench) in the PL this season and only had one assist. However, the bigger problem is the potential loss of Toby Alderweireld. Alderweireld has been fantastic for Tottenham over the last two seasons. He missed a lot of play-time this season with a torn hamstring. What’s worrying for Tottenham is that Alderweireld has refused to sign a new contract. If he does leave this summer, Tottenham will need to fill that gap.
- LIVERPOOL (75 PTS, GD +46)
LAST GAME: 4-0 W vs. Brighton
Liverpool has gotten exponentially better under Klopp. Liverpool is in the Champions League final, went unbeaten at home all season and has looked like the buccaneering and attack-minded club that is Liverpool’s DNA. Salah, Mane and Firmino, alongside Oxlade-Chamberlain, Van Dijk and Robertson, Liverpool have quality all over the field. As of right now, Liverpool is the best team to challenge City next season.
Key Player of the Season: Mohamed Salah. The PFA Player of the Year. Liverpool Player of the Year. Liverpool’s Player’s Player of the Season. CAF African Footballer of the Year. Arab Footballer of the year. BBC African Player of the Year. 3x Premier League player of the month. And that’s not even the half of it. Salah almost all of the awards this season and set a single-season record for goals in a 38-game season. But more than all of that, he galvanized this Liverpool team and its fan base.
One Player They Still Need: It’s hard to believe that I’m going to say this, but I think Liverpool needs to add to their attacking force. Liverpool needs a backup for Roberto Firmino. The Reds need someone with more experience and quality to back up their striker. Liverpool has Dominic Solanke and Danny Ings, but Liverpool needs another quality striker to alleviate some of the pressure off Firmino. And quality in depth is never a bad thing.
- CHELSEA (70 PTS, GD +24)
LAST GAME: 3-0 L at Newcastle
This was a strange season for Chelsea. Even with his title win last season, Conte’s job still wasn’t safe. Conte has been somewhat negative in almost every press conference since that title win. Things can change for Conte if Chelsea beats United in the FA Cup final, but if Chelsea loses, I don’t think Conte will be the manager at Chelsea next season.
With their fifth-place finish this season, Chelsea became the third straight Champion to finish outside the top four the following season. In Chelsea’s last four seasons, they finished as Champions, 10th, Champions and now fifth. Their big-money signing of Alvaro Morata started great but ended horribly. Morata scored 11 goals and had six assists, but he only scored once between Boxing Day and the end of the year.
Key Player of the Season: Eden Hazard. Hazard is the lifeblood of this Chelsea side and the team goes as he does. Willian and Marcos Alonso were also very important to Chelsea this season, but this is Hazard’s team. Hazard scored 12 goals and had four assists this season, but he only had one goal since Valentine’s Day.
One Player They Still Need: It all depends if Eden Hazard stays. Hazard has been linked to a number of different clubs around Europe, but he’s stuck it out at Chelsea. Hazard has said he will not sign a new contract until Chelsea brings in more players. If Chelsea does not sign new players, he will look elsewhere. If Hazard leaves, Chelsea will have to replace him, which will be close to impossible. Chelsea will also need another striker.
- ARSENAL (63 PTS, GD +23)
LAST GAME: 1-0 W at Huddersfield
Arsene Wenger stepping down is the biggest story of Arsenal’s season. After 1,235 games in charge, Wenger is finished as Arsenal manager. Whoever replaces him has the tasks of returning Arsenal to title competitors. Besides Wenger leaving, Arsenal has a dismal year. Arsenal had only one win against the top six side all season and that was against Tottenham in November and only had one road win in 2018. A lot is going to change at the Emirates this summer and it’s been a long time coming.
Key Player of the Season: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. PEA only had about a third of a season under his belt at Arsenal, but he fit right in. Auba became the fastest Arsenal player to score 10 goals in the PL (13 games.) He will be crucial for Arsenal next season in their first season after Wenger.
One Player They Still Need: Arsenal needs a defender to replace Per Mertesacker. Mertesacker retired after 15 years to take over as the manager of the Arsenal academy. Mertesacker, when healthy, was the backbone and leader of that Arsenal defense. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Auba leading the attack next season, Arsenal will need to fill that giant Per Mertesacker sized hole.
- BURNLEY (54 PTS, GD -3)
LAST GAME:2-1 L vs. Bournemouth
Best top-flight finish since 1974 and spot in Europe for the first time since 1967. Sean Dyche was magnificent this season and his working wonders at Burnley with a minimum budget. It makes plenty of sense as to why Sean Dyche is being looked at by bigger clubs, but for the moment, he is still at Burnley. It will be really fun to see European nights at Turf Moor and I bet Burnley fans and can hardly wait.
Key Player of the Season: James Tarkowski was Burnley’s rock defensively. Sean Dyche’s teams are ruthlessly defensive and Tarkowski embodied that all season. After having to fill the shoes of Michael Keane, Tarkowski and Ben Mee were the backbone of this impressive team. Tarkowski led the Clarets in aerial battles won, clearances and interceptions.
One Player They Still Need: A striker. Sean Dyche’s teams will always be defensive, but he could always use more up front. Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood combined for 19 goals this season and that was enough for Burnley this season. Dyche could look be looking for another striker this summer or another defender to bolster that stifling defense.
- EVERTON (49 PTS, GD -14)
LAST GAME: 3-1 L at West Ham
News broke Wednesday morning that Big Sam was leaving the club. He wasn’t really liked amongst the Everton fans, but he did the job he was hired to do: avoid relegation. Everton’s next step will be to hire a manager that will return the club to its roots. They need a manager that will play with the ferocity and tenacity that has made Everton difficult to play against for the last few years. Early reports have said that Everton is looking to hire Marco Silva, again. Silva was Watford’s manager at the beginning of the season but was fired when Everton tried to poach him. Silva would be an excellent hire and he has the proven track record as a PL manager.
Everton also hired Marcel Brands as the director of football. Brands was the technical director at PSV since 2010 and helped PSV win the Dutch league three times in the last four seasons.
Key Player of the Season: Jordan Pickford. In his first season at Everton, Pickford started every single game in goal for Everton. While it wasn’t a strong season for Everton, Pickford had a good season in goal, keeping 10 clean sheets. There was plenty of time this season that Pickford kept Everton in the game, especially early in the season against City.
One Player They Still Need: It’s a tie between an attacker and a defender. Cenk Tosun was brought in during the winter transfer window but never really lived up to the hype. Michael Keane had a decent season, but he wasn’t as good as he was at Burnley. Ashley Williams was a liability at times and he wasn’t the rock Everton needed him to be.
- LEICESTER CITY (47 PTS, GD -4)
LAST GAME: 5-4 L at Tottenham
Claude Puel turned this season around for Leicester. Puel was hired after Craig Shakespeare only picked up one win in his first eight games. However, now Puel is on the hot seat because Leicester fans don’t like his slow, build-up possession style of play. But it’s his style of play that led to a top-10 finish and another top-10 finish when he was at Southampton. All in all, a good season for Leicester.
Key Player of the Season: Riyad Mahrez. It was pretty obvious that Mahrez wanted to leave Leicester, but despite that, he still showed up and played. Not only did he show up, he played his heart out. He gave the ultimate performance that symbolized his time at Leicester with his performance against Arsenal in the penultimate game of the season.
One Player They Still Need: I think it’s a question of when, not if, Mahrez leaves. When he does, Leicester will need another winger to give them width in the attacking third. Not only did Mahrez score and assist, his talent was so good that you always had to have at least two players focused on him. That extra man opens space for Vardy and is a big reason Vardy has been so successful (not to say he wouldn’t even if Mahrez was never there.)
- NEWCASTLE (44 PTS, GD -8)
LAST GAME: 3-0 W vs. Chelsea
Rafa Benitez didn’t get the money he wanted to spend on players, so he made his team a defensive juggernaut. Newcastle used their strong defensive core to win games and it made them very difficult to break down, especially at home. If Newcastle can pull off a top-10 finish with the club’s ownership is chaos and a little budget, then a top-10 finish has to be the goal for next season. If new owners come in and give the money Rafa wants to buy, there is no reason to say that a European push can’t be possible.
Key Player of the Season: Jonjo Shelvey. This was hard to pick because Newcastle showcased the definition of a team effort. This could have also been Kenedy, Martin Dubravka, and Jamaal Lascelles. Shelvey was the workhorse in the midfield for Newcastle and exerted class and confidence on the ball. He only had one goal and three assists this season, but Shelvey is a big reason why Newcastle finished where they did.
One Player They Still Need: There are a few different positions Newcastle needs, but the question is if they will finally get some money to spend on players. If they do, a central defender to pair with Lascelles is at the top of the list.
- CRYSTAL PALACE (44 PTS, GD -10)
LAST GAME: 2-0 W vs. WBA
Under Frank de Boer, Palace lost their first eight games without scoring a goal. That was the worst start ever in PL history. Roy Hodgson worked wonders and Palace are sitting pretty in 11th. Palace had the best form of any PL team in the last six games. Palace picked up the most points in those last six games with four wins and two draws. If Zaha stays, there will be a lot to cheer about next season. With Selhurst Park getting a face-lift and the chance of adding more talent to this team, there is a lot for Palace fans to be excited about.
Key Player of the Season: Wilfried Zaha. Without a doubt, Zaha is the first name on the team sheet every week and the best player at Palace. When he is playing at his best, Crystal Palace is at their best. His pace, his skills, his ability to always be in the right spot at the right time—he’s got it all. Palace struggled without him when he was gone through injury, but when he returned, Palace played their best football.
One Player They Still Need: Palace is going to have to fight off a lot of offers for Zaha. For the time being, Zaha is Palace and he wants to stay at the club, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be persuaded. If Zaha goes, Palace will have plenty of money to try to find his replacement. If he stays, Palace needs a central defender to fix a leaky backline.
- AFC BOURNEMOUTH (44 PTS, GD -16)
LAST GAME: 2-1 W vs. Burnley
This season was a small step-back for Bournemouth. The Cherries finished ninth last season and spent a good deal of money last summer. Jermain Defoe was kind of a bust and Josh King underperformed for most of the season. However, Nathan Ake and Lewis Cook stepped up this season and both players had great years. And given where Bournemouth was as a club about a decade ago, four straight seasons in the PL is still an amazing accomplishment.
Key Player of the Season: Nathan Ake. In his first season at Bournemouth after finalizing a permanent deal after his loan spell last year, Ake was the main man in Eddie Howe’s defense. Ake was in the top three of all the major defensive stats (tackles, aerial battles won, clearances and interceptions.)
One Player They Still Need: Bournemouth needs another striker. The Cherries brought back Jermain Defoe but too little success. Defoe finally looked his age this season, despite his wonder goal against Palace midway through the season. Personally, I’m a massive Callum Wilson fan and Wilson is a legend at the club, but he is injury-prone and isn’t reliable enough to lead the line.
- WEST HAM UNITED (42 PTS, GD -20)
LAST GAME: 3-1 W vs. Everton
David Moyes is out as manager. After a season with a lot of struggle on and off the field, West Ham has a chance to right the ship this summer and start fresh. The fans are angry with the owners and their patience is running thin. The move to the London Stadium hasn’t worked and there hasn’t been anything for the fans to be excited about since the move. This is going to be a very big summer for West Ham and the owners need to make sure they make the right moves, or there will be more protests like we saw following the Burnley loss.
Key Player of the Season: Mark Noble. The Captain and Mr. West Ham himself, Noble is the type of player every fan wants at their club. Noble, who has spent almost 20 years at West Ham, bleeds for this club. Despite the wild season West Ham had, Noble was the stabilizer for the team and the fans. He wrote an open letter to the fans after their protest after the 3-0 loss to Burnley urging the fans to join together to cheer on the team. Well, the team responded with a 3-3-2 record after the Burnley game.
One Player They Still Need: Defenders. Defenders. Defenders. West Ham conceded 68 times this season, that’s tied for the most in the league. Stoke was the other team to concede 68 goals and they were relegated. There were way too many occasions this season where West Ham looked like they didn’t even have a defense. West Ham held strong towards the end of the season and avoided relegation, but if they want to avoid another relegation scare next season, they NEED to solidify that defense.
- WATFORD (41 PTS, GD -20)
LAST GAME: 1-0 L at United
Watford started the season really well under Marco Silva, but he was fired when his focus shifted when Everton tried to poach him. After Silva’s firing, the club struggled and went into a mid-season slump. Javi Garcia did well when he stepped in, but this season left more to be desired for Watford fans. The season started so promisingly that a Europe push seemed reasonable, but their season sputtered after Silva’s firing. Watford ended the season with a string of defeats, meaning that Garcia could be on the hot seat if Watford starts slow next season.
Key Player of the Season: Abdoulaye Doucoure. Doucoure led the team in goals with seven, but he was also a workhorse defensively. He led the team in tackles and interceptions this season. There is a good chance Doucoure could be poached by a bigger team this summer, but if he stays, that will be a massive win for Watford.
One Player They Still Need: Central defender. Christian Kabasele, Adrian Mariappa, Sebastian Prodl and a few other defenders were not up to par this season. The Hornets gave up the third most goals this season and the second most of the teams that will be in the league next season. Watford really fell off the last three months of the season, and they will want to make sure that defense is sealed up before next season.
- BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION (40 PTS, GD -20)
LAST GAME: 4-0 L at Liverpool
Chris Houghton is an underrated manager. Houghton picked up big wins at home against Arsenal and United in the second-half of the season and those wins sealed their place in the league for next season. Brighton really relied on the brilliant pairing of Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk in central defense. The pair that shut down teams in the Championship did it again this season in the PL. Brighton will get a lot of money from the league for staying in and don’t be surprised if Brighton finishes in the top-10 next season.
Key Player of the Season: Pascal Gross. I became a big fan of him this season. In his first year in the PL, Gross was the goal-scoring and creative mind every newly promoted side needs to succeed in the PL. Gross had seven goals and eight assists this season and he pulled the strings for the Seagulls. Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk also deserve recognition for their very successful partnership in the heart of that defense.
One Player They Still Need: A striker. Glenn Murray is a fine striker, but he’s never had long-term success in the PL. Murray scored 12 goals, but most of those game form the penalty spot. Jose Izquierdo is a great winger and Gross proved he can help provide goals, but Brighton struggled at times to find a consistent goal scorer.
- HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (37 PTS, GD -30)
LAST GAME: 1-0 L vs. Arsenal
A very successful season for their first-ever PL season. With draws against City and Chelsea in the final week, we saw the resilience that it takes to stay in the PL. Their win over Manchester United early in the season gave the team the confidence that they belonged in the PL. David Wagner did a fantastic job of keeping his team in the PL and he has his players and fans believing. Every aspect of the club is moving in the right direction and we will have to see if they can maintain their PL status.
Key Player of the Season: Aaron Mooy. Mooy only had four goals and three assists this season, but he was the engine of this Huddersfield team. The former Manchester City player embraced the passion and commitment that is the Huddersfield fan base and he quickly became a fan favorite. Jonas Lossl also deserves a shout out for his great season in goal.
One Player They Still Need: A striker. Huddersfield had plenty of distribution when it came to goals, but too many times this season they struggled to find the back of the net. Steve Mounie was their go-to guy up front, but he only scored seven goals this season. If Huddersfield wants to avoid another tough season, they will need to find a striker that can provide at least 10 goals.
- SOUTHAMPTON (36 PTS, GD -19)
LAST GAME: 1-0 L vs. City
This season was the ultimate wake-up call for Southampton. The Saints have been selling player after player after player, most of whom are starring for other teams in the PL, without replacing them. It’s unsure if Mark Hughes will stay in the managerial role full-time, but he does deserve a bit of respect for keeping Southampton in the league. The Saints have some new, wealthy Chinese owners and those owners really need to invest some money into this club before next season.
Key Player of the Season: Alex McCarthy. McCarthy replaced Fraser Forster and did a fantastic job in goal. He is one of the main reasons why Southampton is still in the PL. McCarthy kept four clean sheets in his 18 appearances and was voted as Southampton’s Player of the season.
One Player They Still Need: Either a holding midfielder or a striker. A holding midfielder would help alleviate some pressure on that defense that conceded 56 times this season. A striker will help because much like Huddersfield, Southampton didn’t have that go-to guy up front. Charlie Austin led the team in goals, but he struggled to get on the field at times. Manolo Gabbiadini had a great season last year but was almost non-existent this season.
- 🔻SWANSEA CITY (33 PTS, GD -28)
LAST GAME: 2-1 L at Stoke
The seven-year stay in the PL is over for Swansea. Swansea has been battling relegation for the last few seasons but didn’t have the quality to stay in the league this season. Paul Clement failed to muster any of the magic from their escape last season and was replaced by Carlos Carvalhal. Carvalhal got a good response from his team and lifted Swansea out of the relegation zone but it didn’t stick. Swansea sold Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente, their best two players last season, and never brought in suitable replacements. When Swansea had a chance to boost their hopes in the final week against Southampton, they were outplayed by the team who wanted it more.
Key Player of the Season: Lukasz Fabianski. The Polish goalkeeper was huge for Swansea in goal all season, but a shaky defense only kept him to nine clean sheets all season. Fabianski should be a building block as Swansea look to return to the PL.
One Player They Still Need: A playmaker and it doesn’t matter what position they play. Too many times this season Swansea didn’t show up. Even in their game against Southampton in the last week of the season with their PL lives on the line, Swansea still didn’t show up. Swansea needs someone who will motivate and get this team going when the going gets tough.
- 🔻STOKE CITY (33 PTS, GD -33)
LAST GAME: 2-1 W at Swansea
A terrible season for Stoke. Instead of playing that nice and fluid attacking football, Stoke tried too hard to reinvent themselves. Stoke wasn’t the “Sexy Stoke” that we thought they could be, but they were a team with almost no defense and very little attacking threat. Mark Hughes was fired in January and Paul Lambert took over for him. Lambert never got an emotional response from his team. It will be a long and hard-fought battle for Stoke to return to the PL. The Potters have the longest road to return to the league of all three relegated teams.
Key Player of the Season: Xherdan Shaqiri. The Swiss magician was always Stoke’s best player. He had eight goals and seven assists this season and did everything he could to keep his team up.
One Player They Still Need: Jack Butland, USMNT Geoff Cameron, and Shaqiri will probably all be poached by PL teams. Those three players are too good not to be and have proven PL experience. Stoke will have the impossible tasks of trying to replace three stalwarts in their team.
- 🔻WEST BROMWICH ALBION (31 PTS, GD -25)
LAST GAME: 2-0 L at Palace
For the longest time, it looked like WBA was certain to go down. However, when Darren Moore took over, the Baggies started playing better football and even gave them the slightest chance of survival. Ultimately, they were relegated, but Darren Moore should be named the permanent manager. The way the team responded to his leadership should give the fans plenty of hope that their stay in the Championship will not be a long one.
Key Player of the Season: Salomon Rondon. The Venezuelan striker was a beast and a difficult matchup for any defender in the PL. He scored 10 goals in all competitions and it’s likely we will see him in the PL next season with a different club.
One Player They Still Need: If Rondon leaves, which is a safe bet he will, then WBA will need a prolific goal scorer to carry them through the Championship. If he somehow stays, an attacking midfielder is desperately needed.