With the Premier League season now complete, instead of a final Power Rankings update, I wanted to take a look at how the clubs fared on the season compared to my Preseason Power Rankings and how I did in “predicting” the season. (I did this over in the Championship last week).
Unlike my Championship rankings, however, the preseason Premier League rankings linked above were a joint product between me and Chris, my illustrious partner on this site. We had generally the same idea about where the clubs would finish, though there were some differences which we’ll talk about after the table.
We managed to get two of the three relegated teams correct – we didn’t have much faith in either Huddersfield Town or Cardiff City – though Wolverhampton Wanderers greatly exceeded our expectations. The third relegated club – one-and-done promote Fulham – appeared to be our favorite club up from the Championship, which also didn’t work out well.
Here’s a look at our rankings versus the season finish, and how far off we were (a negative means we had them too high and vice versa). Overall, we got five spots exact (much better than the Championship), and were only off a couple of spots for a handful of others:
|Club||Preseason Ranking||Ending Position||Difference|
|West Ham United||9||10||-1|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||17||17||0|
The Biggest Misses
The only double digit miss we had was the Wolves storming towards the top of the table. Though they were maddeningly inconsistent all season, their near hundred point season in the Championship last season shouldn’t have been ignored, or should have at least been given more weight by us prior to the season. We instead pointed to the offseason moves made by Fulham to give them the nod as “best promoted club;” we didn’t miss by much with the Cottagers, but they were mostly awful all season.
The next biggest misses were both surprising clubs this season for opposite reasons. Watford started the season strong – albeit against lower and mid-table competition – and found themselves in the top half of the table for the majority of the season. Though they ended up finishing 11th, they are one upset victory in the FA Cup Final away from playing in Europa League next season, quite an accomplishment for a club we had pegged to be fighting to avoid relegation (Chris had them 18th and in a relegation spot, while I had them 14th).
We missed on Newcastle United in the opposite direction; a tenth place finish last season and just some general attrition mid-table and we thought they had an outside chance at the top seven, which wasn’t to be in the end. Sure, they had spells during the season where they looked fairly formidable – they managed to beat the champs in January – but they never got higher than 12th on the season and even spent seven weeks in the relegation zone.
The “Big Six”
We managed to get the top six correct, and placed three clubs in the correct position, including the top two; I picked Manchester City to win the league, while Chris picked Liverpool, and that head-to-head race came down to an exciting final day. All six clubs are on their way back to European competition, set to be joined by either Watford – if they can win the FA Cup Final against Manchester City – or Wolverhampton Wanderers after their 7th place finish.
Of the six, Manchester United had the biggest move from our preseason rankings, falling down three spots to 6th place. After a return to the Champions League this season, they will be playing in Europa League next year for the third time in four years. The Red Devils are also now six seasons removed from their last league title in 2012-13.
An (Extremely) Early Look at Next Season
We still have one club yet to come up from the Championship playoffs, but we know 19 of the 20 teams that will be participating in the 2019-20 English Premier League season. There’s no reason to think – save some kind of punishment for the two-time defending champions – that the two clubs that fought down to the wire this season will be at the top again next season.
Liverpool will enter next season still seeking their first Premier League title (their last title in 1989-90 was three years before the Premier League began), and if they can pull off a Champions League victory at the end of the month, they might become even hungrier to improve on their one-loss season this year. The other four clubs in the “Big Six” will likely fall in line behind those two in some order.
After that… who knows what will happen. The Wolves could build on a solid first season back and spend some money to fight for a spot in Europe. Everton and Leicester City could find a little more consistency against the bottom of the table and put up more of a fight for 6th place. Norwich City could follow the Wolves model and immediately fight for the top of “the rest,” or Burnley or some other club could have a surprise top eight finish.
We’ll have a better idea what next season holds after the transfer market closes and millions of dollars are spent moving players around Europe. But until then, we have some playoff football to watch and some trophies to hand out at the end of the minth.
Until next time…