Leicester Shock the World
The 2015-16 Premier League season saw one of the biggest shocks in sporting history. Leicester City, who were famously priced at 5000/1 before a ball was kicked (and backed by a surprising number of punters at that price too), won the English championship for the first time in the club’s long history. Despite strong challenges for much of the campaign from Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, Claudio Ranieri’s men went on to win the title by the very comfortable margin of 10 points.
At the other end of the table, Aston Villa’s long stay in the Premier League came to an end, as they ended a miserable season with a woeful 17 points to their name. For context that is only six more than Derby’s record low of just 11 in 2007-08. Newcastle United and Norwich City were also relegated to the EFL Championship.
The season ended on 17th May with the rescheduled Manchester United v Bournemouth match after the original fixture was postponed due to a suspicious package being found at Old Trafford. Embarrassingly that turned out to be a fake bomb left by a security team as part of a practice exercise. The 2015-16 season was certainly one of the most memorable to date, even if United’s security firm, Security Search Management & Solutions Ltd, will want to forget it!
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Ranieri’s Foxes Top The Lot
Leicester had struggled on their Premier League return after winning the Championship, and many pundits and fans alike predicted that the Foxes would be involved in another relegation scrap in the 2015-16 Premier League season. Nigel Pearson pulled off a miraculous escape at the King Power Stadium the campaign before when all had seemed lost but the Nottingham-born boss was sacked and replaced by the experienced Ranieri in July.
Leicester caught the eye with some impressive performances at the start of the season, winning three and drawing three of their opening six. A 5-2 home loss to Arsenal on 26th September was supposed to signal the beginning of their decline, but the heavy reverse just added fuel to the Foxes’ fire. Leicester went on to win eight and draw two of 10 to ensure that they were top of the Premier League at Christmas. Despite this fine start few expected them to maintain a serious title push for long, with critics pointing to an easy set of fixtures in the first third of the season.
In 2016, Ranieri’s side were pretty much faultless though, losing just one Premier League game. After going down to the Gunners for the second time in February 2014, City won eight and drew four of their remaining 12 matches to win the Premier League title at a canter, going on to finish a highly impressive 10 points above second. After a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea handed the title to Leicester with the party starting early at Jamie Vardy’s house. City lifted the trophy in front of a stunned King Power Stadium crowd after a 3-1 win over Everton on the penultimate weekend.
Another Solid Step For Spurs
Tottenham were Leicester’s closest title challengers for most of the season. Spurs may have come up short in the end, but Mauricio Pochettino was starting to make his mark at White Hart Lane.
Since the Premier League began, this was Tottenham’s highest finish, though they ended the campaign behind rivals Arsenal in third after drawing two and losing two of their last four.
Tottenham’s title bid ended after a heated encounter against fellow Londoners Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in early May. After Leicester’s draw at Old Trafford, Spurs knew that they needed a win in west London and the pressure was really on.
Unfortunately for Pochettino and his men, they let a 2-0 lead slip to draw 2-2 with the Blues. Tottenham lost their heads at the Bridge, with referee Mark Clattenburg showing nine yellow cards to Spurs as well as handing three bookings to Chelsea.
Chelsea’s Poor Title Defence
Chelsea were excellent under the popular Jose Mourinho in the 2014-15 Premier League season, winning the title with three games to spare.
However, the defence of their crown the following season was one of the worst in Premier League history. For one reason or another, the great Mourinho lost the dressing room at the Bridge and was sacked in December with the club languishing in 16th, a point off the relegation zone.
The reliable Guus Hiddink steadied the sinking ship, guiding Chelsea to 10th place in the end. Along the way, they picked up just 12 wins and suffered 12 defeats, with the likes of Southampton, West Ham United and Stoke City finishing above them.
Also, the Blues failed to qualify for Europe for the first time in two decades.
Ever-present Villa Drop Out Of Premier League
Aston Villa had been present in the Premier League since its inception in 1992, but the Villans deservedly dropped down to the EFL Championship after a horrendous campaign in the top flight.
Over the course of the season, Tim Sherwood, Kevin MacDonald, Remi Garde and Eric Black all had spells in charge at Villa Park but none of them could deliver the results needed.
Villa actually won their first game of the season, beating Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium thanks to a Rudy Gestede goal. However, just two wins followed as the Villans finished at the foot of the Premier League table with a mere 17 points to their name.
After a 2-0 win over Norwich on 6th February, Villa picked up just one point from their remaining 13 games, showing a real lack of fight when the going got tough.
Kane Tops The Scoring Chart
The race for the Golden Boot in the 2015-16 season was as thrilling as ever.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane pipped Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Leicester’s Jamie Vardy to the crown by just one goal. Kane netted 25, while Aguero and Vardy shared the silver medal with 24 goals apiece, not that Vardy much cared about that!
The Leicester striker had a title to console him and also broke the Premier League record of scoring in consecutive matches when he netted for an 11th game in a row in a 1-1 draw with Man United on 28th November.
Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez also had an exceptional season in front of goal at the King Power, helping himself to 17. Watford’s Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney struck up a great partnership, scoring 28 of the Hornets’ 40 goals.
Relegations & European Qualifications
By winning the title, Leicester secured Champions League football for the first time in their history. The battle for fourth spot went to the wire, with Man City pipping rivals Man United to the fourth and final Champions League place on goal difference. At the other end, Sunderland edged out rivals Newcastle in the battle for Premier League survival.
Which Teams Were Relegated?
Aston Villa were the first team to be relegated. The Midlands outfit picked up just three wins all season. They suffered 27 defeats and shipped a staggering 76 goals to finish on a woeful 17 points. They were cut adrift relatively early on and in truth never really looked like surviving, managing exactly half the points total of the side that finished above them.
That side was Norwich, who finished in 19th, five points adrift of safety with a total of 34. The Canaries claimed nine wins but come up short in the end. City failed to build on back-to-back victories over West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle in March and April, going on to lose five of their last six to drop out of the top tier.
The third and final team to be relegated was Newcastle as their six-game unbeaten run at the end of the campaign proved to be in vain, as the Magpies returned to the Championship. United won three and drew three of their last six, including a thumping 5-1 victory over Tottenham on the final day. However, rivals Sunderland ended the season with the same run of three victories and three draws to win the race for survival by just two points.
Which Teams Qualified For Europe?
Leicester won the Premier League and secured direct qualification to the 2016-17 Champions League group stage.
Arsenal beat Tottenham to second by one point, while Man City took the last place in Europe’s elite club competition, finishing above rivals United with a far superior goal difference (+30 to +14).
Southampton and West Ham shocked the Premier League by finishing in sixth and seventh, respectively.
The Saints qualified for the UEFA Europa League group stage, while the Hammers went into the third qualifying round.
Heavyweights Liverpool and Chelsea both missed out on European football as we saw probably the most unlikely top seven the Premier League has ever witnessed.