Premier League Grades: How did each team fare in 2014-15?

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All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2014-15 Premier League season. From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the 380 games as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League season review ]

For the full archive of our review content, just hit the link above. Now, the marks are in and it is time to dish out the grades for each team in 2014-15.

GRADE

source:

A
Swansea City: Nobody expected Monk’s men to get a record points tally. Superb season which deserved a top six finish. Sustainability is the key for the Swans going forward and this could only be the start.
source:  A
Southampton: Same could be said for Koeman’s Saints. After the mass exodus last summer the Dutchman worked miracles. So many highlights including 8-0 and 6-1 wins. A Europa League campaign next season would be a great reward.
source:  A –
Chelsea: Mourinho’s men marched to the title with four games to go and Hazard led a sublime team. In the second half of the season they lost their attacking panache. That’s the only reason they don’t get full marks.
source:  B+ Arsenal: Wenger is progressing this side. A third-place finish proves that and if they can keep everyone fit next season and add 1/2 star players this summer… Watch out.

source:

B+
Stoke City:  Mark Hughes is doing a great job at the Brit. A record points tally for Stoke and when they are on form and  firing on all cylinders, few can match them.
source:   B+ Crystal Palace: What a second half of the season it was. As soon as Alan Pardew replaced Neil Warnock, Selhurst believed again. A top 10 finish is the stuff of dreams for Pards and Palace.
source:   B Leicester City: Just four wins in the first 29 matches and then… BOOM! Nigel Pearson is unorthodox but got his boys playing late on as seven wins from their last nine suggests. One of the greatest “great escapes” in PL history.
source:  B
West Brom: Alan Irvine was fired in January and Tony Pulis arrived to do his best Harry Houdini impression once again. The Baggies survived comfortably in the end and bagged big wins vs. Man United and Chelsea.
source:  B
Tottenham: An up and down year for Spurs as Pochettino will be happy enough with his first season in charge at the Lane. Harry Kane’s emergence was a pleasant surprise and fifth place shows progress.
source:   B Manchester United:  The Red Devils made hard work of making the top four, didn’t they? Louis van Gaal had mixed results to start with but a strong Spring carried them through. Now, time to spend the big bucks wisely and assemble a title-winning squad. Slow progress so far.
source:  B  Manchester City: The Citizens had a down year but still finished second behind Chelsea. If Manuel Pellegrini remains he will likely make plenty of changes this summer. Fresh legs are needed but City aren’t far off. Some of the stuff they play is sublime.
source:  C West Ham:  Fourth in December, a potentially special season unraveled as the Hammers finished 12th. Sam Allardyce has now left as a new era begins in east London.
source:  C- Everton:  A season to forget for the Toffees who suffered from their Europa League exploits and injuries to key man Lukaku and Barkley. Roberto Martinez knows Everton must do better.
source:  D Newcastle: They stayed up by the skin of their teeth. John Carver took over on an interim basis in January when Pardew left and the Magpies lost eight-straight, only saving themselves on the final day. Surely they’ll be better next year?
source:  D
 Burnley: Yes, they were relegated. But Sean Dyche can be extremely proud of his players. That stuck in close in so many games and had Danny Ings found his goalscoring touch after Christmas, it may well have been a different story. Down, but their heads held high.
source:  D-  Aston Villa: Paul Lambert was fired and his replacement Tim Sherwood saved Villa after restoring some attacking intent. They’re in the FA Cup final too but a rebuild is badly needed.
source:  D- Sunderland: Dick Advocaat took over from Gus Poyet and saved the Black Cats but it was far from vintage stuff. Another team who needs a huge rebuild, but on their day they can give anyone a game. Season to forget.
source:  D- 
LiverpoolThis may seem a little harsh, but the drop-off from the Reds was alarming this season. After spending $150 million in the summer, it’s hard to see where that went. Losing Suarez hurt. Plus Sturridge being injured. But Rodgers is walking on thin ice after a sixth-place finish.
source:  F
Hull City:  The Tigers went down on the final day and a severe lack of goals (just 33) haunted Steve Bruce’s side. Expect plenty of players to leave this summer. From an FA Cup final to relegation in 12 months. Ouch.
source:  F
QPR: The less said about this season the better. After Harry Redknapp left in Feb. the reins were handed to Chris Ramsey and he did his best but the defense was shocking. Can QPR keep their yo-yo club status going and bounce back?

Court date for USWNT’s law suit versus U.S. Soccer delayed

USWNT equal pay
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A court case that has dragged U.S. Soccer’s administration through the mud and led to a change of leadership may drag into the summer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A judge in California has delayed the May 5 trial of gender discrimination against the USSF until June 16 due in part to the coronavirus pandemic. A pretrial conference was also moved to June 1.

The federation is being sued by members of the two-time reigning World Cup champion USWNT under the Equal Pay Act.

The women are requesting more than $66 million in damages.

The extra month gives both parties more time to reach a settlement which could keep this ugly case away from trial. Given the uncertainty in our world, it could of course be delayed again.

The USSF has a new CEO in Will Wilson, who can make a major statement of change by stopping the trial from reaching court.

Handicapping the Final Four of Premier League March Madness

Premier League March Madness
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Our Premier League March Madness results have been as topsy-turvy as the 2019/20 on-field campaign before coronavirus halted it last month.

Yes, the runaway No. 1 seed is alive, but the second, third, fourth, and fifth seeds have been expelled from the tournament within the first two rounds.

Voting in the semifinal round begins Thursday.

[ RESULTS: March Madness Round of 16 ]

Before we go any further, if you’re unfamiliar: To make sure you’re not missing out on either March Madness or the business end of the PL season, we’ve gone ahead and merged the two competitions. The March Madness Final Four and Championship game were due to take place this weekend in Atlanta but now you will be voting on Tottenham v. Arsenal instead of Duke v. Kansas.

Teams are seeded from 1-16 based on their current spot in the table, with Aston Villa winning the relegation playoffs on Monday to remain in the Premier League.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Before we handicap the semifinal matches, let’s take a look at where the field sits after your Wednesday voting.

No. 1 Liverpool v. No. 12 Everton
No. 6 Wolves v. No. 7 Sheffield United

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Look, all bets are off for the derby. The Everton faithful has shown up in a big way during voting, dispatching Manchester United and Chelsea.

That’s big time stuff, though Liverpool ended the dreams of our presumptive sleeping giant favorite Arsenal after beating West Ham in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Reds are going to have to not just been upstart Everton but overcome the legions of rival supporters who would happily click the Toffees’ box rather than see Liverpool gain the crown.

The other side of the bracket sees No. 7 Sheffield United looking to continue its surprising run in both the PL season and our voting.

The Blades knocked off Man City, potentially aided by the same phenomenon Everton hopes to see on Thursday.

Now they meet Wolves, who may be riding a crest of North American momentum in the form of affinity for El Tri hero Raul Jimenez.

Our prediction: Everton and Wolves in the Final.

RESULTS: Premier League March Madness Elite Eight

Premier League March Madness
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Everton continued its upset path toward in our Premier League March Madness voting, showing its sensational support and setting up a fantastic eMerseyside Derby in the Final Four.

Thousands of votes were cast Wednesday, and the Toffees upset isn’t even the top underdog story.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Chris Wilder’s Blades of Sheffield United won a back-and-forth affair with No. 2 seed Manchester City to move into the semifinals.

That’s where they’ll meet No. 6 seed Wolves, who powered past Leicester City as if it wasn’t a challenge.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final – Aston Villa prevailed, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford relegated
TuesdaySweet 16 results in full
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

IFAB: New handball rule can be adopted when games resume

Handball rule
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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) issued a letter from secretary Lukas Brud on Wednesday, outlining several changes to the game.

The “tee shirt line” handball rule may be coming to club football quicker than expected due to the coronavirus suspension of the 2019/20 season.

IFAB will allow leagues the choice to use the new handball rule when matches resume this season, also making changes to VAR protocol and vowing to review the offside rule.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The new handball rule states that the shoulder goes to the end of the shirt sleeve or the bottom of the armpit (though obviously not in the case of a long-sleeve jersey).

For the purposes of determining handball offences, the ‘arm’ stops at the bottom of the armpit

So… get ready for baggy, longer jersey sleeves, or the increased recruitment of players with the longest armpits.

Kidding aside, the handball rule desperately needed clarification and we’ll see if this gives enough to fans and players alike.

Referees will now be “expected” to go to the screen on the field when a call is subjective, forcing the official to either uphold or overrule his initial call.

This same post says IFAB will now allow accidental handballs in the run-up to a goal in certain situations.

“Accidental handball by an attacking player should only be penalized if it ‘immediately’ results in a goal or an obvious opportunity for the player and/or their team to score a goal (i.e. following the handball, the ball travels only a short distance and/or there are very few passes).”

Well, that needs some clarification.

Back to the timing issue for the new handball rule, it seems logical that leagues would want to introduce new laws with a new season but stand-by for the decision of your favorite league.

As for the offside rule, “The members agreed that the fundamental philosophy of offside is underpinned by a desire to encourage attacking football and the scoring of goals. It was further agreed, therefore, that Law 11 – Offside should be analyzed and reviewed with a view to potentially proposing changes reflecting this philosophy.”

It’s a lot to unpack, and we’ll surely here from proponents and opponents of the changes soon. As always, implementation will make the biggest difference in how these changes are received.