Now the dust has settled we can look back on the 2014/15 campaign, highlighting the stars that shone, those that didn’t and what nuggets we can take into next season…
Part two – 11th to 20th:
Everton – 11th
Season in a nutshell: Sloppy. An uncharacteristically wobbly defence and poor home form – five defeats is more than Goodison saw in the previous two seasons combined – restricted Everton to mid-table. The Europa League didn’t help.
Who depressed: Goalkeeper Tim Howard’s seven clean sheets was four down on last season and his overall game more erratic than seen previously.
Fancy stat: Until last season’s 11th, Everton’s finishing position had steadily progressed from 8th, 7th, 7th, 6th, 5th in the previous five years.
Word to the wise: Sharpening up their home form will see a return to the top half. An absolute minimum requirement for Martinez.
West Ham – 12th
Season in a nutshell: Disillusioning. Nine wins in the first half of the season had the Hammers flirting with the top six. But just three in the second half saw a gradual descent to 12th. One place and seven points better than last year but felt like failure.
Who impressed: Full-back Aaron Cresswell was the model of consistency. Ever present, delivering nine clean sheets, two goals and four assists. The much maligned Stewart Downing’s six goals and eight assists also warrants a nod.
Who depressed: Diafra Sahko (ten goals and two assists) and Enner Valencia (four and two) both started on fire, but soon went out. Require handling with care.
Fancy stat: West Ham didn’t concede a single goal at home to the bottom seven.
Word to the wise: New ground, new manager but same again is probably on the cards.
West Brom – 13th
Season in a nutshell: Two-tone. A tale of two managers. Just four wins and ten defeats put West Brom in the bottom four and saw Alan Irvine jettisoned. The Tony Pulis effect was instant and typical – the defence tightened, the rot stopped and normal mid-table comfort was soon resumed.
Who impressed: Tony Pulis. Four clean sheets in his first five home matches turned their season around. Centre back Joleon Lescott registered 15 in all, plus Chris Brunt delivered 10 assists playing much of the season at left -back.
Who depressed: Said Berahino. On the face of it 14 goals is fine, but half of them came in his first nine matches – before his head was turned by transfer talk. His season also included a ten-match and an eight-match drought.
Fancy stat: But… Berahino scored more goals than the next four West Brom players combined.
Word to the wise: With Pulis at the wheel from the start, the only way is up for The Baggies. And If Chris Brunt is categorized as a full-back next season, he offers a nice cocktail of clean sheets and assists.
Leicester City – 14th
Season in a nutshell: Hollywood. A promising start peaked five matches in with a five-star, five-goal show v Man United. This immediately became a vertical nose-dive, headed directly for relegation. They then embarked on the most improbable seven wins from their last nine matches to secure safety.
Who impressed: Jamie Vardy’s eight assists (more than his five goals) took him into the England squad. Leonardo Ulloa is yet to convince but returned 11 goals and three assists.
Who depressed: Wes Morgan racked up all 10 clean sheets, but also conceded 53 goals.
Fancy stat: After hitting Man United for five, Leicester failed to score in 8 of their next 13 matches. Collecting just 2pts.
Word to the wise: 17th place will be the target for Leicester again this year. They cannot rely on winning seven of their last nine again, so will need to win more than four of their first 29.
Newcastle United – 15th
Season in a nutshell: Chaotic. An opening seven matches without a win made fans nervous. Then a run of six wins in eight, including three top six scalps – including champions elect Chelsea – had the terraces abuzz with talk of the Champions League. But a run-in of ten defeats in 12 made the ChampionSHIP the more likely.
Who impressed: Papiss Cisse scored 11 goals from just 11 starts and Jack Colback’s four goals and six assists amid the shambles around him represent a great effort.
Fancy stat: Newcastle’s away form alone would’ve take them down.
Word to the wise: Steve McClaren has a big job on his hands – on and off the pitch. Suspect he would take 11th place if you offered it him now.
Sunderland – 16th
Season in a nut shell: Dull. Five draws in the opening six matches (two of them scoreless) hinted at the level of excitement in store and the rest of the season lived up to it. A total of 17 draws kept Sunderland hovering just above the relegation zone before the season’s only back-to-back wins and another two draws (both scoreless) guaranteed safety in the final weeks.
Who impressed: Castel Pantilimon replaced Victor Mannone after his eight-goal horror show at Southampton and was present for 11 of Sunderland’s 13 clean sheets. Jordi Gomez’s four goals and two assists from 22 starts was the best outfield contribution.
Who depressed: Unfair to single any one player out. They all deserve a share of the award.
Fancy stat: Amost a quarter (23%) of Sunderland’s matches ended 0-0.
Word to the wise: Dick Advocaat achieved more than most thought he would by keeping Sunderland in the PL. Even with a full pre-season and money to spend, better than 16th will match that achievement.
Aston Villa – 17th
Season in a nutshell: Confusing. It’s hard to picture the season starting with three wins from four, including away at Liverpool. Perhaps because it was followed by a run of six defeats. Topped by a run of seven defeats in January and February. The arrival of Steve Sherwood and return of Christian Benteke delivered enough to secure PL survival and an FA Cup appearance.
Who depressed: Fabian Delph needs to add end product to his game to live up to the billing foisted upon him since breaking into the England team. Just three assists and no goals.
Fancy stat: Villa scored just one goal in seven matches between Sept 20th – Nov 24th. And just two goals in ten between Dec 26th – Feb 24th.
Word to the wise: If Benteke stays, a mid-table finish is not beyond Villa. Without him, staying up is the best they can hope for.
Hull City – 18th and relegated
Season in a nutshell: Resigned. Hull enjoyed a bright start and spent the first quarter of the season in the top half, scoring in each of their first eight matches. But then the goals dried up. Just one in the next five, then one in the next four, then one in the next six. Ending the season with none in the last three.
Who impressed: Nikica Jelavic scored eight goals in 21 matches, but was too often injured.
Who depressed: The rest of Hull’s underperforming front six who failed to score in 17 matches (44%).
Fancy stat: Thirteen of Hull’s 19 defeats were ‘to Nil’
Word to the wise: Don’t expect to see Hull in the PL any time soon.
Burnley – 19th and relegated
Season in a nutshell: Gutsy. Burnley had to wait 11 matches for their first win. Then – like London buses – two came along at once. It prompted a winter run of 16pts from 11 matches that suggested survival might be possible. But just one win from the next 14 meant that the 7pts from the last three matches was academic.
Who depressed: Losing to QPR away. Leicester at home and the nine defeats by a single goal upset many sympathetic PL purists.
Fancy stat: Burnley had the eight best defensive record in the PL.
Word to the wise: Don’t be surprised to see Burnley in the Championship play-offs next season.
QPR – 20th and relegated
Season in a nutshell: Collapse. QPR’s home form was always going to be key to survival and held firm for the first ten matches, delivering 18pts (from 30). Six straight home defeats after the turn of the year – and no improvement on their travels, proved their undoing.
Who impressed: Charlie Austin was a standout and his 18 goals and five assists will no doubt keep him in the PL. Matt Phillips also attracted a lot of admirers with three goals and eight assists in a struggling team.
Fancy stat: QPR took just 1pt from a possible 42 v top seven clubs.
Word to the wise: It’s a long road back for QPR. More likely to do a Fulham or a Charlton than a Crystal Palace.
Matt Nesbitt is a one-time player, long-time tipster and full-time fan of the beautiful game. He is a regular guest onTipTV.co.uk and the man behind Premier League Match Predictor MatchSim.com. Email: mattnesbitt