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We review a thrilling and competitive PL season

The players, shocks and moments of 2023/24

2024/05/21 15:55

After a fraught title battle, Manchester City did what many suspected and steamrollered their way to a fourth straight Premier League title - but the 2023/24 season was a highly-competitive affair packed with thrills and spills. 

Before the dust settles on an enjoyable league campaign, we asked Playmaker's team of football writers to review the action and identify a Player, a Shock and a Moment from the season just gone (feel free to agree/disagree with them in the comments below!). 

Alex Lawes (EFL and European football writer)

Player of the season: Phil Foden. One-time boy wonder and Manchester United's all-time record goal scorer, Wayne Rooney was viewed as a world superstar throughout his career and is rightly regarded as one of England’s greatest ever talents. During his stellar career, Rooney won 16 trophies. Stockport-born Phil Foden, meanwhile, won his 17th on Sunday at the age of just 23. At 5 ft 7 with speed and technical ability in abundance, the Manchester City boy became the man this season with 19 goals in the Premier League, including some memorable match-winners, none more notable than a first-half brace that effectively sealed City’s historic fourth successive title win.

Shock of the season: Klopp's exit. On the 26th of January 2024, an otherwise quiet Friday morning, Liverpool released a video confirming the upcoming departure of long-term manager Jurgen Klopp. The 56-year-old German had become a transformative figure for one of the world’s most storied clubs, but, out of the blue, he confirmed he would leave the Reds. The former Borussia Dortmund and Mainz boss did not quite have the romantic farewell he would have craved but he leaves behind a heap of trophies, memories and more as he moves onto his next chapter. Love or hate Liverpool, life and football will forever be different in England in his absence.

Moment of the season: Ortega's title-winning save. Perhaps coloured by recency bias, the moment of what has been a memorable and entertaining Premier League season would surely have to be Stefan Ortega’s dramatic, well-timed save in Manchester City’s 2-0 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur. At 1-0, with just minutes to go, Spurs’ captain and talisman Son Heung-min raced through on goal and had the chance to essentially hand their arch-rivals Arsenal a first title in 20 years. However, after coming on as a substitute for the injured Ederson, Ortega out-foxed the Korean to pull off a title-winning save.

Stephen Gillett (Football writer and Mighty Delta editor)

Player of the season: Rodri. Phil Foden and Martin Odegaard run him very close, but I'd have to plump for Manchester City's midfield maestro Rodri. An absolute class act in City's engine room, the Spain international incredibly didn't lose a Premier League game all season (34 played: 27 won, 7 drawn) and tellingly Pep Guardiola's side lost three of the four league games they played without him. Now unbeaten in his past 50 top flight games, Rodri embodies City's excellence; they are the best team in English football and he is their most influential performer. 

Shock of the season: Club hysteria with VAR. Some of the VAR calls this season were shocking in themselves, Luis Diaz' disallowed goal for Liverpool against Tottenham a staggeringly low point. However, the manner in which some clubs reacted when wronged by VAR was perhaps even more worrying. After the aforementioned Diaz goal-that-never-was, Liverpool issued a statement saying 'sporting integrity' had been damaged by the 'unacceptable' error. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had a meltdown and labelled VAR 'a disgrace' after a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle back in November and Nottingham Forest issued a statement after a 2-0 defeat to Everton last month accusing the Luton-supporting referee of bias. Questioning the integrity of officials and the game as a whole is a dangerous road to go down. 

Moment of the season: Bobb versus Magpies. There are quite a few to choose from but, in the context of the title race, the moment that still stands out to me is Oscar Bobb's match-winning goal for Man City in the Cityzens' 3-2 win at Newcastle in January. Trailing 2-1 at St James' Park with over an hour gone, City needed a spark. And Kevin De Bruyne provided it. Returning from a long spell out injured, the Belgian midfielder scored with his first touch after coming on as a 69th-minute sub and he then swung over a fantastic cross in added time, which academy kid Bobb finished wonderfully. It marked a turning point in City's season and the rest, as they say, is history. As a Man Utd fan, I must mention Kobbie Mainoo's first-ever Premier League goal against Wolves - it had me off my seat!

Daniel Oliveira (Data specialist and features writer)

Player of the season: Rodri. He could easily be included in my 'Shock of the season' below, given his omission from the Premier League's eight-man shortlist for the best player in the top flight. For me, he is exactly that. Despite Phil Foden's fantastic season, no one could have complained if his Spanish team-mate had scooped the award. Foden's flair and creativity may have tipped the scales in his favour, but Rodri's influence at City is there for all to see, and eight goals and nine assists show he has end product too! If you removed any other player from this Man City team, it would likely have still functioned and won the 2023/24 title. The biggest compliment I can pay Rodri is that I don't think City would have won a fourth straight Premier League without him. 

Shock of the season: Aston Villa making 'Top Four'. For the past 20 years, the Champions League spots have largely been dominated by the traditional 'Top Six', with the exception of Leicester in 2016/17. Last season, Newcastle secured a spot, but their financial backing is significantly different from Aston Villa's. What Villa have achieved this season is truly remarkable, and Unai Emery is finally receiving the recognition he deserves after perceived failures at Arsenal and PSG. At the start of the campaign, even the most optimistic Villa fan wouldn't have confidently predicted a top-four finish, but the table doesn't lie and they deserve a crack at Europe's 'elite' next season.  

Moment of the season: A defining matchweek. I'm going to slightly cheat here and broaden this to include a series of Matchweek 33 moments. Prior to that defining weekend in mid-April, Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool were locked in a three-way title battle that was, in many ways, too close to call. However, on a fateful Sunday, Jurgen Klopp's fairytale was derailed by a surprise home defeat to Crystal Palace, and former Gunners boss Unai Emery inspired Aston Villa to a 2-1 win at the Emirates. City had already walloped lowly Luton 5-1 on the Saturday and the odds were back in their favour from then on. 

Richard Cole (Premier League and women's football writer)

Player of the season: Cole Palmer. We always knew that Palmer was a talented player with a bright future ahead of him, but when he made his £40+ million transfer to Chelsea we didn't expect him to become the main man quite so quickly. But that's exactly what Palmer has done. At times it felt like the former Manchester City man was carrying the entire team on his shoulders, which for much of the first part of the campaign – before Chelsea got into their groove – he was. The 22-year-old ended the season with 22 goals (second behind only Erling Haaland, 27) and 11 assists (second behind only Ollie Watkins, 13). 43% of Chelsea's 77 goals this season were directly because of Palmer and he's only going to get better.

Shock of the season: Crystal Palace under Glasner. The Eagles season was going nowhere under Roy Hodgson with the club looking like it simply hadn't planned ahead while relying on a septuagenarian to lead them forward. Then with Oliver Glasner's arrival, everything seemed to suddenly change. Since Glasner took over on February 24th, only Manchester City (35), Arsenal (34), and Chelsea (24) won more points than Crystal Palace (24). Palace even managed to record a win at Anfield, as well as big victories over Manchester United and Aston Villa. Ironically, Palace still finished the season 10th, which it seems like they do almost every season but it will be fascinating to see what Glasner's Palace can do over a full campaign.

Moment of the season: Garnacho's overhead kick. Look, it's been a difficult season for a Manchester United fan so I think for all my suffering I deserve to enjoy something. Alejandro Garnacho looked to tire as the season went on, but overall he was one of United's better players and one of the few capable of something truly magical. That's exactly what the youngster produced within the opening minutes of the Red Devils’ 3-0 win against Everton at Goodison Park. Diogo Dalot's cross from the right looked like it was overhit for any of the red shirts in the box. Garnacho though read the flight of the ball perfectly, shifted a few steps back, then hung in the air backwards as he diverted the ball past Jordan Pickford. A thing of beauty, one of the greatest Premier League goals ever scored.


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2024-05-21 16h27m by banderson1976
As a football fan, I have to say that I completely agree with Alex Lawes' choice of Phil Foden as Player of the season. What a talent! And let's not forget his impressive 17 trophies at just 23 years old.


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