The third part of this season review will focus on the middle of the Premier League. Stoke topped the middle pack, whilst Chelsea and Everton drastically underperformed. Swansea escaped any relegation worries that they had at Christmas to climb to 12th.
Stoke – Final Position: 9th – Prediction: 10th
Stoke had a good year, securing yet another top 10 finish. After losing Asmir Begovic, Robert Huth and Steven N’Zonzi, it could have been a difficult season. The emergence of Jack Butland as the club’s first choice keeper will be a highlight of the season. The Potters started the year slowly, but after the new signings bedded in they hit form, beating Chelsea and both Manchester clubs. Their season died out fairly early, with the realisation that European football was out of their reach and an injury to Butland coinciding. This resulted in a limp to the end of the season, seeing them concede 4 goals in three consecutive games.
Chelsea – Final Position: 10th – Prediction: 1st
Chelsea’s season was horrendous. There is no other way to describe it. Jose Mourinho lost the support of the players after a number of deluded outbursts and a number of big players just didn’t show up. Guus Hiddink brought the club back to the top half of the table, going undefeated in the league until April. For a side that were tipped to win the title, only Willian can come out of this season with any credit. A lot of improvement is needed under Antonio Conte next season.
Everton – Final Position: 11th – Prediction: 9th
It is safe to say that Everton also underperformed this season. A team boasting the likes of Baines, Coleman, Stones, McCarthy, Barkley, Deulofeu and Lukaku should really be challenging for at least a Europa League spot. The defence was drastically affected by injuries, and Martinez’s style of play often leaves them exposed at the back, so perhaps this failure to reach the top 10 should not come as a surprise. An early 3-1 win against Chelsea would probably be Everton’s moment of the season, but a 3-0 loss to Sunderland and a 4-0 derby drubbing will leave fans looking forward to Ronald Koeman taking over this summer.
Swansea – Final Position: 12th – Prediction: 8th
Many thought that Swansea would carry on last season’s challenge for the Europa League, but after the season just gone a 12th place finish seems like a good year. At Christmas Swansea were in very real danger of being relegated, and although the sacking of Garry Monk seemed a little harsh after his incredible first season, the appointment of Francesco Guidolin proved an absolute masterstroke. Wins over Chelsea and Arsenal delighted Swans fans, but their need for a striker was highlighted as they scored less goals than relegated Newcastle, and only 3 more than Norwich.