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Grades for every Premier League team in 2016-17

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So, we know where each team finished in the Premier League table this season, but how did they really do?

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

Taking everything that happened into account, let’s dish out a grade for the overall performance of each club with a brief summary

Plus, click on the link above to follow all of ProSoccerTalk’s reviews of the 2016-17 season.


Chelsea: A
Sublime season with 30 wins from 38 to win the title. The switch to a 3-4-3 formation after losing to Arsenal in September proved the pivotal moment and Antonio Conte galvanized his squad with his passion and attention for detail. Having no European action certainly helped Chelsea during the run-in but with Kante, Hazard and Costa around they have game-changers. Surpassed everyone’s expectation as Conte took the PL by storm and this Chelsea team will add two or three stars over the summer and aim to challenge for the Champions League. Ruthlessly efficient.

Tottenham Hotspur: A-
For the second season running Spurs came up short in the title race but they were the only team who kept up with Chelsea and made things very interesting as we entered April. Harry Kane led the PL with 29 goals and had he been fit for the whole season, maybe Spurs would’ve won the title. Who knows? What we do know is that Mauricio Pochettino is leading this young team into a brave new era with Wembley their temporary home next season and then the new 61,559 capacity stadium at White Hart Lane ready for the 2018-19 campaign. Another season of huge progress but no silverware is the only annoyance. Going the entire season unbeaten at White Hart Lane before it was demolished was a huge achievement.

Bournemouth: B+
Eddie Howe led the Cherries to their highest-ever finish as a club and finishing ninth in the PL after a real struggle in the middle of the season is a great achievement. Josh King scored the goals to push them up the table and even though Jordon Ibe and Jack Wilshere struggled, this young team still showed plenty of class. A third-straight season in the PL was always the aim and Bournemouth comfortably achieved that.

Burnley: B+
The Clarets had a fine season, especially at home, as Sean Dyche‘s side only won once away from Turf Moor all season. With Tom Heaton and Michael Keane excelling in defense, they always hung in games and the pace of Andre Gray and power of Sam Vokes up top gave them a better cutting edge than the last time they were in the PL. On limited resources, this was a superb campaign which will be overlooked due to a poor finish.

Liverpool: B+
Everyone expected Liverpool to challenge for a top four finish and that is what they did. Jurgen Klopp‘s high-powered offense blew teams away and Sadio Mane was the star man. When he was injured Liverpool missed Mane badly and that threatened to derail their top four bid. In the end they held on to finish fourth but for most of the season they were title contenders. Defensive issues, once again, cost Liverpool any chance at the title. Still, Klopp’s first full season in charge was a success.

Everton: B
A solid season for the Toffees as Ronald Koeman‘s men faded a little but still qualified for the Europa League. Keeping Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku this summer will be key for the Dutchman but it wouldn’t be surprising if both players left. Another summer of transfer dealing will make this Everton team really feel like Koeman’s and they weren’t far away from challenging for the top four this season. Solid.

West Brom: B-
Looked like they were going to finish eighth but a bad end to the season saw Tony Pulis‘ players fail to record a win in their last nine outings. That won’t sit well over the offseason but survival and getting to 40 points is always the first thing the Baggies want. Anything else is a bonus. A severe lack of goals from Salomon Rondon proved costly but resolute defensive displays were once again their strength with Ben Foster having a fine campaign.

Manchester City: B-
Pep Guardiola struggled in his first season in England but finished third to get the job done in terms of Champions League qualification. However, a UCL exit at the Round of 16, plus disappointment in both cup competitions didn’t go down well. Claudio Bravo and John Stones were the scapegoats of Pep’s philosophy not quite working in the PL as possession-based soccer from the back was found out. He will have to tweak things this summer, and spend plenty more cash, to turn this ageing squad into title contenders.

Hull City: C
Even though they were relegated, let’s remember that the Tigers hardly had a squad when the PL season kicked off. Mike Phelan was eventually replaced by Marco Silva and the Portuguese boss did a phenomenal job to give them a chance of surviving. The Tigers will be heavy favorites to come straight back up but Silva is unlikely to remain at the KCOM Stadium as their ownership struggles continue behind-the-scenes.

Southampton: C-
A really strange season for Saints who finished eighth, which is their fourth season on the spin in eighth or higher in the PL. For a club of their size, you can’t argue with that. Yet manager Claude Puel is under severe pressure and could be fired after his first season in England. Saints didn’t make it through their Europa League group in agonizing fashion and then dominated Manchester United in the EFL Cup final but lost 3-2. Their slow paced build-up play has angered many supporters with just 17 goals scored in 19 home PL games. Saints should be careful what they wish for but it is likely Puel will depart.

Manchester United: C-
If Jose Mourinho ends up winning the Europa League then this grade will be higher. However, United have recorded their least wins in a PL season and have been awful to watch at times. Part of that has to do with having a huge number of games with the Europa League and EFL Cup, but Mourinho spent big on the likes of Paul Pogba who has yet to deliver the goods consistently. Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s injury was a big blow but if United end this season with EFL Cup and Europa League trophies, then it will be job done for Mourinho. It wasn’t pretty as Wayne Rooney and others were deemed surplus to requirements and Mourinho has gambled on Europa League success.

Swansea City: C-
The Swans had three managers and somehow survived. Francesco Guidolin was replaced by Bob Bradley early in the season and the American coach was not given time or a transfer window to turn the struggling squad around. Paul Clement arrived and did just that as he won 29 points as Swans boss and they rose out of the relegation zone after winning four of their last five games of the season. Now it’s all about not repeating those mistakes and trying to push for a top 10 finish. Keeping Gylfi Sigurdsson will be tough.

Watford: D+
Walter Mazarri is out as boss in a weird campaign for the Hornets. They were looking set for a top 10 finish but collapsed in the second half of the season as the players appeared to lose faith in Mazarri’s tactics. With Troy Deeney out of favor the goals dried up and Watford’s new manager will now have to try and restore confidence to a mish-mash of players who under-performed. Not a pretty campaign.

Stoke City: D
Disappointing season for Stoke who finshed in 13th place but were just two points off eighth. Goalscoring was the issue once again for Mark Hughes‘ men as Saido Berahino struggled for fitness, Wilfried Bony couldn’t settle and the likes of Arnautovic and Shaqiri were inconsistent. The return of Jack Butland in goal was a huge boost but the Potters will have to start well next season otherwise Hughes will be under a little bit of pressure.

Crystal Palace: D
The Eagles stayed up, just, but this was a bad season for a talented squad. Alan Pardew‘s men didn’t recover from a poor second half of the 2015-16 season and the Palace legend was sacked midway through the season. In came Sam Allardyce who initially failed to turn things around but big wins against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool sparked a miraculous recovery alongside some great January additions in Mamadou Sakho, Patrick Van Aanholt and Luka Milivojevic. Palace will have to rebuild defensively this summer if they truly want to be a top 10 team.

Leicester City: D
Claudio Ranieri was fired as manager after the Foxes dropped into the relegation zone and the 2015-16 champions rallied late in the campaign to finish in midtable. Interim boss Craig Shakespeare did a fine job to turn things around but Ranieri still played his part as Leicester lost to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals. You have to think a lot of these players will be moved on in the summer, but can Leicester afford their replacements after dishing out big contracts after the title win? Vardy, Mahrez and Schmeichel will attract interest but the Foxes must keep hold of them. 12th place in the table is about right for Leicester’s squad, which shows you just how miraculous last season was.

West Ham: D
So many things went wrong for the Hammers this season. The move to their new stadium was met with plenty of criticism by home supporters, Dimitri Payet left in January and so many injuries piled up in defense. Simply put, you can’t help but feel sorry for Slaven Bilic. The Croatian coach may still leave this summer but he will probably stick around and he deserves too. Strengthening defense should be the main focus this summer and getting in a proven striker with Andy Carroll far too injury prone to rely on. The Hammers finished in 11th which, considering all the issues, was not a bad outcome at all.

Arsenal: D-
Where do we start? Not finishing in the top four for the first time in 20 years under Arsene Wenger says it all. The Frenchman is under increasing pressure to leave the Gunners but it appears he will remain in charge for another two seasons. The debate about the future’s of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez also hung around for most of the season to disrupt the team and humiliation in the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich threw them out of the top four race in early 2017. That said, with five wins in their last six they almost made the top four again and if Arsenal beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final this weekend then there will be something to salvage from this season. There is a huge change needed in recruitment and investment if Arsenal are ever going to be genuine title contenders. Wenger’s future is not the only big issues which needs to be addressed at the Emirates Stadium after this season.

Middlesbrough: F
A truly woeful return to the PL Boro who had worked so hard to get back to the promised land. Aitor Karanka often set his team up to get clean sheets and they got plenty of them, but the lowest scorers in the PL hit the back of the net just 27 teams in 38 games. Karanka was shown the door at a bizarre time and caretaker Steve Agnew didn’t really have a chance. Boro will be among the favorites in the Championship next season but they may lose some of their talented young defenders, especially Ben Gibson. Five wins from 38 games sums it up.

Sunderland: F
The only team who had it worse than Boro was their north east rivals Sunderland. David Moyes resigned the day after the season was over as he led the Black Cats to a 20th place finish with 24 points and they simply had no chance all season long. Moyes talked about relegation in the opening weeks of the campaign and despite Jermain Defoe‘s goals and Jordan Pickford‘s heroics in goal, they never looked like staying up. The Black Cats will need a complete rebuild but owner Ellis Short has a lot to answer for as he simply failed to invest enough in this squad which has stayed up in the PL by the skin of their teeth for many, many years.

Newcastle to pry $15 million Praet away from Sampdoria

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Reports in Italy say Newcastle’s nightmarish start to the season may get a prime reinforcement in former Anderlecht midfielder Dennis Praet, now of Sampdoria.

Praet, 23, has a single cap for Belgium and played 34 times for Sampdoria during his first season with the Serie A club. He played 84 minutes of the Genoese club’s 2-1 season-opening win over Benevento this weekend.

[ MORE: Wood to Burnley; Clucas to Swans ]

He arrived from Anderlecht last season for just under $12 million, and Newcastle’s reported cost for his services will be right around $15 million.

More than capable in his own end and productive in moving play along, he’d play a bit deeper in Newcastle’s midfielder.

With Jonjo Shelvey suspended, Isaac Hayden had a feast or famine partner in on-loan Borussia Dortmund mid Mikel Merino in the Magpies’ disappointing 1-0 Sunday loss at Huddersfield Town.

Stream Live: Manchester City host Everton

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Manchester City welcome Everton to the Etihad Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with two Barcelona legends colliding on the sidelines.

[ LIVE: Stream Man City-Everton ] 

Both teams will be looking to make it two wins from two to kick off the season as their new-look, expensively assembled squads have plenty of expectation on their shoulders.

Pep Guardiola and Ronald Koeman will put their friendship to one side for this game.

In team news Man City bring in Leroy Sane for Danilo, while Everton move Davy Klaassen to the bench and have new club-record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson alongside him.

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Manchester City

Everton

Geoff Cameron reaches Premier League milestone

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Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron has become just the sixth American in history to make 150 appearances in the Premier League.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Cameron, 32, started at center back as Stoke beat Arsenal 1-0 at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday with the Potters defense holding firm to seal a big early-season win.

The U.S. national team star has been a mainstay at Stoke since arriving from the Houston Dynamo in 2012 and he is now only behind Clint Dempsey in terms of appearances made by an outfield player in the Premier League.

Selected 46th overall in the 2009 MLS draft by Houston, Cameron’s career has gone from strength-to-strength since joining Stoke and the USMNT center back signed a new two-year contract extension at the end of last season which will keep him with the Potters until at least the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Therefore it is not inconceivable that given his great recent form and his versatility to play at center back, in central midfield or a right back, that he will rack up close to another 90 appearances over the next two seasons to overtake Dempsey’s total of 218 appearances.

Cameron has quietly moved ahead of the likes of Carlos Bocanegra, Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna and other U.S. legends in terms of appearances and his longevity in the PL, at perhaps its most competitive era in history, should be applauded.

With only Danny Williams and DeAndre Yedlin likely to play consistently elsewhere in the PL this season, Cameron is one of the few players still flying the American flag.

Here’s a look at who is ahead of him and when he can move further up the list of Americans to appear in the PL.

  • Brad Friedel – 451 appearances
  • Tim Howard – 399 appearances
  • Clint Dempsey – 218 appearances
  • Kasey Keller – 201 appearances
  • Brad Guzan – 153 appearances
  • Geoff Cameron – 150 appearances

PL Playback: Man United ready to roam freely

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MAN UNITED’S MOMENTUM

So far this season Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United look ready to bolt from the barn whenever matchday rolls around.

In a good way.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

United blew away Swansea City 4-0 on Saturday, using an explosive 3 minute and 41 second period to score three times at the end of the game.

Mourinho’s stable of powerful attacking players are on the pitch and on the bench, with Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial running riot late in the game.

“I had players on the bench who could help me. Happiness in our play. It happened to me so much with my teams, you’re winning 1-0 and you can can concede. There was no need to close the door, just let the horses run freely,” Mourinho told the BBC after the game.

The depth in this United squad is considerable with Martial coming off the bench to score twice and assist on another goal in the opening two games of the PL season. Lukaku has scored four goals in his first three official games for United, while Pogba has a goal in each of his first two PL games this season. Everything is looking rosy for United who sit top of the table after two 4-0 wins to open the season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

But hold your horses. No disrespect to West Ham and Swansea, but United should beat them convincingly. Yet they seem to have put aside their problems from last season where they dominated teams but couldn’t put them away, which led to a league-high 15 draws from 38 games. They’ve kept more clean sheets than any other PL team in 2017, so conceding hasn’t been the issue.

The balance is now better with attackers able to roam freely and interchange further up the pitch. In truth, they played similarly for large spells of last season but they couldn’t finish. Now the confidence is flowing and scoring goals seems like the easiest thing in the world.

Mourinho seems to have instilled newfound confidence in his team and with the players now having a whole season of the Mourinho experience under their belt, they understand what he wants. Also, the second-season syndrome (we all know what happens in year three) under Mourinho always seems to get the best out of his methods. There is a real feel-good vibe around United right now and their early-season schedule will allow this to build.

Despite all of the positives surrounding United’s opening victories, what if Romelu Lukaku goes down injured? Can Marcus Rashford, who has looked dangerous out on the left, fill his void up top? Maybe Zlatan Ibrahimovic will arrive on a short-term deal but the forward issue is one which will still concern Mourinho, even though his attacking unit is purring right now. Injuries hit United hard last season but they had more games with their Europa League campaign, EFL Cup success and deep run in the FA Cup. This season should be easier to manage.

Mourinho’s team now seem able to shut opponents down and limit their chances and the balance of this team is spot on. Nemanja Matic‘s arrival has been lauded and he allows Pogba to roam free in support of Lukaku, Rashford, Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan who was sublime once again, taking his assist tally to four in 173 minutes for the season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

The diminutive duo of Juan Mata and Mkhitaryan perfectly compliment the powerful trio of Pogba, Lukaku and Rashford in attack and all of a sudden you can see why Mourinho was shown pretending to smoke an imaginary cigar before the game when the cameras caught him chatting with Swansea boss Paul Clement.

So chill.

Mourinho will let his horses roam free for the opening months of the season as United do not face a top six opponent until Oct. 14 when they head to Liverpool and then they face Chelsea and Tottenham in two of their next three games, while the UCL group games will also come thick and fast around that time.

That’s when the real tests will start to arrive but United already have a ruthless streak about them which wasn’t there last season.


CHELSEA’S WEMBLEY GRIT

It wasn’t the best display Chelsea will put in, but it had buckets of desire and determination as they became the first team to beat Tottenham at home (yes, it was Wembley) in 19 Premier League games.

[ MORE: Can Spurs get over Wembley jinx? ]

After being at the London derby, the first-ever Premier League game at Wembley, I wrote about Spurs’ struggles at their temporary home, and that was a big part of this.

Chelsea rode their luck but without the injured Eden Hazard, exiled Diego Costa, the suspended duo of Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas, plus new signings Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko all taking time to settle in as they made their first starts for the club, it was one heck of a result.

[ MORE: 3 things learned from Chelsea’s win ]

Tottenham were wasteful in attack against Chelsea’s revamped 3-5-2 system which saw David Luiz become a colossal in central midfield and youngster Andreas Christensen more than hold his own in central defense. They hit Spurs on the counter expertly as Willian hit the post and then Marcos Alonso scored a late winner which sent the 3,000-plus away fans wild at Wembley.

Antonio Conte ran to the away section after the game punching the air with delight as the Italian coach looked to be unloading plenty of the pressure which had been piling up on his shoulders over the summer and the early weeks of this season. That was understandable following the Costa saga, Nemanja Matic being sold to Man United, the FA Community Shield defeat to Arsenal and a shock loss to Burnley.

“This is a perfect response of the champions,” Conte said. “We won the league last season, winning 30 games, and that is not easy. We lost in the final of the FA Cup. We have arrived in some problems with bans and injuries but we must be ready to work and focus on the pitch. The club is trying its best in the transfer market to improve our squad but I must be happy.”

With the chips down, Sunday’s London derby win proved the reigning champs won’t give up their crown without a fight.


EARLY SEASON HEROES, STRUGGLERS

We are only in Week 2 but there are already plenty of heroes and vllains around the Premier League.

Huddersfield Town have won their first two Premier League games with David Wagner‘s side beating Newcastle United 1-0 on Sunday at a raucous John Smith’s Stadium.

Aaron Mooy was the hero as the Australian midfielder cut inside and bent home a beauty into the far corner to become Huddersfield’s hero. In truth, every Terriers player was a hero, just like they were in Week 1 at Crystal Palace.

Wagner’s men are six points closer to the magic 40-point marker to avoid relegation and the Yorkshire club are loving life in the big-time. They are the new darlings of the PL.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are five teams at the bottom of the Premier League table who have yet to grab a point this season, and four of those have yet to score a goal.

They aren’t panicking, but a slow start is far from ideal.

Newcastle United were lackluster in attack in their defeat at Huddersfield and Rafael Benitez looks frustrated on the sidelines with funds from owner Mike Ashley not as forthcoming as he’d hoped. The Magpies need major work in the final weeks of the window.

So do fellow new boys Brighton & Hove Albion and Chris Hughton‘s side barely created anything at Leicester City in their second 2-0 defeat to open the season. Bournemouth, surprisingly, have lost two games to open the campaign with Eddie Howe‘s men also yet to score as Watford dominated the game at the Vitality Stadium. The alarm bells are ringing in Dorset.

Crystal Palace put in a dogged display away at Liverpool but Christian Benteke missed a glorious chance and Frank de Boer’s men conceded late on with Sadio Mane grabbing the winner and West Ham have now conceded seven goals to open the season with two defeats from two for Slaven Bilic‘s side.

At least West Ham’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez hasn’t had a slow start to the season even though his team lost 3-2 at Southampton in a dramatic game. Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer netted two typical close-range goals but his side were undone by giving away two penalty kicks and having Marko Arnautovic stupidly sent off.

Like the other teams struggling at the start of the season, the Hammers are creating problems for themselves. How would Hernandez sum up their start and the current mood at West Ham?

“Difficult, we knew that with three away games. The last two with Manchester United and then at Southampton we played a really good game in the second half with 10 men, we had a lot of effort and were so close to getting one point and maybe even three points, you never know. It has been a little bit sad but we are getting there,” Hernandez said. “We need time to keep working, to keep improving. We need to look forward, we need to be positive. We can not stay in the good memories or bad memories. That’s the good thing about football, you have a chance of revenge every weekend.”

Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here