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Premier League 2015-16 season team-by-team reviews: Newcastle to West Ham

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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 Newcastle United down to West Ham United.


Newcastle United

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Newcastle United playes show their dejection after Bournemouth's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and A.F.C. Bournemouth at St James' Park on March 5, 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Position: 18th
High: Georginio Wijnaldum scored four goals against Norwich in a 6-2 win.
Low: Being relegated for the second time in a decade. A club of this size?!?
Star man: Andros Townsend — With respect to Chancel Mbemba, who also missed plenty of time, Townsend’s arrival in January reinvigorated a miserable attack.
Coach: Steve McClaren proved that many who wander are lost, and Rafa Benitez would need to have almost zero missteps to save the club. He had one big one, a 0-0 draw against Villa.
Grade: F

Norwich City

NORWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Ryan Bennett of Norwich City looks dejected during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Watford at Carrow Road on May 11, 2016 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Position: 19th
High: The 3-2 win over Newcastle on April 2 had the Canaries feeling ready for safety.
Low: The 3-0 loss to Sunderland three weeks later all but ruined those plans.
Star man: Robbie Brady — Their season could’ve been as poor as Aston Villa’s, honestly, had Norwich not bought the Hull City star.
Coach: Alex Neil didn’t save the Canaries, but he came close despite a lack of top-end talent.
Grade: D

Southampton

SWANSEA, WALES - FEBRUARY 13: Southampton players celebrate their team's first goal by Shane Long (obscured) during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Southampton at Liberty Stadium on February 13, 2016 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Position: 6th
High: Thumping Arsenal on Boxing Day or  Spurs on the season’s penultimate match day.
Low: Bouncing out of the Europa League at the hands of Midtjylland.
Star man: Virgil Van Dijk — There were a lot of wonder workers at St. Mary’s this season, but the former Celtic center back was stout, strong and fearsome.
Coach: Ronald Koeman was absolutely the right man to take over for Mauricio Pochettino, even if many of us scratched at our heads at the hiring last season.
Grade: A

Stoke City

Jack Butland of Stoke City during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City at The Hawthorns on January 2, 2016 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Position: 9th
High: Beating Manchester United 2-0 on Boxing Day.
Low: Allowing 12 goals over three-straight losses in April.
Star man: Jack Butland — It’s no coincidence that Stoke’s turn in form was very close to coinciding with his season-ending injury.
Coach: Mark Hughes‘ defense fell apart after a very promising smart. Injuries certainly hurt his chances, but better is needed to take the next step.
Grade: B-

Swansea City

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 01: Andre Ayew (L) of Swansea City celebrates scoring the opening goal with Gylfi Sigurdsson during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Liverpool at The Liberty Stadium on May 1, 2016 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Position: 12th
High: Battering West Ham and Liverpool in successive May fixtures.
Low: Getting two points between Halloween and Dec. 20.
Star man: Gylfi Sigurdsson — Andre Ayew was the new shiny toy, but Icelandic star Sigurdsson had plenty of big moments in lifting Swans out of its relegation-threatening funk.
Coach: Garry Monk felt like a hard-luck sacking with Swans in the drop zone, but Francesco Guidolin’s work proved that a fresh take in the team room was all the talented Swans needed to thrive in the PL.
Grade: C+

Sunderland

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 11: DeAndre Yedlin and Patrick van Aanholt of Sunderland celebrate staying in the Premier League after 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)
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Position: 17th
High: Beating up on miserable Everton to seal PL safety with a 3-0 win in May.
Low: Going winless from Opening Day until October 25
Star man: Lamine Kone — Jermain Defoe caught fire and scored some massive goals, but Kone stabilized a very leaky back line.
Coach: Big Sam Allardyce isn’t much of a tactician, but his work in the January transfer market kept the Black Cats up.
Grade: C-

Tottenham Hotspur

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Position: 3rd
High: Walking all over Manchester United 3-0 in a Top Four tilt on April 10.
Low: Throwing away a 2-0 halftime lead and any remaining title chances in a messy, card-filled 2-2 draw at Chelsea in May.
Star man: Harry Kane — Lots of worthwhile players here — Mousa Dembele is criminally underappreciated — but Kane is so much more than a finisher and took his game to new heights this season.
Coach: Mauricio Pochettino should be lauded for a wonderful season, but fans will be licking their wounds after Arsenal passed them on the final day. Twenty-one straight seasons below their rivals. Woof.
Grade: A-

Watford

WATFORD, ENGLAND - APRIL 30: Troy Deeney of Watford celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Aston Villa at Vicarage Road on April 30, 2016 in Watford, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Position: 13th
High: Clobbering Liverpool 3-0 in December at Vicarage Road, or upsetting Arsenal in the FA Cup.
Low: Losing 4-0 to that same Arsenal side two weeks later.
Star man: Troy Deeney — For scoring and captaining the side, the big man gets the nod over electric striker Odion Ighalo and shotstopper Heurelho Gomes.
Coach: Quique Sanchez Flores did a fantastic job, and is not coming back. Safety first, stability when?
Grade: B-

West Bromwich Albion

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 09: Tony Pulis manager of West Bromwich Albion gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad Stadium on April 9, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Position: 14th
High: Beating Arsenal on Nov. 21 at the Hawthorns.
Low: Upset in the FA Cup by Reading.
Star man: Johnny Evans — Slim pickings here, but Evans was huge given what Tony Pulis wants from his charges.
Coach: Tony Pulis kept his side safe again… at the expense of entertainment. And it’s not like he doesn’t have talent! This is a personal beef of mine, but the Baggies supporters I know expect better football from their club.
Grade: D

West Ham United

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Winston Reid of West Ham United celebrates as he scores their third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at the Boleyn Ground on May 10, 2016 in London, England. West Ham United are playing their last ever home match at the Boleyn Ground after their 112 year stay at the stadium. The Hammers will move to the Olympic Stadium for the 2016-17 season. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Position: 7th
High: Winning a London Derby 2-0 at Arsenal on Opening Day was nice, but the final match at the Boleyn Ground was a night for the ages. The fact that it was a thrilling win over Manchester United helped, too.
Low: May 7’s loss to Swansea City cost the Hammers dearly in the race for the Top Five.
Star man: Dimitri Payet — Quite simply sensational.
Coach: Slaven Bilic is that rare breed to make the transition from club playing hero to club managing hero. A near impeccable job from the granite-jawed Croatian, who showed West Ham that their “We can do better than Big Sam” theories were fair.
Grade: A

Chairman Mubarak: Other clubs are ‘jealous’ of Man City’s success

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Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak believes that other clubs — namely those who have fallen miles back of the back-to-back Premier League champions — are “jealous” of the club’s success.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante to miss Europa League final with new injury ]

The root of the perceived jealousy is, of course, Man City’s seemingly unlimited spending power which dwarves that of just about — if not — every other club in the PL. There’s a growing sense around the league — and around the world — that clubs like City, just to name one, are doing the game a disservice by distorting the transfer market and building an infallible super-team with the aid of unprecedented financial resources.

Mubarak believes that these feelings also stem from other clubs’ failed dealings in the transfer market: spending comparable — if not more — money on players who don’t justify that price tag the same way some of City’s big-money buys have done — quotes from the BBC:

“With success, there is a certain level of jealousy, envy, whatever you call it. That’s part of the game.

“It’s not easy for our competition, we know that. But the reality is, we didn’t buy the most expensive player in the Premier League [Paul Pogba], we didn’t buy the most expensive goalkeeper [Kepa Arrizabalaga], we didn’t buy the most expensive midfielder, we didn’t buy the most expensive striker [Romelu Lukaku].

“People make decisions, they’ve got to live by them. This is a well-run club.”

City’s financial dealings have regularly been in the headlines of late, as they are believed to have circumvented FFP rules by lying about sponsorship deals so as to balance a larger expenditure on transfer fees and player wages with revenue generated by the club.

Valverde under pressure after dismal end to Barcelona’s season

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MADRID (AP) A couple of weeks ago, few questioned Ernesto Valverde as Barcelona coach.

The team had just won a second straight Spanish league title under his command and was close to making it to the Champions League final after beating Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of the semifinals.

The team was also through to the Copa del Rey final, where it would try to win an unprecedented fifth straight title in the competition.

Valverde seemed to be comfortably in control as the club moved closer to winning the treble.

Things quickly took a turn for the worse, though, and Valverde woke up on Sunday under added pressure and facing increased criticism.

Barcelona lost 2-1 to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday, a result that followed the disastrous elimination against Liverpool in the Champions League and added to the team’s woeful end to what had been a great season.

“A month ago we were celebrating the league title. Fifteen days ago we were thinking we had a chance at a treble,” Valverde said. “And we came up short in the decisive moments in both the Champions League and the Copa del Rey.”

The disappointing ending brought out a wave of criticism of Valverde, who last year also finished the season under a cloud after another humiliating Champions League elimination – that time it squandered a big first-leg lead against Roma in the tournament’s quarterfinals.

The criticism seems more pronounced this time, with some fans and local media calling for a change at the helm.

It didn’t take long after Barcelona’s loss to Valencia in Seville for club President Josep Bartomeu to come out and defend the coach.

“Ernesto has a contract and he remains the team’s coach,” Bartomeu said. “This loss was not the coach’s fault. The team created a lot of scoring chances but the ball didn’t go in, and what counts is how many times you score.”

Bartomeu had already defended Valverde after the demoralizing 4-0 loss to Liverpool in the Champions League, saying the club was not considering a change in command for next season.

Valverde said he was not worried and felt supported by the club despite the disappointing ending.

“It’s a bad feeling, we won’t deny it, but we have to stay strong,” he said. “What we want as coaches is to have a chance to come back. It’s tough to lose, it means something went wrong. We have to take the responsibility for it.”

Even if Valverde stays as expected, it doesn’t mean there won’t be changes for Barcelona.

Several players played below expectations this season, especially former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, who was regularly jeered by fans and whose place with the club remains uncertain.

Bartomeu will likely have to go shopping in the offseason to try to improve the supporting cast for Lionel Messi, who had a fantastic year but wasn’t able to save the season by himself. When Messi looked ordinary, no one was able to take over his role as protagonist, and it proved costly in the decisive moments.

Young midfielder Frenkie de Jong is joining from Ajax and he should significantly boost the midfield, but Barcelona will definitely need to add to its attack, as Luis Suarez was the only true striker who performed consistently well. He couldn’t play in the Copa final after undergoing knee surgery and his absence was felt as the team struggled to capitalize on its scoring chances.

Veteran Gerard Pique is set to return for another season in defense, but there are still doubts about the fitness of Samuel Umtiti, who missed several matches this season because of injuries.

“We’ve been thinking about next season for a while, but it’s not the time to discuss the future,” Bartomeu said. “We ended with the Spanish league title, it was important. We couldn’t win the Copa, but we’ll just move on.”

Suarez defends surgery decision after Barca lose Copa del Rey final

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Luis Suarez has defended himself from criticism for undergoing knee surgery that prevented him from playing for Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.

The Uruguayan released a statement Sunday saying he had no option despite the timing of the final, which Barcelona lost 2-1 to Valencia on Saturday.

Suarez said he had to undergo surgery “against my will” after rupturing his meniscus against Liverpool in the Champions League semifinals.

He said the surgery earlier this month had nothing to do with a cartilage issue that he had been nursing since the beginning of the season.

Barcelona won the Spanish league but finished the season on a low after being eliminated by Liverpool in the Champions League and losing the Copa final to Valencia.

Suarez scored 25 goals in 49 matches this season, second only to Lionel Messi on the scoring charts for Barcelona.

U-20 WC roundup: Mexico hammered by Japan; Italy top Ecuador

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action at the U-20 World Cup in Poland…

[ MORE: USWNT wins final match before World Cup (video) ]

Mexico 0-3 Japan

Mexico’s heavy defeat at the hands of Japan means El Tri‘s stars of tomorrow, who have zero points from their first two games, cannot finish top-two in Group B and can only advance to the knockout rounds as one of four third-place teams.

Taisei Miyashiro (21st and 77th minutes) and Kyosuke Tagawa (52nd) bagged the goals on Sunday, as Japan picked up its first victory and set up an all-important finale with Italy to decide who finishes top of the group on Wednesday.

Ecuador 0-1 Italy

Andrea Pinamonti scored the only goal in Italy’s 1-0 victory over 10-man Ecuador to reach the six-point mark and guarantee themselves a top-two finish and a place in the round of 16.

Elsewhere in the U-20 World Cup

Senegal 2-0 Colombia [ HIGHLIGHTS ]
Poland 5-0 Tahiti [ HIGHLIGHTS ]

Monday’s U-20 World Cup schedule

Honduras v. Uruguay — 12 p.m. ET
Qatar v. Ukraine — 12 p.m. ET
USA v. Nigeria — 2:30 p.m. ET
Norway v. New Zealand — 2:30 p.m. ET