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Premier League Verdicts - Football: Southampton to Wolves

26 May 2022 04:36:18 EST
Tottenham's Son Heung-min was joint leading scorer in the Premier League

The future looks bright for Tottenham after they secured Champions League football for next season, but do Southampton and Wolves fans have reason for concern?

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

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: Southampton
Final Position: 15th

Verdict: There were some bright spots for Southampton during 2021/22, two draws with Manchester City and an away win at Tottenham certainly spring to mind, but the end to the season will have left a sour taste for many Saints supporters.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's side won just one of their final 12 league games and ended the campaign on a four-match losing streak.

Had the season lasted just a few weeks longer then the Saints could well have been dragged into a relegation battle and they may well have gone down, given their woeful form.

The future of Hasenhuttl at St Mary's could now be up in the air, as things appear to have gone stale for a side that finished just five points above the relegation zone.

Target for 2022/23: Whether Southampton opt to stick with Hasenhuttl or not, things are going to have to change on the south coast otherwise they could be in for a season of struggle next term.

Keeping hold of captain James Ward-Prowse and bolstering a threadbare squad are likely to be key to Southampton's chances. If not then relegation, at odds of 2.50, could be a distinct possibility.

Team Name Tottenham
Final Position: 4th

Verdict: When Antonio Conte replaced Nuno Espirito Santo as Tottenham boss back in November, nobody was giving Spurs much hope of finishing in the top four, but the Italian is a proven winner and was able to weave his magic.

Spurs picked up 13 points from their final five games, including a convincing 3-0 victory over Arsenal in their penultimate home fixture, as they eventually overhauled their north London rivals into fourth place.

Conte was able to get the best out of talisman Harry Kane, who had made a slow start to the season, while Son Heung-min was fantastic throughout as he finished as the league's top scorer alongside Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah.

The January acquisitions of Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski also proved pivotal, with Spurs now able to look forward to the return of Champions League football for the first time since the 2019/20 campaign.

Target for 2022/23: The future does appear bright for Spurs, provided they can keep hold of Conte, with the Italian having seemingly been linked with the exit door ever since he arrived in north London.

If Conte does stay then Spurs can expect to at least challenge for a top-four finish once again at 1.50, although a title challenge at 15.00 may be a step too far at this stage.

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Team Name: Watford
Final Position: 19th

Verdict: After bouncing back to the Premier League at the first attempt, hopes would have been high amongst Watford supporters, but the 2021/22 campaign ultimately proved one to forget.

In typical Watford fashion, the club went through three managers during the season, with Xisco Munoz, Claudio Ranieri and Roy Hodgson all trying in vain to keep the Hornets in the top flight.

There was the odd high along the way, including the 4-1 home success over Manchester United back in November, but remarkably Watford went on to take just one more point from their remaining 13 league matches at Vicarage Road.

No team picked up fewer Premier League points than Watford in 2022, with the Hornets collecting just a solitary draw from their final nine matches of the campaign.

Target for 2022/23: Hodgson took charge of Watford for the final time on Sunday and former Forest Green Rovers boss Rob Edwards has already been confirmed as his successor.

Edwards led Forest Green to the League Two title last term and Watford will be expecting a serious promotion challenge under their new boss next season. The Hornets can be backed at 5.50 to win the Championship.

Team Name: West Ham
Final Position: 7th

Verdict: It was another successful season for West Ham under David Moyes, as they guaranteed that European football will be returning to the London Stadium for the second successive campaign.

Most of the headlines the Hammers generated during 2021/22 came from their run to the semi-finals of the Europa League - their first major European semi-final for 46 years.

Their exploits on the continent may ultimately have hindered the Hammers domestically, as despite finishing an impressive seventh, they only won five of their final 17 top-flight matches.

That meant the east Londoners were not able to sustain their challenge for a top-four finish, but despite that, it still has to go down as a successful season for a club that were battling against relegation just two years previous.

Target for 2022/23: More of the same has to be the target for West Ham, who will fancy another long run in Europe - this time in the Conference League - as well as a strong finish in the Premier League.

Keeping the likes of Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen at the club could be paramount to those hopes, with the Hammers priced at 5.00 to finish in the top six and 17.00 to break into the top four.

Team Name: Wolves
Final Position: 10th

Verdict: On the whole Wolves enjoyed a good first season under Bruno Lage, as they finished in the top half of the standings and appeared to be in the mix for European qualification heading into the final months of the campaign.

However, the wheels did come off slightly for the Molineux club during the closing weeks of the season, as they took just two points from their final seven games.

Scoring goals was a particular issue for Wolves, as their total of 38 was the lowest of any side that avoided relegation, with their leading scorer, Raul Jimenez, finishing with just six league goals.

On the plus side, only the top four conceded fewer goals than Wolves, with goalkeeper Jose Sa catching the eye in his debut season in English football.

Target for 2022/23: Signing not just one goalscorer, but several players that can find the back of the net on a regular basis has to be a priority for Wolves during the summer.

Failure to do that, coupled with how they ended the 2021/22 season, and it could be a long hard slog for Wolves next term - they are 1.18 to finish in the bottom half and 3.75 to be relegated.

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