Premier League 2023-24 review: our writers’ best and worst

<span>Unai Emery, <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Rodri;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Rodri</a> and Kalvin Phillips.</span><span>Composite: Guardian Picture Desk</span>
Unai Emery, Rodri and Kalvin Phillips.Composite: Guardian Picture Desk

Best player

Martin Ødegaard and Declan Rice were the driving forces in Arsenal’s midfield that pushed Manchester City all the way, and William Saliba excelled in the division’s meanest defence while barely breaking sweat. The blistering late-season form of Cole Palmer, Ollie Watkins and Michael Olise also deserve a mention, although it’s hard to look past City’s two most influential players this season: Phil Foden and Rodri. Foden came of age in the lengthy absence of an injured Kevin De Bruyne and has deservedly been crowned player of the year by the Premier League and Football Writers’ Association. Rodri was mystifyingly left off the shortlist for the former but his achievement of going the season unbeaten in a City shirt, other than in a game lost on a shootout, underlined his importance to everything they do. Ed Aarons

Rodri continues to be unstoppable and Saliba is a fine defensive leader but Cole Palmer has delivered one of the all-time breakthrough seasons. Only Erling Haaland is above him in the scoring charts, and he has carried himself with a insouciant Wythenshawe swagger from scoring in the Community Shield and Super Cup – for Manchester City – to being Chelsea’s star man by the following May. Too free-spirited for Pep Guardiola? Probably. But backing himself to succeed at Chelsea shows great character. John Brewin

Cole Palmer. It is not often that the Premier League’s best player is someone fighting to drag his team into the top half of the table, but this was a special season. Scoring 29% of Chelsea’s league goals from midfield, Palmer is shy off the pitch but oozes confidence and class on it. Only Haaland scored more goals and only Watkins registered more assists. Michael Butler

Rodri, the man on a 74-game unbeaten streak in all competitions (if one discounts a penalty shootout), makes City tick. A businesslike presence at the base of midfield, that he tucks his shirt in only enhances his allure. City are just not the same without him. Watkins’s impact for Aston Villa also warrants a mention, the striker powering the club into the Champions League with 19 goals and 13 assists. Ben Fisher

Rodri. Those tackles, technical fouls and five-yard passes won’t make themselves. Barry Glendenning

Phil Foden. Brilliant, decisive and a first touch to die for. Andy Hunter

My head says Rodri because City have been invincible with him. My heart says Phil Foden because he has been mesmeric. So, Foden. David Hytner

Phil Foden. Even the martinet Pep Guardiola professed himself impressed, his characterisation of the player after the West Ham title-sealing win as a player who wins games being big praise for the lad from Stockport. Jamie Jackson

The still-underrated Rodri is beginning to morph into one of the most complete midfielders English football has seen. Eight goals, nine assists, most passes, most touches, one of the league’s most prolific dribblers, plus the screening, covering and defensive work we cannot really measure. And he still has not lost a game of football since he was about 12. Jonathan Liew

Occasionally being a deadline-surfer has its advantages and leaving these picks until the last minute means I got to take in Phil Foden’s brace that settled the league title and confirmed, in my mind, the identity of this season’s best player from a tight field. Foden stepped up to become a decisive player in the biggest matches for England’s most dominant side. Paul MacInnes

Declan Rice. A player who costs £105m should be very good at football, but with such a price tag comes pressure and expectation. It is credit to Rice that he handled that with such little fuss after his switch from east to north London. More than that, the midfielder proved to be a fundamental reason why Arsenal improved to the extent they were able to secure their highest points total since their Invincibles season and take the title race to the final day. Sachin Nakrani

Phil Foden. Filled the De Bruyne vacuum, vital goals and beautiful on the ball. It is easy, in some ways, to perform in the best team in a system you grew up with. But it is also pressure. A hyper-talented player who has bloomed into the thing he was supposed to be, rare in itself. Barney Ronay

Related: Story of the season: the best photos from the 2023-24 Premier League

Phil Foden was consistently decisive for City. Teams try to knock him down. He just gets up and keeps coming back for more. Relentless. Jacob Steinberg

It is too hard to choose between them so I am going to pick two: Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze. A wonderfully gifted and unorthodox double act that serve as a rebuke to the painting-by-numbers school of coaching. Olise and Eze offer conclusive proof that improvisation and incision really can go hand in hand. Newcastle’s Alexander Isak was pretty good too. Louise Taylor

When Rodri does not play, Manchester City often lose, which seems a strong indicator that he is very important to an exceptional team. Will Unwin

Best manager

Unai Emery’s transformation of Aston Villa’s fortunes since he took over from Steven Gerrard have shown the Spaniard is one of the best managers around. Guiding Villa to a Champions League spot – not to mention doing the double over his former club Arsenal that cost them the title – means he sees off his compatriots Guardiola and Mikel Arteta. Another Spaniard, Bournemouth’s Andoni Iraola, recovered from a shaky start to impress in his first season in the Premier League. EA

Guardiola is the greatest coach of the 21st century but Unai Emery, in taking Aston Villa into the Champions League, has achieved his own great feat that looked beyond his team. Villa have dreamed of being back among the big clubs for so long and Emery got them there with a team of few stars but plenty of good performers after sharp recruitment. JB

When Unai Emery joined Villa less than two years ago, the club were a point above the relegation zone. Now they are back in the top tier of European football for the first time since 1983. Emery was misunderstood in England but his personality and energy have won over his team and the fans. It would not be an overstatement to call him one of the finest managers in the world, and it will be fascinating to see what sort of players he can attract now that Villa are in the Champions League. MB

Unai Emery has transformed Aston Villa from a team fighting relegation into a Champions League outfit inside 19 memorable months. The amount of injuries a relatively thin squad have absorbed should also be noted. BF

Sean Dyche has had plenty of nonsense to put up with in his role as ringmaster of the Everton circus and seems to take most, if not all, of it in his stride. BG

Unai Emery. A fantastic achievement to break the usual suspects’ monopoly on Champions League revenue with Villa. An honourable mention too for Dyche, who overcame unprecedented obstacles not of his making to secure Everton’s top-flight status with games to spare. AH

Mikel Arteta. For the questions he has answered. For the continued upward trajectory at Arsenal. David Hytner

A coin toss between Pep Guardiola, for the four-peat title triumph, and Sean Dyche, whose navigating of Everton to safety despite the points reduction is a supreme calling card. JJ

On pure achievement you would give it to Guardiola or Emery. On improvement you would give it to Iraola or Oliver Glasner. At any rate, you probably would not give it to the coach who got relegated with 26 points. But what Rob Edwards has done at Luton this season has been quietly inspirational. Taking a squad of Championship and League One players to the brink of survival, while playing good and attractive football (scoring only five goals fewer than Manchester United!), embodying the hope and pride of an entire town and dealing with the on-pitch near-death of his centre-half. Others elsewhere may have done a better job. But nobody could possibly – remotely – have done this job better. JL

Pep Guardiola. Try as you might to imagine an alternative, nobody gets close. Four consecutive league titles, a possible domestic double, nine wins in a row and 23 matches unbeaten to finish the season. All off the back of a treble. Yes, 115 charges and £100m substitutes (looking at you, Jack) may take the edge off, but this kind of dominance in the English top flight has never been achieved before and should be acknowledged. PM

Unai Emery. A man who has entered Aston Villa folklore after returning the club to the top table of European football for the first time in 41 years. That he did so while never veering from his principles of high-energy, progressive football and guiding the team to the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League is further testament to his managerial abilities. A shoutout, too, for Rob Edwards who brought a level of gorgeousness to the Premier League not seen since the days of Dani at West Ham (ask your dad, kids). SN

Unai Emery and Sean Dyche. Emery achieved the only significant new thing in the league this season. He is also understatedly adorable. Dyche did a fantastic job in unprecedented times, with a club in danger of spiralling, while bravely manifesting the middle age man’s right to wear skinny-fit tracksuit bottoms. BR

Unai Emery. He does not have a particularly special squad but his management has carried them into the Champions League. A remarkable achievement. JS

Andoni Iraola. It is easy to understand why Victor Orta, the former director of football at Leeds, was so keen to bring Iraola from Rayo Vallecano to Elland Road early last year. That failure ended up to Bournemouth’s advantage as their new high priest of pressing averted a potential relegation skirmish by reimagining the team’s style and mindset. Small wonder Newcastle’s Eddie Howe shadowed Iraola for a while after leaving Bournemouth, evidently taking considerable inspiration from the Basque. Bournemouth finished very strongly and teams that end well often impress during the next campaign. Exhaustion ultimately caught up with Aston Villa but Emery did not do too badly either. LT

Taking Aston Villa into the Champions League is a fine achievement and has allowed Unai Emery to prove a lot of people in England wrong. WU

Best goal

So many to choose from in a season not short on entertainment. Alejandro Garnacho’s overhead kick at Goodison Park was a technical masterclass and Moisés Caicedo emerged as a late contender with his goal from the halfway line on the final day. But Michael Olise’s brilliant effort against Luton in November edges it for individuality and the postage-stamp curling finish. Perfection. EA

Alejandro Garnacho v Everton. He has tried it a few times since, the ball flying everywhere but the goal, and that only shows how difficult it is to complete an overhead kick of such quality. JB

Alejandro Garnacho v Everton and it is not even close. The audacity and athleticism to fetch Diego Dalot’s deep cross from way above his head, spring up and bicycle kick it into the top bin were outrageous. Jordan Pickford had no chance. Forget Wayne Rooney’s shinner, this was the best ever overhead kick in the Premier League and the best on these shores since Trevor Sinclair for QPR in the FA Cup in 1997. MB

Pablo Sarabia’s 91st-minute sumptuous touch-and-volley equaliser against Tottenham in November sticks in the memory, a footballing work of art. Then he teed up Mario Lemina for the winner five minutes later. Garnacho’s overhead kick against Everton was also otherworldly. BF

That wonderful goal Crystal Palace scored in a London derby last month. No, not that one. The other one. BG

Alejandro Garnacho v Everton. Everton’s first match since receiving a record and ridiculous 10-point deduction (later reduced on appeal) meant Goodison Park was seething for the visit of Manchester United. Garnacho doused the fire after 136 seconds with a stupendous overhead kick into Pickford’s top corner. AH

No debate. Alejandro Garnacho at Goodison. DH

Phil Foden’s second-minute fade of a left-foot strike against West Ham that sent the Etihad Stadium ballistic and the Guardiola era on the way to further elevation. JJ

Not Garnacho, although that was certainly the best goal anyone scored this season with their shinbone. Instead, an act of technical, tactical and physical mastery: Kaoru Mitoma for Brighton v Wolves in August, pinned hard to the left touchline, and somehow dribbling 50 yards past four players, two of whom literally try to wrestle him to the ground. A genuinely beautiful solo goal, and an increasingly endangered species in an age of tag-team tactical fouling. JL

Oscar Bobb. A goal of two exquisite halves: the first from De Bruyne’s lofted pass that bends beyond the Newcastle defence to find the teenager’s toe; the second, Bobb’s ability to kill the ball dead and shift it past Kieran Trippier (!) with one touch and shimmy past Nick Pope with the next, before sidefooting home. Everything about it was elite. PM

Fair play to Mohammed Kudus and Caicedo for their late entries but the winner of this was wrapped up in November. Garnacho at Goodison Park. Good grief, man. SN

Garnacho v Everton. Astonishing agility, vision and explosiveness. Love the way he moves his feet before launching the overhead kick, reading the flight and making it possible. Also the bravery to try it at 19 years old, an age when players are not encouraged to take risk. BR

Moisés Caicedo from the halfway line against Bournemouth. JS

Sandro Tonali v Aston Villa on the season’s opening day when Newcastle thrashed Aston Villa 5-1 at St James’ Park and after only seven minutes Tonali polished off a move he had initiated courtesy of a fine interception. In stretching to connect with Anthony Gordon’s cross before volleying beyond Emiliano Martínez, Howe’s £50m summer signing from Milan became an instant cult hero on Tyneside. Or at least the Italy midfielder did until a 10-month ban for breaches of betting regulations ensured those choruses of “Sandro Tonali, drinks Moretti, eats spaghetti, hates Sunderland” faded and died. LT

Alexis Mac Allister v Fulham. It was the Argentinian’s first for Liverpool and boy did he hit it! Perfectly struck the bouncing ball into the top corner. WU

Best match

Luton were responsible for some of the season’s most exciting games but their trip to Bournemouth in March ended up being a seven-goal thriller that their fans will want to forget. Leading 3-0 at half-time and seemingly coasting to a victory that would have taken them out of the relegation zone, they fell apart as Antoine Semenyo inspired Bournemouth – booed off at half-time – to a stirring comeback. “We are all angry and hurting,” said a devastated Edwards. EA

Manchester United 2-2 Liverpool. If the 4-3 game at Old Trafford was an FA Cup classic, the Premier League equivalent was just as thrilling. United’s successes this season have come when they defy all logic and seemingly the instructions of their manager. Liverpool could have scored 10, their anxiety levels at repeated failure opening up the space for Bruno Fernandes to score from the halfway line and Kobbie Mainoo’s spectacular goal. If any game signalled why Jürgen Klopp fancies a few months of relaxation it was this one: utter bedlam. JB

Tottenham 1-4 Chelsea was a bit different. It did not end with a last-minute winner but was a chaotic, white-knuckle ride from beginning to end. Five goals, five further disallowed goals, two red cards, one hat-trick and a bizarre 20-minute period between Destiny Udogie’s red card and Nicolas Jackson’s goal made it 2-1 to Chelsea after Tottenham played with an impossibly high defensive line with nine men. Absolutely bonkers but enthralling nonetheless. MB

Wolves 3-4 Manchester United, though it was not quite so enjoyable at the time. An 8.15pm kick-off and a 97th-minute Mainoo winner. Say no more. BF

Tottenham Hotspur 1-4 Chelsea. Mauricio Pochettino had an eventful and successful return to his former club, getting to see five goals awarded and five more ruled out. There were also two sendings-off and eight bookings in a tremendously chaotic game that had almost 30 minutes of added time. BG

Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City. Klopp described Liverpool’s second-half performance as the best his team had produced against City. A game of the highest quality, played at an extraordinary tempo, and rounded off with a large dose of controversy when no penalty was awarded against Jérémy Doku for catching Mac Allister in the chest in the 99th minute. AH

Chelsea 4-4 Manchester City. A breathless advert for the league’s global pull. It had everything – apart from a winner. DH

Manchester United 0-1 Crystal Palace. Four days after United had knocked Roy Hodgon’s team out of the Carabao Cup with a 3-0 win at Old Trafford, came this hapless display before their crowd, who booed them off and left Erik ten Hag’s men with a goal difference of -4. United never recovered. JJ

Chelsea 4-4 Manchester City. All the vital ingredients for a classic: driving rain, late drama, flying tackles, yellow cards and a coming-of-age performance by Palmer. One of those games where I remember thinking: “Yeah, this job is actually quite good, isn’t it.” JL

Manchester City 3-3 Tottenham. Despite City’s dominance and the sense, over the season, that they could have pushed even harder had they needed to, the champions were tested in a number of fixtures, with this the most consistently intense and entertaining. It had all types of goals, it swung back and forth, and it had a little bit of classic refereeing controversy at the end to boot. PM

Tottenham 0-2 Manchester City. Maybe not actually the best match of the season but for sure the weirdest given the circumstances: namely a sizeable chunk of home supporters wanting their team to lose, or at least not minding them lose, which in turn led to an atmosphere that was 2020-like in its eeriness. Then there was Son Heung-min’s miss, Ange Postecoglou’s angry post-match reaction and, of course, City securing a win that pretty much sealed the title. All in all, quite the evening. SN

Related: Premier League 2023-24 review: young players of the season

Luton 3-4 Arsenal. A 90th-minute winner. Clanky old-school noise from the home stands. Luton were a good and interesting addition to the league, and this was a moment in their season and also in Arsenal’s. BR

Chelsea 4-4 Manchester City was an early positive step for Pochettino. Brilliant attacking, rubbish defending, lots of goals. Pure chaos, pure Chelsea. Their refusal to lose suggested their mindset is not as bad as people think. JS

Newcastle 4-4 Luton. “I felt sick at times, I felt elation at times but, ultimately, I think a draw was a fair result.” Not for the first time Luton’s manager Edwards summed things up perfectly, at the end of an early February afternoon in which Ross Barkley rolled back the years courtesy of a visiting midfield masterclass and his teammate Chiedozie Ogbene nailed the right-wing role. In the second half Luton led 4-2 but Howe used his substitutes astutely and late goals from Trippier and the gamechanging Harvey Barnes rescued a point for Newcastle. LT

Liverpool 4-3 Fulham. Liverpool scored in the 87th and 88th minute to secure a victory. All of their goals were from outside the area, too. It was good fun to be at. WU

Best signing

Guardiola always knew Cole Palmer was good enough for the Premier League but even the City manager must be surprised how much he has flourished since joining Chelsea. To do it in an environment as chaotic as Stamford Bridge was for most of the season is even more credit to the England forward, who could play an important role at the Euros for Gareth Southgate. EA

Adam Wharton. Over a season, Palmer – again – takes this accolade but in the very difficult January market, Crystal Palace’s sporting director, Dougie Freedman, plucked a true gem from Blackburn. Wharton’s eye for a pass has proved ideal for a team with free spirits such as Eze and Olise. Once Glasner gave Wharton his chance, and stayed patient, Palace cruised to safety while playing some highly attractive football. His positional play and calm are those of a high-end player, and his almost immediate progress reminds of the depths of talent that can still be found in the EFL. JB

Cole Palmer. Chelsea finally got one right. MB

Murillo. Nottingham Forest have made some wild signings since promotion two years ago but the 21-year-old Brazilian, a classy centre-back, has been a big hit since arriving from Corinthians for £11m, a price that now looks a steal. Milos Kerkez has also been a shrewd buy at Bournemouth, and Barkley added a touch of class in the Luton midfield after joining on a free. BF

As card-carrying Declan Rice-sceptic at the start of the season, I am happy to admit I was totally wrong, although it is worth noting that while this is a Premier League review, he did go missing in both legs of the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich in exactly the kind of big games he was brought in to help win. BG

Ross Barkley. A bigger leap of faith than Chelsea paying £42.5m for one of Manchester City’s best academy graduates in Palmer and a better story, as the 30-year-old free transfer revived his Premier League career thanks to the support of Edwards and Luton. AH

It has to be Cole Palmer. With a very honorable mention for Barkley. DH

Cole Palmer. This observer believed him to be one-paced and limited. Instead, like Andy Murray in his tennis pomp, the forward continually shows he has an intangible X-factor that bests opponents. JJ

Cole Palmer just edges it from Rice because of the sheer outlandishness of the punt. Signing Rice was a no-brainer. Paying £42.5m for Palmer made very little sense at the time. And so you have to say: fair play. JL

It probably ought to be Rice given the impact he had on Arsenal, adding grit and drive as they showed they are genuine contenders. But Cole Palmer was a delight to watch and his 22-goal breakthrough success for Chelsea caught the division by surprise. PM

Cole Palmer. Few players are more deserving of a rest this summer than Palmer given he spent the preceding nine months essentially carrying Chelsea on his back. The poor lad must be exhausted; not that he looked that way playing with a smile, carefree abandon and no little skill en route to scoring 22 goals and providing 11 assists during a stunning debut campaign at Stamford Bridge. Talk about impact. SN

Cole Palmer. Some players are overwhelmed in a broken, confused team. Palmer flourished in the freedom this gives to simply make up the play. A rare note of freedom in a time of positional discipline, he is the closest thing to an elite modern day “maverick”. BR

Cole Palmer. Chelsea do not get everything wrong, you know. JS

Related: Premier League 2023-24 review: broadcasters of the season

Declan Rice. He really was worth more than £100m after all. Defensive central midfielders may have gone a little out of fashion in some quarters but Rice’s installation improved Arsenal immeasurably, ensuring Arteta’s side took the title race down to the wire. Rice is no shabby technician and his stabilising presence offers Arsenal a reassuringly well-structured framework, enabling teammates to improvise. LT

Let’s be honest, Luton were gambling when they signed Ross Barkley on a free transfer but he has reminded everyone why he was once so highly thought-of in England. WU

Worst flop

Kalvin Phillips has endured a season to forget after being frozen out at Manchester City before joining West Ham on loan and not doing his international prospects any good. Matheus Nunes, Ansu Fati and Sofyan Amrabat failed to live up to expectations and Tonali was banned before he had got started at Newcastle. But Mason Mount’s first season at Manchester United after his £55m move from Chelsea will go down as a disaster, even if he has spent much of it struggling with injuries: only five starts in the Premier League and one goal. EA

The promoted teams. This season’s Championship was a joy, at various times far more interesting than the league above. Leicester and Ipswich had to go to hell and back to confirm promotion. But what awaits them? Hopefully better than what happened to Sheffield United, Burnley and Luton. The Blades’s approach was submission to their fate from almost the first kick, Vincent Kompany’s team attempted to play “the right way” but that meant a fatal concession of goals. Luton? They won hearts and minds but not enough games, running short of the quality and depth required. Each relegation was wholly predictable, and spoke to troubling inequalities within the English game. JB

Antony. One league goal, one assist this season for a man who cost Manchester United £82m. There has been little to remember apart from a few tantrums and the cupping of his ears to a beaten Coventry team after United’s FA Cup semi-final penalty shootout win. If that behaviour seemed questionable, Antony got a large tattoo of himself (topless) on his own back last week. Then there are the allegations of violence against women, which he denies. All in all, it has been an ugly few months for the Brazilian. MB

Brighton committed to paying 80% of Ansu Fati’s huge wages – thought to be about £200,000-a-week – but his loan move from Barcelona did not work out. BF

Sandro Tonali briefly flattered to deceive at Newcastle before his form petered out and he was handed a suspension that ruled him out for the final seven months of the season. BG

Mason Mount. Liverpool homed in on Dominik Szoboszlai as soon as they were informed what it would cost to take the England international from Chelsea. True to pre-Ineos form, Manchester United were undeterred and paid an initial £55m plus a minimum £250,000 weekly wage for a player who did not perform. AH

I feel bad for nominating Kalvin Phillips because he is such a nice guy who nobody in football has a bad word to say about. After barely playing for City, his loan to West Ham was the definition of a disaster. DH

Manchester United. Accepted are the serial injuries and off-field issues but eighth for the land’s record champions? One word: awful. JJ

Tonali and Mount will surely come good at some point. By contrast, you’d be hard-pushed to make the same claim of Everton’s £30m striker Beto: a desperate late-August gamble who scored three goals in 30 appearances and who, a little portentously, Everton still have not paid for. JL

Kalvin Phillips. Given the amount of minutes he has played, this is quite the unwanted achievement for the man who looked like the future of the England midfield three years ago. But after being told he was not good enough to play for City, Phillips switched to West Ham and proceeded to cause disaster with pretty much every touch, the lowlight being Newcastle away where he was brought on to shore up a 3-1 lead only to give away a penalty within five minutes as the Hammers lost 4-3. PM

A team winning the title for a fourth time in a row, all three promoted teams going straight back down, most other sides hardly moving from where they finished 12 months ago, as well as a host of other depressing outcomes and issues – the broadcasters can hail the Premier League as the “best league in the world” all they want but it proved itself to be far less than that this season, instead being as predictable and miserable as a Russian presidential election. See you all in August! SN

The Chelsea midfield. Casemiro on £300,000 a week. Various departing Manchester United executives, with special mention for the baffling figure of John Murtough. But the winner is … 15 months on and still no sign of resolution to 115 charges against the serial champions. BR

Kalvin Phillips gave away a goal in each of his first two appearances for West Ham. He got sent off in his fourth. He got substituted at half-time against Burnley. He came on when West Ham were 3-1 up, gave away a penalty, lost Harvey Barnes for the winner and swore at a fan. He got injured while kicking someone in training. He came back, got injured again and disappeared without a trace. Worst. Loan. Ever. JS

Sandro Tonali. Who knows where Newcastle might have ended up had their marquee summer signing not been suspended. A cautionary tale for any club undertaking due diligence on a prospective signing. LT

Manchester United. They really have taken mediocrity by the scruff of its neck. As a team they do not look as if they have a plan. Injuries have been an issue but there are bigger problems at Old Trafford. WU

Biggest gripe

It is an obvious moan but the standard of refereeing is not getting any better. VAR seems to have made officials reluctant to make a decision for fear that it could be overturned, with so many inconsistencies from week to week. Better communication with supporters in the stadium about VAR decisions would make a big difference to the matchday experience too. EA

Premier League suits. It has been a season of the Premier League putting on big-boy pants and acting on the financial difficulties of some of its members. This has happened by little coincidence alongside resistance to a government-sanctioned independent regulator. Each of the Everton and Nottingham Forest cases lifted the lid on the complications of staying within the rules, though begged the question on why such situations were allowed to happen in the first place. Investigations into Chelsea and Manchester City continue to hang heavy over the probity of the league. And meanwhile, the FA Cup’s traditions were flogged to the Premier League’s elite for £33m, and the EFL awaits a solidarity payment agreement to aid the smaller clubs. That the league does little to protect fans against high ticket prices and midweek travel chaos speaks to a body acting against those who are its most valued asset. JB

The absolute state of this tweet. Honestly. MB

Beyond the tiresome spotlight on referees, VAR and associated conspiracy theories, a familiar moan. As one of the one in 12 men who are colour-blind, the kit clashes. It must also affect players and staff on matchdays. BF

Any chance of 115? And a resolution to each one without any more obfuscation? BG

Richard Masters’ insistence that the Premier League can regulate itself, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And of course VAR. AH

I said this last season: “The time it is taking the Premier League to prove or disprove the charges against Manchester City is a source of deep frustration.” I’m saying it again this season. And I fear that I’ll be saying it yet again this time next year. I know it is immensely complicated but … DH

Can someone ensure Gary Neville is allowed a microphone only on a timeshare basis, please? He is hugely likable and can offer refreshingly off-kilter opinions. But the bloke from Bury is everywhere. JJ

“Tactical” drink breaks. The first small step down the slippery slope to what every administrator and sponsor and broadcaster secretly wants: scheduled ad breaks in the middle of a half. Arteta’s Arsenal are the worst for this, but it’s catching on fast. JL

Can you guess? Yes it is VAR, and for the time-honoured reasons of it ruining joy inside football stadiums all across the country. I also didn’t like fans screaming corruption with no evidence. PM

We can all agree officiating in the Premier League is in crisis – Godspeed Wolves in their attempt to get rid of VAR – but perhaps the most aggravating aspect of this entire debate is the hypocrisy of supporters, frothing at the mouth when a bad call goes against their team, then wilfully insisting the exact same bad call is totally fine when it goes for them. It happens all the time, online and in the stands, and quite frankly delegitimises the opinions of those concerned. SN

Divisive conspiracy theory owners. People complaining endlessly about the manner in which their club is punished for breaking the rules, as opposed to complaining about their club breaking the rules. Howard Webb talking about things. The rise of the agenda-setting banter-squealing ex-pro hyper-pundit and his godforsaken video podcast. This section being much, much too small for the available content. BR

The weird marketing exercise during Chelsea’s win over Fulham at Stamford Bridge, where there was bemusement at some strangely dressed actors standing up during the game, blocking the view and brushing their teeth, apparently drumming up interest in Argyll, a film awarded a princely one star by this paper. JS

The blatant hypocrisy which treats fans as mugs. In February we had “green football weekend” when supporters were encouraged to travel to games by public transport. Do the game’s executives not realise that, outside London, there are often no trains and buses running by the time many matches, particularly those moved for television broadcast, have ended and driving is the only option? Then, in May, we had Spurs and Newcastle flying 25 hours each way on separate private charter planes (Tottenham flew from East Midlands airport, Newcastle from London) to play each other in a commercially money-spinning friendly in Melbourne. LT

Teams needlessly wearing their away kits in matches when there is not a clash. Yes, I know they are just trying to sell the rip-off garments but it is silly. Stop it. WU