The 2018-2019 Premier League campaign proved to be one to remember with Manchester City and Liverpool going toe-to-toe to become champions until the final game of the season.
Manchester United’s season was one to forget as Jose Mourinho was sacked midway through and the club curtailed under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer towards the end of the campaign.
1. Manchester City – Jack Gaughan
I’ve just about run out of things to say about Manchester City’s season at this point. Watching how they’ve negotiated their way through the league schedule as well as devoting so much to the cup competitions has been mesmerising. There will be obvious disappointment at the Champions League exit, particularly the circumstances around it, but — even without another title from here — they will be remembered as one of the top two/three Premier League teams of all time. Maybe even the best.
Player of the season: Bernardo Silva
Crucial inside the dressing room and conjures splendour on the pitch. He has been the club’s most consistent player and works harder than anyone else. Add a few more goals to his game and he’s right up there as the best in the world.
Best signing: Mikel Arteta
Described as ‘like a signing,’ by someone at City last summer so he qualifies after moving up to assistant manager after Domenec Torrent left for New York City. Arteta’s had no trouble fitting in as Pep Guardiola’s No 2. Tactically astute, lively in training sessions and well-liked.
The Good: Bouncing back. They reacted to that tricky spell over Christmas by beating Liverpool in a must-win clash in early January. And then reacted to the Newcastle defeat by winning the next 14 league games.
The Bad: Injuries. Kevin De Bruyne has barely played. Benjamin Mendy has struggled with persistent injuries too. Fernandinho has missed games. You do wonder whether the Quadruple might’ve been feasible otherwise.
The Ugly: Yaya on Sky. Seeing Leroy Sane creep up behind Yaya Toure to douse champagne all over his suit while on punditry duty for Sky Sports at the Amex on Sunday.
2. Liverpool – Dominic King
Jurgen Klopp oversaw a season of relentless progress and built arguably the best team to play for Liverpool since they last won the title in 1990. There is no question that Liverpool have become a major force in Europe once more, as a second consecutive appearance in the Champions League final proves, but the quest to become champions of England continues. A fantastic campaign was not enough to halt Manchester City in their tracks.
Player of the season: Virgil van Dijk
The fact that you can name his two mistakes – foul to concede a penalty against Manchester City in October, mix up for a goal at Fulham in March – shows how consistent he has been. He has become the best central defender in Europe, a leader and an emblem for the team. He was deservedly recognised by the PFA and he was so good he should really be named Virgil van Dijk 8.5 because that’s what his mark has been each week.
Best signing: Alisson Becker
Liverpool shattered the world record transfer fee for the Brazil No 1 and the biggest compliment you can pay him is the fact his value has significantly increased. He won the Golden Glove, made a huge difference in big games and is going to be a fixture between the posts at Anfield for many years. He makes difficult situations look routine and his positioning and concentration during matches is impeccable.
The Good: Where do you start? 97 points, a colossal goal difference; the form of Van Dijk, the continued flourishing of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson. Sadio Mane’s continued development as a scorer of big goals… Jurgen Klopp said after the final victory over Wolves that he would be sat at his desk until the Champions League final listing all that is positive about Liverpool and that wasn’t an over-elaborate statement. Liverpool were brilliant.
The Bad: Finishing second in the title race. There is no new way of saying it is mind-boggling that Liverpool were so consistent, only lost one game, accumulated so many points and it was still not enough to usurp Manchester City, who must be recognised as one of the greatest teams we have ever seen. You could see the deflation in faces at the final whistle against Wolves on the last day.
The Ugly: Has to be the game against Manchester City at The Etihad. This is a difficult question to answer because everything was so overwhelmingly positive but the clash at the Etihad on January 3 must go here. How different would things have been had John Stones not cleared off the line with the score at 0-0? We will never know.
3. Chelsea – Matt Barlow
Very good start, fairly good end. Back into the Champions League with a Europa League final to come — collect the trophy and it has to go down as a success for Sarri — but there was a major wobble in the middle and the fans are not impressed by his style of football.
Player of the season: Eden Hazard
The best in the country when he’s on top form. All Chelsea’s best moments revolve around him. Will be sorely missed if he leaves. Which he looks like he might.
Best signing: Kepa
Not cheap and one major meltdown moment but he has grown in stature as the season went on and had twice performed heroics in penalty shootouts in semi-finals.
The Good: The emergence of teenage winger Callum Hudson Odoi and the extended game time for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
The Bad: Chelsea invested great time, energy and money to extricate Gonzalo Higuain from a loan at Milan has looked a shadow of the striker he was.
The Ugly: Kepa’s refusal to be replaced at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final prompted Sarri to rip off his tracksuit top, hurl it aside and storm towards the tunnel.
4. Tottenham – Sami Mokbel
Could yet be the greatest season in the club’s history if they can triumph in Madrid against Liverpool to claim their first ever Champions League. Getting there, without having signed a single player, is an achievement in itself. However, their alarmingly poor Premier League form during the final weeks of the season should be a cause for concern ahead of next season.
Player of the season: Son Heung-min
Lucas Moura’s hat-trick in Amsterdam will go down in Spurs folklore. But without Son’s performances and goals this season in Harry Kane’s injury absence they wouldn’t be in their current position.
Best signing: Hahahahahahahaha
The Good: Amsterdam. Ajax. Comeback. That night will live in eternity for Spurs fans. Biblical.
The Bad: Their dreadful form towards the end of the season. They have won just six in their final 17 games in all competitions. Yet somehow they’re in a Champions League final.
The Ugly: The constant delays with regards to the stadium. Finally, it’s open – and it’s magnificent. But the delays were difficult to stomach for fans.
5. Arsenal – Sami Mokbel
The success of Arsenal’s season will rest on the outcome of their Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku. The goal was to qualify for the Champions League – they’ve failed to meet that aim domestically. Beating Chelsea in Azerbaijan would see the Gunners back at English football’s top table. Lose – then the campaign can only go down as a failure.
Player of the season: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Consistently on the scoresheet for Arsenal. The 20-plus goals a season man they’ve craved for years. Special mention, too, to Alexandre Lacazette.
Best signing: Sokratis
Just pips Lucas Torreira, whose influence has waned during the final months of the season. Sokratis is limited – but exactly the sort of central defender Arsenal required.
The Good: Their 22-game unbeaten run at the start of the season had fans asking Arsene who?
The Bad: The long-term injury to Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin cost Unai Emery’s side dear.
The Ugly: The home loss to Crystal Palace in April which, for all intents and purposes, cost them a top-four slot.
6. Manchester United – Chris Wheeler
A season that went down, briefly up, and then catastrophically down again only served to expose the inadequacies of this Manchester United squad and the club as a whole. The place is a shambles. Where do United go from here? The only way is up – and then probably down again.
Player of the season: Victor Lindelof
One of very few contenders but gets the nod ahead of Luke Shaw after proving he isn’t a £30million flop after all.
Best signing: Diogo Dalot
To be fair, the other candidates were Fred and Lee Grant, but Dalot has shown some promise when played on the right-hand side.
The Good: The resurgence under Solskjaer.
The Bad: The relapse under Solskjaer.
The Ugly: The toxic unravelling of Mourinho’s reign, notably the meltdown moment in Michigan on tour last summer when he took aim at every aspect of the club.