Best player, biggest flop and what’s next? Assessing the Premier League’s top five

Erling Haaland

The Premier League season has finally come to an end following a campaign like no other, which saw a World Cup played in the middle of the competition, records broken, and plenty of memorable moments along the way.

Few expected Arsenal to challenge for the title at the start of the season, but Mikel Arteta’s side pushed Manchester City until almost the very end before coming up just short.

Pep Guardiola had a historic season from new signing Erling Haaland to thank for completing a run of three Premier League titles in a row, who smashed the record for most goals scored in a single campaign with 36.

And Manchester United’s third-place finish means they will return to the Champions League next season, accompanied by another surprise package in Newcastle United who secured fourth spot ahead of Liverpool, who rallied late on in the campaign to qualify for the Europa League in what was ultimately a disappointing year for the Reds.

In the first of Hayters TV’s season reviews, we look back at the top five clubs and what’s next for each of them this summer and beyond…


SEASON REVIEW: It looked for so long as though title favourites Man City might lose their crown to Arsenal and their former coach Mikel Arteta, but an incredible run of form and dropped points for Arsenal ensured the Cityzens overtook the Gunners at the crucial time of the season to pick up another Premier League crown. The attention has now turned to whether they can win the treble, with an FA Cup final against Manchester United and Champions League final against Inter Milan to come. City have looked unstoppable in recent months, and the acquisition of Erling Haaland as well as Manuel Akanji in defence bolstered an already brilliant team and, potentially, helped push them to even greater heights.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON: It has to be the man who has already won many individual accolades for a memorable first season in England, Erling Haaland. The winner of the Football Writers Association and Premier League Player of the Season awards has scored 36 league goals and 52 in all competitions, and has set the Premier League alight with his pace, power and finishing ability. If he continues, Haaland could go down as the best striker, perhaps the best player, the league has ever seen.

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FLOP OF THE SEASON: Kalvin Phillips has endured a disappointing debut season at the Etihad Stadium after arriving for £45m in the summer. The former Leeds midfielder has struggled with injury problems and has failed to force his way into City’s outstanding midfield crop, playing just 12 times in the Premier League. Phillips also hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in January when his manager Pep Guardiola labelled him overweight. Surely things can only get better from here for the England international?

WHAT NEXT?: The immediate future involves two finals and the possibility of completing the treble, but beyond that the biggest questions centre around the alleged 100 breaches of financial fair play rules of which they have been charged by the Premier League. Any penalty could have huge ramifications on the club moving forward but it is expected that the final verdict will take some time yet.


SEASON REVIEW: Manager Mikel Arteta said the season’s target was to reconnect with supporters and win a top-four finish and Champions League qualification. He achieved that in style and challenged for the title for much of the campaign before fading in the final quarter of the season. The next challenge is to compete in Europe and try to close the gap further to Manchester City. Expectations are high – perhaps unrealistically so – but he has the youngest side in the Premier League that should only get better.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON: Obvious candidates are attacking players such as Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and inspirational captain Martin Odegaard, but defender William Saliba made the biggest impact in his first season as a first team regular. His ability to anchor the defence created a platform for the rest of the team to build on.

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FLOP OF THE SEASON: Perhaps a bit harsh to award this in a season of over achievement, but Fabio Vieira is yet to show why Arteta was keen to pay Porto £30m+ for his services. Currently looks too lightweight for the Premier League.

WHAT NEXT?: A massive transfer window of change and reinforcement. Numerous players could go including the likes Granit Xhaka, Nicolas Pepe, Nuno Tavares, Sambi Lokonga, Kieran Tierney, Charlie Patino and Flo Balogun. That, along with Champions League money, will raise funds to back bids for West Ham’s Declan Rice, Brighton’s Moises Caicedo, Chelsea’s Mason Mount and Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi, among others.


SEASON REVIEW: In a season which looked as though it could be a disaster early on in the campaign when new boss Erik ten Hag was thumped 4-0 away at Brentford, the Dutchman has managed to turn it around and get United back into the Champions League as well as winning silverware in the form of the League Cup. The season can be a considered a relatively successful one for United, even more so should they do a domestic double and beat rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup final. There have been a few bumps along the way, the biggest coming at Anfield when ten Hag’s side were smashed 7-0, but his team have shown the ability to bounce back and there is plenty to be positive about for the future.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON: Marcus Rashford. The forward has looked rejuvenated under ten Hag, scoring 30 goals across all competitions and playing a monumental role in United’s successes this season. He has flourished in a wide left role, drifting in and scoring pivotal goals for his side, who have been hugely dependent on his attacking output, perhaps too much so.

FLOP OF THE SEASON: Antony arrived for a hefty £85m in the summer but is yet to really live up to that price tag. The winger has shown flashes of brilliance and has made United a more dangerous threat going forward but is yet to repay the faith shown in him by the club to spend that amount of money.

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WHAT NEXT?: Questions persist over the ownership of the club and whether the Glazer family could sell up and walk away. Whether or not the future of the club is more certain by the time the transfer window opens will likely dictate what they are able to do this summer, with ten Hag keen on making new additions in order to bridge the gap to Manchester City next season. Harry Kane would be the big difference maker if they can pull off an audacious move for the forward, while a move for Chelsea star Mason Mount could help provide some additional creativity in midfield. A lack of depth was an issue for ten Hag this season, something which will need to be addressed if United are to improve.


SEASON REVIEW: Last season’s takeover by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund has brought a new lease of life to a formerly stagnating club. The expectation was that Newcastle, with their newly found wealth, would be challenging at the top end of the table in the years to come but to see them doing it so soon has been a huge surprise. An outstanding defensive record thanks to a dependable back four and a top quality goalkeeper in Nick Pope was key in helping the Magpies to qualify for Champions League, but the test now will be whether they can keep competing at the top end. Further investment will be needed this summer.

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PLAYER OF THE SEASON: Newcastle have many outstanding performers to thank for their surprising success this season but Kieran Trippier’s performances at right-back have been superb. Terrific defensively and a creative threat going forward, the England defender continues to get better with age and his experience has been of huge benefit to the club since his arrival last season.

FLOP OF THE SEASON: Much like with Arsenal, it seems harsh to label any of Newcastle’s players a flop given their outstanding season but Anthony Gordon’s arrival has so far proved to be rather disappointing following a big money move from Everton in January, having scored just once in 16 Premier League games. There is still plenty of time for the youngster to get better and make his mark at the club though.

WHAT NEXT?: This team has done fantastically to qualify for the Champions League but its clear that further additions are needed if they are to compete in the competition. Newcastle are not short of funds but may be restricted by what they can do due to financial fair play regulations, something Howe has been keen to stress. Moving on some fringe players to free up space for high quality signings will be key if the club is to continue on their upwards trajectory next season.


SEASON REVIEW: Most will have expected Liverpool to once again be Man City’s closest challengers at the top of the Premier League but it proved not to be the case. The loss of Sadio Mane hit the club hard as Jurgen Klopp’s new attacking signings failed to hit the ground running, and it looked as though an upper mid-table finish was on the cards for much of the campaign until a late season rally helped Klopp’s men to finish fifth and qualify for the Europa League. It was ultimately a disappointing campaign, but one which will be remembered for their 7-0 hammering of rivals Man Utd and their improved form of late should provide confidence going into next season.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON: By his own high standards he has perhaps endured a slightly disappointing campaign like his team, but Mo Salah continues to prove he is Liverpool’s best player. 19 goals and 12 assists in the Premier League, Salah’s attacking output makes the difference for this side and he is still one of the best forwards in world football.

FLOP OF THE SEASON: Darwin Nunez came to the club with high expectations after his £85 move from Benfica and while he has shown promise and has not been a complete disappointment, the gigantic sum spent on him is yet to pay off. The striker failed to reach double figures for goals in the Premier League and will need to contribute more if Liverpool are to get closer to the top next season.

WHAT NEXT?: The long-term future of current owners FSG remains uncertain, with the group said to be interested in selling the club. But despite that, Klopp insists that there will be money to spend this summer and is confident of securing the signings he wants. Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister has been heavily linked with a move to Anfield and would bring some much needed dynamism to an aging midfield, but further investment in the spine of the team is likely needed if the Reds are to get back challenging for the title again.

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