The Premier League season finally ended on July 26th, almost a year after it had started. Liverpool infamously won their first league title since 1990, but the campaign was overshadowed by the Coronavirus pandemic, which is sadly still on going and could well affect next season too. Watching games without fans present was thought of a weird concept but now it is beginning to look very normal as the world tries to react to the virus. You would be forgiven for thinking roll on 2021….
As for the football Liverpool were impressive of course and at one stage it looked like they will emulate Arsenal's unbeaten season back in 2003/04 but it wasn't to be when they were beaten 3-0 by Watford in possibly the biggest shock of the season. This is now underlined given that the Hornets were eventually relegated.
For the Reds Jordan Henderson stepped up and matured, and Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane scored 37 goals between them. Trent Alexander-Arnold was magnificent in defence not only helping his side to keep 15 clean sheets he scored 4 goals and assisted in a stunning 13. Another in the back four Andrew Robertson set up 12 goals and Virgil van Dijk easily made the most accurate passes in the entire league!
Jurgen Klopp came over as very humble about the title win, which was obviously a very emotional moment for the club and the Reds remained undefeated at home, although their 100% record was blemished, by of all teams Burnley, who went to Anfield and secured a 1-1 draw.
Manchester City were always going to finish 2nd and even though they had reasons to be cheerful this season the league campaign was poor by Pep Guardiola's high standards. City lost 9 times, 7 of those coming away from home. So yes they were free scoring with 102 goals and Kevin de Bruyne looked amazing but they still finished 19 points behind Liverpool. The good news is that they won their FFP appeal against UEFA which would have seen the club banned from the Champions League for two years.
The tussle for a top 4 place was genuinely exciting and Manchester United's brilliant form, which saw the club win 24 of their last 30 points was good enough for them to finish in 3rd place, upstaging Chelsea at the death on goal difference. Bruno Fernandes was spectacular for the Red Devils - could he be the signing that United have been searching for since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo a decade ago? On the little evidence that we've seen the answer could be an emphatic yes.
Arsenal finished 8th which was their poorest season in a generation however the light flicked on at the end of the tunnel when the club made it to the FA Cup final and then beat Chelsea 2-1. This after going a goal behind. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the one real world class player the Gunners have in their ranks, he scored 22 goals this season and they will have to do everything to hold onto his services for next season.
Everton finished the season very poorly and at times the players looked like they were preparing for their holidays once they knew they were safe and that Europe was just too far off. Manager Carlo Ancelotti will be most displeased though at some of the inept performances. An away win against high flying Sheffield United wasn't expected but overall Everton had a disappointing final run.
On the other hand ex Everton manager David Moyes rolled back the years and got West Ham working as a team as they easily survived relegation in the end by losing just 1 game in their final six matches which included beating Chelsea 3-2. They even drew away to Manchester United. Is this a sign of things to come at West Ham or was it simply a moment of great form? We will surely know next season.
As for relegation Norwich were always going down and it was confirmed with a few games to spare. Bournemouth also went but maybe the surprise was with Watford who at one point looked safe. The club imploded though and then sacked Nigel Pearson with 2 games still left to play, it was Pearson who at the beginning of the year when he stepped in who was being praised by the club. The Hornets lost their buzz and their final two games and their fate was sealed, they have now had 4 managers during this campaign alone. Aston Villa benefited from it all and pulled off the great escape going their last 4 games undefeated.
In Spain Real Madrid won the league as Barcelona imploded. Barca's latest manager Quique Setien's time with the club is surely up now. The league win was significant for Madrid given that they have won more Champions League's than the league title under manager Zinedine Zidane.
In France PSG ended up winning the treble. The league of course was ended in March, but there was still two cup final matches to take place. These took place in July and the authorities even let 5,000 fans into the Stade de France to witness the game. PSG also won the very final Coupe de la Ligue (the equivalent to the Carabao Cup in England), when they beat Lyon on penalties. That cup competition is ending to ease the fixture pile up in France.
Juventus cruised to a 9th league title in a row. True their were threats from the likes of Lazio and Inter Milan and even Atalanta made a late threat but the old lady always had its joker card. Cristiano Ronaldo scored 31 goals, the most a Juventus player has ever scored in a single season for yet another record. Hats off to Lazio's Ciro Immobile though who equalled a campaign goalscorer's record with 36.
Finally the Champions League resumes later this week. There are 4 second leg ties to be decided before all teams head off to Lisbon to complete the competition from the quarter finals on.
Manchester City will play Real Madrid on Friday evening at the Etihad where City have a 2-1 lead from the first leg. City are in the driving seat no doubt as Madrid will have to at least score 2 goals to stay in the tie. Juventus will take on Lyon on the same evening, the Italian's are 1-0 down in the first leg but will feel confident of going through. Having said that it may only take 1 away goal from Lyon to end Juventus' dream once more. On Saturday Chelsea will take on Bayern Munich in Germany, but the Premier League side are already 3-0 down in that fixture and barring one of the greatest comebacks in football history, Bayern should be advancing. Finally Barcelona will take on Napoli in Spain with the score at 1-1 Barca are in the driving seat with the away goal and one would expect Messi and co, to get the win.