A sensational Premier League campaign full of thrills, spills and final-day drama concluded on Sunday with Manchester City winning the title instead of Liverpool, Leeds staying up at Burnley’s expense and plenty more besides.
There were so many good, bad and funny moments throughout the 2021-22 season, the first after fans were allowed back in stadiums as the country recovered from the coronavirus pandemic.
So, with that in mind, Sportsmail writers Ian Ladyman, Sami Mokbel, Craig Hope, Jack Gaughan, Dominic King, Tom Collomosse, Matt Barlow, Adrian Kajumba and Chris Wheeler nominate their best, worst and most amusing moments of the season.
A sensational Premier League campaign full of thrills, spills and final-day drama concluded on Sunday with Manchester City (pictured above) winning the title at the expense of Liverpool
With that in mind, Sportsmail writers Ian Ladyman, Sami Mokbel, Craig Hope, Jack Gaughan, Dominic King, Tom Collomosse, Matt Barlow, Adrian Kajumba and Chris Wheeler have nominated their best, worst and most amusing moments from the 2021-2022 campaign
What was your favourite match this season?
Ian Ladyman (IL): Arsenal 3 Tottenham 1. Still getting used to the sounds and sights of full stadiums again, this was a thrilling attacking performance from a team finding an identity under Mikel Arteta. The Emirates was alive.
Sami Mokbel (SM): The 2-2 draw between Manchester City and Liverpool was hands down the most captivating match of the season. But the best game I saw live was Chelsea versus Liverpool — an enthralling 2-2 draw.
Craig Hope (CH): Newcastle 3 Everton 1. A noisy night under the lights at St James’ Park when you were reminded of the power of a club, its team and fanbase when they pull in the same direction. It felt like the start of a new era.
Jack Gaughan (JG): As an alternative to the incredible 2-2 draw at Anfield, Burnley 3 Everton 2. A relegation scrap, an electric atmosphere and a late winner after Burnley had battled back from 2-1 down.
Dominic King (DK): Everton 1 Chelsea 0: simply for the noise, colour and emotion that was evident inside and outside the stadium that day. There are few better places to watch football than when Goodison Park serves up a tempest.
Tom Collomosse (TC): Leicester 1 Liverpool 0. Leicester had just been thrashed by Man City and had stars missing. An away win looked certain, but Mo Salah missed a penalty and Ademola Lookman nicked it. They even managed a rare clean sheet.
Several chose Manchester City’s exciting draw vs Liverpool as the best game of the season
Non-league side Kidderminster Harriers (above) taking on West Ham was also a classic game
Craig Hope nominated the turnaround at Newcastle against Everton as signalling a new era
Matt Barlow (MB): Kidderminster 1 West Ham 2: A classic FA Cup tie drenched in non-League charm, with Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen, two of the players of the season, sparing West Ham’s blushes.
Adrian Kajumba (AK): Manchester City 2 Tottenham 3 in the Premier League — but witnessing the magic of the Bernabeu first-hand when Real Madrid KO’d Chelsea from the Champions League was a privilege.
Chris Wheeler (CW): Man City 2 Liverpool 2. A match of outstanding quality between the two best teams in the Premier League by some distance.
…and your goal of the season?
IL: Mo Salah at home against Man City. Salah at his best. A blur of feet, a gymnast’s balance and a surgeon’s calmness. It was a goal good enough to win any game but City found a way to draw.
SM: Mateo Kovacic versus Liverpool in the stalemate mentioned above. But Mo Salah’s solo goal against Manchester City at Anfield was a joke.
CH: Newcastle midfielder Bruno Guimaraes scoring a diving header at the Gallowgate End in the 95th minute to beat Leicester. It felt scripted given the instant hero worship afforded to the Brazilian.
JG: Bernardo Silva, for Manchester City at Aston Villa. City went back to front on the counter in five seconds, from Riyad Mahrez in his own box to Bernardo Silva’s sumptuous volley. Drew gasps from the home stands.
Reds star Mo Salah’s wondrous goal against City at Anfield was arguably the best of the season
The Egyptian star’s inventive run and finish against Watford was also an outstanding strike
DK: Mohamed Salah when he twisted and turned and shimmied his way around three Manchester City defenders before slamming an unstoppable drive past Ederson with his wrong foot. Magical.
TC: Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa v Brighton. A glorious strike to kickstart the Steven Gerrard era as Watkins cut in from the left and curled home from 20 yards. The new boss enjoyed it too, celebrating as he used to when he scored the winner at Anfield.
MB: Mo Salah’s twinkling feet at Watford. Messi-esque brilliance from the depths of his early-season purple patch. The one he scored against City wasn’t bad either.
AK: Andriy Yarmolenko v Aston Villa. The finish was impressive but the circumstances in which he played and scored, with Ukraine under siege, made the goal and celebrations so emotional.
CW: Mo Salah’s incredible solo effort for Liverpool against City at Anfield. You’d like to call it a one-off, but he did it against Watford the next game.
Best player of the season and the top young star?
IL: Diogo Jota has brought competition and options at Liverpool that have previously been absent. I have been thrilled to see Ryan Sessegnon break through at Tottenham.
SM: Kevin De Bruyne. Just an incredible footballer. Youngster… Marc Guehi at Crystal Palace, who has a long England career ahead of him.
City’s Kevin De Bruyne (above, centre) was picked by a few as the best player of this campaign
Liverpool’s Portuguese forward Diogo Jota (pictured left) also received several nominations
CH: Mo Salah got my vote but, from a North East perspective, the transformation in Newcastle’s Joelinton from centre-forward flop to midfield destroyer is worthy of recognition. For young player, I have loved watching Leeds forward Joe Gelhardt.
JG: Kevin De Bruyne’s form during the run-in means he just pips Mohamed Salah. Marc Guehi has been exceptional for Crystal Palace and has a very bright future.
DK: Mo Salah. At his best – and we shouldn’t underestimate the mark international disappointments have left – he was the best player on form in the world. Young star, Phil Foden. He’s won more trophies in four seasons than a lot of clubs in their history.
TC: Christian Eriksen. Few thought he would kick a ball again, let alone resume his career at the highest level and perform so impressively for Brentford. Villa’s Jacob Ramsey, 20, is raw but looks a star in the making.
MB: Diogo Jota, scoring vital goals for Liverpool and bridging the electric bursts of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz — and Conor Gallagher for a fine breakthrough season.
AK: Mo Salah has been the league’s best player and has the goals and assists to back that up. Best young star has been Conor Gallagher. A real breath of fresh air for Crystal Palace this season.
CW: Mo Salah (just ahead of Kevin De Bruyne) for firing Liverpool’s challenge on four fronts — and Conor Gallagher whose performances for Crystal Palace brought a well-deserved England call-up.
Chelsea tyro Conor Gallagher (pictured right) had a superb season on loan at Crystal Palace
Which Premier League manager has done the best job?
IL: Great to see so many competitors but I can’t see beyond Thomas Frank at Brentford. To finish on the fringes of the top half on meagre resources is extraordinary. David Moyes, Graham Potter and Bruno Lage get honorary mentions.
SM: Jurgen Klopp, obviously. But Thomas Frank has led Brentford to a quite brilliant season — so I’ll go for him. Or David Moyes. Or Pep…
CH: Jurgen Klopp would be my pick but, much like Joelinton above, Newcastle boss Eddie Howe deserves a mention for uniting a broken dressing room and taking a team set for relegation to the comfort of mid-table.
JG: Pep Guardiola is manager of the year but with the resources, Thomas Frank has outperformed his peers. And yes, there is a difference between those two things.
DK: Jurgen Klopp has masterminded a campaign in which Liverpool will play every possible game. He’s won two trophies, reached the Champions League final and built another outstanding side.
TC: Antonio Conte. Tottenham have been drifting since the latter days of Mauricio Pochettino but Conte has turned them into a proper team again. Why on earth did Manchester United think they did not need him?
MB: Jurgen Klopp for attacking four competitions with a compelling style of football, and leadership to connect and inspire.
Brentford’s Thomas Frank was a left-field name mentioned as a potential manager of the year
AK: Patrick Vieira. Kept Palace up comfortably, reached the FA Cup semi-finals, improved the style and squad. Future looks bright for him and Palace. Nods to Antonio Conte and Eddie Howe too.
CW: Hard to look beyond Jurgen Klopp. Pep Guardiola deserves huge credit, and so do David Moyes, Graham Potter, Thomas Frank and Eddie Howe. But Klopp kept Liverpool in contention for the quadruple until late May.
Your Premier League XI for 2021-22…
IL: (4-2-3-1) Pope; James, Dias, Matip, Cucurella; Rodri, Thiago; Salah, De Bruyne, Bowen; Kane.
SM: (4-2-3-1) Ederson; Alexander-Arnold, Guehi, van Dijk, Cancelo; Rice, Thiago; Salah, De Bruyne, Son; Mane.
CH: (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, van Dijk, Burn, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rice, Joelinton; Salah, Son, Mane.
JG: (4-3-3) Alisson; James, van Dijk, Laporte, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rice, Bernardo Silva; Salah, Ronaldo, Son.
DK: (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold; Matip, van Dijk, Cancelo; Bernardo Silva, Fabinho, De Bruyne; Salah, Mane, Son.
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was virtually ever-present in the team of the season picks
TC: (4-3-3) Sa; Cash, Dawson, van Dijk, Cancelo; Eriksen, Thiago, Dewsbury-Hall; Salah, Kane, B Silva. As well as Man City and Liverpool stars, I have gone for some who have made a big impression on their teams.
MB: (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Rudiger, van Dijk, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rice, Ward-Prowse; Salah, Jota, Son.
AK: (4-2-2-2) Alisson; James, van Dijk, Rudiger, Cancelo; Rice, Gallagher; Bowen, Son; Salah, Kane.
CW: (4-4-2) Alisson; Cancelo, van Dijk, Rudiger, Cucurella; Bernardo Silva, Thiago, De Bruyne, Luis Diaz; Mane, Salah.
IL: The jerk chicken outside the Emirates. Tasteless. Almost as disappointing as the price. £9.50!
SM: Manchester United. The only positive to come out of their season is that surely it can’t get any worse than this. Woeful in every aspect. Erik ten Hag has some job ahead of him if he’s to revive this team.
CH: Marcelo Bielsa. The genius faded given his refusal to adapt his tactics to suit his players and Leeds’ situation.
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments of the year
JG: Celebrating in press boxes. Even the little fist-pumps. Stop it, we can see you.
DK: Reporting on the constant trials and tribulations of Everton. A fanbase that passionate and with such knowledge deserves a team of which it can be proud. Take notice of the frustration, Farhad Moshiri.
TC: The predictability of the title race and cup competitions. City and Liverpool are two of the best teams we have seen in this country but we also love football because it can surprise us. Sadly, we are only going to see more of it as the wealthy grow wealthier.
MB: Manchester United. Signed Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, appointed the high priest of the high press in Ralf Rangnick, and still resembled football’s most illustrious ship lost at sea.
But the majority of Sportsmail’s writers plumped for the underachieving Manchester United
AK: Manchester United. Touted as title challengers after their summer spend, then produced one of their worst ever seasons. Apart from Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals and return (if you have to scratch for positives), an embarrassing season to forget.
CW: Manchester United. Has a season that promised so much ever delivered so little? Erik ten Hag has got his work cut out.
IL: Hearing Pep Guardiola say that the whole country supports Liverpool was vaguely amusing. Shades of Fergie. And not in a good way. Anyway, everybody who has ever worked in national newspapers knows the whole of Fleet Street supports West Ham.
SM: Not funny as such — actually quite the opposite. But Mark Noble’s London Stadium farewell was my favourite moment of the season. Not a dry eye in the house.
CH: Dressed in shirt, tie and waistcoat and waiting to interview Amanda Staveley on the day of Newcastle’s takeover, a hotel guest pulled up and, quite abruptly, asked me to park her car. She had mistaken me for the valet service, much to the amusement of my colleagues.
JG: Paul Scholes breaking unwritten rules on live TV. ‘I’m sure Jesse (Lingard) won’t mind me saying — that dressing room is a disaster.’ I think he might mind, Paul!
DK: Jurgen Klopp wondered aloud if his bag would be safe by Anfield’s media room. He returned to find it had been hidden and two reporters — one ‘may’ have been me — whistling with glints in our eyes. His expression was almost identical to my exasperated teachers.
TC: It always brings a smile when a top player makes a mistake — passing the ball out of play or shanking a clearance — that would shame a pub player. It shows nobody is immune to the howler.
Brandon Williams giving Christian Eriksen a cuddle was one of the funniest moments this year
MB: When Norwich’s Brandon Williams realised he could not stay cross with miracle-man Christian Eriksen on his first start for Brentford.
AK: Michail Antonio’s celebration with a cardboard cut-out of himself. Cole Palmer’s youthful and super-confident ‘Prem soon come’ interview after scoring in the FA Cup for Manchester City also stuck in the mind.
CW: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink trying to maintain a smile and air of serenity in the studio while caught in the middle of a ding-dong between Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher after Chelsea and United drew in November.
Which player, manager or ref would you invite to a BBQ this summer?
IL: Patrick Vieira. ‘Just keep everybody off the grass would you, Pat?’
SM: Jamie Vardy #wagathachristie. Failing that, Jack Grealish for obvious reasons.
CH: A-ha loving Eddie Howe could provide the music and his beautifully tanned assistant Jason Tindall would guarantee the weather. Because, as the A-ha hit goes, ‘The sun always shines on JT’.
Jack Gaughan insisted he would invite retiring referee Jon Moss to a barbecue this summer
JG: Jon Moss. First to grill the referee about his personalised boots and second for tips on adding to my vinyl collection (Moss owns a record store in Leeds).
DK: Ralf Rangnick. A couple of glasses of red in and the question would be put forward: ‘Go on Ralf… tell us what it was really like?’
TC: Brentford boss Thomas Frank. Funny, refreshing, interesting — exactly what many players and coaches are, but are too afraid to show. His candid interviews and uncomplicated approach are a delight and should be a lesson for many.
MB: Christian Eriksen. Not football’s finest conversationalist (and neither is he) but we will toast the greatest comeback ever and keep off the saturated fats.
AK: Thomas Frank. Good company and storyteller about life in management, based on a pre-season event Brentford hosted, and very down to earth. Doesn’t suffer fools or tolerate d*******s, as it should be.
CW: Ralf Rangnick. If he’s this honest about Manchester United in public, just imagine what he’d say after a few beers.
And who would you least like to spend a summer holiday with?
IL: Ralf Rangnick. Imagine the constant analysis of your failings, the persistent reminders that you are not as good as the other folk he would rather have gone on holiday with. More than this, imagine spending a fortnight with a bloke who only has one jumper.
SM: The player(s) at Watford that saw fit to walk right in Roy Hodgson’s eyeline as he addressed the squad. Unforgiveable to show such disrespect to such a decent man.
Tom Collomosse said he would least like to spend a summer holiday with Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta
CH: Pep Guardiola. He would just over-complicate things.
JG: Roy Hodgson. Too much walking in Austria, not enough sand.
DK: No offence but having attended around 110 Jurgen Klopp press conferences, I think I’d be doing him a favour by not seeing him for the next two months!
TC: Has to be Mikel Arteta. You need to be with people who are going to relax on holiday, and he seems like a character who does not know how to switch off.
MB: Cancelling plans for the big cat safari with Kurt Zouma as we speak.
AK: Any yobbish fan who makes the experience of travelling to and being at football unpleasant for others.
CW: Thomas Tuchel. That man can’t relax for a second.
Finally, one wish for 2022-23…
IL: Yellow cards for time wasting. Lots of them. It’s a curse on the game. Referees must be reminded that they are in charge. If matches last an average of 59minutes in terms of the ball actually being in play, officials must take action.
SM: For football to finally come home — just in time for Christmas.
Several writers said they hope diving, play-acting and feigning injury disappear next season
CH: Joelinton to make Brazil’s World Cup squad and stick two fingers to those who wrote him off as one of the worst signings in Premier League history (me).
JG: That a team goes beyond December in challenging Manchester City and Liverpool for the title.
DK: Change that offside rule — the one when everyone inside the stadium knows it’s offside and so do the officials, who can’t put their flags up — and change it now.
TC: That every club treats the cups seriously. I can just about understand those involved in Europe rotating, but the sight of mid-table teams resting nine for a cup tie is depressing. At the top level, the game should be about glory, not simply surviving.
MB: Fewer players needlessly falling over, rolling around, conning officials, fellow pros and time-wasting. Fat chance.
AK: That football’s authorities stop trying to reinvent the wheel and tinker with the calendar and tournaments for financial or other nonsense reasons. The new Champions League format, for example, is rubbish.
CW: A little more competition for Manchester City and Liverpool please. Theirs is an epic rivalry, but it’s time for someone else to step up.