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Best of 2016: Top moments in the Premier League

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The Premier League had so many memorable moments in 2016.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Our writers got together to discuss some of their best memories from the past 12 months.

Over to them…


Best individual performance by player in Premier League:

Joe Prince-Wright: Some truly incredible displays from Leicester’s players over the course of their title win but I remember their 1-0 win against Southampton in the run-in. N'Golo Kante dragged them through on his own. He has taken that form with him to Chelsea.

Nick Mendola: N’Golo Kante, Leicester City and Chelsea. Just generally an absolute machine.

Kyle Bonn: I’m going for a team performance. Has to be Chelsea’s 4-0 demolition of Manchester United in October. The fans chanted “You’re not special anymore” to Jose Mourinho, who was humiliated by Antonio Conte in his return to his former cub.

Matt Reed: Andy Carroll hat-trick vs. Arsenal (April 2016)

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Ngolo Kante of Leicester City holds off pressure from Winston Reid of West Ham United  during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on April 17, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Best game you watched in 2016:

Joe: I would go with Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal in April 2016. The atmosphere was electric at White Hart Lane and both teams were in the title hunt at that point. Harry Kane scored a stunner but 10-man Arsenal snatched a point. High drama and incredibly high quality play.

Nick: Leicester 2-2 West Ham, April 17, 2016; Vardy scores then sees red. Leicester holds the lead with 10 men for almost an hour, only to see West Ham score twice in two minutes — the first a wild penalty — and Leonardo Ulloa nets a penalty of his own in stoppage to seal a point in the midst of all eyes being on Leicester.

Kyle: Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool, Dec 4., 2016

Matt: Liverpool beats Norwich, 5-4, in Premier League (January 2016)


Best coach:

Joe: Claudio Ranieri. What he achieved, and how he achieved it, was career-defining.

Nick: Mauricio Pochettino

Kyle: Has to be Claudio Ranieri. Despite Leicester City’s dropoff, he not only led them to a title last season, but has them performing at top level in a historic Champions League campaign.

Matt: Claudio Ranieri

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 16:  (L-R) Claudio Ranieri Manager of Leicester City and captain Wes Morgan of Leicester City show the trophy to the fans during the Leicester City Barclays Premier League winners bus parade on May 16, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Best player in Premier League:

Joe: I’m going with Alexis Sanchez. Over the course of the past 12 months he has been unstoppable at times. If he had a better striker to combine with in the final third and in the box, they’d both get 20-25 goals per season. A monster for Arsenal.

Nick: N’Golo Kante

Kyle: Like the coach category, this is incredibly difficult because almost all the players who are playing well this season were poor in the second half of last season, and visa versa. Alexis Sanchez would be a good shout, but he struggled down the stretch last year. I’m going to go with Diego Costa, who not only leads the Premier League in goals so far this season, but had a quietly great 2nd half of last year while the rest of his team struggled.

Matt: Sergio Aguero


Best Premier League team:

Joe: Leicester City. I know they’re struggling now but if we talk about being a total team, then they dominated the first half of 2016. Recent wobbles to be expected after so many highs.

Nick: Chelsea

Kyle: I would put Arsenal here, but they seem to be slightly off the pace this season and faltered in early 2016, so Leicester City wins this by default.

Matt: Leicester City


Best prospect in Premier League:

Joe: I think Dele Alli is now a little old to class as a prospect but over the past 12 months he’s elevated himself to a new level. In terms of emerging talent, I’ve been impressed with Mason Holgate at Everton whenever I’ve seen him. Under Ronald Koeman he could flourish.

Nick: Leroy Sane of Manchester City

Kyle: There are a host of good young players in the Premier League. Dele Alli is just 20, Romelu Lukaku is 22, and so is Eric Dier. But with those guys already having established themselves, and this question focuses on prospects, I will go with Nathan Ake, who is having an amazing season with Bournemouth and established his identity at Watford last year.

Matt: Dele Alli

Tottenham’s Dele Alli celebrates after the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park in London, Saturday Jan. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
(AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Best goal in Premier League:

Joe: Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s amazing back heel scorpion kick against Sunderland on Boxing Day 2016. Yes, he was a yard offside. Still, it was a mind-blowing moment.

Nick: Dele Alli vs. Crystal Palace, Jan. 23

Kyle: Dele Alli vs. Crystal Palace, Jan. 23

Matt: Dele Alli vs. Crystal Palace, Jan. 23


LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.

Report: USMNT’s Arriola drawing transfer interest abroad, in MLS

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Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.

There’s a snag, though.

[ MORE: Everton wins Europa opener ]

Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.

As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it is peak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:

“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.

“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”

But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:

“It’s a little disappointing,” Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “He went through our system, we offered him a contract and he decided to move on and go somewhere else. But that’s going to happen. It’s something that has happened before, and it’s something that will happen again.”

Arriola’s response in the same article? “I thank the Galaxy for giving me a wonderful opportunity to train with their first team and be a part of their first team which really taught me a lot.” That doesn’t read as much like he “went through their system.” He played in at least one U-18 game, debuting in October 2012, did more training with TJ in December 2012, and signed for the Mexican side in May 2013.

Should that qualify him as Homegrown?

https://www.transfermarkt.com/paul-arriola/leistungsdaten/spieler/189876

Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.

Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.

Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.

In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).