The 2021/22 Premier League season was intense from the very start to the very end of the season and a lot of that isn’t just down to scintillating performances. It also came thanks to some shocking misfires from big names up and down the table. We’ve seen legendary clubs choke horribly, superstars magnanimously discarded by clubs and established names woefully underperforming. This has made for some great drama but great frustration too for fans everywhere. So what were the biggest disappointments of the 2021/22 Premier League season?
Arsenal’s Aubameyang anti-climax
For the past few seasons, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could do no wrong in an Arsenal shirt. Slamming in goals, appointed club captain, idolised by fans and colleagues alike. Yet, it’s mind-boggling to think that Aubameyang didn’t survive the season with The Gunners. The issues came both on & off the pitch. The Gabonese talisman seemingly lost his goal-scoring touch and overall work-rate through the first half of the season as Arsenal relied on their young wingers to bail them out. His lack of discipline off the pitch didn’t help either and it saw Mikel Arteta drop Aubameyang twice from the first-team line-up by the end of November and not to return at all. The end came just as abruptly too. The club and Aubameyang mutually parted ways at the start of January 2022 setting the striker for a free transfer to Barcelona. It was a sorry end for a partnership that had spawned so much over the past few seasons.
Everton’s flirtation with relegation
What a season Everton fans have had to endure. It’s been a nightmare for The Toffees thanks to a myriad of poor choices both on and off the field. It began with the ill-advised appointment of Rafa Benitez as manager whose previous stints with Liverpool were not forgotten by fans. Despite Everton’s strong start, the wheels began falling off very fast. Injuries to key players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies hindered the club’s effective in the final third and lacklustre performances saw the club freefall down the table. The unsurprising departure of Benitez quickly followed and saw Frank Lampard inherit a team bereft of quality and confidence. Only some inspired performances from the likes of Jordan Pickford and Richarlison saved the team from the drop – what would’ve been a first in the Premier League era. With safety secured, Everton have a lot to do if they want to avoid a similar fate next season.
Lukaku’s lacklustre return
It really just seems like Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea don’t really gel. His first stint at Stamford Bridge was remembered for his performance on loan away from the club. So the Belgian striker’s return in August after consecutive 20+goal seasons for Inter Milan promised much – but delivered little. For much of the season, Lukaku looked lost in games struggling to find regular goal scoring form and keep up with the faster nature of the Premier League. There were flashes of brilliance from Lukaku such as commanding performances against Arsenal and Aston Villa in September 2021. However, 8 goals from 26 games is not much for a player signed for £97 million. And that doesn’t cover the personal clashes with Thomas Tuchel that saw him dropped at the start of 2022. It’ll be interesting to see whether Lukaku’s lack of form will keep him at Stamford Bridge for another season.
The downfall of Manchester United
Has the 2021/22 been Manchester United’s worst season in recent memory? Quite possibly. It started with so much promise. The return of the prodigal son, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the high-profile signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane meant United were surely going to be in the title fight. How wrong we were. United looked like a shadow of their former selves. Aside from Ronaldo, the club’s other signings never settled in the squad. Furthermore, established names at the club like Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford struggled for any sort of form all season long. Even Bruno Fernandes, who started the season strongly, faded badly towards the end of the season. It wasn’t any better in the dugout either as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lost all confidence before his replacement Rolf Rangnick looked lost as he adapted to the Premier League. With no title fight or Champions League football to call upon, United’s plight as left many shaking their heads pitifully. Let’s hope that Erik Ten Hag has a clear plan in mind to get the ship heading in the right direction again at Old Trafford.