With an unprecedented winter World Cup and the death of Queen Elizabeth II throwing the footballing calendar into disarray, the 2022-23 Premier League season was one like no other, but the drama and excitement remained the same until the final whistle blew on May 28.
Despite spending a record-breaking 248 days at the top, Arsenal fell short in their bid for title supremacy against Manchester City, but a return to the Champions League awaits all of the Gunners, Manchester United and Newcastle United.
Liverpool will be forced to settle for Europa League football next season, where they will be joined by Brighton & Hove Albion, while Aston Villa won the race for seventh place as the under-performing Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur prepare for rare campaigns without any midweek continental action.
Southampton's relegation fate was already sealed before the final day, and the Saints will be joined in the Championship next season by Leeds United and 2015-16 Premier League champions Leicester City, as Everton once again pulled off a last-ditch survival miracle.
As well as collective excellence, individual brilliance was on show week in, week out, and here, Sports Mole picks its Premier League Team of the Season for the 2022-23 campaign.
Goalkeeper: Alisson Becker
While most of the players around him flattered to deceive for the majority of the campaign, Liverpool number one Alisson Becker continued to save his side's bacon time and time again.
Displaying exceptional one-on-one qualities, nifty footwork and lightning-quick reactions, the Brazilian ended the season with 14 clean sheets to his name - only Golden Glove recipient David de Gea (17) had more - and his tally puts him level with Newcastle's Nick Pope and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsdale, who marshalled two of the stingiest defences in the league.
From the 147 shots on target he faced throughout the campaign, Alisson stopped 105 of them - a respectable save percentage of 72.1% - and despite making a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes, the 30-year-old continues to stake his claim as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Honourable mentions: Nick Pope (Newcastle), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), David Raya (Brentford)
Right-back: Kieran Trippier
Dropping 7/10 or 8/10-worthy performances almost every week, Kieran Trippier donned the captain's armband with pride for Newcastle, and his influence at both ends of the field was crucial in propelled the Magpies back into the promised land of the Champions League.
Always a threat when standing over a dead ball, Trippier came up with one goal and seven assists in 38 Premier League matches - starting every single one of them - and his tally of 110 key passes throughout the season can only be beaten by Bruno Fernandes's 119.
The right-back may be turning 33 later this year, but his excellent performances warranted a new contract from the powers-that-be at Newcastle, whose £12m investment to bring Trippier to St James' Park now seems like a bargain.
Honourable mentions: John Stones (Man City), Ben White (Arsenal), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Kenny Tete (Fulham)
Centre-backs: Ben Mee, Gabriel Magalhaes
In keeping with the theme of cost-effective defensive acquisitions, Brentford's decision to sign Ben Mee on a free transfer was nothing short of a masterstroke, as the ex-Burnley man flaunted his aerial brilliance at both ends of the field for the Bees.
Helping Thomas Frank's side challenge for Europe right until the final day, Mee scored three goals and set up two more in 37 appearances for Brentford, and no player won more aerial battles (132) throughout the campaign.
A total of 42 shots blocked also puts him joint-second in that category behind Everton's one-man wall James Tarkowski (78), and Mee's season very nearly ended in the perfect way with a goal against his former employers Man City, but doing the double over the Premier League champions is a magnificent feat in itself.
On the left-hand side of the backline, Arsenal's Gabriel Magalhaes truly came of age in the 2022-23 season, forming a highly effective partnership with William Saliba to help the Gunners maintain an unfancied title charge.
Playing every single minute of Premier League football for his side, Gabriel chipped in with three goals at the other end of the field, and the Brazilian largely managed to cut out the errors that hitherto prevented him from going up another level in the Gunners' backline.
Honourable mentions: Ruben Dias (Man City), Manuel Akanji (Man City), William Saliba (Arsenal), Fabian Schar (Newcastle), Sven Botman (Newcastle), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Ethan Pinnock (Brentford)
Left-back: Pervis Estupinan
Not long after departing regular European chasers Villarreal for the South Coast, Brighton's Pervis Estpuninan will be back on the continent owing to a stellar selection of performances in blue and white.
The 25-year-old's bursts down the left flank proved tricky for any and all opposing defence to deal with, allowing him to post one goal and six assists from 35 games during his debut season in the Premier League.
Replacing the Chelsea-bound Marc Cucurella was no easy ask for Brighton, but the Seagulls hierarchy once again pulled off a shrewd move in paying just £15.5m for Estupinan, who also provided 1.5 key passes per game during a remarkable campaign for Roberto De Zerbi's team.
Honourable mentions: Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal), Nathan Ake (Man City), Luke Shaw (Man United), Dan Burn (Newcastle)
Right midfield: Mohamed Salah
As was the case with Alisson, Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah continued to deliver the goods for the Reds when his teammates left a lot to be desired, and he finished the season as one of just two players to hit double figures in goals and assists.
The 30-year-old - who was accused by some of under-performing this season - posted an eye-catching 19 goals and 12 assists in 38 outings, finishing in fourth place in the scoring charts and joint-second in the playmaker category alongside Leandro Trossard.
Barely a few minutes after Liverpool were confirmed to be missing out on a Champions League spot, Salah faced the reality of the situation on social media - claiming that the Reds had let their fans down - and a similar set of numbers from the excellent Egyptian next term would not go amiss as Jurgen Klopp's side aim to challenge for the biggest honours again.
Honourable mentions: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Miguel Almiron (Newcastle), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford), Solly March (Brighton)
The champions' enforcer-in-chief and creator-in-chief occupy the two central midfield roles in our talent-packed Team of the Season, with Rodri making a name for himself as one of Europe's finest deep-lying midfielders during a phenomenal campaign.
While proving a menace in the final third with two goals and six assists and always keeping goalkeepers on their toes with his shots from range, the Spaniard made the second-most passes in the league with 2,977, and 260 progressive passes puts him joint-third in that category.
Furthermore, Rodri's pass completion percentage of 91.2% is the fifth-best of its kind in the division, and the 26-year-old could yet be ending the campaign with a long-awaited Champions League medal around his neck - the same can also be said for his midfield companion.
While Rodri duly takes on the dirty work in the engine room, Kevin De Bruyne remains unmatched in the assists category and now has another playmaking award sitting pretty on his shelves at home.
The Belgian provided a whopping 16 assists in the top flight - four more than closest challengers Trossard and Salah - and in April, he became the quickest player to set up 100 goals in the Premier League, doing so in just 237 appearances.
Only narrowly behind Fernandes when it comes to key passes per game - 3.1 compared to 3.2 for his Portuguese counterpart - De Bruyne must summon every ounce of his creative mastery against Man United and Inter Milan if Man City are to end the season with a terrific treble.
Honourable mentions: Ilkay Gundogan (Man City), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle), Casemiro (Man United), Bruno Fernandes (Man United), Moises Caicedo (Brighton), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton), Joao Palhinha (Fulham)
Left midfield: Martin Odegaard
Arsenal skipper Martin Odegaard is certainly not a left midfielder by nature, but it was simply impossible to leave the Scandinavian sensation out of this Team of the Season owing to his remarkable goalscoring campaign in North London.
Captaining both club and country at the age of 24 would unsettle many players, but not Odegaard, who notched a praiseworthy 15 Premier League goals throughout the season to finish as the Gunners' joint-top scorer, while also providing eight assists in the process.
Odegaard's playmaking statistics may not be at the level of the De Bruynes and the Fernandes's, and there were accusations of the ex-Real Madrid protege going missing when the Gunners needed him most, but he was one of only three players to complete 90 or more passes into the penalty area and is proving to be a brilliant addition to the Premier League.
Honourable mentions: Jack Grealish (Man City) Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Marcus Rashford (Man United), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton)
Under-fire Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy should have been breathing a huge sigh of relief every time the ball flew into the back of the net via the boot or head of Harry Kane, who came to his side's rescue time and time again and was the one shining light in their frankly disastrous season.
Refusing to let persistent transfer speculation get in the way of his remarkable goalscoring abilities, Kane ended a phenomenal personal campaign with 30 Premier League goals - his joint-best tally in a top-flight season - while equalling or smashing a plethora of records along the way.
While becoming England and Tottenham's greatest goalscorer of all time, Kane moved above Wayne Rooney into second place in the all-time Premier League scoring charts, became the first player to score 100 away goals and scored in 26 separate games, breaking Salah's previous record of 24 for a 38-match season.
In almost any other campaign, Kane's 30 goals would have warranted another Golden Boot to add to his ever-growing collection of individual accolades, but a certain irrepressible Norwegian came, saw and conquered during his maiden Premier League campaign.
Smirking at suggestions that his arrival had negatively impacted this Man City team, records tumbled at the feet of Erling Braut Haaland, who stormed to the Golden Boot with an astonishing 36 strikes to his name this season - no player has ever found the back of the net on so many occasions in a 38-game or indeed a 42-game campaign.
For a player who is often seldom seen with the ball until an opportunity to shoot presents itself, eight assists throughout the season is not bad going either, and while Kane is gunning for Alan Shearer's all-time Premier League record, his feats may be short-lived if Haaland stays loyal to Man City and continues to make the net ripple in the same vein.
Honourable mentions: Ivan Toney (Brentford), Callum Wilson (Newcastle), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham)
SPORTS MOLE'S PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM OF THE SEASON
Sports Mole's Premier League Team of the Season (4-4-2): Alisson; Trippier, Mee, Gabriel, Estupinan; Salah, Rodri, De Bruyne, Odegaard; Kane, Haaland