Last season’s Premier League was one of the most exciting in recent memory. Buoyed by the return of fans after a year of behind-closed-doors football, the campaign delivered some of the highest-quality football the country has ever seen.
Manchester City won their sixth Premier League title in thrilling fashion whilst Liverpool finished a point behind. Both teams played scintillating football across the entire campaign and both deserved a league title as much as each other.
A huge amount of money was spent in the summer of 2021. The most expensive of which were the £100 million transfer of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa to Manchester City and the £97 million fee paid by Chelsea for the services of Romelu Lukaku, who had enjoyed a prolific season playing for Inter in Serie A.
Other notable transfers included the arrival of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane to Manchester United and Arsenal’s purchase of Norwegian wonderkid Martin Ødegaard.
Football was inches away from coming home at Euro 2021 and England’s run to their first major final since 1966 ignited the nation. Chelsea were the holders of the Champions League, whilst Manchester United lost out on the Europa League to Villreal after a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United were considered early favourites for the league title, whilst doubts were on Liverpool after their dismal run of form midway through the 2020/21 season. Tottenham, Leicester City, and Arsenal were backed to compete for European places, whilst Norwich City were once again relegation-favorites.
Opening Day Drama & Chelsea Lead the Way
The season was underway on 13 August 2021 as Arsenal travelled to newly-promoted Brentford in the latter’s Premier League debut.
The London club shocked the world by defeating the Gunners 2-0 in front of the first capacity crowd in over a year. Arsenal’s season then got even worse as they lost their next two games and found themselves rooted to the bottom of the table with not a single goal scored, leading to intense speculation that Mikel Arteta would soon be relieved of his duties.
Chelsea’s addition of Lukaku looked to be money well spent as the striker scored two goals against Arsenal early on in the season to send Thomas Tuchel’s men to the top of the table.
The Gunners soon improved their form, defeating archrivals Tottenham 3-0 to halt Spurs’ promising campaign under new manager Nuno Esperito Santo.
Tottenham’s form soon went out the window, leading to Santo being sacked before Christmas and acclaimed manager Antonio Conte soon took over.
Ronaldo Returns, Though United Crumble
The biggest transfer story of the summer was the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United after a 13-year absence.
After mass speculation that the Portuguese legend would join Manchester City, their cross-town rivals swooped in with a £510,000-per-week offer to entice the striker back to Old Trafford.
Ronaldo scored twice in a 4-1 win over Newcastle United on 11 September 2021 and, for a while, it looked like the good times were back for the Red Devils.
However, Manchester United soon embarked on a turgid run of form, losing to Leicester City and Watford by heavy score lines and being battered 5-0 at home to archrivals Liverpool. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign ended after the Watford defeat, yet United’s season never improved and they finished the season with just 58 points - their lowest in Premier League history.
Controversial Salvation for Newcastle
Newcastle United failed to win their first 14 games of the season and were frequently outplayed by almost every team in the division.
However, a Saudi Arabian takeover was completed in October 2021 to make the Magpies, on-paper, the richest club in the world. Though the takeover was (and still is) mired in controversy, the departures of Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce were welcomed by the Toon Army. After 15 years wallowing either in the Championship or at the foot of the Premier League table, Newcastle United reestablished themselves as footballing powerhouses.
A much-improved campaign after Christmas saw new manager Eddie Howe guide Newcastle to 11th place, well above the relegation zone.
Salah Shines as Title Race Heats Up
Mohammed Salah was the undisputed star of the 21/22 campaign and the Egyptian scored a wonder-goal in a 2-2 draw against Man City in October. After making a mockery of City’s world-class backline, Salah then shot past Ederson at an acute angle to complete the goal of the season.
Salah followed up with a similar goal against Watford before scoring a hat-trick in the aforementioned 5-0 rout of Manchester United. Though his form tailed off after Christmas, Salah’s performances throughout the season were acclaimed.
City Come Back From Behind to Secure Title
As was the case in 2018/19, the Premier League title race went to the wire as Manchester City were in front of Liverpool by a single point.
Aston Villa presented Liverpool’s last chance of winning the league and a game at the Etihad Stadium on May 22 soon resulted in Villa being 2-0 to the good against City. However, a spectacular comeback by Guardiola’s men soon transpired and, just as they did in 2012, City won the game 3-2 to secure the Premier League title.
Norwich City, Burnley, and Watford were all relegated to the Championship as Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur grabbed the remaining Champions League spots. Arsenal finished in fifth, whilst Manchester United finished in a distant sixth.
Last season’s Premier League has still yet to be fully digested, but it will surely go down as one of the most newsworthy seasons the division has ever seen.
Season Statistics (Team)
Champions - Manchester City (93 points)
Runners-up - Liverpool (92 points)
Third-place - Chelsea (74 points)
Fourth-place - Tottenham Hotspur (71 points)
Relegated - Norwich City, Burnley, Watford
Season Statistics (Individual)
Golden Boot - Mohammed Salah, Heung-min Son (Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, 23 goals)
Most Assists - Mohammed Salah (13 assists)
PFA Player of the Year - Mohammed Salah
PFA Young Player of the Year - Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Premier League Player of the Season - Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
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