Premier League Season Stats Review (Part 3)

You won’t be as pleased as I am to know this is the last of three articles reflecting on the season’s key stats. Try and stomach the following content and tables, there are actually some mildly interesting outcomes…

poached egg

The dangerous poached egg.

Number of Games v Injuries
Unless you’re Santiago Canizares or Kirk Broadfoot sustaining an injury is most likely to be caused by playing football…or wearing a Newcastle shirt, which might go someway to explaining why so many supporters don’t.

Below is a table detailing the number of games each team played this season and the injuries they encountered:

Liverpool 8th 60 63 284 (2nd)
Man City 4th 66 59 211 (7th)
Man Utd 5th 66 59 243 (4th)
Arsenal 2nd 71 54 239 (5th)
Tottenham 3rd 70 53 149 (13th)
Chelsea 10th 50 53 134 (14th)
West Ham 7th 62 51 185 (11th)
Everton 11th 47 49 248 (3rd)
Crystal Palace 15th 42 47 204 (T8th)
Southampton 6th 63 46 165 (12th)
Stoke 9th 51 46 196 (10th)
West Brom 14th 43 45 127 (17th)
Watford 13th 45 44 130 (16th)
Bournemouth 16th 42 44 224 (6th)
Aston Villa 20th 17 44 204 (T8th)
Leicester 1st 81 43 77 (19th)
Norwich 19th 34 42 109 (18th)
Swansea 12th 47 41 49 (20th)
Sunderland 17th 39 41 132 (15th)
Newcastle 18th 37 41 397 (1st)

*Injury stats taken from

Liverpool’s success in reaching the League Cup and Europa League finals meant they played more games than any other team, while both Manchester sides enjoyed domestic cup success and prolonged European campaigns.

Divock Origi

Origi was one of five Liverpool players to score ten or more goals this season.

The Anfield side was also the only team to have five players scoring ten or more goals this season (Sturridge, Benteke, Origi, Firmino and Coutinho). Jurgen Klopp heavily rotated his side during the last few months, which provided opportunities for more individuals to score. The number of games obviously played the biggest part in this outcome with Man City in second with four different scorers of ten or more (Aguero, De Bruyne, Iheanacho and Sterling).

Unsurprisingly, the top four teams for games played were in the top seven of the injury table. Newcastle, however, had the worst record for injuries, which would be a concern for Rafa Benitez as they played the joint fewest games. Swansea – also on 41 games this season – were the ‘healthiest’ side with just 49 points.

Claudio Ranieri arrived as the Tinker Man but tinkered very little, which was seen as one of the key factors in their title-winning campaign. The Italian manager was able to stick with virtually the same 11 every week because his Leicester side suffered the second least amount of injuries, aided by just the 43 games this season.

Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, might point to the fact that his side played more games than any other team without European commitments as a reason for their league struggles. Everton had another stagnant season under their now former Spaniard manager, but enduring the third worst injury record in the league certainly didn’t help their cause.

Callum Wilson

Wilson virtually missed the entire season through injury.

Bournemouth’s survival during their first season in England’s top flight shouldn’t be underestimated given their injury woes at the start of the season. The Cherries lost top scorer, Callum Wilson as well as both record signings Tyrone Mings and Max Gradel in the early stages of their campaign. Despite being the fifth biggest net spenders for the 2015/16 season, Eddie Howe’s squad was pushed to its limits having ended with the sixth worst injury record.


Return on Investment
It’s often a debate amongst fans as to who spent what, so the table below should help clear things up. The teams in bold are those who improved from 2014/15 to 2015/16 in terms of position and/or points. The promoted clubs (Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich) have been highlighted in red as their achievements last season were in a different division. Their spending is also understandably very low in comparison to the Premier League sides that year.

TEAM POS (PTS) 2015/16 NET SPEND 2015/16 POS (PTS) 2014/15 NET SPEND 2014/15 TOTAL NET SPEND
Man Utd 5th 66 – £35.3m 4th 70 – £115.2m – £150.5m
Man City 4th 66 – £107.3m 2nd 79 – £42.9m – £150.2m
Newcastle 18th 37 – £81.2m 15th 39 – £16.8m – £98m
Arsenal 2nd 71 – £21.1m 3rd 75 – £71.7m – £92.8m
Liverpool 8th 60 – £29.9m 6th 62 – £40.7m – £70.6m
Everton 11th 47 – £28.9m 11th 47 – £30m – £58.9m
Watford 13th 45 – £57.9m 2nd 89 – £0.4m – £58.3m
Sunderland 17th 39 – £43.9m 16th 38 – £9.4m – £53.3m
Leicester 1st 81 – £32m 14th 41 – £18m – £50m
West Ham 7th 62 – £23.8m 12th 47 – £24.2m – £48m
West Brom 14th 43 – £23.6m 13th 44 – £17.8m – £41.4m
Bournemouth 16th 42 – £38.7m 1st 90 – £0.9m – £39.6m
Crystal Palace 15th 42 – £16.9m 10th 48 – £22.3m – £39.2m
Norwich 19th 34 – £21.3m 3rd 86 – £0.8m – £22.1m
Stoke 9th 51 – £21.8m 9th 54 + £1.6m – £20.2m
Aston Villa 20th 17 – £1.4m 17th 38 – £9.6m – £11m
Chelsea 10th 50 – £2.3m 1st 87 + £6.6m £4.3m
Swansea 12th 47 – £4.3m 8th 56 + £16m £11.7m
Tottenham 3rd 70 + £13m 5th 64 + £0.6m £13.6m
Southampton 6th 63 – £2.3m 7th 60 + £28.1m £25.8m

*Transfer information gathered from

Of the six sides that improved on their 2014/15 season, only Tottenham made a profit (£13m) during the following campaign. Southampton spent a mere £2.3m, while the other four (Arsenal, West Ham, Leicester and Sunderland) spent at least £20m to achieve their progress.

Mike Ashley

You’re laughing now but you’ve not tried pushing a pram or wheelchair through your stores.

Man City got the worst return on their investment having spent over £100m to finish 13-points worse off. Mike Ashley finally found a wallet to match his waistline at Newcastle, but like a supermarket sweep in one of his stores (physically impossible because of the narrow aisles), they came out with too many of one thing (attacking midfielders) and too few of another (defenders). The Geordies dropped two-points and more importantly three-positions to end the season relegated despite spending over £80m.

West Ham’s 15-point and five-place climb was due to Slaven Bilic and his team investing their money wisely. The captures of Dmitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio proved to be very good purchases with the Hammers now looking to establish themselves as a European club.

Leicester nearly doubled their points tally by shrewdly spending £32m and appointing Ranieri. Their successful transfers – N’Golo Kante, Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs, Shinji Okazaki and Demarai Gray – helped the Foxes achieve their highly improbable title victory.

Over the last two seasons, Liverpool will be most disappointed by how they have spent their money. Having been just a slip away from winning their first ever Premier League title in 2014, the Reds now find themselves eighth in the table even though they’ve invested over £70m. The owners are fond of the Moneyball system for their Baseball team but they could well be left with just the ball if this poor return continues at Anfield.

Merseyside neighbours, Everton have been the sixth biggest net spenders since 2014 but dropped from fifth to 11th for the last two seasons. Further evidence as to why Martinez lost his job at the end of this campaign.

Ronald Koeman

Southampton have made over £25m (net) from transfers since Koeman has been in charge.

Of the four sides (Chelsea, Swansea, Tottenham and Southampton) that generated a profit since 2014, Southampton raised the most. This was down to Ronald Koeman’s first summer seeing a mass exodus of players (Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw) but the Dutchman still guided the Saints to their best Premier League finish. The former Ajax, Benfica and Valencia manager then bettered his debut season by three-points and one place despite losing Toby Alderweireld, Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin in the summer. Given Martinez’s troubles at Everton, it’s no wonder the Toffees opted for Koeman as their new manager. They’ll just need to make sure that they get the right guy to oversee their player recruitment as well as the team itself.

Abdoulaye Doucoure

This is Abdoulaye Doucoure. You don’t know him because he went on loan to Granada after signing for Watford.

Many would be surprised by the amount Watford were reported to have spent following their promotion in 2015. However, the structure of the Pozzo family’s business suggests that Watford have become the parent club to Udinese (Italy) and Granada (Spain). This is a result of them having the greater financial power now they’re in England’s top division. In fact, the Hornets two biggest signings last summer were Adalberto Penaranda (from Udinese) and Abdoulaye Doucoure (from Rennes) for £8.3m each. Both players were subsequently sent out on loan to (pauses to create tension) Granada.

With the bumper TV deal coming into the league, the vast outlay of the Manchester clubs with little return besides an FA and League Cup as well as a limp Champions League semi-final may be a common occurrence. Hopefully the success stories will be the clubs who not only win trophies but also invest sensibly, setting aside money to subsidise the fans that actually attend the games both home and away. I know I’m a dreamer but what are we without hope? Yep…hopeless.

Premier League Season Stats Review (Part 2)

The second of three reviews sees a closer look at the home and away forms, unbeaten runs, as well as late goals scored or conceded and how they might relate to a team’s average possession.

HOME AND AWAY (not the classic Australian soap opera):

Leicester 1st 81 12 6 1 42 11 6 2 39
Arsenal 2nd 71 12 4 3 40 8 7 4 31
Tottenham 3rd 70 10 6 3 36 9 7 3 34
Man City 4th 66 12 2 5 38 7 7 5 28
Man Utd 5th 66 12 5 2 41 7 4 8 25
Southampton 6th 63 11 3 5 36 7 6 6 27
West Ham 7th 62 9 7 3 34 7 7 5 28
Liverpool 8th 60 8 8 3 32 8 4 7 28
Stoke 9th 51 8 4 7 28 6 5 8 23
Chelsea 10th 50 5 9 5 24 7 5 7 26
Everton 11th 47 6 5 8 23 5 9 5 24
Swansea 12th 47 8 6 5 30 4 5 10 17
Watford 13th 45 6 6 7 24 6 3 10 21
West Brom 14th 43 6 5 8 23 4 8 7 20
Crystal Palace 15th 42 6 3 10 21 5 6 8 21
Bournemouth 16th 42 5 5 9 20 6 4 9 22
Sunderland 17th 39 6 6 7 24 3 6 10 15
Newcastle 18th 37 7 7 5 28 2 3 14 9
Norwich 19th 34 6 5 8 23 3 2 14 11
Aston Villa 20th 17 2 5 12 11 1 3 15 6
Leicester win

The Foxes were the best team at home and away.

Leicester – Best home and away record. The Foxes won at least two away games more than any other team, which isn’t surprising given their counter-attacking and direct style of play.

Arsenal – Third best home and away records for the Gunners who suffered defeats at the Emirates Stadium to West Ham (opening day), Chelsea and Swansea.

Tottenham – The second best away points total covered up a joint fifth best home record. Mauricio Pochettino will want more points than the four earned in six games against Newcastle, West Brom and Everton if Spurs are to build on this season.

Man City – Joint most home losses and joint fewest away wins in the top eight. City’s lack of consistency, particularly after their blistering start, will need to be addressed by incoming manager, Pep Guardiola.

Man Utd – One-point short of Leicester’s home form but only three-points better off than Bournemouth when it comes to their away record. Jose Mourinho was known for having an impressive home record at Chelsea (this season aside) but it’s making the Red Devils harder to beat away from the Theatre of Dreams that will have a big impact on next season.

Southampton – More home wins than Tottenham but more away losses than Everton. The Saints will need better away form if they’re to build on this season’s success.

West Ham – Just three losses at Upton Park (two from the first two) but will the new stadium be as much a fortress? Too many draws for the Hammers saw their unexpected Champions League challenge falter towards the end.

Klopps Liverpool

Liverpool need to turn their draws into wins next season.

Liverpool – Only Chelsea drew more games at home while the Reds were one of seven teams to have won more than they lost away. Turning the draws into victories and holding on to leads should be easier due to less strain on the squad in terms of games.

Stoke – Won the same amount of points at home as relegated Newcastle. The Potters had the same number of losses away from home as Crystal Palace.

Chelsea – One of only three teams to have earned more points away from home. The Blues used to be unbeatable at Stamford Bridge but the turmoil at the start of the season saw Mourinho lose his job and Chelsea lose their fear factor.

Everton – Also won more points away from home with Roberto Martinez getting the sack following the Toffees poor return at Goodison Park. Eight home defeats was the joint third worst in the league.

Swansea – Best home record outside the top eight but the fifth worst points return away from the Liberty Stadium. The Swans won nearly double the points at home that they won away.

Watford – Along with Liverpool, the Hornets won the same number of games at home as they did away. Avoiding relegation again will be the aim with another high turnover of players and staff expected.

West Brom – Relegated Norwich and Newcastle earned the same or more points at home. Tony Pulis will want to make The Hawthorns a more challenging place to visit next season.

Crystal Palace – The second most losses at home saw Palace gain the same number of points at home as they did away. Too many teams were able to leave Selhurst Park with something despite its reputation as a noisy and boisterous atmosphere.

Bournemouth – The remaining team of three to have a better record away from home. The Cherries first season in England’s top-flight provided many a lesson for Eddie Howe and his men. The locals will be hoping that they’ve learnt from them.

Sunderland – The same points won at home as Chelsea but an away record that is only better than the bottom three. A more stubborn approach to fixtures away from the Stadium of Light will be on Sam Allardyce’s agenda.

Newcastle – The most home wins in the bottom eight but only nine-points earned on the road. A failure to get into double-figures away from St. James’ Park suggests it wasn’t misfortune that saw the Geordies get relegated but the fact they were bloody awful on their travels.

Norwich – Same number of points earned at home as Everton but a measly 11-points away from Carrow Road sealed their fate. A squad that is unlikely to be dismantled following relegation will need to perform much better at home and especially away.

Richards argue fans

Villa fans understandably unimpressed by their team’s performances.

Aston Villa – The Villains were pathetic at home and an embarrassment away. Their one and only away win came on the first day of the season at newly-promoted Bournemouth. No one expected such a poor season at that point but it certainly became clear in the months following.



STREAKS AND RUNS (not a post-curry phrase):

Leicester 1st 81 5 1 12 3
Arsenal 2nd 71 5 2 10 4
Tottenham 3rd 70 6 2 14 4
Man City 4th 66 5 3 7 3
Man Utd 5th 66 3 3 7 6
Southampton 6th 63 4 2 6 5
West Ham 7th 62 4 2 10 8
Liverpool 8th 60 3 2 6 4
Stoke 9th 51 3 3 4 6
Chelsea 10th 50 3 3 15 4
Everton 11th 47 2 3 6 7
Swansea 12th 47 2 3 4 7
Watford 13th 45 4 4 5 5
West Brom 14th 43 2 5 6 9
Crystal Palace 15th 42 2 2 4 14
Bournemouth 16th 42 3 4 6 8
Sunderland 17th 39 2 5 6 9
Newcastle 18th 37 2 4 6 8
Norwich 19th 34 2 5 3 10
Aston Villa 20th 17 1 11 3 19
Guus Hiddink

Hiddink’s second stint at Chelsea started with the longest unbeaten run of any side this season.

Tottenham had the longest winning streak with a total of six from the 16th January to the 28th February. Chelsea, meanwhile, had the longest unbeaten run, which coincided with Guus Hiddink’s return to the Bridge. Their 15-game stretch, however, only yielded 29-points which Tottenham (36) and Leicester (34) surpassed during the same period.

No one was going to beat Aston Villa in terms of losing streak and winless run, but Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace gave it a good go when they went 14 without a victory. West Brom – a team often associated as hard to beat – actually lost five on the bounce, the joint-second worst in the league, which would be a source of frustration for Pulis regardless of how well they may have competed in those games.

It was no surprise to see Champions Leicester never lose more than one match in succession. Their ability to bounce back, particularly after the cruel defeat at Arsenal, was a key element of their success, which should be credited to Ranieri and the team spirit they maintained throughout.



Leicester 1st 81 14 10 43.7% (18)
Arsenal 2nd 71 11 8 58.4% (1)
Tottenham 3rd 70 8 6 56.5% (4)
Man City 4th 66 14 4 57.2% (2)
Man Utd 5th 66 6 9 56.7% (3)
Southampton 6th 63 13 7 51.1% (9)
West Ham 7th 62 9 6 47.6% (12)
Liverpool 8th 60 9 12 56.2% (5)
Stoke 9th 51 9 10 49.5% (11)
Chelsea 10th 50 8 10 54.4% (6)
Everton 11th 47 12 10 51.3% (8)
Swansea 12th 47 4 6 51.7% (7)
Watford 13th 45 8 8 45.3% (16)
West Brom 14th 43 9 11 40.9% (20)
Crystal Palace 15th 42 4 8 46.7% (15)
Bournemouth 16th 42 10 11 50.8% (10)
Sunderland 17th 39 14 6 42.4% (19)
Newcastle 18th 37 12 11 47.4% (13)
Norwich 19th 34 5 13 45.1% (17)
Aston Villa 20th 17 3 14 47.2% (14)

*Possession stats gathered from

Man City play

City were the best side during the last ten minutes of games.

As the table shows, Leicester, Man City and Sunderland scored the most goals in the last ten minutes (plus injury-time) this season. The two-time Premier League winners also conceded the least during the same period suggesting that their performance and concentration at this time was strong. This could be due to them ranking second in terms of possession and making the opposition run more without the ball. It could also be due to the amount of experience in the squad with only West Brom and Watford fielding a starting line-up with an average age greater than that of City’s at any point during the season.

Aston Villa conceded the most, losing eight points in the process. Perhaps surprisingly for some, Liverpool were the third worst side for conceding late, the 12 goals also costing them eight points. This may be a result of tiredness due to Klopp’s preferred style of play or a lack of concentration and understanding due to the new tactics. Reds’ fans will be hoping for a drop in this area now Klopp has a pre-season and fewer games to deal with.

Leicester’s counter-attacking and direct style of play saw them catch their opponents out on 14 occasions despite ranking 18th in terms of average possession. Next season is likely to see teams ‘wise-up’ to their approach – although no one really did as their title challenge became increasingly realistic – so their tactics and numbers may well change.

Sunderland’s low possession average can be attributed to a counter-attacking style, which was prominent during the latter stages of their campaign. Jermain Defoe would play as the lone striker and Jan Kirchhoff would protect the back four, lending itself to the team relinquishing possession in favour of efficiency when they had the ball. Their end of season form suggests it was a worthwhile move.

Newcastle fans

The Geordies’ loyalty and patience was often rewarded with goals, just not always for their team.

Fans should forget trying to avoid the traffic when watching the likes of Leicester (24), Newcastle (23), Everton (22), Liverpool (21), Bournemouth (21), Southampton (20), Sunderland (20) and West Brom (20). You’ll be forgiven for making an early exit if you’re watching Swansea, however, who were involved in games that saw only ten goals scored from the 80th minute onwards.

Premier League Season Stats Review (Part 1)

In the first of three stat reviews, we look at the individuals who made big contributions in the final third and which teams had a better defence than Donald Trump’s parents (i.e. everyone). There’s also a comparison table between the last two seasons to assess where improvements were and could be made as well as the impact (if any) of certain signings.


Harry Kane Tottenham 25 135 1
Jamie Vardy Leicester 24 131 6
Sergio Aguero Man City 24 99 2
Romelu Lukaku Everton 18 176 6
Riyad Mahrez Leicester 17 180 11
Olivier Giroud Arsenal 16 152 6
Odion Ighalo Watford 15 210 3
Jermain Defoe Sunderland 15 170 1
Troy Deeney Watford 13 253 7
Alexis Sanchez Arsenal 13 188 4
Harry Kane

Another great season for Kane.

Harry Kane became the first English player to finish top scorer in the Premier League since Kevin Phillips in 2000. The Tottenham forward scored four more than last season despite a slow start, which saw him wait until his seventh league game to open his account.

Jamie Vardy broke the league record when he scored 11 games in a row, ending the campaign 19 goals better off than his 2014/15 total.

Man City’s Sergio Aguero had the best minutes to goal ratio as he made it 102 Premier League goals in 150 appearances since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo scored 70% of Watford’s league goals this season to ensure Premier League safety. Meanwhile, Jermain Defoe’s 15 strikes certainly went a long way to helping Sunderland win the relegation battle for a fourth consecutive season.



Mesut Ozil Arsenal 19 6
Christian Eriksen Tottenham 13 6
Dimitri Payet West Ham 12 9
Dusan Tadic Southampton 12 8
Riyad Mahrez Leicester 11 17
James Milner Liverpool 11 5
David Silva Man City 11 1
Kevin De Bruyne Man City 9 7
Dele Alli Tottenham 9 10
Erik Lamela Tottenham 9 5
Dimitri Payet

Hammers’ fans will be expecting more of this next season.

Mesut Ozil looked like he would beat former Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry’s record of 20-asssits in a season when he reached 16 by the halfway point. But a dip in form and poor finishing by his teammates saw only three more assists added to his total.

Dusan Tadic’s six assists in his last five games saw the Serbian climb above Riyad Mahrez who scored seven more than the next top scorer (Dele Alli) out of the top ten for assists.

David Silva will be disappointed with only one league goal as injuries continue to trouble the Spaniard, while his former teammate, James Milner, had a productive first season at Liverpool despite playing his standard half a dozen different positions.

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet excited Hammers’ fans as well as neutrals with his set-pieces and trickery. The French international’s performances will no doubt have supporters in the new stadium on the edge of their seats.

Finally, with three Tottenham players making the top-ten (Eriksen, Alli and Lamela) it’s no wonder Kane finished top of the scoring charts.


Last v This season

15/16          14/15 15/16 14/15 15/16 14/15 15/16 14/15 15/16 14/15
Leicester 1st 14th 81 41 68 46 36 55 15 10
Arsenal 2nd 3rd 71 75 65 71 36 36 18 13
Tottenham 3rd 5th 70 64 69 58 35 53 13 9
Man City 4th 2nd 66 79 71 83 41 38 15 14
Man Utd 5th 4th 66 70 49 62 35 37 18 11
Southampton 6th 7th 63 60 59 54 41 33 12 15
West Ham 7th 12th 62 47 65 44 51 47 11 9
Liverpool 8th 6th 60 62 63 52 50 48 11 14
Stoke 9th 9th 51 54 41 48 55 45 10 9
Chelsea 10th 1st 50 87 59 73 53 32 9 17
Everton 11th 11th 47 47 59 48 55 50 10 10
Swansea 12th 8th 47 56 42 46 52 49 9 13
Watford 13th NA 45 NA 40 NA 50 NA 11 NA
West Brom 14th 13th 43 44 34 38 48 51 11 16
Crystal Palace 15th 10th 42 48 39 47 51 51 8 7
Bournemouth 16th NA 42 NA 45 NA 67 NA 7 NA
Sunderland 17th 16th 39 38 48 31 62 53 6 13
Newcastle 18th 15th 37 39 44 40 65 63 8 8
Norwich 19th NA 34 NA 39 NA 67 NA 5 NA
Aston Villa 20th 17th 17 38 27 31 76 57 6 10
NGolo Kante

70% of the planet is covered by water. The rest is covered by Kante.

Leicester – 13-positions and 40-points better off, 22 more goals scored with 19 fewer conceded, while the Foxes managed five extra clean sheets during their title-winning season.

The influence of an experienced, calm and pizza offering Claudio Ranieri – rightly awarded Manager of the Year – can’t be understated. However, the improved individual performances of Vardy, Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Wes Morgan and Kasper Schmeichel were also telling. New signings Christian Fuchs, Robert Huth (permanent) and N’Golo Kante for a combined total of £8.6m proved to be great business for the Thai owned club.


Petr Cech

Golden Glove winner in his first season at Arsenal.

Arsenal – four-points less, six-goals worse off but five more clean sheets compared to their 2014/15 efforts.

The lack of outfield signings during the summer had supporters worked up like an Oxford student without a pig. But the acquisition of Petr Cech from rivals and reigning champions, Chelsea, was deemed to have been a real coup for the club. They still conceded the same as last season (36), but they did keep more clean sheets with Cech claiming the Golden Glove award thanks to Chris Smalling’s last minute own goal against Bournemouth.

The reduction in goals and points suggests improvements are needed despite finishing higher in the league and yes, above Tottenham.


Levy Tucci

Stanley Tucci and Daniel Levy.

Tottenham – two-places, six-points and 11 more goals as well as 18 less conceded suggest that all the talk of a club on the rise does have substance.

The emergence of young, British talent caught the eye but the signing of Toby Alderweireld has been hugely beneficial to Spurs. His partnership with fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen has seen a marked improvement in goals conceded and four more clean sheets.

Further sound investment provided by the Stanley Tucci lookalike, Daniel Levy, should see Mauricio Pochettino’s side anticipate another title challenge.


Vincent Kompany

City can’t rely on their injury-hit skipper.

Man City – two-positions, 13-points and 12-goals down on the previous season doesn’t make particularly good reading.

There was at least an increase of clean sheets but the lack of goals will be a big disappointment given the £100m spent on Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.

Pep Guardiola’s arrival is likely to result in a more productive attack while the frequent injuries to unfortunate glass man, Vincent Kompany, means a new commanding centre-back is needed.


Jose Mourinho

The Devil at Old Trafford? Neutrals were enjoying the slump.

Man Utd – four-points and 13-goals worse but a real improvement in defence, much to the ‘delight’ of their fans.

Louis Van Gaal’s time at United has ended following a season that delivered as much excitement as the weekly bin collection…and there’s been a lot of rubbish. The Dutchman’s work off the pitch has probably generated more interest thanks to the occasional sexual reference and a rather confrontational manner.

The poor return on investment from the likes of Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger haven’t gone unnoticed. However, they have been marginally covered up by the emergence of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial’s impressive adjustment to life in England.

The anticipated and apt arrival of Jose Mourinho at the Red Devils is likely to see United become a more balanced side. Meanwhile, another summer of heavy investment is expected to see them compete for honours beyond the FA Cup which they won in extra-time against Crystal Palace.


Ronald Koeman

Koeman deserves a summer without making a profit.

Southampton – one-place and three-points better off despite conceding eight more goals.

The Saints lost key personnel for the second consecutive summer as Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Alderweireld (Tottenham) and Morgan Schneiderlin (Man Utd) all left St. Mary’s.

They were seamlessly replaced based on their final position with Virgil Van Dijk’s performances heavily responsible. The former Celtic defender had a great campaign and was rightly mentioned by many as the signing of the season.

Ronald Koeman will hope to be allowed to build further on his success by retaining his current squad, but Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane have already been linked with moves away.



Bilic has enjoyed a good start at his old club.

West Ham – five-positions, 15-points and an impressive increase of 21-goals has seen Slaven Bilic enjoy a positive first season back at the Hammers.

The Croatian manager has been a gentleman throughout the season and his club’s acquisition of Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini and Angelo Ogbonna have been pivotal to their achievements.

A move to the Taxpayers (Olympic) Stadium and further signings should see West Ham regularly challenge the top six for years to come.


Jurgen Klopp 2

The Normal One?

Liverpool – two-positions and two-points worse than last season but 11 more goals adds to the obvious hope at Anfield.

A change of manager felt necessary following a stuttering start and the availability of Jurgen Klopp. The German manager and Liverpool are like a cheese and jam sandwich – against the norm (despite Klopp’s opening statement) but a great combination nonetheless.

More goals are a result of a more productive frontline that includes a fitter Daniel Sturridge, an impressive Divock Origi and a fleetingly brilliant Roberto Firmino. Even Christian Benteke has chipped in with nine league goals despite his obvious struggles to fit in with the Reds style of play.

A third consecutive season of around 50 goals conceded suggests that the free signing of Joel Matip won’t be the last defensive recruit.


Jack Butland

Stoke suffered once they lost Butland to injury.

Stoke – three-points and seven goals worse off while the Potters’ leaked ten more at the other end.

There have been glimpses of progress at Stoke following wins at home to Man City and Man Utd but the end of season form, which coincided with Jack Butland’s injury, highlights defensive frailties, which were a rarity under former manager Tony Pulis.

Current manager, Mark Hughes, will need to address his defence in light of the club’s reliance on Ryan Shawcross and a lack of cover for England keeper Butland.

Meanwhile, the attacking trio of Marko Arnautovic, Xerdan Shaqiri and Bojan is enough to raise the locals’ optimism. But Hughes will need to find new competition for those three with Peter Crouch now 35 and Mame Biram Diouf finishing on just five league goals despite scoring three in his first six appearances.


Radamel Falcao

This is Radamel Falcao.

Chelsea – nine-place drop, 37-points down, 14 fewer goals scored, 21 more conceded and eight clean sheets worse off. It’s been about as good as being on the receiving end of a fart in a lift.

The Blues’ transfer dealings yielded little in return, particularly the loan signings of Radamel Falcao and Alexandre Pato. But it was the form of those who were integral to helping their side win the title by eight-points last season that contributed to Jose Mourinho’s sacking in December.

Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Nemanja Matic and Oscar failed to deliver on a consistent basis, especially during the first half of the season, while Thibaut Courtois also suffered a dip in form.

Antonio Conte will be looking to shake things up after the Euros.


Roberto Martinez

Missing his tie dye t-shirt.

Everton – Same position and points as the previous season saw little to no progress under Roberto Martinez, which ultimately cost him his job.

Romelu Lukaku’s season certainly helped the Toffees improve on their goals but losing points late on and drawing too many games became an issue that wouldn’t budge. The limp end to the season suggested Martinez had very much lost the dressing room he had often blindly praised like an overly optimistic, tree-hugging, grass-smoking hippie despite performances implying quite the opposite.

The supporters will be expecting to see more of a return on the £13.5m spent on Oumar Niasse who only made five league appearances without scoring since his January arrival.


Garry Monk

Monk was sacked in December after a poor run of form.

Swansea – down on all categories during a season that Garry Monk was replaced by Francesco Guidolin as the Welsh side flirted with relegation.

The Swans appeared to overachieve last season as their positive start to this campaign was followed by a run of one win in 12, which left Monk’s position untenable.

Andre Ayew can look back on a effective debut season in the Premier League following his arrival on a free from Marseille. The £5m signing of Portuguese forward Eder however, was less fruitful after 12 appearances, no goals and a January loan move to Lille.


Walter Mazzarri

Alec Baldwin is the new Watford manager.

Watford – Finish 13th and avoid immediate relegation from the topflight for the first time. Not bad considering the turnover of players as 21 arrived and 23 left on permanent or loan deals.

Quique Sanchez Flores replaced Slavisa Jokanovic – who guided the Hornets to automatic promotion despite being the fourth different manager that season. The former Valencia and Atletico Madrid manager consolidated Watford’s position in the Premier League thanks to Deeney’s and Ighalo’s goals.

But as one season ends a new manager arrives. Stray Baldwin brother, Walter Mazzarri – former Napoli and Inter Milan manager – has replaced Flores and will be looking to improve on the end of season form, which probably cost the Spaniard his job.


Tony Pulis

Pulis will be disappointed with five less clean sheets this season.

West Brom – A drop in position, points, goals scored and clean sheets saw Pulis’ side remain in the league despite some drab matches.

Watching a puddle evaporate was sometimes an equally entertaining alternative to the Baggies this season as they continued to be stubborn opponents without much threat in attack. Although a drop from 16 clean sheets to 11 must have Pulis fuming.

Saido Berahino’s off-field issues had a negative effect on his on-field performances, which may lead to a reduction in his value. But West Brom’s performances at Liverpool (draw), Tottenham (draw), Man City (narrow defeat), Leicester (draw) and Chelsea (draw) as well as home wins against Arsenal and Man Utd have brought some joy to the cap-wearing manager.



Getting further away from the England job.

Crystal Palace – Five-positions, six-points and eight-goals worse off than last season has thankfully seen less talk of Alan Pardew for England despite reaching an FA Cup final.

A collapse that would make Ashley Young proud saw Palace go from fifth and level on points with Tottenham on Boxing Day to 16th with seven games remaining following a 14-match winless streak.

The fact that not one player scored more than seven goals in all competitions suggests a fundamental problem which Pardew – who needs to develop the ability to arrest a slump – should address with his transfer dealings.


Eddie Howe

Howe (lol) will his side do next season?

Bournemouth – Safety in the club’s first ever season in England’s top division was always the priority and Eddie Howe can be very satisfied with a 16th place finish.

Following up the away win at Chelsea with a home victory over Man Utd was the highlight of a season, which started with long-term injuries to key personnel.

The prime concern for Howe will be to avoid a repeat of those injuries, retain the core of his current squad and add some defensive solidity after the Cherries conceded 67 goals, the joint-second worst in the league.


Sam Allardyce

Further work on the leaky defence for Allardyce.

Sunderland – one-point and 17-goals more saw Sam Allardyce’s side avoid relegation despite a poorer defence compared to last year.

The Black Cats achieved less than half the 13 clean sheets they kept under Dick Advocaat and Gus Poyet last season, which is surprising given Allardyce’s reputation for strong backlines.

But the Wearsiders are certainly more expansive thanks to Defoe, Fabio Borini and Wahbi Khazri proving dangerous on the break.

Sunderland supporters will be hoping for a mediocre season in mid-table following the stresses and strains of the last four campaigns.


Mike Ashley

Laughing his way to the Championship.

Newcastle – Small (think the Board’s understanding of football) margins in terms of points and goals led to the huge (think Mike Ashley’s waistline/warehouse) difference between survival and relegation.

Rafa Benitez’s arrival was too late in the season as the Geordies suffered what they only just avoided last year.

How much of the squad will remain is anyone’s guess with Moussa Sissoko one of many likely to leave. But it appears Benitez is going to be brave (sometimes confused with stupid) and stay on in the hope of building a legacy and gaining promotion from the Championship at the first time of asking. Best of luck, Rafa.


alex neil

What do you mean no one will want my players?

Norwich – Joint-third worst scorers and joint-second worst defence sums up why the Canaries were relegated.

Like Palace, not one Norwich player scored more than seven-goals in all competitions. Alex Neil saw his side regularly punished for individual mistakes in a league that is more unforgiving than the Championship.

One thing in their favour is that few players will be of interest to anyone so retaining the current squad shouldn’t be too challenging.


Carol Singers

I don’t care if you’re Marilyn Monroe, it’s weird being sung to.

Aston Villa – Bloody awful on all accounts, so much so that the word ‘crap’ is being taken as a compliment.

Despite winning the first game of the season, the Villains never did much to excite their supporters. Joleon Lescott’s trouser pocket seemed to trigger more of a reaction than his team’s efforts on the pitch.

A run of 19 without a win or 11 straight defeats this season saw the fans suffer the equivalent of Fabien Delph as a solo carol singer, wearing a Birmingham City shirt and scratching a blackboard whilst you rub your face with sandpaper.

Premier League Review – 15/17th May

Olivier Giroud

Giroud needs to improve his consistency if he’s to be a regular starter for Arsenal.

1. Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa
Giroud hat-trick lifts Arsenal to second

The Gunners finished second for the first time since 2005 after defeating bottom side, Aston Villa

Olivier Giroud scored three, making it four goals and an assist in his last two games. It’s the return Arsenal fans dream of from their main forward as the majority still remain unconvinced that the French international is good enough to lead the line of a title-winning side.

The table below shows his form since a brace at Anfield in January, when Arsene Wenger’s side sat top of the league:


16 10 9 4 4

A goal every 152 minutes puts Giroud fourth out of the top 25 league scorers this season, only behind Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy. But you feel that he must improve his consistency to ensure a place in the starting line-up and reassure the fans that he’s the top quality striker they desire.

John Terry 2

An emotional end of season speech may have played a part in the new contract extension.

2. Chelsea 1-1 Leicester
Drinkwater strike seals celebrations

It was more a game of celebration than a competitive fixture, but that didn’t stop Leicester ensuring they avoided a fourth defeat of the season.

Danny Drinkwater’s long-range and late strike cancelled out Cesc Fabregas’ penalty. The recently selected England international has had a brilliant season for the Foxes with three goals and eight assists only telling half the story.

Despite admitting he’s prepared to be omitted from Roy Hodgson’s 26-man squad, the former Man United player could have done no more during this campaign, which has seen him build strong partnerships with both N’Golo Kante and Vardy.

Chelsea meanwhile, welcomed former manager Claudio Ranieri with open arms and a guard of honour. John Terry highlighted their satisfaction that it was the Italian’s side that were crowned champions and not local rivals Spurs during what some were suggesting was a farewell speech. But in hindsight it appears to have been a PR stunt which put pressure on the club following his newly signed one-year contract extension.

Italian Antonio Conte will be arriving at Stamford Bridge after the Euros to replace interim manager Guus Hiddink.

Tim Howard

Howard returns to America following ten years at Everton.

3. Everton 3-0 Norwich
Managerless Everton reward home fans with win

It was Tim Howard’s last Everton game and the club’s first since Roberto Martiinez was sacked.

Taking on already relegated Norwich, the Toffees ran out comfortable winners for only the third time in the last 12 league fixtures at Goodison Park. Goals from James McCarthy, Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas ensured American goalkeeper, Howard, ends his decade at the club with a win and a 133rd clean sheet.

Whoever is next in the hot seat – rumours suggest Ronald Koeman or Frank De Boer – will be hoping to make the most of Everton’s youngsters while recreating a fear factor at home.

4. Newcastle 5-1 Tottenham
Tottenham’s end of season collapse 

Mauricio Pochettino apologised to the fans as his side finished below rivals Arsenal for the 21st year in a row following a capitulation at St. James’ Park.

Newcastle’s relegation was confirmed after Sunderland defeated Everton midweek so this game was nothing more than pride. Yet the Magpies were two-nil up by half-time and despite Erik Lamela reducing the deficit to one, Spurs failed to capitalise on Aleksandar Mitrovic’s horrible red card with 25 minutes remaining. Instead, the London side conceded three goals without reply, ending the campaign with just two-points from the last 12 on offer.

The emphatic home win and subsequent support might be enough to persuade Rafa Benitez that his future belongs on Tyneside, fighting for promotion next season.

Georginio Wijnaldum’s two goals made it 11 for the season, all of which have come at home. Over half his strikes came in this match and the 6-2 victory over Norwich last year when he grabbed four that day. However, question marks will remain over his consistency and desire to help the club bounce back from the Championship.

Ronald Koeman

Koeman has done a fantastic job at Southampton since his arrival in 2014.

5. Southampton 4-1 Crystal Palace
Europa League qualification for improved Saints

Southampton beat their Premier League points record with a win over FA Cup finalists Crystal Palace.

It caps a brilliant end to the season which has seen Koeman’s side win the last four matches and achieve the second highest points tally in 2016, with only champions Leicester claiming more.

Europa League football awaits and those at St. Mary’s will hope it lasts longer than the two qualifying games they hosted this season.

LEICESTER 1st 81 42
TOTTENHAM 3rd 70 35
ARSENAL 2nd 71 32

Koeman will hope to have the opportunity to build on his team’s success this summer instead of losing some key players like Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane – who scored the opening goal to make it eight from his last eight games.

6. Stoke 2-1 West Ham
Hammers fall to Diouf’s late winner

Mame Biram Diouf’s late strike brought Stoke’s worst run of the season to an end, as West Ham’s Europa League hopes now depend on Man Utd winning the FA Cup.

It was Mark Hughes’ side’s first win since they defeated Watford at Vicarage Road seven matches ago. That was also Jack Butland’s last game before the England keeper was ruled out for the season through injury.

Slaven Bilic will be disappointed with the end to what has been a very good campaign as the Hammers only managed three wins from their last nine league games.

Sergio Aguero

Aguero needs more goals from his teammates next season.

7. Swansea 1-1 Man City
Sloppy City just do enough

Manuel Pellegrini ended his Man City reign with a draw, which sealed a top four spot for incoming Pep Guardiola.

Kelechi Iheanacho scored the opener as City looked threatening on the break. Aguero and Inheanacho had good opportunities to double their side’s advantage but were punished for their misses when Andre Ayew’s deflected freekick drew Swansea level just before half-time.

It was a disjointed second half performance but enough to guarantee Guardiola has Champions League football next season, providing they get through a qualifier which will be all the more difficult due to the Euros this summer and a pre-season tour to China.

Something the highly sought after Spaniard will need to address is the reliance on Aguero for goals. The Argentinian has his injury troubles but has still managed to score 24 league goals at 99 minutes per strike, better than any other player. Second to Aguero is Sunday’s scorer, Iheanacho, who made it five from his last four matches to bring his total to eight. David Silva for example, only scored one league goal this campaign.

The Citizens will need more firepower if they are serious about challenging for the title and Champions League.

Quique Sanchez Flores

Sanchez Flores can leave Watford with pride despite a difficult second half of the season.

8. Watford 2-2 Sunderland
Flores bows out with entertaining draw

Handsome, charming, salt and pepper bearded Quique Sanchez Flores saw his Watford side play out an entertaining draw with Sunderland in the Spaniard’s last game in charge.

The Hornets twice came from behind thanks to goals from Sebastian Prodl and Troy Deeney. The captain’s partnership with Odion Ighalo has been particularly productive and vital in helping Watford avoid relegation from the Premier League for the first time.

Ighalo and Deeney have scored 28 of Watford’s 40 league goals this season (70%). Should both players be retained over the summer, they’ll need more support from their teammates to ensure another season in England’s top division.

Flores meanwhile, can look back on his season at the helm as a successful one. But despite reaching the FA Cup semi-final, Watford have struggled during the second half of the season. The table below suggests the form in 2016 triggered the owners’ decision for a change with only Crystal Palace – the side who defeated Watford in the FA Cup semi-final – achieving a greater percentage of total losses this year.

ASTON VILLA 27 14 51.9%
NORWICH 22 13 59.1%
CRYSTAL PALACE 18 12 66.7%
WATFORD 17 11 64.7%
NEWCASTLE 19 9 47.4%
SUNDERLAND 17 4 23.5%

9. West Brom 1-1 Liverpool
Reds second team earn point at Hawthorns

West Brom’s winless streak was extended to nine after Liverpool bounced back from Salomon Rondon’s opener.

Jurgen Klopp made 11 changes ahead of his side’s Europa League final on Wednesday and it was one of the youngsters who provided the equaliser.

Jordan Ibe has struggled with recent form following high expectations last summer. But the young winger showed his potential when he left Jonny Evans for dust on the halfway line before carrying the ball 20-yards. He then cut in onto his left foot and shot past Ben Foster in the Baggies goal to claim his first league strike of the season.

At 20 years of age, Ibe still has plenty of time to develop and a loan move to a Premier League team next season may be beneficial, particularly as Seyi Ojo continues to be amongst the first team squad.

Louis van Gaal

Will Van Gaal be waving goodbye after the FA Cup final on Saturday?

10. Man Utd 3-1 Bournemouth
Belated victory for fifth placed United

Due to the abandonment on Sunday caused by a suspicious package left behind from security training, Man Utd were denied the opportunity to add further pressure on local rivals City in the race for fourth.

Undoubtedly, Louis van Gaal’s initial plan would have been to get an early lead and make sure word got back to the Liberty Stadium with City yet to score. But as Pellegrini’s side got the draw they needed, this game was as relevant as Memphis Depay’s latest Instagram post, as shown by the low turnout.

On reflection, Van Gaal will look at his side’s inability to score more goals as a reason behind their failure to qualify for the Champions League. Man Utd are 10th in terms of goals scored – just one more than 16th placed Sunderland – but at 35 goals conceded, they hold the joint best defensive record with Tottenham following the five goals they leaked in at St. James’ Park.

Whether or not Van Gaal will be there to rectify this season even if the Red Devils defeat Palace at Wembley is still up for debate.

Premier League Review – 10/11th May

Michail Antonio

Antonio has had a very good second half of the season.

1. West Ham 3-2 Man Utd
Antonio and Reid seal farewell victory

On the pitch, this long-anticipated Upton Park farewell match lived up to expectations.

The Hammers could have been comfortably ahead by half-time, but their inability to convert chances was punished by Anthony Martial’s second-half double. With 15 minutes to go, Michail Antonio equalised before Winston Reid scored the winner in the 80th minute to send the home fans wild.

Aside from the fact that Man Utd lost their chance to have Champions League qualification in their hands, Antonio’s goal capped off another performance that may well catch Roy Hodgson’s attention next season.

The versatile winger has played well in several positions this season. His seven goals and seven assists in the league is a solid return for the former Nottingham Forest player, particularly given his slow start.

Antonio only managed to play 40-minutes of Premier League football by December. The 26-year-old is now just two goals behind the club’s top scorer, Dimitri Payet, with 10 in all competitions.

In fact, Antonio scores or assists a goal every 140.5 minutes of league action. That’s just over a game and a half, a return that if maintained next campaign should earn him a call-up to the England squad.

Jermain Defoe

Defoe’s 15 league goals have proven vital this season.

2. Sunderland 3-0 Everton
Sunderland survive with comfortable win

As Sunderland kept their Premier League status, Roberto Martinez lost his as manager of Everton.

The Spaniard’s sacking was inevitable following a dreadful run of form with recent performances providing little sign that the players are onboard. The Toffees won just five of their last 24 league games as well as losing semi-finals to Man City (League Cup) and Man Utd (FA Cup).

The Black Cats meanwhile, benefitted from a run that saw just one defeat in their last ten. The performances of Vito Mannone and Fabio Borini have seen them linked with late call-ups to Italy’s Euro 2016 squad, while Jermain Defoe’s goals have given him hope of making Hodgson’s side. But it’s the impact of Sam Allardyce’s January signings that has helped save a side that spent 31 rounds out of 38 in the relegation zone.

Jan Kirchhoff, Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri arrived during the winter transfer window for less than £15m. All three made an appearance in the same game for the first time during the one-nil home defeat against Man City – Sunderland’s 15th loss from 24 games. Since then, they’ve only lost two, away to West and home to champions, Leicester.

Mid-season signings are often hard to get right and normally come at a premium because of the timing. But these three all played their part in Sunderland’s escape as Kirchhoff protected the back four, which included a no-nonsense Kone, while Khazri provided a creative spark in the final third.

Another productive transfer window by Allardyce and a better start to the season should see them avoid a fifth successive battle at the bottom.

alex neil

Alex Neil will need to address issues at both ends of the pitch if Norwich are to bounce back.

3. Norwich 4-2 Watford
Relegation for Alex Neil’s side

Norwich City’s relegation was confirmed despite the Canaries defeating Watford at Carrow Road.

It was a first win since their dramatic defeat of Newcastle who were also relegated following Sunderland’s victory.

Alex Neil will bemoan the number of costly errors, which are often punished at this level, while the success of their recruitment has been somewhat limited.

Dieumerci Mbokani (a season-long loan signing) and Steven Naismith (£8.5m from Everton in January) have failed to provide the goals needed to survive, particularly if you compare them to Defoe at Sunderland who has scored 15 league goals, more than Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa.

Norwich’s strikers (Mbokani, Naismith, Cameron Jerome, Lewis Grabban, Kyle Lafferty, Patrick Bamford and Gary Hooper) made a total of 38 starts and 41 sub appearances yielding just 12 goals.

At the back, Norwich’s best signing, Timm Klose, missed the last four games due to injury. The club’s two clean sheets in 17 games provide another reason as to why they are heading back to the Championship.

Eden Hazard

Hazard could be a key player at this summer’s Euros.

4. Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Hazard hitting form ahead of Euros 

Liverpool’s last home game of the season saw the visit of reigning champions, Chelsea, who are 38-points worse off from last year with a match at home to Leicester remaining. This will be the biggest drop of points from one season to the next during the Premier League era.

Liverpool fielded what is likely to be their starting 11 for the Europa League final against Sevilla on Wednesday 18th May and fell behind to an individual goal by Eden Hazard.

Last season’s player of the year has had a troubled campaign due to injury and form but a recent upturn in performances have seem the Belgian score four in his last four appearances.

The playmaker drifted past a few loose challenges before passing accurately into the far corner. His form could prove a huge boost for Belgium ahead of the Euros in France.

Anfield extension

Anfield undergoing a makeover ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.

The Reds will now finish off the extension on their Main Stand as they increase the capacity from 45,000 to 54,000 ahead of next season. They’ll be hoping a win in Basel on Wednesday will ensure the newly developed stadium will be hosting Champions League football.

Premier League Review – 7/8th May

1. Norwich 0-1 Man Utd
Canaries all but down

A great piece of awareness by Wayne Rooney saw Man Utd claim a vital victory at Carrow Road.

The defeat leaves Norwich all but down as they sit four-points behind Sunderland in 17th with just two games remaining.

Man Utd meanwhile, travel to West Ham for the final game at Upton Park, knowing that a win will put them above Man City in fourth. Louis van Gaal’s side has been fifth or sixth since the middle of December. But a timely return to the top four and a place in the Champions League qualifiers may prove crucial as they aim for a first title challenge since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013.

Alan Shearer

Shearer was in charge of a lifeless Newcastle side when they were relegated at Villa Park in 2009.

2. Aston Villa 0-0 Newcastle
It’s 2009 all over again

The Geordies travelled to Birmingham full of optimism following the win against Crystal Palace. In their way stood (drunk, one legged and on a beach ball) an Aston Villa side that had lost their previous 11 games.

It seemed a likely win for the Magpies, which would put them in a good position ahead of their final game at home to Spurs – who no longer have the title to challenge for.

But just like 2009 when Villa Park was the scene of Newcastle’s limp attempt to avoid relegation, Rafa Benitez’s side failed to raise themselves for the occasion.

After Sunderland’s comeback, it looks like Championship football will be played at St. James’ Park next season and a number of players will likely depart in the summer along with Benitez.

3. Bournemouth 1-1 West Brom
Boruc earns his side a point

Artur Boruc produced a brilliant double save to deny Craig Gardner from the spot and help Bournemouth put an end to their three-game losing streak.

The Polish keeper has been at fault for some goals this season – including Salomon Rondon’s opener – while he and his teammates have failed to keep a clean sheet in over two months. But his save from Gardner just before half-time with the Cherries already a goal down proved crucial when Matt Ritchie scored an equaliser in the 82nd minute.

Bournemouth’s end of season form hasn’t been great – one win in the last seven – but Eddie Howe’s side can look back on a successful debut campaign in England’s top division. Despite some unfortunate injuries, Bournemouth has evaded a relegation battle and will look forward to establishing themselves further next season.

4. Crystal Palace 2-1 Stoke
Gayle force win

Crystal Palace produced a second-half comeback thanks to a brace from Dwight Gayle.

The striker – who completed 90 minutes for only the second time this season – took both of his goals well as the Eagles battled back from a goal behind after Charlie Adam had given Stoke a first-half lead.

Palace have struggled to find goals this season, particularly from their strikers, so Gayle’s performance may well warrant a starting berth in the FA Cup final against Man Utd on Saturday 21st May.

Stoke meanwhile, continue to see their season derail having only picked up two-points from a possible 18.


For Everton, this is currently more appealing than football.

5. Sunderland 3-2 Chelsea
Comeback could be most important win

Jermain Defoe’s clinical finish sealed three valuable points for Sunderland as they moved out of the drop zone and a win away from guaranteed survival.

Wednesday sees the Black Cats take on an Everton side that is showing the sort of enthusiasm associated with a root canal. Defeat Roberto Martinez’s men – a side that has only won one of their last nine games – and Sunderland send archrivals, Newcastle down. A team full of motivation against one that not even Mr. Motivator could save, however fluorescent spandex may be.

John Terry

Describe John Terry: A great defender. Likes to wear a football kit… Has a couple of eyes.

For Chelsea, the season that they can’t wait to end already has for John Terry following his second red card of the season and a subsequent two-match ban. The lack of a new contract means the 35-year-old, Chelsea skipper may well have played his last game for the only club he’s represented.

6. West Ham 1-4 Swansea
A bad time for a very bad result

The Hammers’ ten-game unbeaten run came to an abrupt end, as Swansea became the first team to come away from Upton Park with all three points since August last year.

Slaven Bilic’s side was entering these next two fixtures with an outside chance of Champions League football, particularly as they face Man Utd on Tuesday – who was one-point ahead in fifth.

But the match didn’t go to plan as the Swans pulled out two-goals ahead with just over half an hour played. Ki Sung-yeung made it 3-0 after 51 minutes and despite a Stephen Kingsley own-goal giving the home side a glimmer of hope, Bafetimbi Gomis sealed the victory with his first league goal since mid-December.

West Ham will now have to try and rectify what was probably their worst result of the season with a victory on Tuesday to give their stadium a good send off.

Andy King

King (centre) has now won League 1, the Championship and the Premier League with Leicester.

7. Leicester 3-1 Everton
Champions celebrate with easy victory

Leicester showed no signs of a hangover when they comfortably dispatched of Everton.

The returning Jamie Vardy scored two and missed a penalty while Andy King – who replaced the suspended Danny Drinkwater – scored the other.

King is the only player to have won the top three divisions with the same team during the Premier League era having spent his entire career with the Foxes.

It was a day of deserved celebrations as the team who sat top of the league for 25 out of 38 rounds, were awarded the top division trophy for the first time in their history.

The reality of their achievements will take a long time to truly sink in, but fans across the world can look forward to this story continuing in the Champions League next season.

Dele Alli

Alli wasn’t even born when Tottenham last finished above Arsenal.

8. Tottenham1-2 Southampton
Spurs fail to recover from Monday

The absence of suspended duo, Mousa Dembele and Dele Alli, proved telling as Tottenham failed to win their final home game of the season against Southampton.

Steven Davis scored two goals to give the Saints a win that maintains their outside chance of a European spot.

The manner of the draw against Chelsea on Monday certainly deflated the home crowd who will now be hoping that their side will get the point they need to finish above local rivals, Arsenal, for the first time since the 1994/95 campaign – the last Premier League season with 22 teams involved.

Odion Ighalo

Ighalo could do with more help from upstairs.

9. Liverpool 2-0 Watford
Much changed Reds defeat Hornets

Jurgen Klopp made eight changes from the side that progressed to the Europa League final on Thursday after defeating Villarreal 3-0.

The deadlock of an uninspiring game was broken when Joe Allen reached Christian Benteke’s knock down before Heurelho Gomes in the Watford goal.

Roberto Firmino became the first Liverpool player to reach double-figures this season when he came on with half an hour remaining to score the goal that all but sealed the win.

Watford threatened on occasions but their lack of goals this year, particularly from Odion Ighalo – who hasn’t scored in his last 12 appearances – has seen them muster just four wins from 16 this year.

Pep Guardiola

Guardiola has been tearing his hair out as City’s top four challenge falters.

10. Man City 2-2 Arsenal
Champions League out of City’s hands

Man City are now relying on West Ham or Bournemouth to do them a favour to ensure Pep Guardiola arrives with Champions League football to look forward to.

The Citizens twice failed to hold onto a lead against an Arsenal side who sat one place and two-points above them before kick-off.

By avoiding defeat, Arsene Wenger’s team just need a point at home to already relegated Aston Villa to guarantee a top four finish for the 19th season running. An impressive achievement of consistency regardless of what some A4 coloured posters may suggest.

The announcement that Manuel Pellegrini would no longer be in charge after this season has been the explanation for City’s drop in form and the stats don’t lie. Since the club released a statement of Pep Guardiola’s summer arrival, City have earned 21 points from a possible 42. That doesn’t compare too well to champions Leicester who won 33 points during the same period. Relegation battlers, Sunderland have earned only two-points less than an expensively assembled Man City, after the Black Cats beat Everton on Wednesday to secure their Premier League status for another campaign.




Leicester 10 3 1 25 9 33/42 78.6% 80/1st
Tottenham 8 4 2 27 11 28/42 66.7% 70/2nd
Southampton 8 3 3 23 16 27/42 64.3% 60/7th
Man Utd 8 2 4 18 13 26/42 61.9% 63/5th
West Ham 7 5 2 28 21 26/42 61.9% 62/6th
Liverpool 7 4 3 32 17 25/42 59.5% 59/8th
Arsenal 6 6 2 24 14 24/42 57.1% 68/3rd
Man City 6 3 5 25 17 21/42 50% 65/4th
Sunderland 4 7 3 18 14 19/42 45.2% 38/17th

*As of Thursday 12th May

What cost Tottenham their first title in 55 years?

Spurs’ draw away to Chelsea saw their title challenge come to an end with two games remaining. But what were the contributing factors and how does it compare to Liverpool’s near miss in 2014?

Chelsea v Tottenham 2016

Son scored the second goal in the 44th minute.

Lack of Discipline
It’s only relevant following the Battle at the Bridge and Dele Alli’s punch against West Brom but these two games conjured up two-points from a possible six. If Tottenham had won both of them, then they would be just three-points off Leicester with two games to go and a superior goal difference.

Alli’s clash with West Brom’s Claudio Yacob came during the first half, which his side ended, one-goal to the good. The PFA Young Player of the Year was subsequently banned for three-matches after the FA took retrospective action, bringing a premature end to his season and leaving Spurs short of their second top scorer.

Then came the match at Chelsea. Their local rivals and reigning champions – who had nothing but pride to play for. A pride in preventing the side they’ve not lost at home to in 26-years from winning the league. Pride in ensuring that their former and likable manager, Claudio Ranieri, will win Leicester’s first top division title in their 132-year history. The Blues were pumped up for this game, despite the fact they had been hoping for the summer to arrive as soon as winter came. For the players and supporters, it was a case of, “If we can’t win it then neither can you!”

Tottenham were two clear by half-time. It looked like the hoodoo was over, but Chelsea’s response saw Leicester crowned Champions of England while the FA investigate what sanctions to take against both sides for their lack of control and discipline, particularly Spurs.

Mark Clattenburg was the unfortunate man charged with officiating this contest, which quickly became a battle. His willingness to accept the stakes were high meant he showed some educated leniency at first in the hope that the players would meet him halfway. However, the competitive egos that these professionals possess meant they were incapable of doing so and instead stood Clattenburg up without a reasonable excuse.

Ex-referee, Dermot Gallagher, said of Clattenburg’s position, “I think that’s the toughest game I’ve seen in the last 24 years for a referee.” I as a neutral did not envy his task that night and I suspect his colleagues were of the same thinking.

Che v Tott lineups

Tottenham’s card count of nine was the worst in Premier League history but it should have been more.

A total of 12 yellow cards were dished out, the most in a single Premier League game. Tottenham received nine of those yellow cards, unsurprisingly, the most for a single team in a Premier League game. Four of those came after Eden Hazard had equalised in the 83rd minute. They had seven minutes of injury-time, yet they failed to muster another effort on goal in a game that they had to win. Four yellow cards and no shots in the last 14-minutes doesn’t look pretty.

They lost their heads and failed to channel their emotions effectively. It was petulance in abundance and naivety in its execution. It was understandable to a point given the youthful nature of their squad. But ultimately, it cost them dearly and cannot be repeated should they want to reach their potential and more importantly, act as role models for future generations.

There were 29 fouls in total and 12 yellow cards. During the Manchester derby in March, which United won 1-0; there were 21 fouls and just two yellow cards. The fact it was a derby doesn’t excuse the pathetic and cowardly behaviour of those so-called professionals who failed to maintain any sense of control on Monday night.

Mousa Dembele was caught on camera gouging Diego Costa’s eye during one of many melees. Erik Lamela was seen to walk on Cesc Fabregas’ hand as the Spaniard lay on the ground. His aggressive protests following an over-the-top reaction left little to be desired but he did have a case for complaint. Both Dembele and Lamela are likely to face the similar retrospective ban that Alli received, while Eric Dier somehow avoided a second-yellow card as he cynically brought down one Chelsea player after another.

Even manager Pochettino overstepped his boundaries when he entered the pitch to breakup a scuffle between Danny Rose and Willian that took place just in front of the technical area. Undoubtedly, the Argentinian manager was fearful of Rose being sent off during first-half injury-time and potentially jeopardising his side’s two-goal cushion.

The unfortunate inevitability of players and staff clashing in the tunnel occurred after the final whistle, providing more candidates for the ‘ego-driven idiot’ award. It was almost poetic that during this testosterone fuelled nonsense in London; a team united by its togetherness and spirit was celebrating a title win in Jamie Vardy’s house.

Riyad Mahrez

Mahrez equalised against Tottenham in the 82nd minute of their third game.

Too many draws
Having drawn their last two games, Spurs sit third in the list of total draws this season with 13, one behind Everton and West Ham.

Of their 13 draws, Tottenham held the lead in seven of them – twice losing two goal advantages (home to Stoke and away at Chelsea). They also saw a one-goal lead turned into a 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle.

Coincidently, one of those lost leads occurred at the King Power stadium when Dele Alli opened his Tottenham account by breaking the deadlock in the 81st minute. But just a minute later, Riyad Mahrez equalised for Leicester, causing a three-point swing in the title race in only the third game of the season. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing.

Lack of strikers
The failure to replace Roberto Soldado and Emmauel Adebayor with anyone appears to have contributed to many of those draws.

Name League goals Name League goals
Harry Kane 25 Jamie Vardy 22
Dele Alli 10 Riyad Mahrez 17
Christian Eriksen 6 Leonardo Ulloa 6
Erik Lamela 4 Shinji Okazaki 5
Toby Alderweireld 4 Robert Huth 3
Harry Kane

Kane has had to lead the line without much cover this campaign.

Kane is the only out and out striker amongst Spurs’ top five scorers. Meanwhile, Leicester have Vardy, Ulloa and Okazaki. Though, special mention for the goals Huth scored which came in a 1-0 win at White Hart Lane while the other two were in a 3-1 win at Man City.

Ulloa’s role has been from the bench for the vast majority of the season, yet he provides a different threat to Vardy and Okazaki, which Spurs don’t possess. Two of his goals proved vital in the 1-0 win at home to Norwich and the recent 2-2 draw against West Ham.

Luis Suarez

Liverpool’s good work in 2014 was undone by the sale of Suarez to Barcelona.

Is it Liverpool 2014 all over again?
The Reds all but lost the title against Chelsea in the 36th game of the 2013/14 season when a draw would have sufficed.

But there are differences between Liverpool’s experience and Tottenham’s, which should leave the Lilywhites’ fans feeling optimistic:

  • – Liverpool had the title in their hands heading into their game with Chelsea, Tottenham didn’t.
  • – Liverpool went on to lose their star man, Luis Suarez, that summer, while Tottenham look highly unlikely to lose Kane or more importantly, Pochettino.
  • – Liverpool lost out to Man City while Tottenham can’t begrudge the fairytale of Leicester City being the reason that they finished second.
Pochettino and Kane

Tottenham’s future is bright as long as they keep these two.

Spurs managed to finish above Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd and Liverpool, yet they failed to take the trophy. However, if they can build on this season’s success and learn from their mistakes – something that is easier when you’re younger, then this squad has every opportunity of not only regularly competing for the title, but also becoming a real threat in Europe.

It might be hard to stomach now, but this could be the poignant beginning of a successful period for Tottenham.

Premier League Review – 30/2nd May

Tom Cleverley

Cleverley opens the scoring.

1. Everton 2-1 Bournemouth
Something to cheer about

The home fans witnessed an Everton win for the first time in nearly three-months after the Toffees narrowly defeated Bournemouth at Goodison Park.

Goals from Tom Cleverley and Leighton Baines proved to be enough, but Bournemouth had their chances and probably felt they didn’t deserve to head back south empty handed.

These teams are two of five competing for 11th place with just a couple of games remaining. Everton will be the spectators of a title winning party at the King Power stadium next week while Bournemouth look to end their run of three straight defeats with a win in their final home game of the season against West Brom. The Baggies currently sit one place above Eddie Howe’s side in 14th.

2. Newcastle 1-0 Crystal Palace
Patience with Townsend pays-off 

The former Tottenham midfielder scored his third goal in five games to give Newcastle three huge points.

Townsend was often groaned at during the first half as he frequently lost possession by cutting in from the right and running into trouble. But the supporters and Rafa Benitez in particular, were rewarded when the England international struck a 58th minute freekick into Wayne Hennessey’s top corner.

At the other end, Karl Darlow endeared himself to the locals with a penalty save that could well save the Magpies Premier League status. The keeper guessed the right way and parried Yohan Cabaye’s weak effort. The former Newcastle midfielder, who was booed and jeered throughout, failed to put his shot close enough to the corner.

Following the other results, Newcastle find themselves out of the drop zone for the first time since the 6th February. If they survive, this match and particularly, Darlow’s save will be looked back on as a key moment.

Jermain Defoe

Defoe is proving invaluable for Sunderland.

3. Stoke 1-1 Sunderland
Defoe’s last-gasp penalty salvages point

On the bright side, Stoke only conceded one as oppose to the four they have achieved in their previous three matches. Unfortunately, this one came in the fourth-minute of injury-time as Jermain Defoe held his nerve to earn another draw for the Black Cats.

Newcastle were leading at St James’ Park while Sam Allardyce was watching his side trail a Marko Arnautovic goal. The Sunderland manager felt it should have been disallowed for a foul from Peter Crouch on Younes Kaboul but the late penalty would have reduced Allardyce’s frustrations.

It is another game where defeat has been avoided but these increasing draws – six in their last eight – might not be enough come the 15th May.

4. Watford 3-2 Aston Villa
Deeney’s double in injury-time defeats Villa 

Aston Villa fans ironically celebrated a corner and chanted that they’d scored a goal in disbelief. Then reality hit harder than a Dele Alli punch as Troy Deeney provided the knockout blow of two injury-time goals to turn the game on its head.

The harsh sending off of Aly Cissokho in the 73rd minute had a big impact on a game that Villa looked likely to make only their fourth win of the season.

But Deeney had other ideas and an England call-up shouldn’t be out of the question if his form continues into next season.

5. West Brom 0-3 West Ham
Hammers continue pursuit of Europe

Another Mark Noble double for the second game running saw West Ham comfortably claim a win at the Hawthorns.

The English midfielder is having a fine end to the campaign and his performances could lead the side he captains into Europe next season.

West Ham currently sit five-points off Man City who are fourth. Given their goal difference, the Hammers will need to make up six-points in their final three games of the season to claim fourth spot. That means City will need to lose at home to Arsenal – feasible, and away to Swansea – less likely. But this has been a season of unpredictability so nothing can be ruled out.

If Slaven Bilic’s side beat Swansea and Man Utd in the final games at Upton Park, then they’ll at least be in the driving seat for their first fifth place finish in the Premier League since 1999.

Danny Welbeck

Welbeck grabbed the only goal of the game.

6. Arsenal 1-0 Norwich
Wenger protests mar narrow win

A minority of fans protested against Arsene Wenger and the lack of progress made by his side during the last decade.

Whereas Norwich are fighting for their lives, Arsenal are fighting for Champions League football. It was a far from convincing win against Alex Neil’s valiant men which did little to deter the protests or disgruntlement. But Danny Welbeck, a second-half substitute, was the difference and this win has put Arsenal in a strong position for third, let alone fourth, following Man City’s loss at St. Mary’s.

Norwich are now in the worst position out of the three trying to avoid relegation. Three straight defeats have set the Canaries back and they’ll need at least two wins out of the remaining matches (Man Utd – H, Watford – H, and Everton – A) to stand a chance of survival.

7. Swansea 3-1 Liverpool
Swans too much for young Reds

Jurgen Klopp fielded the youngest side in Liverpool’s Premier League history, and it showed as Swansea won their fourth consecutive home game.

Danny Ward (22), Brad Smith (22), Kevin Stewart (22), Pedro Chirivella (18), Sheyi Ojo (18) and Jordan Ibe (20) all started for the Reds, but whilst each player has shown promise during various outings for the first team, this proved to be one too many games and perhaps youngsters. Their senior colleagues did little to help and support them either.

It was a collectively poor performance from the start and several of the youngsters appear best off gaining some regular first-team football elsewhere next season.

Swansea meanwhile, put in a professional performance led by Andre Ayew who got his first goals since late-January. The Ghanaian forward has had a quiet second half of the season but has still chipped in with 10 goals during his debut campaign. The Swans are likely to lose manager Francesco Guidolin – possibly to Watford, but they’ll be hoping to keep Ayew on their books.

Wes Morgan

Wes Morgan equalisers at Old Trafford.

8. Man Utd 1-1 Leicester
All square at the Theatre of almost Dreams

Leicester went into this game knowing a win would guarantee them the Premier League title.

But Man Utd had ambitions of their own as they try to rein in Man City and Arsenal in search of a top-four finish.

United got off to a great start with Leicester looking a little nervous. Anthony Martial’s goal gave the home side the lead but then Leicester started to find their feet.

Captain West Morgan equalised with a header that no one was stopping him from getting to and that was how the game ended despite several opportunities, particularly during an engrossing first half.

It was a shame that Leicester couldn’t win it at Old Trafford, particularly for Kasper Schmeichel whose father, Peter, won the league on five occasions during a very successful eight-year career at the Theatre of Dreams.

But the Foxes would be rewarded belatedly following Tottenham’s result away at Chelsea.

9. Southampton 4-2 Man City
Sweet FA logic

A weakened Man City couldn’t handle the trio of Dusan Tadic, Shane Long and hat-trick hero Sadio Mane.

Despite City’s riches, their second string side couldn’t compete with Southampton much to Manuel Pellegrini’s disappointment. Those in the first 11 failed to make a claim for another start in the delicately poised second-leg against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

But whilst some changes were always going to happen given the importance of the midweek fixture, many others were forced due to the incompetence of the FA scheduling.

The leagues of the other Champions League semi-finalists protected their teams this weekend. Bayern Munich kicked off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, while Real and Atletico Madrid started their games at 3:00 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. respectively. So why did City have to travel down to St. Mary’s for a 4:30 p.m. kick-off on Sunday ahead of their trip to Madrid? Answer: The FA and Premier League are as logical as an acrophobic pilot.

When PSG – the side City defeated in the quarter-finals – played away to Real Madrid during the group stages on Tuesday 3rd November, they played the league match before on Friday 30th October to allow them as much rest time as possible. That’s Ligue 1 doing its bit for a team that is now 27-points ahead of second with a game in hand!

It seems like either the TV rights deals have too much control over scheduling or the FA and Premier League are content to put one of their Champions League spots in jeopardy.

10. Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham
Hazard’s stunner sinks Spurs’ title challenge 

Leicester City were crowned Premier League champions after Tottenham surrendered a two-goal lead at Stamford Bridge.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men looked determined to take the title race to at least one more game by claiming a first victory at Chelsea in 26 years. That looked likely when the league’s top scorer, Harry Kane, put his side in front before Heung-Min Son doubled their advantage a minute before half-time.

It looked like Spurs would get rid of their hoodoo at the Bridge but Gary Cahill’s goal just before the hour mark brought the Blues back into what was a fiery local derby.

Eden Hazard then scored his first home goal in a year as he latched onto Diego Costa’s pass before curling his effort into the top right corner with ten minutes to go.

Tottenham never recovered and the four-points dropped in their last two games have prematurely brought their title challenge to an end.

Premier League Review – 23/25th April

mark hughes

Hughes needs to address his sides slump.

1. Man City 4-0 Stoke
Stoke hammered again 

Mark Hughes’ Stoke City conceded four-goals for the third game in a row as Man City prepared perfectly for their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.

The Potters’ end of season collapse has seen them have no more than a club record points tally to play for. Up until their League Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool, Stoke were looking like a team to keep an eye on. A team on an upward spiral that could compete for silverware and regularly challenge for European qualification. Hopes were raised by the performances of Bojan Krkic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic in an impressive front three, particularly at home against the two Manchester clubs.

But the recent downturn in form suggests their season has prematurely ended like a dreadful American TV show; although, some do continue exist. And while the attacking trio is the envy of some sides, their team’s goals return is not quite so impressive.

The table below shows Stoke to be the sixth lowest scorers yet they rank highest in the league. The fact relegation strugglers, Newcastle and Sunderland have scored more suggests that Hughes won’t only have to find consistency at the back.

Team Goals For Goals Against League Position
Aston Villa 25 69 20th
West Brom 32 43 13th
Swansea 34 49 15th
Norwich 35 60 18th
Crystal Palace 36 45 16th
Stoke 37 51 10th
Newcastle 38 64 19th
Sunderland 39 57 17th
shane long

Long could be a big asset for his national side this summer.

2. Aston Villa 2-4 Southampton
Shane Long proving more than a nuisance

Having played for several clubs in the Premier League, Irish international, Shane Long, has developed the reputation for being more of a hard worker than a consistent goal scorer.

This season however, he appears to be more than a squad player for Southampton. His nine goals and four assists in 1,849 minutes means he has been involved in a goal every 142.2 minutes, that’s just over 1.5 games.

Long’s rate of productivity in addition to his speed and effort makes him more than just a nuisance.

3. Bournemouth 1-4 Chelsea
Fabregas with a hattrick of assists

Cesc Fabregas was given too much freedom as Chelsea ran out comfortable winners.

The Spaniard is the first player to provide three assists in one game this season and now sits third on the all-time Premier League list with 95. Only Frank Lampard (102) and Ryan Giggs (162) have more.

Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are getting a few lessons towards the end of their debut campaign, having lost four of their last five. Fortunately for the Cherries, they’re already safe, but they’ll need to learn from these results ahead of next season.

Rafa Benitez

Benitez needs more than draws to save Newcastle.

4. Liverpool 2-2 Newcastle
Rafa’s double Anfield comeback

Rafa Benitez returned to his former club where he’s still held in high regard, and no it’s not Chelsea.

The Spanish manager brought his struggling Newcastle side to Anfield and watched them get off to a terrible start. Daniel Sturridge put the Reds ahead with a well-taken goal just after the first minute.

And when Adam Lallana made it two-nil with a great curling effort from 20-yards, Liverpool appeared to be coasting to another victory. But as it is Liverpool of 2015/16, that wasn’t so certain.

As Benitez inspired his side to make a second-half comeback, Liverpool relinquished a two-goal cushion for the third time this season (Sunderland, Southampton and Newcastle). Their Merseyside rivals, Everton have done the same against West Ham, Bournemouth and Chelsea. But Klopp’s Liverpool are slightly ahead when it comes to losing one-goal leads having done so on nine occasions to the Toffees eight.

It gets tighter at the bottom as each week passes and the remaining fixtures will probably throw up a few more changes. Norwich look to have the most difficult games while the Magpies have to make the most of their next two to stand a chance of survival. Sunderland look best placed thanks to their current form but that could all change.

Sunderland (PTS: 31) Norwich (PTS: 31) Newcastle (PTS: 30)
Stoke (A) Arsenal (A) Crystal Palace (H)
Chelsea (H) Man Utd (H) Aston Villa (A)
Everton (H) Watford (H)  
Watford (A) Everton (A) Tottenham (H)

5. Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal
Are Sunderland the serial escapists?

Much to Sam Allardyce’s delight, his Sunderland side held Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal to a nil-nil draw, putting a dent in the Gunners top four ambitions.

The former manager of most Premier League teams has made The Black Cats harder to beat as proven by their current form of just two losses in the last ten games. However, six of those were draws, some of which should have been converted into wins.

But could Allardyce join Di Canio, Poyet and Advocaat in performing the great escape? During the last four seasons, Sunderland haven’t just flirted with the drop, they’ve got it a matching bathrobe and spare toothbrush before the first date.

The table below shows how they’ve earned over 20% of their total points in the final six games (15.8%) of the last few seasons. But could four years in a row be pushing it?

Season Last six games (PTS) Percentage of total points won in last six games Final Position Total points (PTS from 18th)
2012/13 WWLDDL (8 pts) 20.5% 17th 39 (3 pts)
2013/14 DWWWWL (13 pts) 34.2% 14th 38 (5 pts)
2014/15 DWWDDL (9 pts) 23.7% 16th 38 (3 pts)
2015/16 DDDLWD (7 pts) 22.6% 17th (currently) 31 (0 pts)

6. Leicester 4-0 Swansea
Foxes on the brink of glory

No Vardy, no party. This was going to be the game where the pressure could prove too much for Leicester.

The absence of their top scorer and main outlet was going to be replaced by a very different type of player in Leonardo Ulloa. How could Leicester possibly adapt? Where will their pace come from?

The answers were with ease and Jeffrey Schlupp. Pace on the wings as oppose to the centre where Ulloa would provide a focal point for attacks and a threat on set-pieces.

As soon as Riyad Mahrez – later deservedly voted PFA Player of the Year – capitalized on Swansea captain, Ashley Williams’ error, the worries washed away. Leicester’s biggest win of the season in what was supposed to be one of their biggest challenges.

Just one win is needed from the remaining three, and whilst they’re a tricky few games – if Everton play much closer to their potential – you’d expect the Foxes will have enough to confirm this fairy tale has the happy ending a Hollywood screenwriter could only dream of.

Leicester (PTS: 76, GD: 30) Tottenham (PTS: 69, GD: 39)
Man Utd (A) Chelsea (A)
Everton (H) Southampton (H)
Chelsea (A) Newcastle (A)
Tony Pulis

Pulis gatecrashing another title challenge.

7. Tottenham 1-1 West Brom

Spurs stumble as Pulis puts out the party 

Like at Liverpool’s expense in 2014, Tony Pulis has all but spoilt the Tottenham title challenge following a draw at White Hart Lane.

Spurs should have won this game and a maiden Premier League title looks less likely having dropped seven-points behind Leicester, lost Dele Alli for the season following a lukewarm execution of a hotheaded moment and facing arch rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in their next fixture on Monday night.

The blow delivered by cap-wearing Pulis wasn’t as big as when his Crystal Palace side came back from three-nil down to draw with Liverpool, but it could prove to be just as deflating.

Premier League Review – 16/21st April


Canaries have been caught by the Black Cats.

1. Norwich 0-3 Sunderland
Black Cats drag Canaries back into battle 

A big win for Big Sam’s team saw Sunderland claw Norwich back.

Sam Allardyce believes a combination of clean sheets and relying on leading scorer, Jermain Defoe, to score the goals will ensure survival. Defoe did score again on along with Fabio Borini’s penalty and Duncan Watmore’s late strike, but which team is best placed for those all-important goals in the run-in?

Below is a table showing the top three league scorers from each of the three teams this season:

Norwich (GF: 35, GA: 60) Sunderland (GF: 39, GA: 57) Newcastle (GF: 35, GA: 61)
Dieudonne Mbokani (5) Jermain Defoe (13) Georginio Wijnaldum (9)
Nathan Redmond (5) Fabio Borini (4) Aleksandar Mitrovic (8)
Wes Hoolahan (4) Duncan Watmore (4) Ayoze Perez (6)

Four of Wijnaldum’s goals came against Norwich in mid-October and he hasn’t scored in his last 11 games, mustering just one assist. Defoe is in good form having scored three in his last five appearances. But Norwich’s goals are very much spread across the squad and the big January signing of Steven Naismith from Everton has only yielded one goal, which came on his debut during the dramatic 5-4 loss to Liverpool.

Defoe has chipped in with a third of Sunderland’s league goals and you can’t help but feel that his consistency could be the difference.


2. Everton 1-1 Southampton
Draw specialists drop points at home again 

It was another disappointing result for Everton as the pressure mounts on Roberto Martinez.

Despite taking the lead through Ramiro Funes Mori, the Toffees were pegged back by Sadio Mane’s equaliser to make it 33-points dropped at Goodison Park this season.

Furthermore, Martinez’s men have drawn 14 games this season, the most in the league, level with West Ham. The difference being that the Hammers have won five games more and are challenging for a European spot instead of mid-table mediocrity.


3. Man Utd 1-0 Aston Villa
Villains finally down and out

Aston Villa’s relegation was as inevitable as a sunset.

But Man Utd still needed Marcus Rashford to grab the winner in a game, which many expected to be a whitewash.

Aston Villa meanwhile, are in desperate need of finding a new manager who can get them an instant promotion. It won’t be easy given the competitive nature of the Championship and the fact that Villa’s history will make them the target of others for a big scalp.


4. Newcastle 3-0 Swansea
Rafa’s first win maintains hope 

Rafa Benitez made some big selection calls as his side won for the first time in eight matches.

Jonjo Shelvey, Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic all started on the bench as Jamaal Lascelles goal five-minutes before the break gave the Magpies the lead.

By the 80th minute, all three players were on and late strikes by Moussa Sissoko and Andros Townsend sealed the three valuable points. It won’t be easy for Newcastle to avoid the drop but at least it is still possible.


Gomes’ long limbs give him a slight advantage.

5. West Brom 0-1 Watford
Gomes breaks record to earn Hornets win

Heurelho Gomes saved two Saido Berahino penalties to earn Watford a first win in seven matches.

The Brazilian became the first keeper to twice save two penalties in a Premier League following his saves from Darren Bent during Tottenham’s win over Sunderalnd in 2010.

West Brom’s failure to convert the penalties may not come as such a surprise given they’re the second lowest scorers this season, only beaten by Aston Villa. But Berahino’s confidence will surely have taken a hit having missed his second penalty in the 87th minute.


6. Chelsea 0-3 Man City
Aguero helps City to third

Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick as Man City showed how far Chelsea have fallen this season.

The Argentinian has the best goals-to-minutes ratio in the league with 97 minutes per goal. It’s not bad given he’s scored 21 goals and in with a great chance of finishing top scorer.

Chelsea meanwhile continue to disappoint and show what a challenge lies ahead of incoming manager, Antonio Conte come the summer.


7. Bournemouth 1-2 Liverpool
Klopp’s Reds coast to victory

Ten changes and three-days on from their breathtaking win against Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp’s side earned a comfortable win thanks to goals from Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge.

Sturridge looked sharp as he completed a second successive game for the first time since the start of October and the end of Brendan Rodgers’ reign. The England striker produced a backheel, which caught Artur Boruc by surprise, allowing Firmino to tap-in the rebound.

Sturridge then headed in Jordan Ibe’s cross just before the break. The second half saw him strike the post and crossbar as his form and fitness improves ahead of the Euros.


Frank Underwood

He Underwood have liked the controversial incidents at the King Power Stadium.

8. Leicester 2-2 West Ham
Ulloa’s penalty steadies anticipated wobble

This game had more controversy than an episode of House of Cards, but Leonardo Ulloa’s injury-time penalty ensured there was no Leicester collapse yet. His last two goals have earned four-points and have arrived in the dying moments of the game.

Jamie Vardy’s sending off and possible extended suspension could put further pressure on Claudio Ranieri’s men and Ulloa in particular. His game time has largely been limited to substitute appearances, but he’s likely to start alongside Shinji Okazaki at home to Swansea.

West Ham meanwhile, continue to be involved in debatable decisions, which may cost them their European place next season.


9. Arsenal 1-1 Crystal Palace
Ozil’s and Arsenal’s form stutters

Arsenal have only won two of their last seven games as Yannick Bolasie equalised with ten minutes remaining.

This drop in form has coincided with Mesut Ozil being less influential. The German playmaker has only scored one goal and provided zero assists in his last six games. It’s a poor return compared to his peak form of three goals and 14 assists in 13 games from the end of September to the end of December.


10. Stoke 0-4 Tottenham
Kane and Alli double trouble for sorry Stoke

Stoke were torn apart by Tottenham as they capitalized on Leicester’s dropped points.

Harry Kane went top of the scoring charts with his 23rd and 24th goals of the season. Dele Alli got into double-figures with a brace of his own and a candidate for miss of the season.

Kane and Alli have scored 53.1% of Tottenham’s league goals this season. Only the combination of Vardy and Mahrez (64.4%) has contributed more. It’s no wonder both Leicester and Tottenham find themselves battling for the title.

Name Goals Assists Club (goals) Percentage Combined
Harry Kane 24 1 Tottenham (64) 37.5% 53.1%
Dele Alli 10 9 Tottenham (64) 15.6%
Jamie Vardy 22 6 Leicester (59) 37.3% 64.4%
Riyad Mahrez 16 11 Leicester (59) 27.1%


11. Newcastle 1-1 Man City
Linesman lapse in concentration hurts Magpies

Newcastle held Man City to a draw at St. James’ Park following Vernon Anita’s equaliser.

The makeshift right-back cancelled out Sergio Aguero’s goal which replays showed to be clearly offside.

Rafa Benitez has every right to be frustrated by Aguero’s goal as the Argentinian was stood in an offside position before the freekick was taken. It’s not an easy job being a linesman, particularly with the game being played at the pace that it is today, but this should have been an easy call.


12. West Ham 3-1 Watford
A Noble performance once again

West Ham captain, Mark Noble, showed Berahino how it’s done as he beat Gomes from the spot on two occasions to give the Hammers their first win after four straight draws.

Noble has had a very solid season but continues to be overlooked for England. While he may not be as eye-catching as Jack Wilshere for instance, his tenacity and consistency shouldn’t go unnoticed. He’s notched up five goals – the most he has scored in a Premier League campaign – and four assists so far. He’s also a big reason why players like Dimitri Payet and Manuele Lanzini have had successful debut seasons in England.

It’s too late to suggest Noble can make Roy Hodgson’s Euro squad but at 28, you feel like time may be running out on an international career. He reportedly qualifies for the Republic of Ireland through his grandparents, which begs the question why hasn’t either selected him yet?


De Gea

Sometimes a one man defence but it seems to be working.

13. Man Utd 2-0 Crystal Palace
Feeble attack but solid defence

It was another win with little inspiration at Old Trafford.

An own goal by Damien Delaney and Matteo Darmian’s first goal for the club saw Man Utd maintain their top four charge. But whilst Louis Van Gaal’s side have been generally slow, ponderous and lacking penetration in attack this season, plaudits should be given to the Dutchman for the solidity of his backline.

With David De Gea in goal, arguably the best keeper in the league, you always have a chance of keeping a clean sheet. The Spaniard – who has earned United many points this season – has seen a back four alter in front of him due to injuries, particularly at full-back.

Despite the injuries, Man Utd are top of the clean sheet charts. As a result of not conceding, the attack should have less pressure to make the difference knowing one-goal would be enough. But the fact they’ve scored one goal more than 13th placed Bournemouth suggests a bit more emphasis on scoring is necessary to make Man Utd genuine title challengers again.

Team Clean sheets (rank) Goals conceded (rank) Goals scored (rank)
Man Utd 17 (1st) 30 (2nd) 42 (6th)
Man City 15 (2nd) 34 (4th) 62 (2nd)
Leicester 14 (3rd) 33 (3rd) 59 (3rd)
Arsenal 14 (4th) 34 (4th) 58 (4th)
Tottenham 13 (5th) 25 (1st) 64 (1st)
Southampton 12 (6th) 35 (6th) 45 (5th)


tetris and lego

Tetris + Lego = James Milner

14. Liverpool 4-0 Everton
James Milner: Under the radar and underrated

Liverpool defeated local rivals Everton in one of the most one-sided Merseyside derbies.

The Reds took 37 attempts at goal to Everton’s three – all of which came in the first half and none of which hit the target. Funes Mori’s foolish and cynical red card in the 50th minute, which has probably brought a premature end to Divock Origi’s season, ensured that Everton had no way back from the two-goals they conceded just before half-time.

James Milner deservedly earned man of the match having assisted the first two goals. That took his season’s tally to 11 assists in the league, level with Mahrez and only behind Ozil.

James Milner

He is quite blocky. But he does run a lot.

A free transfer from Man City, the England international is best known for his work rate and versatility. City didn’t want to lose him, but the offer of regular first-team football was too good to turn down and Liverpool are now benefitting from what he describes as, “a quiet strength.”

A true professional – who refuses to drink alcohol until he has retired due to the short length of a playing career in football – Milner appears to be more than just a player who can ‘do a job’ at full-back, central midfield, wide midfield or as a winger.

Name Assists Goals
Mesut Ozil 18 6
Riyad Mahrez 11 16
James Milner 11 5
Dele Alli 9 10
Dimitri Payet 9 9


Bruno Mars

Sanchez is hitting form for Arsenal.

15. Arsenal 2-0 West Brom
Sanchez’s brace defeats the Albion

Alexis Sanchez scored twice in the first half as Arsenal ran out comfortable winners at the Emirates Stadium.

The Chilean made it six goals and two assists in his last six league appearances. He achieved the same feat in his previous 20.

His upturn in form may come at just the right time as the Gunners look to avoid regularly playing on a Thursday night next season by securing their annual Champions League spot.

West Brom meanwhile, have lost four of their last five but are comfortably safe from the drop zone. Their end of season form brings back memories of Alan Curbishley’s Charlton sides. Claus Jensen.