Arsenal Opinion: How would you rate each Premier League team this season from A to F?

Now the FA Cup is out of the way let’s judge all 20 Prem club’s season from A- F (zero pluses or minuses).

This is obviously subjective.

Your criteria can be based on simply where a team finished, how they played, and did they match their achievement with you would have forecasted them in the summer?

My own viewpoint is ….

A – Something Special

B – Very Good

C- Good / Solid

D – Slightly disappointing

E – not very good

F – Fail

Feel free to put your grades in the comments.

Man City – A

As recently as March, for the second season running, some said how the Champions were ‘not quite themselves’ with Haaland even compared to a League 2 player.

In reality City once again put a crazy winning sequence together only ending in the FA Cup Final.

I still don’t think they get the credit they deserve.

In terms of every few days dealing with must win conditions and not just excelling but doing it with a smile on their face, I think they are unrivalled in terms of how many years they have done that.

Arsenal – B

Some of our peers will mock us for two years in a row being the bridesmaid. That’s okay, we are grown up to take our medicine and some Gooners need to be humbled.

It’s also asking to a lot of our fanbase to wait till next year when it will now be over two decades without a title.

Most of those 20 years are not Arteta’s fault though and unlike 12 months ago you can’t question the Gunners mentality.

It’s not perfect, as evidenced by letting the Villa and Bayern Munich game pass us by.

To drop only 5 points in 2024 and that was not enough to be Champions confirms what we deep down knew, you can’t afford to have even a couple of off days if you want to finish above Man City.

In truth our title bid ended at the Cottage, giving ourselves too much to do.

Outside of that, Arsenal have displayed maturity that previous version haven’t since 2004.

Under must win conditions we won at the Lane, Old Trafford and home to Chelsea.

We can now go away and grind out results, defend narrow leads and not be bullied.

Zero trophies can’t be considered excellent, but for one of the youngest squads in the division they should in theory only get better.

Liverpool – C

Lose a grade for how they ended the season.

For most of 2024 made a habit out of winning games without playing well, and when they scored a late winner at the City Ground, combined with the emotion of Jürgen Klopp leaving, I feared the Kopp were going to push them over the line. Fear because we wouldn’t have heard the end of it.

With 9 games to go the Reds destiny was in their own hands, two points clear at the top of the table.

Like us though they knew they had to be flawless. Talk yet again was could they win a Quadruple but never recovered from failing to twice win at Old Trafford in Cup and League.

Three wins in 9 were because of their strikers failures to take chances.

If not, their manager’s farewell tour they would have been more harshly judged for Atlanta and Everton performances.

League Cup final was perfect evidence of the German’s man management, he one of the few who could have convinced his players they could win in those conditions.

Should make us all appreciate Pep Guardiola more with Klopp saying he can no longer give the energy required to compete.

Won’t miss how he speaks to media.

Aston Villa – A

Top 4! 5 years after being in the Championship has got to be an A for Aston Villa, back at the head of UEFA table for the first time in decades.

I do think Villa mentally benefited from 5th most of the season having an over 80 percent chance it would be good enough for the Champions League, meaning they always had a cushion.

It means they could afford to tip toe to the finish line with Spurs not taking advantage.

Ollie Watkins has credited Unai Emery for getting the best out of him by ironically simplifying his job, telling his striker to stay around the penalty area and be less busy.

The manager not only beat Man City and Arsenal (twice), but he’s the only man this season to tactically out-think Guardiola and Arteta. That’s what the stats suggest.

Not winning the Conference League was a chance missed but would have bitten your hand off for this position.

Spurs – D

Get the lower grade just based on how their fans have conducted themselves the last few weeks, past the point of banter and turning into cringewothiness with many not seeing the irony.

Yes, it could have been worse after losing Harry Kane last summer, but when Spurs won at Villa Park in March, they were two points away from 4th with a game in hand.

Ange Postecoglou’s refusal to change his ethos started off noble when he was winning the odd match.

Yet when your high line is conceding 4 at Newcastle, 4 at Liverpool and another 3 In the NLD, that’s just naive.

Spurs ended the campaign like they cost us the title, but they didn’t. That would have been the case if they beat us. They Instead lost 5 in 6 games, and one happened to be against Man City.

It’s led to for the third year in a row, your own manager publicly questioning the ambition of the club they work for.

Embarrassing

Chelsea – E

When Arsenal finished 5th some in our fanbase called it ‘ progress ‘, Chelsea finish 6th and someone at the club has clearly said that’s not acceptable.

Not necessarily the league position but how the Blues got there.

5-0 at the Emirates!

Drawing with Sheffield United and Burnley!

Wolves, Brentford, Forest winning at the Bridge.

Winning your final 5 games can’t paper over the cracks.

They remind me of the Gunners a couple of years ago. Talented youngsters screaming out for leadership meaning inconsistencies are natural.

Extra time in the League Cup Final probably confirmed Poch wasn’t the right man for the job. Instead of going for Liverpool’s throats he accepted penalties.

Newcastle – D

Geordies will argue FFP rules prevented them from following on from Champions League qualification, meaning another top 4 finish would be unlikely for a small. Squad.

If they had their way, their owners would be adopting the original Chelsea and Man City model.

I’m never going to feel sorry that a state can’t throw unlimited money at a random club just because they want to sports wash.

Eddie Howe remains one of the best at organising players and getting everyone to understand their jobs, but could be more positive at times given the flair he has.

Age catching up to one or two players?

Have been unlucky with injuries but maybe mentioned that too often, to the point it was a built-in excuse?

Missing out on Europe completely is a step back?

Man United – E

I can’t be a hypocrite. When Arsenal last lifted the FA Cup, I stressed that we still couldn’t call 8th success.

Some Gooners did and no doubt will therefore view 5th next season as ‘progress’?

To be a big club, you act like a big club, and I like the idea of someone at Old Trafford pointing to the club’s standards and having a zero-tolerance attitude towards going below that level.

For example, 4-0 at Palace!

Finishing bottom of their Champions’ League group, Brighton and Bournemouth scoring 3 goals at the Theatre of Dreams.

Most weeks United have been one of the hardest to figure out in terms of what is their identity.

The irony being that was clear on Saturday which begs the question where has that work rate been?

From a human element, Ten Hag deserves to celebrate the FA Cup without being reminded constantly of his League position. He’s smart enough to know 8th isn’t acceptable.

Sir Jim Radcliffe has now observed all departments of the business and a successful businessman won’t base a million-pound decision on a one-off game.

Whatever happens…. fix that roof.

West Ham – C

Simply depends on who you listen to?

David Moyes will defend his 9th place finish pointing out it’s a lot healthier position West Ham were in when he joined then rejoined the club.

His legacy will be the three European campaigns, the Europa League not stopping them from a top 10 finish.

Hammers will say that watching the Irons can be a hard watch, and when it’s been bad, it’s been bad. Like conceding 6 to Arsenal and 5 to Chelsea.

Of course, supporters are allowed to have both winning and entertaining football, but this could be a case of be careful about what you ask for?

Palace – C

If ever there was a team you can grade in two halves, it’s Crystal Palace. They could get an A for the football they played in the run in which is part of their fans frustrations, it took the team too long to get the best out of the attacking talent they have.

That’s why Steve Parrish was pressurised to move on from Roy Hodgson.

The owner respected the manager for twice giving the Eagles what they needed at the time.

Yet with all respects, it’s hard to have a long-term vision when you have a 76-year-old in charge.

When Mr Hodgson was taken ill in training in February (on the day he was expected to be sacked) the club were 15th, with 6 wins, only 5 points from safety.

Under Oliver Glasner, they have doubled their points and have more wins.

Most of all Olise, Eze and Mateta have all dramatically improved, scoring 5 against Villa, West Ham, 4 against Man United and winning at Anfield. Whether they get to see it long term is another issue. All now are in the shop window.

Brighton -D

As expected, the Seagulls small squad struggled with the Thursday – Sunday Europa League schedule meaning they were never going to better last season’s 6th place finish.

I made the point last summer and since though that surely if you’re a Brighton fan, you sacrifice a few positions in the table for a first ever European adventure.

Beating Ajax and  Roma in Europe shouldn’t be dismissed when you remember where this club have come from.

This was done without Caicedo and MacAllister and while polishing gems and making huge profits is noble, you can’t keep getting away with it, eventually it will catch up on you.

That might be why De Zerbi chose to leave now?

He’s ambitious and clearly the transfer policy isn’t going to change on the South coast.

He feels that having done something that hasn’t been done in the club’s history, the only way is backwards, smart thinking when some supporters are discontent about their third best ever finish. That’s while working with one of the smallest wage bills in the division.

Talent like Estupinan, Mitoma and Ferguson started well but faded and especially away from home Brighton became easier to score against then previous years.

In a campaign where too many clubs used injuries as an excuse, Brighton are allowed because a small young group played so many games that by the time of the run in, they were crawling over the finish line.

Cherries B

Have to give them the high grade because quite simply, 48 points is the highest tally the club have managed at this level.

That’s more impressive when you consider they didn’t win any of Iraola’s first 9 league games.

Bill Foley deserve praise for being patient.

There are numerous examples where owners would have panicked out of fear of losing the lucrative TV contract. Yet he gave the Spaniard time to implement a brand-new ethos to his players and they never looked back, famously winning at Old Trafford.

Still harsh how they treated O’Neil though, but I guess everyone ended up happy?

Fulham C

I still wonder how Fulham have quietly minded their own business in midtable all seasons?

Their top scorer went to Saudi Arabia with it believed his manager wanted to follow, while on deadline day Palhinha was in Munich before a deal fell through.

All of this I thought equated to a team who would flirt with relegation.

Yet Fulham were that rare side who never looked like getting relegated but not likely to push for Europe either.

On their day they won at Old Trafford and took 4 points off Arsenal, but then struggled with being favourites against Burnley or Sheffield United.

Muniz had a purple patch, Iwobi found his mojo Willian is ageless and Robinson has been one of the breakout talents of the year.

Wolves – C

Never recovered from losing a FA Q-Final at home to Coventry, a tie they led going into added time.

A trip to Wembley would have been the acknowledgement Gary O’Neil deserves who for the second-year running is keeping one of the favourites for relegation comfortably in the division without getting the credit his body of work warrants?

1 win in his final 11 games shouldn’t make people forget where the club were when he took the job.

Lopetugui left a few days before the start of the campaign because he felt he had been misled on the transfer strategy.

Namely, Wolves had gotten rid of several established names.

It was viewed that O’Neil got the post because he was grateful at another opportunity, yet the 41-year-old coached the players to be better. As a group every man knew their job and individuals like Chang improved dramatically, with Wolves finally having a prolific striker.

Injuries toa  small squad meant they crept to the finish line.

May have had more points had VAR been implemented more consistently.

Lose a grade though by writing a grievance letter.

What does it achieve?

Everton – D

Based on manager and players efforts maybe I would give a higher grade, but this is a club who openly broke the rules then appealed, based on arrogantly assuming they would get a slap on the wrist.

I don’t get the sympathy the Toffees have received. The Premier League were telling them at the time how close they were to going over the FFP threshold and the club chose to carry on spending, thinking those in power wouldn’t have the gumption to take away points.

There is no criteria that it’s okay to break laws just because you are doing so with transparency.

It maybe says about the quality near the bottom of the table that a club can have 8 points taken away from them and still stay up with a 14-point margin.

Without the points deductions Everton would have finished between 11-12th.

Long term Sean Dyche will never play the style of football that will entertain Evertonians but he’s what they needed for the current situation.

A manager who can organise a team and make them hard to break down. He’s not going to get carried away when things are going well, but equally won’t panic when things are not going great.

11 of their 13 League wins saw clean sheets which tells you everything.

Brentford – D

Ivan Toney’s ban till January meant that the priority for the Bees was always going to be cementing their topflight status. In Wissa and Mbeumbo though they had the firepower to cope.

Injuries actually impacted the other end of the pitch with 30 points thrown away from winning positions, more than anyone else.

Despite finishing 16th, beating those around them made you feel relegation was never on the cards.

Suspensions and injuries meant a battle to stay up was expected and this was a campaign just to get through.

Hasn’t impacted Thomas Frank’s reputation.

Notts Forest – E

Of course, they should be relieved of staying in the division, but 32 points would have been enough for relegation in any other Prem season.

West Ham once went down with 42 points.

Their owner proved he only cares about getting the topflight TV money, no matter what harm he does to the clubs reputation.

Posting on social media that officials essentially had an agenda against his team and threatening fake legal action was the lowest form of desperation all year.

Given the money they have spent and rules they have broken, 32 points should not be celebrated.

Need to do better.

Luton – E

I, like many neutrals, wanted Luton to stay up, love the romance of their stand overlooking someone’s garden and acknowledge that this was a club not in the Football League a decade ago.

Yet they are being judged on this chapter alone not the overall fairy tale.

Unlike a Sheffield United Rob Edwards at least spoke like a man who was adamant the Hatters were going to give it a go every week.

They thought outside the box by bringing in Prem experienced Ross Barkley and Townsend on free transfers.

They beat Newcastle, held Liverpool, had a 7-goal thriller with Arsenal.

Ultimately though they got relegated on 26 points. Relegated in a campaign where two other clubs get a points deduction.

I don’t think enough has been made of this ….

You only needed 27 points to survive this season. The record before that was 34.

In perspective, West Ham were once relegated with 42 points!

Burnley – E

Escape the lowest grade as at least there was an identity about the Clarets. Every week you knew what Vincent Kompany’s ethos was and what he was trying to achieve.

It will be debated wherever it’s noble of the 38-year-old to have refused to have altered his principles or naive not to once it was clear the youngest squad in the division were not ready for level or simply not good enough …or both?

Selfishly, would the Belgian be about to join Bayern Munich if he had abandoned his convictions?

Anyone who watched ‘Mission to Burnley’ last summer will know though that trusting the managers vision was a huge part of the owners action plan. The idea is all involved would be better for the year of knowledge being in the topflight and better prepared the next time they were promoted.

Sheffield United – F

Won’t be the first or last promoted club who’s business plan is to take the money from the top division, get relegated, be richer for the experience of a year in the Prem and of course richer for the parachute payments.

There’s a way to do that though while giving it a go, and at least trying to carry on the momentum over with you from the Championship.

Compare their approach most weeks to say a Luton, or in the past a Blackpool who at least had a clear ethos.

By selling N’diaye, the Blades had a weaker squad in the topflight then they did in the tier below. That’s quite a hard thing to manage.

By the time the season kicked off, Brammall Lane had the least feel-good factor I can remember in recent memory from a promoted side.

Whether it was their recruitment, lack of topflight experience, swapping Paul Heckingbottom with Chris Wilder, the club’s owners didn’t even try to pretend they were serious about survival. What other Prem side appoints Wilder?

Has only 5 more points than the lowest ever tally and have the unwanted record of conceding 104 goals.

Be respectful to each other.

Dan Smith


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10 Comments

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  1. Pretty much agree but would have villa down to a B ,I believe their net spend in the last 5 years is in the top 6-7 clubs so getting top 4 wasn’t actually that unrealistic seeing how bad some of the other top teams performed ,but a very good season for them but no way they finish top 4 best season .
    I would say Bournemouth and palace stood out the most ,especially palaces end of season form .

    1. I agree with you about Villa. They were quite incosistent: a great win at Arsenal and then a woeful loss at Palace and elsewhere.
      Their fourth was down to poverty of their competitors for that position, especially Spurs!

  2. Big Ups to Unai Emery and Aston Villa. Just goes to show what he can do given the time and full support/backing. Just sayin…

    1. I agree completely. He’s a good manager. He didn’t want to sign Pepe. But was forced to get Pepe for £70 million. He wanted to sign Zaha. Emery didn’t get enough backing unfortunately

      1. Dan
        It’s a difficult call. Villa did make top4, which has taken Arteta longer to achieve. Do you not agree that there was a gulf in class between them and the top 3 – certainly points wise? On that basis and their inability to do better in the Conference league, I would demote them to B.

        Like many, I had a soft spot for Luton who really were minnows and at least gave it some wellie. I’d have given them D

  3. Just about spot on Dan. Villa deserve an A so do we in my view. Last season would have been a B for us so it shows we have grown in confidence. I would give Chelsea a Z in response to them sacking Poch – what a shower, maybe they’ll bring Potter back with an even bigger salary or even Lampard!!!

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