With another season of the Premier League drawing to a close, the coronation of Chelsea as champions now seems a foregone conclusion. Despite the fact that City made a fight of it through the beginning and middle stages of the season, and that the Arsenal resurgence is suddenly being classified as a threat to the blues’ lead it will all most likely amount to a year that saw Chelsea reigning supreme throughout. This was a very one-sided season, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t dealt with our fair share of surprises. Nobody would have expected Liverpool to falter the way they did, nor would they have seen Southampton be potential, and viable Champions League hopefuls. Just as the Saints did this year, there are numerous signs of promise from other clubs as well; these are the dark horses for next season’s English Premier League.
Although Palace’s season got off to a dismal start under struggling Neil Warnock, the soon became revitalized under returning Selhurst Park hero, and Tyneside pantomime villain Alan Pardew. Not only did he manage to get the team to play in a more positive and attacking manner, he seemed to galvanize the underperforming talents of Jason Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha, and he even managed to get Glenn Murray to start firing again. Pair this up along with the revelation of Yannick Bolasie and Palace’s high pressure defensive strategy and what you are left with is a team that should easily be in the higher reaches of the Premier League table come this time next year.
Tim Sherwood arrived at Birmingham with a great deal of determination, determined to prove himself after his flimsy run with Tottenham, he slowly but surely began to turn Villa’s season around. Much of this due to the revival of Christian Benteke, who suddenly seems to have been reincarnated as the goal scoring machine he was during his early run, his attacking prowess along with the added impetus provided by Delph, Sinclair and now hopefully young Jack Grealish could prove vital for a good showing next season. Furthermore Ciaran Clark and Ron Vlaar are two of the most underrated centre half’s in the league, should they find their stride next season things will look up for the Villains.
If West Brom can stay up this season, and Tony Pulis can start afresh the baggies have the chance of doing really well next season. While Alan Irvine seemed a little bit lost with the talent that was at his disposal, an exact parallel to him would be Tony Pulis. He has polished up the rough diamond that is Brown Ideye, made smart signings, and if he can hold on to SaidoBerahino then West Brom are a force to be reckoned with. The thing with Pulis is that he can always work with what he has, and although the current squad might not be the most glamourous, with a steady hand of guidance they could go very far.
It’s sad to think how far Swansea could have gone had they kept that early season form with them the way Southampton were able to, and to think that on top of that they lost Michu for the whole season, lost Bony for half the season and were stuck with the erratic performances of Bafetimbi Gomes for the remainder of the season. Now though, it seems Michu will be returning for the Swans and the strike force paired with a reasonably solid defence next season should warrant a strong position.