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Premier League Verdicts - Football: Chelsea to Leicester

24 May 2022 09:03:17 EST
Striker Romelu Lukaku struggled on his return to Chelsea from Inter Milan

Chelsea were fancied as potential title challengers ahead of 2021/22, but fell well short, while Everton and Leeds United showed resilience in the final weeks to escape relegation.

The 2021/22 Premier League season concluded on Sunday, but clubs are already looking ahead to next campaign.

Here are our team-by-team verdicts on every side's exploits and the improvements they may want to make heading into 2022/23.

Team name: Chelsea
Final position: 3rd

Verdict: After winning the Champions League and adding Serie A title winner Romelu Lukaku to their squad, Chelsea were tipped to push Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.

They made a strong start to the term and sat at the top of the standings from 2nd October through to 4th December, however, they were unable to maintain that level of consistency and the gap to the top two started to emerge.

Lukaku fell well short of expectations and Thomas Tuchel spent the majority of the season trying to find someone to lead the line as the Blues finished third, 19 points adrift of champions City.

Tuchel doesn't appear to be under pressure, though, after winning the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, while he also led the west London outfit to the finals of both the FA Cup and League Cup.

Target for 2022/23: Bridging the gap to City and the Reds will be the primary target for Tuchel and the Blues can be backed at 19.00 to win the Premier League next season.

However, the German also has a rebuilding job to contend with, especially at the back, with Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta set to depart.

Tuchel will also have some big decisions to make regarding returning loanees, having seen Conor Gallagher and Armanjo Broja impress at Crystal Palace and Southampton respectively.

Team name: Crystal Palace
Final position: 12th

Verdict: Patrick Vieira put some solid foundations in place during his first campaign in charge of Crystal Palace - the Eagles secured their highest finish in the Premier League since 2014/15 and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

The Frenchman vastly changed Palace's style of play and made some shrewd signings, with Marc Guehi and Joachim Anderson, in particular, complementing each other well at the heart of defence.

Conor Gallagher thrived, scoring eight goals after joining on loan from Chelsea and subsequently forced his way into the England squad.

Wilfried Zaha was once again a key figure and he enjoyed his best-ever scoring campaign at any level, notching 14 league goals.

Palace drew more games (15) than any other side in the division and Vieira will be keen to turn some of those into victories next season.

Target for 2022/23: Palace have only ever achieved one top-half finish since the Premier League began in 1992/93, finishing 10th in 2014/15.

Vieira will have his sights set on breaking into the top-10 next season and Palace can be backed at 2.62 to achieve that goal, while attempting to secure a permanent deal for Gallagher will also be high on the agenda over the coming weeks.

Team name: Everton
Final position: 16th

Verdict: Last summer's appointment of former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez split the Everton fanbase, but a strong start, which saw the Toffees claim 10 points from the first 12 on offer, appeared to settle things down.

However, the wheels came off shortly after when Everton won just one of their following 10 games and seven of those ended in defeat, including a 4-1 thrashing at home to Merseyside rivals Liverpool.

Benitez was eventually sacked on 16th January following a 2-1 defeat at Norwich City and Frank Lampard arrived as his permanent successor on 31st January.

Everton sat 16th and just four points clear of the relegation zone when Lampard took the reins.

Despite continuing to struggle for large periods with the ex-Chelsea boss at the helm, Everton secured their Premier League status with a game to spare after coming from 2-0 down to beat Crystal Palace 3-2.

Target for 2022/23: Following their lowest league finish since 2003/04, Everton and Lampard will be hoping to steer well clear of a relegation battle next season.

They've finished in the top half in four of the last five seasons and are 5.00 to seal a top-10 spot.

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Team name: Leeds United
Final position: 17th

Verdict: Many Leeds United fans will look back on 2021/22 with a sense of relief after coming through a tense relegation scrap on the final day.

Following promotion to the Premier League, Marcelo Bielsa led the Whites to a highly commendable ninth-place finish last season.

Matching that was always going to be tough and positive results inevitably proved hard to come by, as Leeds were immediately amongst the relegation zone after failing to win any of their opening six fixtures.

Bielsa's icon status in the city undoubtedly prolonged his stay in the dugout, however, the board were left with no other option but to part company on 27th February, following another six-game winless streak.

Jesse Marsch was drafted in as the Argentinian's replacement, but successive defeats without scoring a goal did little to win the fans over. Leeds' hopes of survival received a big boost through March and April though, when they went unbeaten through five games, winning three.

It all came down to the final day but Burnley's loss to Newcastle United and Leeds' win at Brentford ensured the latter would be staying up.

Target for 2022/23: Marsch made it clear that fans are yet to see his style of play, having opted for a more measured approach to try and beat relegation, and he's hinted Leeds - priced at 3.75 to be relegated - could be more expansive next term.

There's also plenty of speculation surrounding the future of Kalvin Phillips and Marsch will need to get that resolved as swiftly as possible.

Team name: Leicester City
Final position: 8th

Verdict: Leicester started the season by winning the Community Shield, beating Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley, but they struggled to find any consistency in the league.

The Foxes lost three of their opening five games and only won two of their first seven fixtures in the top-flight.

After being firmly in the mix for a top-four finish over the previous two seasons, Leicester were unable to reach those highs again.

They spent the majority of the term in the bottom half, but a four-game unbeaten streak to sign off 2021/22 saw the club seal eighth spot to somewhat gloss over a disappointing campaign.

Jamie Vardy once again impressed to end the season with 15 goals and James Maddison also played a big role in their strong end to term, scoring in each of their final four outings to take his tally to 12.

Target for 2022/23: Leicester will be without European football for the first time since 2019/20 and that should allow Brendan Rodgers to focus on challenging for a top-six berth, and they are 11.00 to achieve that target.

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