Premier League 2018-19 fans’ verdicts. Part two: Leicester to Wolves

Fans review the season with one game to play – the stars, the flops and the moments that made them smile

Part 1: Arsenal to Huddersfield

Leicester

I think “all’s well that ends well” is a good enough way to sum up Leicester’s season. Try as he might Claude Puel’s footballing revolution never really caught on but thankfully we’ve found a better fit in Brendan Rodgers. There’s a sense of optimism on Filbert Way again. 7/10

Stars/flops Without wanting to disrespect one of our title-winning heroes in Danny Simpson, I have to say Ricardo Pereira has been a revelation at full-back. Jamie Vardy’s party has battled on in to its fifth year and Hamza Choudhury has impressed, too. Rachid Ghezzal has been a major letdown, though, and Kelechi Iheanacho still hasn’t been able to escape the dark cloud that hangs over him. That miss against Man City was just the tip of the iceberg.

Biggest surprise Our inability to be ruthless with clear-cut chances - that should be Brendan’s summer priority. That and signing Youri Tielemans.

Best and worst away fans Newcastle were irritating to play against, and irritatingly well supported too. The worst? I genuinely forgot Arsenal were in the stadium and my season ticket is roughly five seats from the away end.

Moment that made you smile The pride I felt seeing the club, and country as a whole, rallying around the families of those who lost their lives in October was special - greater even than the pride I felt in 2016.

• Chris Whiting TheChrisWhitingShow.wordpress.com @ChrisRWhiting

Liverpool

It’s been great – and could get even better this afternoon. But even if City clinch it, what a ride we’ve had. Seeing the team grow every week has been a real thrill. Then we’ve had our European adventure, which isn’t over yet, and which has given us, with the win over Barcelona, one of the greatest nights at Anfield. It’s been a blast, basically, and Klopp must take the credit. Putting aside his pre-watershed indiscretions, he hasn’t put a step wrong. He’s the perfect fit. Whatever happens today, it’s a 10/10.

Stars/flops Cheesy as it may sound, the entire squad have been stars. No flops – though Mo Salah has managed only 26 goals. Could do better perhaps?

Biggest surprise That we’d have such a ball. Back at the start I said we’d finish first but I’m not sure I’d have really believed we’d still be in with a chance of the title on the final day. Nor that we’d be back in the Champions League final.

Best and worst away fans PSG were great and Barcelona in the semi-final, who joined in You’ll Never Walk Alone, were superb. In the league, Crystal Palace never stopped singing about and supporting their team the whole match – brilliant. The worst – the usual suspects with their classless, witless chants belying their own roots.

Moment that made you smile When I heard the Champions League final ticket allocation. It is a joke, right? And the Spirit of Shankly meeting and welcoming Sean Cox’s brothers to Liverpool and Anfield.

• Steph Jones Observer reader

Liverpool fans
Liverpool fans: content. Photograph: Matt West/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

Manchester City

What more is there to say? Whatever happens today, this team is still incredible, Pep is still a genius. Beat Brighton, though, and we’re on for an unprecedented domestic treble, will be the first team to retain the league in a decade and will have notched the second highest Premier League points total with 98. A total bettered only by ourselves last season. This really is what dreams are made of. 10/10

Stars/flops Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva have stood out among a stellar cast. Sterling has built on last season’s form and has developed a real maturity to his all-round game – just as he’s matured into a spokesman on some of society’s most troubling issues off the pitch. A proper leader. As for Bernardo, he might not match Sterling for stats but he’s been equally as consistent in terms of his performances. He has stepped up to become the driving force of the team in De Bruyne’s absence. Flops? Mahrez has been a big disappointment.

Biggest surprise How little Leroy Sané has played since the turn of the year, and Zinchenko’s rapid progress into a top-class left-back. He’s been fantastic.

Best and worst away fans Rotherham were best. Worst? Burnley. Their songs are always terrible, just like their football.

Moment that made you smile Vincent Kompany’s rocket against Leicester. If anyone deserved to score that goal, it’s him. Players, and people, like Vinnie are incredibly rare these days and we are unbelievably lucky to call him one of our own. Give that man a statue. He deserves one.

Lloyd Scragg NinetyThreeTwenty.com @lloyd_scragg

Vincent Kompany
Vincent Kompany’s rocket. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

Manchester United

This team has downed tools for two managers this season, which says everything about them. Ole has inherited a set of average players with big egos and needs to ship them out and rebuild. The rot set in before Fergie left with a shameful neglect of the squad, made worse by a succession of dreadful decisions in the years since. The honeymoon period when Ole took over was the highlight of the season, but it was a false dawn. Once again, we will be in the Europa League: an embarrassment for a club with our resources and history. 5/10

Stars/flops Lindelöf deserves some credit for trying to steady a poor defence. Flops? When José described Pogba as a virus the club backed the player over the manager and got it totally wrong. Sánchez, Martial, Lingard and Lukaku can also go, along with anyone else who doesn’t want to be there, including De Gea and Herrera.

Biggest surprise How fast our form fell off a cliff when Ole’s unbeaten run ended. A huge lack of character in the side.

Best and worst away fans PSG had a bit of everything, with orchestrated chants and flares. Worst were City, who only sang after the game ended. Strange bunch.

Moment that made you smile The VAR call in the Champions League quarter-final that ruled out Agüero’s goal for offside, sending a celebrating Pep to his knees. I danced around the living room.

• Shaun O’Donnell Observer reader

Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba, posting on Instagram after José Mourinho was sacked in December.

Newcastle

Almost a repeat of last season: battling to avoid relegation, followed by an upsurge and a slew of phenomenal performances. Rafa has once again proved he is the club’s best asset. He has done wonders with a limited budget, masterminded some astonishing victories (Man City at home springs to mind) and vastly improved players such as Salomón Rondón, Ayoze Pérez and Paul Dummett. It’s such a shame Mike Ashley never seems to want more than Premier League survival. 6/10

Stars/flops Pérez has always shown promise but not consistency – however, his performances in the second half of the season have been breathtaking and heartwarming. Rondón has morphed into a defender’s nightmare, while Schär has proved to be a snip at £3m. On the flipside, Kenedy will be very lucky to get back into the Chelsea squad next season, and we’ve barely seen anything of Muto and Barreca.

Biggest surprise Finally breaking our transfer record – which had stood for 14 years – for Miguel Almirón.

Best and worst away fans Huddersfield had a great following. Liverpool were worst – silenced after our equalisers.

Moment that made you smile Joey Barton-managed Fleetwood snuffing out Sunderland’s chances of an automatic promotion. Our former midfielder would have loved that …

Richard & David Holmes Observer readers

Newcastle
Celebrating Newcastle’s biggest asset. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Southampton

Once again it’s been a bit of a struggle, albeit with a slightly more promising outlook at the end of it. We would have been dead and buried had Mark Hughes remained in charge: Ralph Hasenhüttl has worked wonders to make us safe with games to spare. A generous 6/10, heavily weighted on a much-improved 2019.

Stars/flops Nathan Redmond hoovered up all of the awards, and rightly so, especially in the context of a really poor season last time around. James Ward-Prowse and even Shane Long have come up with the goods in key moments as well. But considering how he was supposed to be a direct replacement for Dusan Tadic, Mohamed Elyounoussi has been an absolute disaster, and defensively we’ve often looked all at sea, with notable mentions for Jack Stephens and Cédric, the latter farmed out on loan with an untested 19-year-old preferred at right-back.

Biggest surprise I didn’t see us reverting back to our successful left-field managerial recruitment policy.

Best and worst away fans No standout away-end performances, but huge sympathy for the 2,000 Fulham fans who travelled to see an absolute disgrace of a performance from their team. Liverpool were their usual arrogant selves, brazenly buying tickets in the home end.

Moment that made you smile Lucas Digne’s 25-yard own goal in our favour in January. There are many Premier League strikers who would have been proud of the composure and placement displayed by Digne that afternoon.

Steve Grant SaintsWeb.co.uk @SteveGrant1983

Nathan Redmond
Nathan Redmond: hoovered up awards. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Tottenham

Champions League finalists and a top-four finish (barring an unlikely eight-goal turnaround) despite no signings, numerous injuries and the stadium delays is some result. It’s been an emotionally and physically draining season and the team have been limping over the line in the league, though the magnificent new ground provided a welcome boost. At the centre of it all, Mauricio Pochettino has managed the resources at his disposal brilliantly. 9/10

Stars/flops Son Heung-min deserves a mention but the resurrection of Moussa Sissoko has been astonishing. Where once was a timid, soft centre of the team is now a midfield wrecking ball. From a mouse to the Moussiah. The form of Eric Dier, Kieran Trippier and Victor Wanyama has raised a few grumbles and the rarely-spotted Vincent Janssen’s probably on his way out.

Biggest surprise Our ability to find a way in the Champions League against the odds, culminating in that breathtaking comeback at Ajax. All very unSpursy.

Best and worst away fans PSV and Dortmund brought choreographed colour and noise to the drab Wembley bowl. West Ham fans are always annoying. But a tweet of a young fan in a Spurs shirt dancing in the stadium concourse after that game put rivalries and results into perspective.

Moment that made you smile Oh, the tears, the boos, the empty seats; it was a sweet moment at the Emirates when Arsenal, after failing to beat Brighton, realised they’d just gifted us north London bragging rights and a Champions League spot for another season – and all this after we’d held the door open for them the day before by losing at Bournemouth.

Richard Barnes @barnesrichard

Moussa Sissoko
Moussa Sissoko: mouse to Moussiah. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Watford

Forcing myself to peer through the disappointment of an underwhelming recent run which, in the wake of an unhelpful suspension to Troy Deeney, saw our best-of-the-rest challenge tail off, it’s been a tremendous season. We have an exciting side, a charming, unassuming and intelligent head coach, rational and experienced owners, and reasons to be optimistic. Defeat on the final day would see us drop into the bottom half, which would be extremely harsh, but there’s the small matter of another visit to Wembley in a week’s time. Clearly, we’re underdogs. But, you know, at least we’re that … 8.5/10, pending the Cup final.

Stars/flops Étienne Capoue had been terrific since signing on promotion, but only now and again. This season he’s added consistency and been an absolute monster in midfield. Ben Foster has been marvellous on his return, José Holebas has finally become a cult hero and Troy is indisputably the fulcrum. Flops? None, really.

Biggest surprise Our tremendous away record. Before this season started, our previous away goal had been at the Etihad on New Year’s Day. This time we’ve lost at the big six (only at Anfield comprehensively) and at Newcastle (slightly unfortunately).

Best and worst away fans The vast majority of Wolves fans were first noisy then gracious at Wembley; Huddersfield had no reason to be as boisterous as they were; and fans on Twitter, of every club, remain largely insane.

Moment that made you smile Troy’s penalty at Wembley. My word!

Matt Rowson BHappy.wordpress.com @mattrowson

Troy Deeney
Troy Deeney, celebrating his Wembley penalty. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

West Ham

Progress has been made under Pellegrini in that we’ve never really struggled, although he did spend £100m to move us a bit closer to seventh spot. But performances against the top six have been better, with Man United, Arsenal and Spurs all beaten. Home form has improved and small changes like naming a stand after Billy Bonds and finally getting that claret carpet have helped. On the down side, we’ve lost to mid-table and struggling teams away and the defence has been alarmingly overreliant on Fabianski’s heroics. But having a kamikaze defence has resulted in some exciting games, at least. 6.5/10

Stars/flops Declan Rice saved our season by becoming a really mature midfield enforcer who does the simple things well. Mentions, too, to Fabianski, Anderson, Noble and Diop. Relative flops include Cresswell, Ogbonna and the unfortunate Jack Wilshere.

Biggest surprise How Arnautovic’s season veered from being star man to weighed down by hubris after his China crisis – though he has picked up of late.

Best and worst away fans Best were Huddersfield for staying friendly after losing a 4-3 thriller. Worst were the Birmingham yobs wanting a fight.

Moment that made you smile Most of Antonio’s goal celebrations – particularly his carpet-stroking, and that risque dance number against Spurs.

Pete May Author of Goodbye to Boleyn; HammersInTheHeart.blogspot.co.uk

Antonio
Antonio’s dance number. Photograph: Jane Stokes/ProSports/REX/Shutterstock

Wolves

Seventh place, along with an FA Cup semi-final (less about how that panned out), has been beyond our wildest dreams. Nuno has continue to work wonders, showing a flexibility that was at one point called into question during our one poor run. 9/10

Stars/flops João Moutinho is quite simply the best I’ve seen in a Wolves shirt: he’s majestic and so often performed in the big games for us. Raúl Jiménez has consistently improved as the season has gone on – we don’t function the same without him. As for flops, Hélder Costa has been a shadow of his former self and Adama Traoré is looking expensive at £18m so far, but I think he will get more time.

Biggest surprise Nuno had seemed so wedded to 3-4-3, which was great in the Championship – but we’ve since used a false 9 and been great with a 3-5-2, resulting in the electric strike partnership between Jota and Jiménez. You don’t get many of those these days.

Best and worst away fans Liverpool were pretty good in our league game, understandably in good spirits. Given their reputation, Palace fans disappointed me, especially as they won 2-0.

Moment that made you smile Before the final home match Nuno was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Wolverhampton. Cue chants of “There’s only one Doctor Nuno.”

Louie Silvani ThroughTheThirds.blogspot.com @louiesilvani4

Diego Jota
Diego Jota celebrates scoring against Chelsea. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Part 1: Arsenal to Huddersfield