Another year of Premier League football has passed, and quite a strange one it was, too. Imagine in December 2019 if someone had told you that the season would last through the summer; or that the average attendance at Old Trafford this season would be zero; or that David Moyes would be considered one of the league’s better managers.
While it was weird to see Liverpool lift the trophy in June without any fans in attendance, the year gone past has delivered some great moments and memories. Below we pick out the five things that were fantastic about the Premier League in 2020:
1 – Relentless, Relentless Liverpool
They may have taken their foot off the gas once the title was wrapped up, but Liverpool were top of the table on 1st January 2020, and they remain there a year later. Their blips – the bizarre 7-2 mauling at the hands of Aston Villa springs to mind – but Klopp’s men have been fantastic all year. They haven’t always blown the roof off the place, but they have always had the look of champions. Some believed that the injury to Virgil Van Dijk might have slowed them down, but they have proved as relentless as ever in recent weeks. The best team in England, and, with the probable exception of Bayern Munich, the world.
2 – Brilliant, Brilliant Bruno
It’s been somewhat fashionable to slate Manchester United, although they did finish 3rd last season and remain right in the mix of things this season. But everyone agrees that Bruno Fernandes is a class act. The Portuguese magician has won the Premier League Player of the Month Award three times in his first year (to put that in perspective, Ryan Giggs won it twice in his 20+ seasons at United). 17 goals and 12 assists in the Premier League also tells its own story. He is 8/1 in MansionBet’s Premier League betting markets to be named the PFA Player of the Year, and that seems a steal for one of the world’s best attacking midfielders who seems to have won the respect of his peers. He is a joy to watch, and the Premier League is lucky to have him.
3. The Inimitable Sean Dyche
Burnley finished the 2019/20 season 20 points away from the relegation zone, and ahead of ‘better’ teams like Southampton and Everton. While The Clarets had a shaky start to the 2020/21 season, Sean Dyche has got his men back in tune. You hear fans banging on about net spend. Well, Burnley’s net spend was £990K in 2020, and almost half that the year before. They operate on a micro-budget, but it almost doesn’t matter due to the man in the dugout. Dyche has drilled his men to perfection, and built a team that is much more than its constituent parts. People may call them anti-football, but Dyche deserves everyone’s respect.
4 – The Lack of Certainty
For years, Sky Sports used to tout the Premier League as the best league in world football based on its depth and unpredictability. “Anyone can beat anyone in the Premier League”, they’d trumpet on a Super Sunday. The thing is, though: That wasn’t really true. The dominance of the Big 6 continued, and within that group, Man City and Liverpool excelled. But there was a different story in 2020 – just look at some of the results across the calendar year: Watford 3-0 Liverpool, Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool, Man City 2-5 Leicester, Manchester United 0-2 Burnley. The list is endless. Inevitably, the cream will rise to the top, but you really can’t predict any game – and that’s exciting.
5 – The Old Mourinho Is Back
Jose Mourinho is quite a marmite figure, and you can understand why many fans simply don’t like him. However, it’s refreshing to see him looking a little more comfortable at Spurs. Recently, he compared (sterile) possession stats to having a nice piece of meat or fish that was overcooked – it was classic Mourinho. But perhaps more importantly, he has got his tactical nous back again. The way he schooled former club Manchester United in Spurs 6-1 victory was a masterclass from the Special One, and he was relatively dignified about it. It seems like the pressure is off him somewhat at Tottenham, and you might make the case that he prefers life in London (if you remember he was holed up in a hotel for months in Manchester). The league is all the better for it.