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Premier League 2015-16 season team-by-team reviews: Arsenal to Man United


All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2015-16 Premier League season.

From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.

MORE: All 2015-16 PL season reviews ]

For the full archive of our review content, just hit the link above. Now we are looking at the individual teams alphabetically and analyzing how they fared.

Here’s a look at the 10 teams from Arsenal through to Manchester United.


Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger reacts in frustration during the second half of the English FA Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Arsenal and Watford at the Emirates stadium in London, Sunday, March 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Position: 2nd
High: Beating Man United 3-0 early in the season when everything clicked into place quite nicely
Low: Second half meltdown. In February they were just three points off Leicester but finished 10 points behind. This was meant to be their year and they crumbled
Star man: Mesut Ozil – Lead the PL in assists (19) and easily had his best season in an Arsenal jersey
Coach: Arsene Wenger – Under severe criticism after late season collapse, needs a big summer in transfer market (we’ve heard this before, right?) to mount a serious title challenge next season
Grade: B+ – Second place finish may be a little flattering when all is said and done, but 20 straight years of finishing top four and 21 years of finishing ahead of Spurs sounds pretty darn good

Aston Villa

BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 09: Protesting goods against Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner are on sale prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Villa Park on April 9, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
(Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Position: 20th
High: 1-0 win on the opening day at Bournemouth. That was as good as it got
Low: Entire campaign was a low but 6-0 defeat against Liverpool was embarrassing. Players downed tools
Star man: Idrissa Gueye – His play went unnoticed but I’d be stunned if a PL club doesn’t pick him up this summer. Beast in the engine room
Coach: Tim Sherwood, Remi Garde, Eric Black – Sherwood was unlucky to get canned so early, Garde never stood a chance and Black just patched things up. Now they’re managerless
Grade: F: Probably don’t even deserve this. First-ever relegation from PL, equaled a club record of 11-straight defeats as they were relegated. Woeful and potential new owner has lots to sort out


BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Callum Wilson (L) of A.F.C. Bournemouth celebrates scoring their first goal with Matt Ritchie and Dan Gosling during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Sunderland at the Vitality Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
(Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Position: 16th
High: Beating Chelsea 2-1 away from home in December. Belief grew massively after that
Low: Probably the final few weeks. Played very well but seemed to show much more fragility. Lost six of last eight games
Star man: Charlie Daniels – Has been a stallion from left back rampaging up the flank. Callum Wilson or Benik Afobe would’ve won it had they played throughout the season
Coach: Eddie Howe – He’s done a tremendous job to take this team through the leagues and kept them up comfortably in first-ever PL season. Now, can he kick them on?
Grade: B+: If you would’ve offered the Cherries survival at start of the season they would’ve taken it. They’ve played with style and racked up big wins as well as staying up


LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Jose Mourinho Manager of Chelsea looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on October 31, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
(Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Position: 10th
High: Late equalizer at home against Tottenham to halt Spurs’ hopes of winning the PL. Also, reaching last eight of UCL was a bonus
Low: Any of the home defeats against Bournemouth, Palace, Southampton in early season. Mourinho and his players shown up, badly
Star man: Willian – Especially in the early part of the season as he scored free kicks and was the one player who turned up consistently
Coach: Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink – The shocking demise of Mourinho was incredible and the Eva Carneiro situation played a huge part in that. Hididnk patched things up nicely
Grade: D: The worst title defense in PL history as Chelsea collapsed and it cost Mourinho his job. The players simply weren’t prepared and now Antonio Conte has arrived to whip them into shape

Crystal Palace

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: Damien Delaney and Scott Dann of Crystal Palace appeal to referee Andre Marriner as he awards Liverpool a penalty during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on March 6, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
(Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Position: 15th
High: Reaching the FA Cup final against Manchester United this weekend
Low: Pretty much the whole of 2016. Around midseason they were challenging for the top six but then went on a terrible run, wining just two PL games in 2016
Star man: Joel Ward – He’s been very consistent and popped up with a few important goals. The main attacking threats and Yohan Cabaye faded badly
Coach: Alan Pardew – It all started so well as Palace were tough to beat and fantastic on the break but the way it faded will leave a sour taste in Pards’ mouth
Grade: C+: A season which promised so much has slightly under delivered. If they win the FA Cup it is a success, but PL form faded badly


SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Roberto Martinez, manager of Everton gives instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Everton at the Stadium of Light on May 11, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
(Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Position: 11th
High: Reaching both the FA Cup and Capital One Cup semifinals was a plus but in terms of PL, maybe the 3-0 wins away at Stoke and Southampton were the high points
Low: The 4-0 hammering at Anfield against Liverpool summed up the demise of John Stones, Everton’s defense and Martinez. So many poor home defeats too
Star man: Romelu Lukaku – Scored 18 goals and although he missed plenty of chances, shudder to think were Everton would be without him
Coach: Roberto Martinez – Fired before the final game of the season, Martinez was walking the plank after another stagnant season. Defensively so naive and appeared to lose the locker room
Grade: D: A season where they should have really challenged for the top six, given players at their disposal, turned into a farce. Martinez simply didn’t learn from his mistakes

Leicester City

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Captain Wes Morgan and manager Claudio Ranieri of Leicester City lift the Premier League Trophy after the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on May 7, 2016 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Position: 1st
High: Pretty much the whole season but the 3-1 win at Manchester City announced they were legit title contenders. Never looked back and coasted to the title in the end
Low: Defeat at Arsenal in the last second in February thanks to Welbeck’s goal. They responded by going the rest of the season unbeaten. A brief low point
Star man: Riyad Mahrez – Hard to single out one player but Mahrez added goals, assists and magic all season long. He had the x-factor
Coach: Claudio Ranieri – He simply pulled off one of the greatest managerial jobs in sporting history. 64-year-old Italian will have a statue built of him in Leicester
Grade: A+: If I could give them a higher mark I would. Every single player performed to 100 percent of their potential, Ranieri managed the situation marvelously and they are worthy champs


LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 05: Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool celebrates as Bruno of Villarreal scores an own goal for their first goal during the UEFA Europa League semi final second leg match between Liverpool and Villarreal CF at Anfield on May 5, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
(Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Position: 8th
High: Beating Manchester City 4-1 away, late win at Norwich, beating Dortmund in dramatic fashion in Europa League and reaching the Europa League final against Sevilla
Low: Losing against West Ham 3-0 at home or losing at Man United 3-1. Total lack of direction under Brendan Rodgers
Star man: Roberto Firmino – The Brazilian attacker has got better and better under Klopp. Expect him to have a huge season next year
Coach: Brendan Rodgers, Jurgen Klopp – The writing was on the wall for Rodgers and after a slow start he was replaced by Klopp. The German is a perfect fit for Liverpool’s character
Grade: C+: Things are starting to take shape but you still can’t get over the fact that two years ago this club almost won the title. They spent most of this season in midtable

Manchester City

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City holds off the challenge from Luka Modric of Real Madrid CF during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
(Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Position: 4th
High: Beating Chelsea 3-0 early on, winning the League Cup and reaching the UCL semifinals for first-time ever
Low: The way they limped over the line in the second half of the season once they found out Guardiola was coming in
Star man: Sergio Aguero – Scored 24 goals and is an absolute machine. Kevin De Bruyne was a close second
Coach: Manuel Pellegrini – Delivered two League Cups and one PL trophy in three years in charge, plus three-straight UCL knockout berths and UCL semi this season. Decent but not great
Grade: B-: Did the bare minimum in sealing a top four spot for next season. There will be a lot of changes under new manager Guardiola this summer

Manchester United

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: Louis van Gaal manager of Manchester United celebrates with winning goalscorer Anthony Martial of Manchester United after victory in The Emirates FA Cup semi final match between Everton and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on April 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
(Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Position: 5th
High: Beating Man City away from home in league, reaching the FA Cup final
Low: Defeats against Bournemouth, Norwich in PL, Liverpool in Europa League and hammerings at Arsenal and Tottenham
Star man: Anthony Martial – Yes, they paid a ridiculous amount of money for him but he is worth every penny. Huge future
Coach: Louis Van Gaal – It remains to be seen if he will be around for the third and final year of his contract but with Jose Mourinho lurking it seems unlikely. Regression in full flow
Grade: C-: After money they spent last summer finishing outside the top four is unthinkable. Yes, they had injuries but Van Gaal didn’t deliver the minimum of top four. Fresh impetus needed

Cole returns to Chelsea as youth team coach

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One of Chelsea’s best players in club history is back at his old stomping grounds in a new role.

Chelsea finally confirmed over their social media channels that former left back Ashley Cole is back at the club coaching in the academy, helping the next generation of stars grow and learn the games. Specifically, Cole is coaching the U-15 squad.

[READ: Top Premier League Storylines]

“I’m also doing my badges at the moment and so being here at Chelsea means I have the chance to coach every day, whereas maybe if I wasn’t working at a club it would be hard for me to get the hours in,” Cole told Chelsea’s website. “I’m learning not just how to be a coach and how to speak to people in a different environment but the side of coaching that you don’t see like planning the sessions and setting up the equipment.

“As a player, you just turn up for a session and do it. If it’s a possession drill, you just arrive and try to keep the ball but now I’m getting to understand that there are always ideas behind a particular session or practice. Organization has to be key and those are the little details that it takes to be a great coach.”

While plenty from Cole’s era have moved into the media for lucrative punditry roles, it’s nice to see players like Cole and his former teammate Frank Lampard, now Chelsea coach, go into coaching to help pass on some of the great lessons they’ve learned during their careers. .

Cole said in the interview that he wasn’t sure what was next after playing three seasons for the LA Galaxy and then joining Lampard at Derby County for the second half of last season. He added that he got his first taste of coaching kids while with the Galaxy, helping some of the academy players and taking part in video sessions.

“The Academy are very good at giving ex-players a route back to the club and a chance to learn as coaches,” Cole said. “They’re eager to bring in people who understand what it means to be at Chelsea and what it means to wear the badge. You have to be a top player to play for Chelsea so they want those top ex-players influencing and trying to help the next generation develop and be better players.”

Spanish FA once again opposes La Liga match in U.S.

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For the second consecutive season, La Liga and Relevant Sports have proposed a league match to take place this winter in the U.S.

And once again, the La Liga proposal doesn’t have the support of its national soccer federation.

[READ: La Liga wants to move Villarreal-Atletico Madrid to Miami]

Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), told reporters on Thursday that it would oppose the match taking place outside of Spain’s borders, keeping a consistent line in the sand on how far globalization can go in soccer.

“It would disrupt the competition,” Rubiales said, via AS. “To play a game in Miami, La Liga needs permission from five bodies that it doesn’t have.”

The five bodies Rubiales referred to are the RFEF, FIFA, CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer and MLS.

Last time around, Relevant Sports and La Liga announced a long-term, lucrative marketing contract to expand the brand’s footprint in the Americas, and soon after, petitioned to move Girona’s home game against Barcelona to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, the home stadium of Relevant Sports owner Stephen Ross and his Miami Dolphins.

Ultimately, La Liga president Javier Tebas and Relevant Sports were unable to get permission from the RFEF or FIFA to hold the event outside Spain and it went off as expected in Girona. At the time, Spain’s player’s union and fans groups opposed the move. Tebas has filed a lawsuit in Spain to try to force the RFEF to approve their request, but it seems unlikely to be awarded and it surely doesn’t provide any good will between the two parties.

There’s been plenty of talk about bringing league games abroad before, but it has just been talk so far. The Premier League considered adding an extra game to the season to be played all over the world, but never went through with creating plans for matches.

Associations – not leagues, to be clear – have brought things like Super Cups abroad. For example, the RFEF moved the 2018 Spanish Super Cup to Tangiers, Morocco, while the France Football Federation has brought its national Super Cup match to both the U.S. and Montreal, Canada in recent years. However, the argument in favor of bringing those games abroad is they’re basically meaningless. Meanwhile, one result in a league season could – in theory – determine whether a team is relegated or not, especially if the margin is three points or less.

We could see another legal fight on our hands, so watch this space, there’s plenty more to come.

Rodgers excuses Maddison’s behavior after England departure

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Leicester City and England midfielder James Maddison made headlines for the wrong reasons after he was pictured last week watching the England match at the Czech Republic from a casino.

Despite the negative attention from Maddison’s decision to watch the game at that venue, he has the backing of his club manager, Brendan Rodgers.

“The kid went away with the international team and took ill while he was away,” Rodgers said, via the Guardian. “He wanted to stay and hopefully be ready for the second game. But the England medical staff – which I can understand, as he had flu and they didn’t want that to spread to his teammates – decided it’s best for him to leave the camp. So he leaves, gets some tablets with our guys at the club, then he feels better.

“He watched the game at home on his own on the Friday and then goes out at half-time – probably he’ll make better decisions in his life but he went to a casino on his own to sit and watch the second half by a poker table. The suggestions are he left England purposelessly and then goes to a casino but that’s totally not the case at all. But his eyes have been opened now to the wider world in terms of what he did. He knows in hindsight he’s made a mistake.”

Considering all that went on during England’s international break, from the poor performance in Prague to the horrible racism endured in Bulgaria, this is a bit of a silly scandal. To be honest, as long as Maddison is taking care of his body and himself, why does it matter if he was at a casino, or a pub, or anywhere?

However, there’s no denying that the optics look bad. Folks didn’t know that he arrived to England camp with the flu, or a flu-like illness at least, and the England medical staff are right to send him away to make sure no one else gets sick. He may have been feeling better by Friday and wanted to get out of the house. I think we’ve all been there after being sick for a few days.

The most important lesson for Maddison is to learn that his actions, out of context, can be misunderstood. In terms of soccer, after Ross Barkley’s performance for England, Maddison will have to prove in his club form that he should still have a place in the England team for the near future. There’s only two more international dates left before the 2020 Euros, so time is running out for Maddison to make an impact to Southgate.

Tierney, Lacazette available for Arsenal

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Arsenal are edging closer to finally having a full-strength squad.

Ahead of Monday’s prime-time matchup with Sheffield United, Arsenal manager Unai Emery confirmed that Kieran Tierney was in line to make his Premier League debut, while Alexandre Lacazette was back in full training and should be in the gameday squad.

“Today is Lacazette’s first training back with us,” Emery said in a press conference on Thursday. “He finished it well and he’s feeling well with his injuries. Tomorrow we will be training again and he will be with us. We will decide.

“The most important thing is that first he is training, then secondly it’s whether he can be with us and it depends how he can feel in the next days training with us, whether his ankle is not giving him any more problems.”

This is a huge boost to Arsenal, which has had to rely on some youngsters and have made some lineup changes to accommodate not having Lacazette on the field. Tierney meanwhile could step into a position where there’s already a decent starter, Sead Kolasinac.

Lacazette’s return also couldn’t have come at a better time. In Premier League action, Arsenal’s high-powered offense has been stymied, scoring just two goals in the last two league games. Meanwhile, against weaker defenses in the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup, Arsenal has bagged a total of 12 goals.

The veteran Frenchman has scored two goals in three appearances so far this season, including a big goal just before halftime in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham. However, he suffered a long-term ankle injury in that match that has kept him on the sidelines for more than a month.

“[Tierney is] ready to play,” Emery later said. Now we have two options in that left-back role with Sead Kolasinac and him. We’re going to play a lot of matches after Monday. We will need every player. It depends how he comes into the first training with us, Sead, after his international matches. We now have two players in that position and we can use one on Monday, it depends how they are, one or the other.”

Tierney, the 22-year-old Scottish left back, has made two appearances for the Arsenal first team since recovering from a double hernia operation over the summer. Signed from Celtic for around $32 million, Tierney adds a skill that Kolasinac has struggled with – expert crosser of the ball into the box, where the likes of Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can score when given a decent chance.