2008-09 Premier League wrap-up

“If you are first, you are first. If you are second, you are nothing.”
~Bill Shankly

How appropriate these words can be when summing up this season in the Premier League… While Manchester United strolled away with their 18th league title, the remaining 16 teams reflect and begin to raid the transfer market. While Man United secured a third consecutive title, Liverpool’s campaign will be remembered as yet another failure, and despite a season in which they only lost twice.

This time next year, Liverpool will celebrate its 20th anniversary of the last time they lifted the League Champions Trophy. The real question is… will they be able to celebrate this occasion by adding a new piece of silverware in the Anfield trophy case? Although they might appear to be a cursed club, finishing in either 2nd or 3rd eight times since 1990, Liverpool supporters may have good reasons to believe that 2009-2010 could finally be their year. Captain Steven Gerrard continues to carry the team week in and week out, and shows no signs of slowing down. Fernando Torres also looks to play a much larger role if he stays fit, and several of Liverpool’s recent acquisitions look to be making large strides in their level of play (e.g. Arbeloa, Ngog, and Reira). During this season’s campaign, in which they were unbeaten at home, and went 4-0-2 against the other big four teams, the Reds showed much more promise than in recent campaigns. The fact that Manchester United was able to still claim the Premier League title despite massive injuries along their back line, was unbelievable; one slip up and Liverpool could have easily hoisted the trophy at season’s end.

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Looking slightly further down the table, one can wonder how Chelsea’s season ended so wrong. The Blues started the season red hot, and received stellar performances from new faces such as Deco and Bosingwa. However, the haunting memories of crushing defeats to Man United and Liverpool, and yet another coach sacked midseason ended Chelsea’s hopes of reclaiming the Premier League title. Arsenal on the other hand, had trouble finding their stride throughout the first four months of the season. A laundry list of injuries, including Cesc Fabregas (their heart and soul), saw the Gunners sink in the standings; an impressive unbeaten run to end the season was not enough to see Arsenal rise above fourth in the table.

On the other side of things, three storied clubs saw dismal performances throughout the season, and subsequently took the plunge. Newcastle and Middlesbrough had enjoyed premier league football for over a decade, while West Bromwich Albion had been in and out of the Premiership over the past eight seasons.

Teams like Aston Villa and Hull City impressed many towards the beginning of the 2008-09 campaign, but failed to maintain consistency throughout. Aston Villa saw time in the top four for much of the season, leading for much deserved praise for Martin O’Neill; but the Villans struggled by the end of the year, showing just how undermanned they were for the long haul. Hull City, which enjoyed early success in its first season in the Premier League, won just one game in the last 6 months of the season and barely escaped relegation.

Overall, teams like Man United, Everton, and West Ham showed great poise through rashes of injuries, teams like Fulham and Stoke enjoyed unprecedented success, and teams like Manchester City and Arsenal failed to live up to high expectations.

Check out the next blog for what you might expect next season…

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