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Premier League 2019/20 winners and losers

With the global coronavirus pandemic all but ending the 2019/20 season, who are the winners and losers in the Premier League? If this really is to be the final league table, what grade would each team receive, based on expectations?

Here’s a rundown of each team from top to bottom. Disagree? Write in the comments at the bottom!

1. Liverpool – Grade A+

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An astonishing 27 wins in 29 games leaves Liverpool well ahead of the competition in an incredible season. They’re so clearly focused on winning the Premier League title to end a 30-year drought. A mix of both swashbuckling and scrappy wins has seen them over the line many times.

While Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino have again been brilliant, the standout star this season has been Sadio Mané. His 16 goals and all-round attacking play have been fantastic to watch, and integral to the team’s total of 66 league goals.

With Andy Robertson and Trent-Alexander Arnold becoming the most attacking full-back pairing in world football, Liverpool’s forward play has been irresistible to watch, and almost impossible to defend.

2. Manchester City – Grade C

The reigning champions have misfired badly on occasions this season, and have performed well below their best. Seven league defeats points to a stutteringly inconsistent season, but they haven’t been short on firepower.

Sergio Aguero has managed 23 goals, an average of a goal every 89 minutes he’s played. Raheem Sterling has rattled in 20 goals, while Gabriel Jesus has grabbed 18. Their forward play continues to mesmerise most of the time.

The problem has been in defence. Injuries to key defenders like Aymeric Laporte, and a lack of spending to reinforce the back line after Vincent Kompany’s departure, has left City woefully short at the back. While 2nd place is no disgrace, they are so far below Liverpool – and their own high standards – that this will feel like a failure.

3. Leicester City – Grade A

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Brendan Rodgers has moulded Leicester into the standout challengers to the Premier League elite, with a formidable attacking team. The fact that he’ll be disappointed with some of the inconsistencies in this campaign shows just how high the bar has been raised for City this season.

Some incredible standout victories – 9-0 away to Southampton, 2-0 at home to Arsenal – made a real statement of the quality of this team. Jamie Vardy has been at his predatory, shithousing best with 19 goals this season. The talented James Maddison’s reputation continues to flourish. And one of the league’s strongest defensive units has only improved since Harry Maguire’s departure.

They still look vulnerable with injuries to key players, but Leicester are surely top 4 contenders for a long time if they can continue to invest in an already-talented squad.

4. Chelsea – Grade B

A transfer ban, an inexperienced manager, a talented crop of academy stars. This season really was a “carte blanche” for Frank Lampard as he tries to change the culture at the club. Like most of the top 4 challengers this season, Chelsea have been inconsistent. But this was expected with them, and on the whole they’ve done well.

A reliance on goals from Tammy Abraham is worrying, and in his absence they’ve looked toothless in attack. With Chelsea, the big challenge was life after Eden Hazard and it’s safe to say that he hasn’t been replaced like-for-like. But there’s promise – for once, Chelsea are playing the long game here.

Mason Mount continues to show real promise as a creator since his elevation to the first team, and Christian Pulisic is an increasing influence on the team’s style of play. Their squad might be lacking some of the stardust of the past, but there’s plenty in the making at Stamford Bridge.

5. Manchester United – Grade B+

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be frustrated that the season has stopped at a time when United are finally finding their feet as a team. They’ve had some truly abysmal performances in the league this season. But since the January arrivals of Odion Ighalo and the mercurial Bruno Fernandes, they finally look like a cohesive unit.

The signing of Fernandes in particular has transformed United. The final third is where they’ve been lacking quality. But in Fernandes they have a real genuine world class “lock picker” of player. He’s grabbed 3 goals and 4 assists since his arrival at Old Trafford, and would undoubtedly have continued that fine form.

Summer signings Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been clear upgrades on their predecessors, and if a fit and firing Paul Pobga is in the mix, who knows what kind of team United can become?

6. Wolves – Grade A-

Alongside Leicester, Wolves were always the most likely team to upset the status quo in the Premier League this season. And Nuno Espirito Santo’s team are a force to be reckoned with. Only just outside the top 6 for most of the season, they’re a clear established elite top-flight team.

Raul Jimenez is the attacking focus of the team, as his 16 goals and 9 assists will attest. His dynamic supporting cast of Diogo Jota and Adama Traore gives Wolves one of the most fluid forward lines in the league.

With European competition in the mix this season, the question was always if they had the squad to compete on more fronts. Progressing to the Europa League knockout stage answers this emphatically.

7. Sheffield United – Grade A+

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What a fantastic story this season’s been for Chris Wilder’s incredible team. Written off by most journalists at the start of the season (me included), they’ve adapted to the Premier League with tactical flexibility and adventurousness. And they have a game in and over Wolvers above them, and could feasibly be ahead of them in the table. Unthinkable new heights for the Blades.

Defensively solid, they’ve only conceded 25 goals in 28 league games – only Liverpool have conceded fewer. They lack an out-and-out goalscorer, but have shared the goals throughout the team – not exactly a bad thing.

The fact that they’re pushing for a European place is an astonishing shift from even their own expectations. But what a reward for throwing caution out of the window, organising their play and going toe-to-toe with every team they’ve played.

8. Tottenham Hotspur – Grade D-

Spurs would happily write this season off if they could, such has been their fall from grace. From Champions League finalists to top 10 mediocrity in just one sacking. This Tottenham team is barely recognisable from Mauricio Pochettino’s heroes.

Installing Jose Mourinho as manager was always going to be gamble, and the change in their style has been noticeable. The attacking verve of the Pochettino era has been replaced by the trademark Mourinho pragmatism. However, they have been unlucky with injuries to key men Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min.

The jury is still out on whether Mourinho can get them firing again. He needs a major overhaul to an ageing squad, doubtful with such a notoriously tight-fisted board. But either way, 2019/20 is a season to forget for Spurs.

9. Arsenal – Grade D

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Not exactly a vintage season for the red side of North London either. The inevitable sacking of Unai Emery felt long overdue as Arsenal sleepwalked out of the top 6. Installing fans favourite Mikel Arteta has stopped the rot slightly, but there’s still a palpable lack of cohesion at the Emirates.

The prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has spearheaded the Gunners attack with 20 goals this season. Record signing Nicolas Pepe has provided 8 assists. But beyond this, Arsenal just can’t see out a game. Despite only losing 6 games in the league, they’ve drawn 13 – the joint-most in the Premier League with Wolves.

They’ve definitely turned a corner under Arteta. But this season, so far adrift from the elite, will go down as an unmitigated failure however you spin it.

10. Burnley – Grade B

Sean Dyche will be thrilled with how his Burnley team have placed this season – remarkably, closer in points to the top 4 than to the relegation zone. They’ve hardly set the world alight, but they’ve proved their worth in the top flight once again.

Forward Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez scored the lion’s share of their goals as they won almost as many games as they’ve lost.

Steady, unspectacular, and the most Burnley season of all.

11. Crystal Palace – Grade B+

12. Everton – Grade C-

13. Newcastle United – Grade B+

14. Southampton – Grade C

15. Brighton – Grade C

16. West Ham United – Grade D-

17. Watford – Grade E-

18. Bournemouth – Grade E

19. Aston Villa – Grade D

20. Norwich City – Grade E

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© Mike Barclay at The Football Diary 2020