Brighton & Hove Albion

All of the brilliant work done at Brighton was expected to unravel when its chief architect Graham Potter left for Chelsea.

Instead, they appointed a coach in Roberto De Zerbi who may well prove to be generational and the Seagulls have gone up a level further. 

Everyone’s second favourite team took 20 points off the traditional ‘big six’ this term, at times playing them off the park, and their front-foot, precarious, possession-based football has been a joy to behold. 

It will be interesting to see where they land in the Premier League betting ahead of 2023/24 because right now – appropriately for their nickname – the sky’s the limit. 

Jack Grealish 

By his own admission, Grealish initially struggled to adapt to Pep Guardiola’s intricate blueprint and subsequently played it far too safe, relying on Joao Cancelo to overlap and create down the left. 

It didn’t take long for naysayers to label him a £100m flop. 

Now feeling much more at home at the Etihad, the England winger has been transformed this season, living his best life and becoming an integral part of a title-winning side with a treble in their sights.

Nobody in the top-flight retains possession better and Guardiola adores him for that.

Erik ten Hag

It was only a matter of time before a Manchester United manager got things right in the post-Ferguson era. That man is Ten Hag.

Resolving long-standing defensive and midfield issues was his first order of business and Leandro Martinez and Casemiro have been seismic signings, improving the Reds at a stroke.

The Dutchman also deserves credit for the swiftness in which he has successfully implemented his preferred style of play, shrewdly bringing in players already familiar with it.

As important as any of the above, he has ruthlessly dispensed with the whingers and whisperers in the squad, harmonising it as a consequence. 

A third-place finish and potentially two domestic cups suggests the good times are returning for a club long deprived of consistent excellence. 

For only the fourth time in the 21st century, all three promoted clubs stayed up this term but celebrating their survival does a disservice to the manner in which Fulham tore into the top-flight from the off, eventually finishing mid-table, a full eight points clear of their prestigious neighbours Chelsea.

Bournemouth too impressed, recovering from a nine-goal pasting at Anfield and defiantly disproving the football betting that had them tipped to drop all campaign long.  

Lastly, there was Nottingham Forest, a team incapable of winning away, who relied on the tremendous support of the City Ground faithful to see them safe. 

In a world that increasingly sees fans devalued or dismissed that’s something to celebrate as much as their survival.   


Frank Lampard

It is of course hugely tempting to plump for Chelsea and/or Everton, two clubs who collapsed in on themselves in 2022/23, failing to show even a glimpse of who they are, and what they’re capable of.

The Toffees however live to fight another day while Chelsea could conceivably be back in the top four, challenging for silverware next season.

Instead then, let’s go for the guy who played a big part in each of their nadirs, a manager who very likely won’t get to fight another day in the Premier League anytime soon, for his reputation has been completely scorched. 

Lampard resided over 29 league games this season. He won four of them. 

Neal Maupay 

With so many under-performing sides – Tottenham, anyone? – and big-money flops to choose from this is admittedly a left-field shout, but bear with because the French forward is a thoroughly deserving nominee. 

Bought last summer to essentially provide cover for an injury-prone Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the 26-year-old was given significantly more minutes than he perhaps anticipated, with the England star missing for large chunks of the campaign. 

It fell upon Maupay therefore to score the odd goal or two for the Toffees, a side not exactly over-furnished with attacking talent. 

In over 21 hours of competitive football he ended up notching just the one.  He got booked four times. 

Chelsea Forwards 

Okay, we had to get Chelsea in here somewhere. It was unavoidable. 

This, after all, is a club that has spent the GDP of a mid-sized nation in the past year, adding to an already star-studded squad, yet somehow finished below Crystal Palace and Fulham.

The reasons for their annus horribilis are ten-fold but undoubtedly a roster of misfiring forwards cost them dear.

Between them, Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz, Joao Felix, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech scored the same number combined as Ivan Toney.  

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Let’s leave the relegated three out of this. They have suffered enough.

Looking elsewhere, we settle on Wolves, who until Christmas had scored the fewest number of goals in the top seven tiers of English football and all told racked up twice as many red cards as any other Premier League club.

To accrue so many exciting Portuguese talents yet entertain so little amounts to a great big lose.

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*

Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.