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Top ten matches of the 2015-16 Premier League season

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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 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, it’s time to take a look back at the ten best matches from the 2015-16 Premier League season.


September 13, 2015: Leicester City 3-2 Aston Villa

Unbeaten through four matches, it looked like Leicester would suffer their first loss of the season as they trailed Aston Villa by two goals with less than 20 minutes to play. But then, a miraculous comeback capped off by Nathan Dyer’s 89th minute winner handed the Foxes another three points, showing a spirit and fight that was omnipresent during Leicester’s title run.

November 28, 2015: Bournemouth 3-3 Everton

When the clock showed 80 minutes, Everton led this match 2-0. However, the Cherries fought back to tie the score at two after quick goals from Adam Smith and Junior Stanislas, only to have Ross Barkley silence the Vitality Stadium with what looked to be the game-winner in the 95th minute. However, Everton’s long celebration led to added stoppage time, with Stanislas grabbing a last-gasp equalizer with the final kick of the ball as the clock hit 98′.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Junior Stanislas (1st R) of Bournemouth celebrates scoring his team's third goal with his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Everton at Vitality Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
(Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

December 28, 2015: Everton 3-4 Stoke City

0-1, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4. Look away Everton fans, it’s another blown lead for the Toffees. After twice drawing level from a goal down, Everton took their first lead of the match in the 71st minute when Gerard Deulofeu put the home-side ahead 3-2. Finally in the driver’s seat, Everton collapsed in the closing minutes, allowing Joselu to equalize before Marko Arnautovic buried Stoke’s winner from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

January 13, 2016: Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal

Liverpool and Arsenal combined for six goals in a snowy thriller at Anfield that ended with a 90th minute equalizer from Reds’ substitute Joe Allen. After 25 minutes the scoreline read 2-2 as a Roberto Firmino brace canceled out goals from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. Giroud would get his own brace in the second half to put the Gunners in front until Allen’s late tally split the points.

January 16, 2016: Chelsea 3-3 Everton

Everton supporters must really be hating this list. Once again the Toffees led this match 2-0, but quickfire goals from Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas knotted the score at two. Everton thought they won the match when Ramiro Funes Mori scored the Toffees’ third in the 90th minute, only to see John Terry equalize in the 98th to steal a point for Chelsea in his 700th Premier League appearance for the Blues.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback – What did we learn from the 2015-16 season? ]

January 23, 2016: Norwich City 4-5 Liverpool

Nine goals scored from ten shots on target could give Liverpool’s epic win over Norwich the crown for match of the season. The Canaries led 3-1 in the 54th minute, then found themselves down 4-3 just 20 minutes later. Sebastien Bassong thought he won back a point for Norwich with their fourth goal in the 92nd, but Adam Lallana found Liverpool a winner in the 95th, highlighted by a classic Jurgen Klopp moment in which the Reds’ boss broke his glasses while celebrating with a shirtless Lallana.

February 6, 2016: Manchester City 1-3 Leicester City

An emphatic win at the Etihad put Leicester six points clear at the top of the table and had people thinking, “Maybe they can pull this off.” Robert Huth put the Foxes ahead inside the opening three minutes, with Riyad Mahrez doubling their lead with a brilliant individual effort just after the break. Huth would score again to put Leicester up 3-0 as a team of misfits tore apart the one of the most expensive starting lineups in football history.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Robert Huth (3rd L) of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mate Shinji Okazaki (2nd R) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
(Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

April 9, 2016: West Ham United 3-3 Arsenal

With Arsenal still in pursuit of the Premier League title, a 2-0 lead on the road seemed like the perfect position to be in. Enter: Andy Carroll. The big West Ham striker grabbed a hat-trick in just eight minutes as Upton Park erupted, only to see Laurent Koscielny pull the Gunners back as the match finished a 3-3 draw. The result effectively ended Arsenal’s title hopes but was a thrilling 90 minutes in the final London derby at Upton Park.

May 2, 2016: Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham needed a win to keep their title hopes alive, and sitting 2-0 up at halftime, Spurs were in control. However, second half goals from Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard leveled things up to hand Leicester City the title. The final minutes of this match were overshadowed by a bench-clearing altercation that saw Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink take a tumble.

May 10, 2016: West Ham United 3-2 Manchester United

The final match at Upton Park was one of the more memorable ones, as West Ham went 1-0 up and 2-1 down before coming from behind to win by a final score of 3-2. Winston Reid scored the game-winner in the 80th minute, the final goal ever scored at West Ham’s fabled ground.

What now? Newcastle United after relegation

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There’s nothing good about this.

Newcastle United has no silver lining in its relegation cloud after sinking into the second tier for a second time.

There will be no awakening, no excuses that they were unlucky. There isn’t going to be a series of veterans lining up to stay and instantly guide the team back to the top flight, as proud players Kevin Nolan, Fabricio Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez and Andy Carroll did in 2009-10.

[ MORE: Newcastle, Norwich relegated | NUFC director reacts ]

There was a bit of an exodus then, too: Obafemi Martins bailed out alongside Michael Owen, Sebastien Bassong and David Edgar. And surely Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum won’t risk international futures for France and Holland while playing in the championship. Daryl Janmaat, Ayoze Perez and Tim Krul will likely follow suit.

Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend showed great heart during the relegation battle, but will they be content to help the Magpies in the Championship. Chancel Mbemba and Aleksandar Mitrovic would be stars in the second tier, but will they be okay staying one year after arriving from a Champions League outfit?

The good news is that all of those players have some too much value on the transfer market, and Newcastle is a rich club.

[ MORE: Allardyce hails “difficult to beat” Sunderland ]

Much maligned owner Mike Ashley is almost certainly not selling the club at a loss. In the past he’s said that he’s “wedded” to the club for better or relegation. Well here’s the latter, and Ashley has had seven managers oversee 20 or more matches since buying the team in 2007. Their win percentages?

Sam Allardyce — 33 percent
Kevin Keegan — 29 percent
Joe Kinnear — 22 percent
Chris Hughton — 59 percent*
Alan Pardew — 38 percent
John Carver — 15 percent
Steve McClaren — 23 percent

*majority of games in Championship

Not too good. By comparison, some of the worst percentages amongst active PL bosses belong to Sam Allardyce (30 percent), Tony Pulis (33 percent) and Mark Hughes (38 percent). Only Pardew even comes close to flirting with those marks… and those are, again, among the worst.

Then, there’s the current manager: Rafa Benitez. He almost certainly is interested in executing his out-clause, and most of their pre-Benitez hires have been at-best yes men or long shots: Alan Pardew, John Carver, Steve McClaren, Joe Kinnear (!!)… these were not inspired hires. Lucking out with Chris Hughton over promotion in 2009-10 was another story altogether.

[ MORE: Norwich’s Neil calls relegation “severe disappointment” ]

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Youngsters Adam Armstrong and Ivan Toney were on loan this year, the Magpies played most of the season with a second or third string keeper after Tim Krul and then Rob Elliot were hurt, and really did have a poor run of injuries.

The Magpies have a good chance for instant promotion, though probably not the 102-point run they pulled in 2009-10. A lot of it hinges on having the right manager, whether Benitez surprisingly decides to stay or a new face is brought to Tyneside, and fans will have trouble trusting Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley with making the right choice.

Norwich 0-1 Manchester United: Mata keeps top four hopes alive

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  • Mata scores games only goal
  • United one point off top four
  • Norwich lost four straight
  • Martial, Damian injured

Manchester United beat Norwich City 1-0 at Carrow Road on Saturday to boost their top four hopes and send the Canaries spiraling towards relegation.

Juan Mata scored the only goal of the game 18 minutes from time to give Louis Van Gaal‘s men a vital three points from a scrappy encounter.

With the win United sits one point behind fourth-placed Manchester City, with both teams having two games to play. Norwich remain in the relegation zone and are now two points from safety with two games to go.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Anthony Martial was injured in the warm up and in the first half the Red Devils also lost Matteo Darmian through injury with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson replacing him.

A cagey first half saw David De Gea without a shot to save, while Cameron Jerome cleared from Wayne Rooney at the other end. Chris Smalling then headed Mata’s corner from six yards overwhen he should have scored as United had the better chances.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

In the second half the game opened up with the away team pushing forward and United, somewhat inevitably, took the lead in the 72nd minute.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Sebastien Bassong misjudged a header and Rooney raced clear. United’s captain kept his cool and teed up Mata who slotted home coolly. 1-0 to the Red Devils.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Late on United could have increased their lead as Memphis flashed a free kick just wide of the post but they held on to grab a vital win in their fight to finish in the top four.

The Run-In: Analyzing the situation for each PL team

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With seven games to go in the Premier League, this is getting tense.

[ MORE: PW’s picks – Week 32

Bearing that in mind, here at ProSoccerTalk we thought it would be a good time to look at the final weeks of the season and the scenarios for each team.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Here’s “The Run-In” looking at the fortunes of all 20 teams and what could happen to them in the coming weeks.


Leicester City

Current position/points: 1st/66 points
Toughest game: at Man United, May 1 |  Full schedule
Most important player: N’Golo Kante – Sure, Vardy and Mahrez are massively important but Kante is the heartbeat. He must keep fit and drive them on to grind out points.
Most likely outcome: It would take a massive collapse for Leicester to not win this title now and they have the easiest schedule, on paper, of all three. Five points clear with seven games left, they are the Champions-elect. Remarkable story. Perhaps the best in PL history.


Tottenham Hotspur

Current position/points: 2nd/61 points
Toughest game: vs. Man United, April 10 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Harry Kane – With five goals in his last three PL outings, he’s red-hot. If he keeps it going, the title could be coming to the Lane.
Most likely outcome: Honestly, with the players they possess and their sterling defensive record, Spurs could sneak this. There’s one more twist left in this season… They have the tougher schedule.


Arsenal

Current position/points: 3rd/55 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Man City, May 7 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Alexis Sanchez – He’s the only man who can save Wenger from an almighty inquest this summer. Chilean must score more in the run-in.
Most likely outcome: 3rd. This really is a two-horse title race, but Arsenal can apply some pressure and see how inexperienced Spurs and Leicester handle it… Finishing second wouldn’t be a disastrous season but top four seems highly likely now.


Manchester City

Current position/points: 4th/51 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: vs. Arsenal, May 7 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Vincent Kompany – Captain and CB needs to stay fit otherwise City is in deep trouble
Most likely outcome: UCL qualification but if the recent slide continues, teams are queuing up to replace them.


West Ham United

Current position/points: 5th/50 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Leicester City, Apr. 17 | Full schedule
Most important player: Dimitri Payet – Mercurial playmaker must be at his best in final weeks for the Hammers to crack the top four.
Most likely outcome: Top six and Europa League qualification. Some tough games to finish with.


Manchester United

Current position/points: 6th/50 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: vs. Leicester, May 1 |  Full schedule
Most important player: David De Gea – They can continue to sneak 1-0 wins as long as De Gea continues to pull off stunning saves.
Most likely outcome: They will be right in the hunt for a top four spot until the final game of the season. This will be tight.


Southampton

Current position/points: 7th/47 points
Toughest game: at Tottenham, May 7 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Sadio Mane – If the Senegalese winger can stay hot, Saints can make a run at the top four. Seriously.
Most likely outcome: Another 7th place finish. Koeman’s men have three of the top four still to play.


Stoke City

Current position/points: 8th/46 points
Toughest game: vs. Tottenham, April 18 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Marko Arnautovic – The big Austrian has stopped scoring and needs to regain form in the final weeks.
Most likely outcome: It seems like a top six finish is well within Stoke’s reach. They have plenty of tough games left. 7-9th most likely.


Liverpool

Current position/points: 9th/44 points (played 29 games)
Toughest game: vs. Tottenham, April 2 | Full schedule
Most important player: Philippe Coutinho – He makes them tick and when he’s on his game, Liverpool win. Imperative they find him.
Most likely outcome: Probably outside the top six. Yes, they’ve games in hand but this season would always be tough. Believe in Klopp.


Chelsea

Current position/points: 10th/41 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: vs. Man City, April 16 | Full schedule
Most important player: Diego Costa – He’s back scoring goals and looks sharp but he must stay focused down the stretch.
Most likely outcome: At this point, top six would be miraculous. 8th would be the best possible outcome for the reigning champs.


West Bromwich Albion

Current position/points: 11th/39 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Arsenal & Spurs, April 21 & 25 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Gareth McAuley. The big Northern Irish center back has turned back the hands of time.
Most likely outcome: A very tough slate of games are coming, and manager Tony Pulis will be sure to batten down the hatches to make sure no entertainment comes anyone’s way. Call them 13th.


Everton

Current position/points: 12th/38 points (played 29 games)’
Toughest game: at Liverpool, April 20 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Ross Barkley. He does a bit of everything, and this year has really lived up to his potential.
Most likely outcome: The only team in this bunch that could challenge to finish top half, but also is focused on succeeding the semifinals of the FA Cup and beyond. 11th.


Bournemouth

Current position/points: 13th/38 points
Toughest game: at Man Utd, May 15  Full schedule
Most important player: Andrew Surman. The steady South African midfielder covers plenty of ground and has intangibles overflowing from whatever he uses to store intangibles.
Most likely outcome: Very difficult run home for the Cherries, who will struggle to keep up their recent pace.


Watford

Current position/points: 14th/37 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Arsenal, April 2 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Troy Deeney. The plaudits head Odion Ighalo‘s way more often, but Deeney’s hold-up play has created so many chances for the Hornets, and his leadership is valuable.
Most likely outcome: Around 13th-15th.


Swansea City

Current position/points: 15th/36 points
Toughest game: at Leicester City, April 24|  Full schedule
Most important player: Ashley Williams. The veteran back’s crunching tackles and keen reactions have saved Swans’ leaky defense more points than their performances deserve.
Most likely outcome: A relatively tricky run-in should have Swans finishing no more than a spot higher than their current position.


Crystal Palace

Current position/points: 16th/33 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game(s): at Arsenal & Man Utd, April 17 & 20 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Yannick Bolasie. As Yohan Cabaye fades, it’s up to Bolasie to supply electricity to the Palace attack.
Most likely outcome: Safe, though Palace remains winless in the Premier League since New Year’s Day.


Norwich City

Current position/points: 17th/28 points
Toughest game: at Arsenal, April 30 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Sebastien Bassong. The Cameroonian back is an important part of the Canaries defense, attack and possession game.
Most likely outcome: Norwich has the least quality of the bunch, but Alex Neil has the club grinding in every match. The two-point lead is nice, and the Canaries may know their fate in three weeks, as they face Newcastle, Palace and Sunderland, only the middle match away from Carrow Road.


Sunderland

Current position/points: 18th/26 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: vs. Arsenal, April 24|  Full schedule
Most important player: Jermain Defoe. The 33-year-old striker keeps bagging goals at important times. Given the way the Black Cats defend, he’s going to need to keep doing it.
Most likely outcome: Their January buys give them the quality to stay up, and Sam Allardyce has been through a relegation fight or two in his day. He’s also gotten his club into those battles though, so, comme ci, comme ca. We like their odds to go down.


Newcastle United

Current position/points: 19th/25 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Southampton, April 9 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Georginio Wijnaldum. The Dutch playmaker might be leading the Premier League in assists if Aleksandar Mitrovic and company had their finishing boots in order.
Most likely outcome: Rafa Benitez is a smart manager, one who gives them a fighting chance to go with their strong talent base. If they win at Norwich next week, they’ll be the favorites to stay up between Sunderland, Norwich and themselves. Staying up.


Aston Villa

Current position/points: Cooked 20th/16 points
Toughest game: at Arsenal, May 15 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Idrissa Gueye. He’s quietly been a solid all-around midfielder on a team lacking in talent. Look for him to get a move somewhere in the PL next season.
Most likely outcome: Down.

 

The Run-In: The fortunes of five teams fighting to stay in the big money Premier League

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With seven games to go in the Premier League, this is getting tense.

[ PLAYBACK: Leicester finally believe ]

Bearing that in mind, here at ProSoccerTalk we thought it would be a good time to look at the final weeks of the season and the scenarios for each team.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Here’s “The Run-In” looking at the teams who are battling to avoid relegation to the second-tier Championship.


Crystal Palace

Current position/points: 16th/33 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game(s): at Arsenal & Man Utd, April 17 & 20 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Yannick Bolasie. As Yohan Cabaye fades, it’s up to Bolasie to supply electricity to the Palace attack.
Most likely outcome: Safe, though Palace remains winless in the Premier League since New Year’s Day.


Norwich City

Current position/points: 17th/28 points (played 31 games)
Toughest game: at Arsenal, April 30 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Sebastien Bassong. The Cameroonian back is an important part of the Canaries defense, attack and possession game.
Most likely outcome: Norwich has the least quality of the bunch, but Alex Neil has the club grinding in every match. The two-point lead is nice, and the Canaries may know their fate in three weeks, as they face Newcastle, Palace and Sunderland, only the middle match away from Carrow Road.


Sunderland

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)

Current position/points: 18th/26 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: vs. Arsenal, April 24|  Full schedule
Most important player: Jermain Defoe. The 33-year-old striker keeps bagging goals at important times. Given the way the Black Cats defend, he’s going to need to keep doing it.
Most likely outcome: Their January buys give them the quality to stay up, and Sam Allardyce has been through a relegation fight or two in his day. He’s also gotten his club into those battles though, so, comme ci, comme ca. We like their odds to go down.


Newcastle United

Current position/points: 19th/25 points (played 30 games)
Toughest game: at Southampton, April 9 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Georginio Wijnaldum. The Dutch playmaker might be leading the Premier League in assists if Aleksandar Mitrovic and company had their finishing boots in order.
Most likely outcome: Rafa Benitez is a smart manager, one who gives them a fighting chance to go with their strong talent base. If they win at Norwich next week, they’ll be the favorites to stay up between Sunderland, Norwich and themselves. Staying up.


Aston Villa

Current position/points: Cooked 20th/16 points (played 31 games)
Toughest game: at Arsenal, May 15 |  Full schedule
Most important player: Idrissa Gueye. He’s quietly been a solid all-around midfielder on a team lacking in talent. Look for him to get a move somewhere in the PL next season.
Most likely outcome: Down.