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Story of the 2023-24 Premier League season

Sports Mole delves deeper into the story of the 2023-24 Premier League season, which saw Manchester City clinch a historic fourth straight title.

No coronavirus-enforced stoppages. No matches behind closed doors. No schedule-conflicting World Cup breaks over the Christmas period. The 2023-24 Premier League season was certainly something of a return to normality for the 20 teams wearing the coveted top-flight label.

In what was the 125th season of top-flight football in England, a record-breaking 1,246 goals flew into Premier League nets - smashing the previous high of 1,222 from the inaugural 22-team 1992-93 season - while 3.28 strikes per match was the highest in the top division for a staggering 59 years.

As the kings of the land Manchester City etched their name into another page of the Premier League annals with a fourth straight title, all three promoted teams dropped straight back down the Championship trapdoor, the first instance of such since the 1997-98 campaign.

Here, Sports Mole runs down the month-by-month story of an unforgettable 2023-24 Premier League season.


Tottenham Hotspur head coach Ange Postecoglou pictured in August 2023© Reuters

Manager of the month: Ange Postecoglou (Tottenham Hotspur)
Player of the month: James Maddison (Tottenham Hotspur)
Goal of the month: Kaoru Mitoma (Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION)
Premier League leaders at end of the month: Manchester City
Most points accumulated throughout the month: Manchester City (nine from a possible nine)

In a break from recent tradition, the inaugural game of the 2023-24 Premier League season did not involve a London derby with Arsenal playing away from home. Instead, champions Manchester City - who had just lost the Community Shield to the Gunners - gave club legend and Burnley boss Vincent Kompany a rude awakening with a 3-0 Turf Moor trouncing.

Just a few hours beforehand, though, one of the biggest transfers of the summer window was pulled off by Chelsea under the noses of Liverpool, as the Blues agreed a deal for Moises Caicedo from Brighton & Hove Albion, while Harry Kane's switch from Tottenham Hotspur to Bayern Munich was also confirmed over the opening weekend.

Arsenal and Manchester United were among the other victors on matchweek one, but it was Newcastle United's 5-1 thrashing of Aston Villa which saw the Magpies lead the way with the opening round of fixtures down - a position they quickly lost to Brighton & Hove Albion the weekend after.

However, Man City were quietly going about their champions' business and ended the month atop the rankings with the only perfect record, but it was the Ange Postecoglou revolution at Tottenham Hotspur that saw the Australian bestowed with the manager of the month prize. Down the other end, Everton, Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest all failed to accrue a single point in their opening three games.


Liverpool's Luis Diaz scores a goal that is later disallowed on September 30, 2023© Reuters

Manager of the month: Ange Postecoglou (Tottenham Hotspur)
Player of the month: Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)
Goal of the month: Bruno Fernandes (Burnley vs. MANCHESTER UNITED)
Premier League leaders at end of the month: Manchester City
Most points accumulated throughout the month: Manchester City, Liverpool, Brighton & Hove Albion (all nine from a possible nine)

After a quintessentially frenetic deadline day - in which Joao Cancelo, Matheus Nunes and Ryan Gravenberch were some of the marquee movers - September's Premier League action continued in the same vein as September's, with all of Man City, Brighton and Tottenham continuing their exceptional starts to the new term either side of the international break.

The latter's head coach Postecoglou made history as the first-ever Premier League boss to win both Manager of the Month prizes in his first two matches in charge, although his Spurs side were helped to all three points against Liverpool by an unacceptable VAR farce.

Indeed, a Luis Diaz goal was wrongly ruled out for offside due to a "significant human error" from the souls in the VAR room, and there were also significant human errors from Sheffield United's defenders, who shipped eight to Newcastle United in the biggest win - and highest-scoring game - of the season.

Meanwhile, seven goals flew into the West Midlands nets during Aston Villa's 6-1 dismantling of Brighton, but on the other side of the number spectrum, the lowest attendance record for the campaign was set; just 10,421 fans turned up to watch Bournemouth and Chelsea's goalless draw at the Vitality Stadium.


Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their first goal on October 21, 2023© Reuters

Manager of the month: Ange Postecoglou (Tottenham Hotspur)
Player of the month: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Goal of the month: Saman Ghoddos (BRENTFORD vs. Burnley)
Premier League leaders at end of the month: Tottenham Hotspur
Most points accumulated throughout the month: Tottenham Hotspur (nine from a possible nine)

Nine for nine for Tottenham Hotspur in October, and three for three for head coach Postecoglou, who scooped his third straight Premier League's Manager of the Month award with another slice of English football history to boot.

By the end of the month, Spurs had taken 26 points from 30 on offer - no manager has ever made a better start in his first season in the Premier League - as the Lilywhites led the way over Arsenal and Manchester City in spooky season.

The Citizens had cast a spell over the red half of North London for many years, but Arsenal finally managed to exorcise those Emirates demons by defeating the champions 1-0 on home turf, ending an eight-year run without a Premier League triumph for Arsenal over Man City.

Pep Guardiola's men were frighteningly good in a 3-0 Manchester derby trouncing of Erik ten Hag's outfit at the end of the month, though, while down the other end of the table, Sheffield United's wins counter still read a big fat zero after 10 matches.


Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho scores their first goal on November 26, 2023© Reuters

Manager of the month: Erik ten Hag (Manchester United)
Player of the month: Harry Maguire (Manchester United)
Goal of the month: Alejandro Garnacho (Everton vs. MANCHESTER UNITED)
Premier League leaders at end of the month: Arsenal
Most points accumulated throughout the month: Manchester United (nine from a possible nine)

As a nine-man Tottenham lost their unbeaten start to the season in a 4-1 London derby trouncing versus Chelsea - whose mercurial attacker Nicolas Jackson left with the match ball under his arm - Postecoglou also lost his streak of successive Manager of the Month accolades, ultimately declaring at three.

Instead, it was a November to remember for Manchester United, whose lambasted boss Erik ten Hag oversaw three wins and three clean sheets to take home the individual accolade, the last of which saw Alejandro Garnacho channel his inner Wayne Rooney with an outrageous bicycle kick against Everton.

Speaking of young stars shining bright, Chelsea's new hotshot Cole Palmer lived up to his 'Cold Palmer' alter ego with a composed penalty right at the death against former club Man City, rescuing an astounding 4-4 draw for the West London crop, who were then humbled at Newcastle United not long after.

However, thanks to Manchester City and Liverpool shaking hands on a point apiece in a 1-1 stalemate at the Etihad, Kai Havertz - hitherto slated for his poor start in an Arsenal shirt - headed the Gunners to the top of the table against Brentford heading into the festive season.

Down the foot of the division, Everton became the victims of the heaviest-ever points deduction in the competition, being docked a mammoth 10 for Profit and Sustainability rule breaches to seriously threaten their perennial Premier League status.


Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper pictured on December 9, 2023© Reuters

Manager of the month: Unai Emery (Aston Villa)
Player of the month: Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth)
Goal of the month: Alexis Mac Allister (LIVERPOOL vs. Fulham)
Premier League leaders at end of the month: Liverpool
Most points accumulated throughout the month: Liverpool (14 from a possible 18)

As Christmas fanatics up and down the land opened their advent calendars, the only thing Paul Heckingbottom opened was a P45, as the ex-Sheffield United boss became the Premier League's first managerial casualty of the season following a 5-0 embarrassment against Burnley.

Departing with a paltry tally of five points from 14 Premier League games, Heckingbottom ceded the reins to the returning Chris Wilder, but he would not be the only top-flight boss to feel the effects of a particularly harsh winter; Nottingham Forest gave Steve Cooper the boot not long after and replaced him with Nuno Espirito Santo.

As the basement boys chopped and changed in the dugout, Arsenal continued to look down on the other 19 teams in the division, thanks in no small part to their sensational 4-3 beating of Luton Town and 1-1 draw with Liverpool, which kept the North London crop top on Christmas Day.

However, the Gunners' losses to West Ham United and Fulham allowed Liverpool to reclaim top spot on New Year's Eve, although the month would be overshadowed by Tom Lockyer's distressing cardiac arrest during Luton's contest with Bournemouth, which was abandoned before the reassuring news emerged that the Welshman was in a stable condition.


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on May 13, 2024© Reuters

Manager of the month: Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Player of the month: Diogo Jota (Liverpool)
Goal of the month: Oscar Bobb (Newcastle vs. MANCHESTER CITY)
Premier League leaders at end of the month: Liverpool
Most points accumulated throughout the month: Arsenal (six from a possible six)

After two managers were brutally axed from their posts in December, one of the Premier League's most esteemed coaches announced his decision to step down voluntarily, as an energy-sapped Jurgen Klopp broke the news that he would be departing Anfield when the curtain came down on the season.

The German's team were still sitting pretty at the summit at the end of the month, in which a multitude of clubs were impacted by Africa Cup of Nations call-ups, and it was only fitting for Klopp to be honoured with the Premier League's Manager of the Month prize.

A 4-1 demolition of Chelsea more than contributed to that individual accolade for Klopp, but fans were often bereft of action in January, where the aforementioned AFCON and the mid-season break took precedence.

However, one of the more striking games that did take place was Luton's astonishing 4-0 crushing of Brighton & Hove Albion, while Arsenal were victors over Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace to end the month with six points from a possible six.


Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson pictured on December 16, 2023© Reuters

Manager of the month: Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
Player of the month: Rasmus Hojlund (Manchester United)
Goal of the month: Kobbie Mainoo (Wolves vs. MANCHESTER UNITED)
Premier League leaders at end of the month: Liverpool
Most points accumulated throughout the month: Manchester City (13 from a possible 15)

As Premier League fans digested the news that Klopp was in the twilight of his Liverpool career, another managerial veteran in Roy Hodgson - who had been on borrowed time for a while - left Crystal Palace for the second time following a health scare, handing the conch over to Europa League-winning boss Oliver Glasner.

On the field, the month began with Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers' unmissable seven-goal spectacular - where Kobbie Mainoo's winner saw him claim the Goal of the Month prize - and a serious test of Arsenal's title credentials was passed in their 3-1 home beating of Liverpool.

Arteta would go on to clinch another Manager of the Month prize after witnessing his crop make nets bulge at a ridiculous rate - hitting West Ham United for six, Burnley for five and Newcastle for four - but Liverpool were still holding off the Gunners and Manchester City in the gold medal position.

As the top three jostled for position, the coveted fourth spot was firmly within Aston Villa's control, and Everton were still keeping their heads above water, thanks to their 10-point deduction being reduced to six upon appeal.


AFC Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola reacts on May 4, 2024© Reuters

Manager of the month: Andoni Iraola (Bournemouth)
Player of the month: Rodrigo Muniz (Fulham)
Goal of the month: Marcus Rashford (Manchester City vs. MANCHESTER UNITED)
Premier League leaders at end of the month: Arsenal
Most points accumulated throughout the month: Bournemouth (10 from a possible 12)

Two months after Everton fell victim to the Premier League's PSR rules, Nottingham Forest shared the same fate - albeit not to the same degree - as they were handed a four-point penalty by the governing body for financial indiscretions and quickly submitted an appeal, which was rejected.

Back to the on-field action, and free-scoring Arsenal capitalised on another stalemate between Liverpool and Man City to return to the summit, but March was all about the Andoni Iraola revolution at Bournemouth, as the Cherries took 10 of the 12 points on offer to them.

Three of those precious points were accrued in their replayed clash with Luton following Lockyer's cardiac arrest, as Iraola's troops were ostensibly down and out at 3-0 down at half time, but a barnstorming comeback - one of the greatest the Premier League will ever see - saw Bournemouth somehow prevail by four goals to three.

It had been 21 years since a team last made up a 3-0 deficit to win a Premier League match, and only the fifth time in the history of the competition, fuelling the belief that something truly special was happening inside the Vitality walls.


Sheffield United players look dejected after conceding their third goal on April 24, 2024© Reuters

Manager of the month: Sean Dyche (Everton)
Player of the month: Cole Palmer (Chelsea)
Goal of the month: Cole Palmer (CHELSEA vs. Everton)
Premier League leaders at end of the month: Arsenal
Most points accumulated throughout the month: Manchester City (15 from a possible 15) & Arsenal (15 from a possible 18)

April saw the customary arrival of squeaky bum time - a phrase only recently understood by Pep Guardiola - but for the doomed Sheffield United, their brief time in the Premier League was up.

Indeed, a 5-1 demolition at the hands of Newcastle United saw the Blades relegated from the top flight on April 27, but on the same day, Everton thwarted Brentford's attacks to successfully defy their points penalties - including another two docked earlier in the month - and secure their Premier League safety for 2024-25.

As far as the big boys were concerned, Arsenal and Man City matched one another with 15 points apiece as Liverpool's title dream fizzled out, while Stamford Bridge hosted arguably one of the matches of the season on April 4, where Chelsea emerged victorious 4-3 from a topsy-turvy war with Manchester United.

The Blues' springtime renaissance also included a six-goal slaughter of Everton - in which Player of the Month Palmer found the mark four times - and there were still a multitude of top and bottom-half fates to be sealed in the season's closing act.


Manchester City's Kyle Walker and teammates celebrate with the trophy after winning the Premier League on May 19, 2024© Reuters

Premier League leaders at end of the month: Manchester City
Most points accumulated throughout the month: Chelsea (15 from a possible 15)

The merry month of May marked the start of permutations galore, but there would be no complicated number-crunching involved in Chelsea's 5-0 destruction of London rivals West Ham United, which preceded the announcement of David Moyes's imminent exit just one day later.

Another team clad in claret - Burnley - would be consigned to their demotion fate on the penultimate weekend, while Luton Town were as good as down and out too but kept the mathematical fight going up until the last, thanks to a stellar Chelsea comeback versus Nottingham Forest.

Regarding the two-way fight for title supremacy, Man City's precious game in hand finally arrived at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - far from hostile territory due to some Lilywhites fans bizarrely or understandably (depending on your persuasion) wishing ill upon their own troupe in order to keep the title initiative out of Arsenal's hands.

The Spurs fans cheering on the boys in blue got their wish - much to Postecoglou's indignation as Tottenham ceded a coveted Champions League berth to Aston Villa - leaving the Citizens requiring just one more win over Moyes's West Ham at 4pm on May 19.

While Arsenal eventually got over the line against Everton - despite making extremely hard work of it - City survived a Hammers scare to hoist the trophy aloft for the fourth year running, a feat that not even Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United could manage.

Elsewhere, Luton's inevitable demotion was confirmed, while Chelsea and Newcastle United clinched the final continental berths, although the latter's European dream will be dashed if Man United - whose Premier League season was their worst on record - deny Man City a Premier League and FA Cup double under the Wembley arch.

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