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?

Former Arsenal, Brazil midfielder Baptista announces retirement

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Julio Baptista’s time at Arsenal only lasted 12 months, but it was a memorable stint.

The Brazilian, who played the 2006-07 season for the Gunners, announced his retirement on Thursday at the age of 37. The former Brazil international only managed 10 goals with Arsenal, but they came in bunches.

Baptista memorably scored four goals against Liverpool in the League Cup quarterfinal, as Arsenal finished with a 6-3 win. Baptista even missed a penalty kick that game.

Baptista cemented his legacy later in the season with a brace in the FA Cup against rival Tottenham.

Baptista, clearly an immensely talented player, suffered from being a good, but not great player. He seemed to have no perfect position other than the No. 10, and most teams he played for had better players in that position. It forces him to play along the wings, deeper in midfield or as a striker during the prime of his career.

In the end, injuries beset his career, especially a short spell at Orlando City in MLS.

 

U-20 World Cup Rewind: Italy tops Mexico, host Poland falls on Day 1 (video)

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Italy opened the FIFA Under-20 World Cup with a bang, knocking off fellow Group B favorite Mexico, 2-1, in Gdynia, Poland.

It only took Italy three minutes to get on the board, as Davide Frattesi found a pocket of space in front of the El Tri backline and dribbled in on goal. The Sassuolo midfielder then decided to fire on goal from distance, hitting a rocket into the corner to give Italy a 1-0 lead.

Later in the first half Gianluca Scamacca also took a rip from outside the box, but his strike sailed just wide.

A defensive error on a corner kick gave Diego Lainez and Mexico life. In the 37th minute, AC Milan product Alessandro Plizzari committed a howler, coming out to punch away the curled corner kick. Plizzari missed the ball and it went right to the head of Roberto De La Rosa, who calmly made it 1-1.

El Tri however suffered a blow late in the match as Italy took back the lead. In the 67th minute, Luca Ranieri collected the ball on the edge of the six yard box and from a tight angle, he scored past Mexico goalkeeper Carlos Higuera.

For Mexico, it’s a rough way to start the World Cup, having to go against a perennial power in Italy and playing on European soil. Not all is lost for Mexico, but it has to rebound with a win in its next game against Japan.

Elsewhere, Colombia defeated host Poland, 2-0, Japan tied Ecuador 1-1, and Senegal beat Tahiti, 3-0.

Saudis, Bahrain, UAE join to bid for FIFA’s U-20 World Cup

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GENEVA (AP) Middle East neighbors Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are jointly bidding to host the Under-20 World Cup in 2021.

FIFA says the Gulf plan is among five to express interest in bidding, including Brazil.

Indonesia, Peru and a Myanmar-Thailand joint bid are the others.

FIFA announced the contenders Thursday, one day after dropping a proposal for Qatar to share hosting duties for the 2022 World Cup with regional neighbors.

The 2021 U20 contenders must submit a formal bid by Aug. 30. FIFA’s ruling Council will pick the winner, likely in October.

The 2019 edition kicks off Thursday in Poland.

Putin awards medal to FIFA president Infantino

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MOSCOW (AP) Vladimir Putin has given FIFA president Gianni Infantino a medal.

The Russian president awarded Infantino the Order of Friendship at the Kremlin on Thursday.

Infantino has often said last year’s World Cup in Russia, where the host nation surprisingly reached the quarterfinals, was the best of the 21 editions of the tournament.

Putin thanked the FIFA leader for “your glowing assessment of our efforts.”

Infantino says of Russia’s “bonds of friendship” with soccer “is not the end, it is only the beginning of our fruitful cooperation and interaction.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports