Team by Team Season Review 2010-2011.

Now that most of the players have gone on their holidays and the season is well and truly ended (for now) here is my review of each of the Premier League Teams’ seasons.

Arsenal:

Player of the year:

Robin Van Persie’s goal scoring when fit was excellent, as was Samir Nasri for the 1st half of the season. However these were just periods of excellence. Jack Wilshere, the PFA young player of the year had a great season and was undoubtedly Arsenals’ star performer over the whole season. Wilshere was excellent throughout.

Highlight:

Arsenal’s highlight was probably beating Barcelona in the Champions League. Although it proved fruitless in the end as they were knocked out over the two legs, not many teams can boast a win over the current Barcelona side.

Disappointment:

For a long time, Arsenal were in with a chance of winning the league. They were also in with a chance in the FA Cup, the League Cup and Champions League. Around February/March time, (in the space of less than a month) they were out of the running for all those competitions. Many people will tell you that Manchester United weren’t that great this year. With that in mind, Arsenal will surely see this is a chance missed to break their trophy less run.

Summary:

Some highs and some moments to be positive and proud about, but ultimately Arsenal will be disappointed with their showing this season. A real opportunity missed in more than one competition. A few changes will be required in the summer.

 

Aston Villa:

Player of the year: Hard to pin one down. Darren Bent surely has a case due to his goals being the main reason for keeping Villa out of the relegation places; however he wasn’t really their player of the season. Youngster Marc Albrighton turned in some eye-catching performances and looks a very exciting prospect. At the other end of the age scale, you can’t really look beyond Brad Friedel. He was simply outstanding once again. However, Stewart Downing scooped the player of the year awards for the club with a string of goals, assists and fine performances. If he’s won the players’ award and the fans’ award he must have had a good season!

Highlight:

Beating Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal in the 2nd half of the season would probably be their highlights.

Disappointment:

Losing in the league cup to Birmingham will have hurt Villa fans however much they deny it. Their dip in form that saw them plummeting towards the relegation zone was a huge disappointment too.

Summary:

Probably not the season Villa would have wanted. A team that finished 6th the year before failed to kick on as they would have hoped. If they can hang on to their star players and get a decent manager to replace the now departed Gerard Houiller, who knows what next season would bring. Big “ifs” though.

Birmingham:

Player of the year:

The player of the year would be either Craig Gardner or Ben Foster. Gardner, despite being a defender or midfielder by trade, finished as Birmingham’s top goal scorer. He was a fan favourite with his passion and endeavour in every game. Ben Foster was an ever-present in the league and showed the sort of form that had some Birmingham fans claiming he was more impressive than Joe Hart during his spell at the club.

Highlight:

Winning the League Cup. By some distance their highlight.

Disappointment:

Well, getting relegated is obviously the disappointment. Whilst the actual relegation itself is a disaster for the club, it is perhaps the manner in which they surrendered their Premier League status with little or no resistance that is more of a disappointment. 2 wins in their last 12 games is shocking form.

Summary:

A season that promised much has ended in abject disappointment.  At one point Birmingham were cruising along in the league with little alarm or thought of relegation. They had a trophy in the cabinet and seemed to be on the up. The run of form mentioned above however cost them their place in the top flight. Would Birmingham trade the cup for survival?

 

Blackburn:

Player of the year:

Christopher Samba. A huge presence in the centre of their defence, Samba put in some awesome displays that have a number of top clubs apparently queuing up to sign him.

Highlight:

Sacking Sam Allardyce. Seriously though, probably the fact that they secured their Premier League place for next season.

Disappointment:

Being knocked out of both cup competitions early would have stung a bit. Given Blackburn’s struggles in the league, a little run in the cups would have provided some welcome relief. It was not to be.

Summary:

A bit of a nothing season for Rovers really. No impact in the cup, survived by the skin of their teeth in the league. Ultimately, staying up will be deemed a success but they will surely want a better season next time out.

Blackpool:

Player of the year:

Charlie Adam has taken most of the plaudits this year and it would be harsh not to name him as Blackpool’s player of the year. Even after he’d had his head turned by the prospect of a move elsewhere he didn’t let it stop him playing well and doing his best for Blackpool’s cause.

Highlight:

Doing the league double over Liverpool in their 1st season in the top flight has to be a high point. At the risk of sounding patronizing, winning their 1st game in the top flight convincingly by 4 goals to nil against Wigan must’ve been pretty special too.

Disappointment:

Getting relegated is the obvious disappointment. Being knocked out of both cups by lower league opposition isn’t great either.

Summary:

Blackpool won many admirers for their approach to their games this season. Undoubtedly they have had some magical moments as alluded to above. However, having come so close to staying up, not doing so is a huge shame. Perhaps, if they had been a little more solid defensively things might have been different. If only…

Bolton:

Player of the year:

Like Darren Bent at Aston Villa, Daniel Sturridge deserves a great deal of credit for the impact he made at the tail end of the season. Similarly, a word of praise should be said for Johan Elmander, who had a terrific 1st half of the season.  However, over the season as a whole Gary Cahill and Kevin Davies were probably their most consistent performers.

Highlight:

In spite of the disastrous way it ended up, the FA Cup run was a great experience and a proud achievement for Bolton.

Disappointment:

They’ll probably regret the fact that they didn’t even compete in the FA Cup Semi Final, let alone win it. A chance missed.

Summary:

A good season with a lot to be positive about. Perhaps tailed off in the league, but finished comfortably enough all the same. Little alarm in the league, a lot of pride in the cup. Not bad at all.

Chelsea:

Player of the year:

The usual suspects were below par or injured, so no Lampard, Drogba or Terry on the list. Branislav Ivanovic was excellent, Ashley Cole was a model of consistency, and Florent Malouda had a fantastic 1st half of the season. After a shaky start Ramires grew stronger and stronger. You’d probably go for Cole, just because of his consistency.

Highlight:

Their start to the season. They won their first five games, two of them by 6 goals to nil and one by 4 goals to nil. They were scoring goals for fun and playing the sort of football that their owner apparently wants to see them play. Showing that sort of form, people thought Chelsea would run away with the league.

Disappointment:

Fernando Torres. No, but seriously folks: The fact that they had a wobble starting with a 3 nil defeat to Sunderland in November going right through to a 1-0 defeat to Wolves in January will be a huge disappointment. During that run they mustered just 7 points from a possible 27. After that, they hauled themselves back into the title race, only to have a late season lapse in form and surrender the title with a bit of a whimper. Those patchy runs of form will be a huge disappointment to Chelsea.

Summary:

As with Arsenal, Chelsea will feel the title was there for the taking, given Manchester United’s perceived weak squad. As with Arsenal, Chelsea will feel it is a chance missed. Finishing 2nd and qualifying for the Champions’ League is probably the minimum they would expect. I would think that wholesale changes will be made over the summer. A transitional season, but still, to finish 2nd in a year of transition can’t be bad.

Everton:

Player of the year:

Most definitely Leighton Baines. Baines was a model of consistency. He is an excellent full back with some great attacking weapons in his arsenal. Superb.

Highlight:

Probably knocking Chelsea out of the cup on penalties.

Disappointment:

Their start to the season will have had David Moyes and Everton fans alike tearing their hair out. 4 wins from the 1st 18 games had them glancing nervously over their shoulders. They fixed this by having a storming second half of the season and ended up finishing 7th. As with a lot of cases in sport; Moyes and co must have been wondering where they might have finished if they hadn’t had such a poor start.

Summary:

I suspect that they will ultimately be happy with their finish. To end up 7th after such a poor first half of the season is still an admirable achievement. I guess the trick they need to fix is how to piece a whole season together rather than just half. I would have said they would also be disappointed not to progress in the cups. Having knocked out Chelsea they were beaten by Reading. Such is the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Everton these days. Satisfied? Probably. Pleased? I wouldn’t have thought so.

Fulham:

Player of the year:

Clint Dempsey for me. Brede Hangeland and Danny Murphy had good seasons (both a good source of points in my Fantasy Football team) but Dempsey was a standout performer. He pitched in more than his share of goals and assists, which with Bobby Zamora missing and their other strikers a bit shy in front of goal was very important.

Highlight:

Thumping Spurs 4-0 in the cup was a highlight. Not much else to report really.

Disappointment:

Not many. Maybe the statue of Michael Jackson? Losing in the cups to Bolton and Stoke would probably be down there. Then again at least it wasn’t lower league opposition.

Summary:

Fulham will be happy with their lot to be honest. Finishing 8th and qualifying for Europe through the Fair Play league for a club of their size is pretty darn good.

Liverpool:

Player of the year:

If he’d been there the whole season, Luis Suarez would run away with this accolade. He wasn’t, so he hasn’t. Raul Meireles was also excellent as was Pepe Reina. However, after all the criticism he has received in the last few years and all the jokes, Lucas Leiva was outstanding. Liverpool fans are quite protective of the young Brazilian, but to be fair, he stuck up for himself this year by being Liverpool’s best player.

Highlight:

Well, obviously the change of owners would be the top highlight for most Liverpool fans. That would be closely followed by the return home of King Kenny. I reckon the win over Manchester United with a Dirk Kuyt hat-trick will feel pretty sweet too.

Disappointment:

Being knocked out of the League Cup by Northampton was a massive blow in what turned out to be a nightmare time for Roy Hodgson in charge of the club. I’d say a big disappointment was also that Hodgson, the safe pair of hands brought in to steady the ship didn’t really work out.

Summary:

Like their neighbours Everton, it’s a season of what ifs. Ultimately, the main positives are the change of owners and a manager all the fans and players are behind. Having really struggled to begin with, and being touted as relegation strugglers, to finish 6th was a fine achievement. They will hope to pick up and reclaim their place amongst the top four next year.

 

Manchester City:

Player of the year:

In my eyes it would be Vincent Kompany. A class act with a growing reputation, Kompany was simply outstanding every time he took to the field. I suspect others would plump for Carlos Tevez for obvious reasons. It’s my blog though. So there.

Highlight:

Winning the FA Cup is obviously a huge achievement, especially as they knocked out their neighbours from across the road on the way to the final. Qualifying for the Champions’ League is also huge for them. They will be pleased that even with 4th place secured they were able to keep going and overhaul Arsenal to secure automatic qualification instead of the tricky qualifying round route.

Disappointment:

People outside of the club and their fans seem to be disappointed that a side costing so much money were, at times, very cautious and a little negative. Similarly, there are those who feel that with the money spent and the money at their disposal, City should already be winning the league. I’d probably argue that people within the club are not that disappointed by either of those.  I suppose if we’re being really harsh, their biggest disappointment was that they won their trophy the day United won theirs. Instead of being given the limelight, City’s achievement was perhaps brushed aside a little.

Summary:

Job done as far as Roberto Mancini and the owners will be concerned. As mentioned above, some feel City might have been more adventurous. However, Mancini set the target of top 4 and a cup. That is exactly what they achieved. The method by which they achieved it is irrelevant: Mission accomplished. Expect a busy summer and City to be a huge danger next year.

 

Manchester United:

Player of the year:

Javier Hernandez can claim to have had a big influence with his goal scoring contribution. Nani pitched in more than his share of goals and assists. However, their stand out player was definitely Nemanja Vidic. Vidic was so important, especially with Rio Ferdinand’s injury problems. The big defender was solid, consistent and a massive part of why United were successful.

Highlight:

As much as I don’t like some fans’ obsessions with their rivals, getting title number 19 will be most United fans’ highlight. It seems at last, (for them anyway,) they have knocked someone off their f*cking perch.

Disappointment:

Losing to City in the FA Cup will have been very disappointing. However, the Champions’ League Final will have stung them more. It’s not the fact that they lost the game that is the disappointment; more the manner in which they lost it. Losing to Barcelona is not a disgrace by any means, however United were totally outclassed, and for once Alex Ferguson seemed to get his tactics wrong. United were not set up to compete and consequently didn’t.

Summary:

It’s hard to complain when you win your domestic league, especially with the ease that they eventually did. They will be really disappointed however not to win the Champions’ League too. Many critics claim it’s not a very good Manchester United side. If that is true, they should be even happier at winning the league. As I said, it’s hard for them to have any complaints.

Newcastle:

Player of the year:

Joey Barton, Jose Enrique and Kevin Nolan all had excellent seasons. The player of the year at the Toon would have to be Chek Tiote. Scored a wonder goal against Arsenal and was quietly effective and consistent throughout.

Highlight:

The 4-4 draw against Arsenal was one of the most astonishing games I’ve seen in a long time. It must be one of their highlights to come back so unexpectedly against one of the league’s biggest teams. Then again, given how much they hate each other up there, thrashing Sunderland 5-1 probably went down pretty well too.

Disappointment:

Most Newcastle fans were disappointed with the removal of everyone’s favourite football nice guy Chris Hughton. Unfortunately, it was the sort of fiasco we’ve come to expect at Newcastle.

Summary:

A refreshingly incident free season for the club that everyone normally laughs at. (The Hughton affair aside.) It was a comfortable finish in the league with no real alarms. Given the relegation rate of newly promoted sides, they’ll be pretty happy with that.

Stoke:

Player of the year:

Matt Etherington continued to impress from the wing, causing some to clamour for an international call up for him. Robert Huth was probably the player of the year for me. Scored a few goals and looked pretty solid in defence.

Highlight:

Getting to the cup final. The Semi Final thrashing of Bolton puts a little cherry on top of that achievement too.

Disappointment:

Not really turning up in the cup final. As is often the case, Stoke seemed to get stage fright. A real shame for them.

Summary:

A really good season. Stoke are fast become a staple name in the Premier League. They weren’t in the relegation fight and finished a comfortable mid table. Their style might not be to everyone’s taste but it’s hard to argue with the results Tony Pulis and his side produce from it. Getting to the cup final pushes their season from “pretty good” to “excellent.”

Sunderland:

Player of the year:

Phew. Well, if he hadn’t left, it would have been Darren Bent. He did though. Asamoah Gyan looked decent (probably why they let Bent go) and Phil Bardsley did very well too.

Highlight:

Nedem Onouha’s wonder goal and the result of the game he scored it in, thumping Chelsea 3-0.

Disappointment:

Well, losing heavily to bitter rivals Newcastle won’t exactly be their favourite moment. A more worrying disappointment would be the complete refusal to win games once they sold Darren Bent.

Summary:

A bit of a non-event really. No real progress to speak of, but safe enough. Sunderland’s slump after the sold Darren Bent will be a massive concern. If they hadn’t got quite so many points on the board when it happened they could have been in real trouble.

Tottenham:

Player of the year:

Gareth Bale won the PFA award, Rafael Van Der Vaart grabbed a lot of headlines, but without doubt their player of the year was Luka Modric. The little playmaker was a class act and was at the heart of a lot of the good moves and chances Spurs created.

Highlight:

The Champions’ League run would be hard to top. Cynics gave Spurs little chance of progressing in Europe, but some memorable nights saw them beat amongst others, both Milan sides. It was a shame that a little bit of silliness from Peter Crouch led to them having their pants pulled down by Real Madrid.

Disappointment:

Not the elimination from UCL, more the failure to qualify for it again. The European run was a fantastic achievement but what makes Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United better than the rest of the Premier league is that they consistently qualify. If Spurs wanted to progress and become one of the biggest hitters in the Premier League, continued qualification for the Champions’ League was a must. Instead they regressed in the league and almost didn’t qualify for Europe at all.

Summary:

It was an up and down season for the White Hart Lane club. Obviously they will be really pleased with their debut season in the Champions’ League, and they’ve every right to be. As mentioned though, not qualifying for it a 2nd time is not good at all. Harry Redknapp has drawn a lot of criticism for suggesting that there is not much further Spurs can go. Whether you agree with that or not, I think the overall feeling for Spurs this season is one of close, but not close enough.

West Bromwich Albion:

Player of the year:

For me, it was their goal machine, Peter Odemwingie. He scored important goals and plenty of them.

Highlight:

Beating both Arsenal and Liverpool would probably be up there for them. Also, I think avoiding relegation very easily despite being many people’s favourites for the drop.

Disappointment:

Probably their mid-season loss of form that took them from a potential top 10 finish to ultimately winding up in 11th.

Summary:

In spite of the mid-season loss of form, West Brom will be ecstatic with their showing this year. Getting rid of the likeable Roberto Di Matteo was a move many questioned. However, getting in Roy Hodgson was a masterstroke and the board deserves a lot of praise for having the guts to make a change. 11th place for a team that was supposedly relegation fodder is a splendid effort.

West Ham:

Player of the year:

Scott Parker. I don’t recall anyone else really turning up for the Hammers this season.

Highlight:

Hmm. Beating Manchester United in the League Cup or the league wins over Liverpool and Spurs. That’s about it.

Disappointment:

Getting relegated is the obvious one. Avram Grant looked increasingly clueless as manager so maybe with hindsight, a further disappointment is that their board didn’t show the foresight West Bromwich Albion’s did, and sack their manager before it was too late.

Summary:

Utterly out of their depth. What makes their league form even more baffling is that they had 2 decent cup runs. How they could do well in those competitions and then be so poor in the league is I’m sure a source of great frustration. In spite of the phenomenal efforts of Scott Parker West Ham were abject. All in all, a club with “big club” aspirations as West Ham apparently are can only view this season as a disaster.

Wigan:

Player of the year:

Charles N’Zogbia deserves great credit for the way he stepped up during the crunch time of the season, chipping in important goals and inspirational performances. Ali Al Habsi however was simply superb. Some games they would have been sunk without trace but for his brilliance. I am sure they’ll be hoping he makes his loan move permanent.

Highlight:

Staying up itself will be the highlight. Further to that, the dramatic victory over West Ham with a very late goal from N’Zogbia. Sheer entertainment and a massive step towards survival.

Disappointment:

Hard to pin one down. I suppose the main one would be that they were at the bottom and struggling to stay in the league, again. The only other one would be that no one seems to be bothered about them. Their attendances are very low.

Summary:

In the end, they will consider this to be job done. Wigan obviously don’t want to struggle at the foot of the table, but if they are going to, at least they have managed to stay in the league. If they can hang onto N’Zogbia they will hope to be able to have a safer, more successful season next time out.

Wolves:

Player of the year:

Steven Fletcher deserves a fair bit of praise for his late season performances and his goals which proved to be vital to Wolves’ survival. Matt Jarvis was superb as well and would probably shade it for me. Jarvis, now an international may well be sought after by a lot of bigger clubs this summer. Deservedly so.

Highlight:

Wolves beat Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea. That collection of scalps would be a highlight for pretty much any club.

Disappointment:

Wolves lost to Wigan, Blackpool and West Ham. Dropping points against struggling sides is always going to make things difficult for you. It’s all the more disappointing when you compare those games with the victories over the top clubs.

Summary:

A satisfying season for Wolves. Staying up, as is the case with a lot of the sides around them is a case of job done. If Mick McCarthy can address the wild inconsistencies in their form they might just push for the top half next season. A tall order though.

 

So there it is. My take on the season just gone. Please leave some feedback below and enjoy your summer. Not long until pre-season….

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