10 Things We’ve Learned from the 2014-15 Premier League Season

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The last nine months seemed to have gone incredibly quickly, and the Premier League reached it’s conclusion on Sunday.  To vote for your player, young player and manager of the campaign, click here.

Chelsea won the title with three games to spare, whilst Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United made up the top four. It meant that Tottenham and Liverpool missed out and had to settle for Europa League qualification.

The rest of the top half all had incredible seasons. Despite selling their star players last summer, Southampton achieved their best ever points total and finish in seventh, as did Swansea in eighth. Mark Hughes had another incredible season at ninth placed Stoke, whilst Alan Pardew transformed Crystal Palace from relegation fighters to 10th placed wonders.

After finishing 5th last season, Everton disappointed by ending in 11th, whilst West Ham United were in the top four at Christmas, but an abysmal 2015 meant they finished 12th and Sam Allardyce will not have his contract renewed.

Tony Pulis once again worked his magic as West Brom comfortably survived in 13th after looking in deep trouble, but if you want the best great escape, look no further than Leicester City. The Foxes were five points adrift at the bottom just a few months ago, but a dramatic turn around meant they finished 14th with 41 points. Huge credit must go to Nigel Pearson and his players.

15th placed Newcastle United were poor from the turn of the year but survived thanks to a win on the last day that meant they overtook local rivals Sunderland (16th) and Aston Villa (17th), who both didn’t have seasons to remember but secured safety with a game to spare.

The bottom three consisted of Hull City (18th), who were relegated on the final day and Burnley (19th) and QPR (20th), both of whom go straight back down to the Championship just a year after the jubilation of promotion.

That’s every team covered, so what have we learnt from these 20 clubs in another exciting campaign. You can read the 2013-14 version here.

1. Jose Mourinho is a managerial genius

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Is he the best manager in the modern era? Quite possibly. This season Jose Mourinho has staked his claim for that prestigious title, and staked it well.

Just three league defeats (four less than anyone else), nine draws and 26 wins meant his Chelsea side topped the table on 87 points, eight ahead of last year’s champions Manchester City.

They had been at the summit since August 30th, and thoroughly deserved to be with the results they gained. The Blues didn’t lose to any of the rest of the top four and that is one of the main reasons why they won the trophy by such a large margin.

Last season Mourinho said of Chelsea’s title chances: “The title race is between two horses and a little horse that needs milk and needs to learn how to jump. Maybe next season we can race.”

This season the Blues not only raced, but smashed the other horses along the way. As a result Jose won the manager of the season award.

2. Arsenal are getting closer to the title

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If the Premier League had begun at the start of 2015, Arsenal would have pushed Chelsea a lot closer in the race for the title. Even looking at the season as a whole, it is clear the Gunners have certainly improved from the last campaign.

The signing of Alexis Sanchez in the summer was clearly key. The Chilean scored 16 goals and got eight assists in the league as the Gunners finished third – their highest placing since the 2009-10 season.

There are of course still fans (such as Piers Morgan) who aren’t happy with how things are going and want Arsene Wenger sacked, but with some shrewd business in the summer, Arsenal could finally be ready to mount a serious title challenge next season and shut those supporters up.

They’ve shown glimpses this season, but can they impress for an entire campaign?

3. Age is just a number

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It’s a phrase that John Terry certainly proved to be correct as he captained Chelsea to the Premier League trophy in 2014-15.

The Englishman turned 34 in December, but has looked better this season than he did 10 years ago, playing every single minute. He becomes only the second outfield player do that in a title winning campaign since Gary Pallister in 1993.

Along the way, Terry scored five goals (becoming the joint highest scoring defender in Premier League history) and helped Chelsea keep 17 clean sheets and concede just 32 goals, both of which were the best in the league this season.

It certainly quietened Rafa Benitez, who claimed the defender could not cope with playing two games a week.

On the subject of age, special mention has to go to Brad Friedel, who retired at the end of the season aged 44 years old.

4. The Brendan Rodgers conundrum

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This one breaks the mould slightly, as it’s something we’ve not learnt but something that is hard to decide. Should Brendan Rodgers be given more time at Liverpool?

It’s question that everyone will have their own opinion on, but it’s a matter that the club’s owners will need to discuss this summer.

After being within touching distance of the Premier League trophy in 2013-14, the Reds slipped down to 6th this year and finished the campaign with an embarrassing 6-1 loss at Stoke City.

The whole situation with Raheem Sterling hasn’t helped, but after being seemingly unable to keep the winger, could the former Swansea boss have lost the Anfield dressing room?

But then again, you think back to the first few months of 2015 when Liverpool were the inform team in the Premier League and were at one point touted for a top four finish.

So it’s a difficult decision with arguments for and against keeping the faith in Rodgers. What would you do? ‘The Brendan Rodgers conundrum’ sounds like an idea for an individual post…

5. Sergio Aguero is the league’s best striker

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Diego Costa started the season in lightening form. Harry Kane stunned spectators following the turn of the year. But Sergio Aguero was consistent all campaign long, and in my opinion is by far the best striker in the league, and is certainly up there with the best players in the league.

How on earth he wasn’t in the PFA Team of the Year or even nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award is beyond me, as he finished as the division’s top scorer with 26 goals – five ahead of Kane.

It wasn’t enough for Manchester City to retain the league title, but without Aguero’s goals, they would have faced a battle to finish in the top four.

The Argentine needs to stay fit next season in order for Manuel Pellegrini’s side to mount a challenge for the title

6. Robin van Persie is past his best

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Robin van Persie will be thankful that Radamel Falcao had a poor season at Manchester United because it has meant the majority of the attention has been off the Dutchman, who in truth has declined this season.

The 31 year old often struggled for fitness and had some notably anonymous games, not something we associate with him, especially after a good World Cup.

But the stats don’t lie. van Persie featured in eight more Premier League games than he did last season (27), but hit the back of the net two fewer times (10). 2014-15 also saw him labelled “stupid” by Louis van Gaal and stripped of penalty duties after he missed a spot-kick against West Brom.

7. The Tim Sherwood effect

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I’m not talking about how Tim Sherwood saved Aston Villa from relegation, but the effect he had on striker Christian Benteke upon arrival in the Midlands.

Before Sherwood took over at Villa Park, the Belgian was having a difficult campaign, after being sent off against Tottenham in just his fourth game back from a serious injury. He had just two league goals in 16 games, an average of 0.125 goals a game.

But when the 46 year old came in, Benteke was a changed player that spearheaded Villa’s charge to Premier League survival. He scored 11 league goals in 13 games, an average of 0.85 goals a game.

It’s a miraculous effect that Sherwood also had on Emmanuel Adebayor when he first arrived at Tottenham in December 2013.

8. Southampton are the best run club

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Many people were tipping Southampton to struggle at the start of the season, with some even saying relegation was a possibility following a summer when hugely important players like Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren were sold.

However new manager Ronald Koeman spent wisely on some bargain buys and continued to keep the team playing the stylish brand of football that was so successful under Mauricio Pochettino.

The results? Surprising. The Saints achieved their best ever Premier League finish in seventh and could play Europa League football next season depending on the outcome of this weekend’s FA Cup final.

The campaign also saw wins over Manchester United (at Old Trafford), Arsenal and the division’s biggest victory, 8-0 over Sunderland. Furthermore, Southampton had the second best defence in the league after Chelsea, a remarkable achievement.

9. Tony Pulis does it again (but don’t forget Pardew)

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One of my lessons from last season was ‘Tony Pulis is one of the best British managers of the current day’. He once again proved that this season, and his challenge on this occasion came at West Brom.

The Baggies were just one point away from the drop zone when the former Stoke boss took charge on December, but they finished 14th and nine points off the bottom three. Along the way, Pulis won the February Manager of the Month after going through the month unbeaten and keeping three clean sheets. They also gave champions Chelsea their heaviest defeat of the campaign – 3-0 in the penultimate game.

Another remarkable turnaround came at Crystal Palace, where Pulis was last season. This time it was Alan Pardew’s turn to be a Selhurst Park hero (for the second time). The former Eagles player joined Palace just a day after Pulis arrived at West Brom, but the South London club were in the relegation zone at the time.

Indeed, Pardew’s turnaround was more remarkable than Pulis’, as Palace finished tenth after a superb run of results which included being the party poopers at Steven Gerrard’s final Anfield game.

10. The jury is still out on a number of managers

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We know Pulis and Pardew are miracle workers, but there are a number of Premier League managers who will be wanting to prove themselves next season.

Louis van Gaal did his job this season by qualifying for the Champions League, but next season many will expect a title challenge from Manchester United.

Mauricio Pochettino guided Spurs to a fifth placed finish, but was it all down to Harry Kane? The Argentine needs to get into the top four next season otherwise he will feel the wrath of Daniel Levy as so many before him have.

Everton and Roberto Martinez fell from 5th to 11th, so next season is crucial for him, as it is for the managers who just survived relegation. Tim Sherwood, Dick Advocaat and John Carver (if he is given the chance) will all want to ensure there are no drop zone fears in 2015-16.

Finally I come to Chris Ramsey, who QPR handed a permanent contract to despite getting relegated under his temporary control. He will want to repay their faith by earning promotion at the first time of asking.

VOTE FOR YOUR PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM OF THE SEASONhttps://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LSJB2X6

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