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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


Red-hot Rebić scores again as AC Milan tops Torino

AC Milan
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MILAN (AP) Ante Rebić kept up his scoring form to lead AC Milan to a 1-0 win over struggling Torino in Serie A on Monday.

The Croatia international beat his marker to redirect a cross from the center of the area midway through the first half at the San Siro.

The score raised Rebić’s tally to six goals and an assist in eight matches since he earned his starting spot – a move that coincided with Zlatan Ibrahimović’s return to the Rossoneri.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Bouncing back from a derby loss, Milan moved up to eighth and just beyond the Europa League places. The seven-time European champion is hoping to return to continental competition after voluntary withdrawing from this season’s Europa League to pay for UEFA financial fair play breaches.

Torino, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight, with new coach Moreno Longo still unable to turn things around in his second match in charge.

Ibrahimović narrowly missed a curling shot shortly after the break.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Simeone: Liverpool intensity “makes me admire it as a rival”

UEFA Champions League
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The UEFA Champions League returns at long last on Tuesday, and two of the greatest managers in the game will match wits for the first time.

No we’re not talking about Lucien Favre and Thomas Tuchel, the meeting of the minds in Tuesday’s other kickoff between Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in Germany.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp will go head-to-head with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in Spain, and the fiery German thinks it will be “absolutely interesting.”

From The Liverpool Echo:

“People say I emotional on the sideline,” Klopp said. “I am only on level 4, Diego is level 12. Really I am the kindergarten cop against him. He is so impressive after all these years, after so many years at the club – eight years. That is really long and having still this emotional level, still, wow. So impressive. I say, his teams are always organized world class.”

The admiration is mutual.

Simeone expects a huge challenge from a Liverpool team he regards on a historic plane.

“We are facing a magnificent team, really well-trained by a coach who is different and has different alternatives in his team,” he said, via The Independent. “We have always spoken about great teams throughout time and I have no doubt this Liverpool is going to go down in history as a great team because it is different to teams that we have admired. This team is much more intense, more adaptable, and it makes me admire it as a rival.”

The bettors say Liverpool is the heavy favorite in the first leg despite the match’s location at the Wanda Metropolitano. With football geniuses like Klopp and Simeone, however, either could have a plan to throw the other for a loop.

CONCACAF Champions League preview: Five MLS sides eye history

CONCACAF Champions League preview
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Once the Premier League and La Liga had taken their final bows of the day on Saturday, there felt was a particular absence, one soon-to-be filled by domestic soccer.

Yes, MLS is coming soon, and the CONCACAF Champions League is even closer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Five MLS sides begin their Round of 16 ties over the next three evenings, some with easier paths than others to elusive CCL glory.

The competition may not have burned itself onto the mainstream, lagging behind continental competitions in Europe and South America, but those who’ve embraced it (hint: this guy) love the thing.

For all the progress Major League Soccer has made in its quarter-century, it’s yet to find much success in dealing with Liga MX powers in the fight to qualify for the Club World Cup.

MLS sides have not won the competition since it was rebranded the CCL. Only three MLS sides have made the CCL final this decade, with Real Salt Lake (2011), Montreal Impact (2015), and Toronto FC (2017) all coming up short at the last step.

The CCL provides everything you love and hate about World Cup qualifying, and those dicey pitches with sometimes worse lighting mean the favorites aren’t guaranteed much.

The top half of the bracket sees three MLS teams — Montreal, Seattle, and NYCFC — and just one Liga MX side, while the bottom half gives us a Liga MX v. MLS match-up straight away.

That’s Leon v. LAFC, and it begins Tuesday night in Mexico. That tie carries the added intrigue of MLS superstar Carlos Vela bringing his act back to his home country for the first time… ever.

Bracket

Saprissa (Costa Rica) v. Montreal — 8 p.m. ET Weds.
Olimpia (Honduras) v. Seattle — 10 p.m. ET Thurs.

San Carlos (Costa Rica) v. NYCFC — 8 p.m. ET Thurs.
Alianza (El Salvador) v. UANL Tigres — 8 p.m. ET Weds.

Leon v. LAFC — 10 p.m. ET Tues.
Portmore United (Jamaica) v. Cruz Azul — 8 p.m. ET Tues.

Comunicaciones (Guatemala) v. Club America — 10 p.m. ET Weds.
Montagua (Honduras) v. Atlanta United — 10 p.m. ET Tues.

The 2 Robbies podcast: VAR carnage at Stamford Bridge

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle dissect a crazy game at Stamford Bridge that saw Chelsea on the wrong side of several VAR decisions (00:45).

The gents also recap the big moments from the weekend; Liverpool beat Norwich (18:30), Son’s late winner against Aston Villa (24:45) and Arteta‘s attackers thrash Newcastle United (30:15).

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]