A juggernaut decimating all competition. Broken records. VAR controversies. The longest Premier League season in history ended on June 26, after the coronavirus outbreak caused the temporary shutdown of the campaign. Here, we will take a look at the 2019/20 season in its glory, from its top players to the biggest shocks.
One team to rule them all:
This season saw the exhausting 30-year wait finally come to a close, as Klopp’s Liverpool steamrolled their way to their first Premier League title with 99 points. The Reds won the league with seven games to spare, a new record, defeating every team at least once. Outdoing their extraordinary 2018/19 points tally of 97, Liverpool deservedly triumphed this season as second-placed Manchester City could only close the deficit to 18 points. In a season which included a hectic festive schedule, Klopp’s ‘mentality monsters’ also won the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. Every single member of the team who participated during the season, from superstar Virgil Van Dijk to rising star Curtis Jones, is worthy of heaps of praise. An outstanding achievement for an outstanding team. This was Liverpool’s year.
A thrilling chase for Europe:
While Guardiola’s Manchester City could only secure runners-up, they were clearly the best team in the league after Liverpool. Scoring 102 goals (the most in the league), the blue side of Manchester still managed to win the League Cup in February and remain favourites for Champions League success, after a memorable 2-1 victory away at Real Madrid in the Round of 16 First Leg.
The battle for the final Champions League places was hotly contested throughout the season. Manchester United, Chelsea, Leicester, Arsenal, Spurs, Wolves and newcomers Sheffield United all fought for the two precious spots. A remarkable loss of form for Leicester after the June restart resulted in them finishing 5th after an otherwise stellar season, with Jamie Vardy crowned league top scorer with 23 goals. A revitalised Manchester United and Lampard’s spirited Chelsea finished 3rd and 4th respectively. North London rivals Arsenal (FA Cup winners) and Spurs (6th) clinched Europa League, though the latter must enter the second qualifying round.
The efforts of Wolves and Sheffield United must not be discredited. Wolves remain in the Europa League knockouts after another strong season under Nuno Espírito Santo, while Chris Wilder’s newly promoted Sheffield United have provided the league with many a surprise, dispatching the likes of Chelsea and Spurs.
Another tight relegation battle:
After mayhem on the final day, Aston Villa somehow escaped relegation by a single point. Their 1-1 tie against West Ham resulted in Bournemouth and Watford joining a disappointing Norwich side in being relegated. It was a heartbreaking end for Bournemouth and Watford, who both became mainstays in the Premier League since their promotions from the Championship in the 2014/15 season. Although if there’s one thing Watford can take away from this season, it’s that they were the team to end Liverpool’s hopes of an invincible season, shocking the champions-to-be 3-0 in February. As for Bournemouth, they must still hold their heads up high after their meteoric rise from League Two in 2009 to the Premier League under Eddie Howe, who has now officially left the Cherries.
Stars of the campaign:
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson’s leadership and consistent performances on the pitch led to him being crowned LWA Player of the Year. But this should not take anything away from Manchester City superstar Kevin De Bruyne who lit up the league with his unworldly playmaking ability. The Belgian machine became the first player since Thierry Henry to rack up 20 assists in a season, also netting 13 goals. This season has seen De Bruyne truly prove himself as the best midfielder in the world currently. A special mention must be given to the impressive Bruno Fernandes who single-handedly drove Manchester United’s pursuit and success of Champions League qualification since his arrival. With 8 goals in 14 appearances this season, one can only wonder what the Portuguese midfielder can achieve in his first full season with the Red Devils.
COVID-19 temporarily ends the season:
The 2019/20 season will go down in history as a metaphorical victim of COVID-19. The virus, which has wreaked havoc across the world since the early months of 2020, caused the season to be suspended for over three months before returning in June, with no fans allowed in stadiums. But the rise of the coronavirus has resulted in the increased involvement of players in efforts to help the NHS and the public cope. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was instrumental in arranging a coronavirus fund to raise millions to help the NHS, coordinating with fellow team captains in the League to get involved and offer aid. Meanwhile, Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals will benefit 1.3 million children in England during these unprecedented times. The duo not only became heroes for their clubs this season, but they became truly inspirational figures for their country thanks to their COVID-19 efforts.
Black Lives Matter:
Protests in America surrounding the death of George Floyd resulted in action being taken worldwide for justice and the fight against systemic racism. All Premier League teams showed their support for BLM with ‘Black Lives Matter’ replacing player names on jerseys and taking a knee at kick-off. It served as a showing of strength and solidarity, a sign that change was necessary for peace and equality. Footballers such as Raheem Sterling have all been active in the movement. The actions of the players and the League have been positive and they must continue down this path in order to combat a problem which has been present for too long.
Other highlights of the season:
- Liverpool defeat rivals Manchester City 3-1 at Anfield to extend their lead to 8 points at the top of the table
- Leicester destroy Southampton 9-0 to set the record for the biggest away win in English top-flight history
- Struggling Spurs sack Pochettino and bring in Jose Mourinho
- Norwich stun Manchester City 3-2 early in the season, ending City’s unbeaten League streak
- A goal-line technology blunder saves relegation-fighting Aston Villa from losing to Sheffield United
What we can expect next season:
After this blockbuster of a season, 2020/21 will almost certainly follow up providing high-quality action. At some point next season, we will likely see the return of the fans. The long-awaited return of Championship winners Leeds will add an extra element of intrigue and entertainment, especially when they encounter bitter rivals Manchester United. At the top, champions Liverpool will be faced with greater competition. Manchester City have already looked to strengthen their defense with the acquisition of Dutch centre-back Nathan Ake. The red side of Manchester are closing in on the signing of England sensation Jadon Sancho, a move which will undoubtedly bolster their attacking prowess. Meanwhile, Chelsea have emerged as title challengers with the arrivals of stars Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.
The exciting new season is almost here, with football fans only having to wait less than 90 days before the return.