Go crazy; the entire league does!
This is for the record. This is to prove everyone that all those things have already happened.
It’s March 7th 2016, Premier League season is slowly coming to an end, one minor trophy has already been decided, there are 92 more games yet to be played, a lot of things still can happen… and yet, it is already, without a doubt, the weirdest, craziest, most ridiculous, least predictable BPL season in history by a mile. So, before it all comes to a closure – let’s write down the facts. Let’s collect the absolute, undeniable truths of the campaign together before we all start looking back at them in disbelief – because once we start forgetting them, they will immediately appear too illogical to be taken seriously.
1. A striker, who played in the regional, semi-professional and amateur Northern Premier League just six years ago and competed in the Conference Premier just four years ago has managed to break Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of goals scored in consecutive BPL matches and continues to lead the goalscoring charts in the top English Division.
2. The manager, who suffered an embarrassing defeat against Faeroe Islands, the man who’s been sacked from the Greece job just sixteen months ago, the guy who guided Greece National Football Team to the last place in Euro 2016 Qualifiers, the boss who’s been welcome by both fans and several pundits with scepticism – is now top of the league.
3. The team that was Premier League’s rock-bottom side 365 days ago with just 18 points to their name is now leading the title race with 60 points, remaining five points clear ahead of the pack. Their record a year ago: 17 defeats, 24 goals scored and 44 conceded in 27 matches. Their record now: 3 defeats, 52 goals scored, 31 conceded in 29 matches.
Chelsea – 36 pts
Leicester – 10 pts
— Shot on Goal (@shotongoalx) December 5, 2015
4. The team that was Premier League’s leader 365 days ago with 63 points to their name is now sitting at #10 spot, having picked up 40 points so far. They’ve already suffered three times more league defeats than they did last season, conceded seven more goals in 29 games than they did in 38 games of their 2014/15 run and sacked the title-winning manager.
5. 2014/15 Premier League Player of the Season needed six months and a Championship-tier opponent to score his first goal of the 2015/16 season. Stuck at just three BPL assists and still 0 (zero) BPL goals, he’s been circling around between the bench and the first team. So much for fourteen goals and nine assists brought to the table during the previous campaign…
6. Meanwhile, elsewhere, the absolute top Premier League earner among the players, has ended the 2015 part of the season with two league goals and one assist in fourteen league games. Only after the New Year’s Eve, he would slightly redeem himself, bagging six more goals and climbing to the #2 spot of all-time BPL top scorers – just behind Alan Shearer.
7. Mesut Özil and Cesc Fàbregas have basically switched places. This time last year, the Spanish playmaker was on 16 assists and eventually became the second-best BPL assistant ever; at the same time, Özil would finish the season with just 5 assists. Today, the German is already on 18 assists while his Chelsea alter-ego has only managed to produce four.
8. At the same time, the former Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata has went from being a 2013 PFA Player of the Year to being an anonymous Manchester United lad; from a 12 goals and 12 assists a season midfield maestro to 5 goals and 3 assists failure. In fact, the best he’s done in the current campaign was blogging and finally earning himself his first ever sending off.
9. Mata’s boss is also far from happy – and it’s not just about his favourite pupil’s form. After receiving what it seems to be an unlimited credit of trust from the board, after spending £228.8 million on new players – Manchester United’s boss Louis van Gaal has proceeded to pretty much replicate David Moyes’ record. At the moment, the Dutchman boasts a 49.4% Premier League win ratio, while Moyesy has left the club at 50%.
Louis Van Gaal’s PL win percentage slips back below 50% (33 from 67). David Moyes’ was exactly 50% (17 from 34) pic.twitter.com/qaxwDmzE4H
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) March 6, 2016
10. Early in 2016, Manchester United have had so many injuries, they had to give Premier League débuts to the young, unproven lads like Jesse Lingard, Guillermo Varela, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Marcus Rashford. A makeshift team of those youngsters has beaten Arsenal 3-2; five months earlier, supposedly the strongest MU XI have been outplayed by the same Arsenal 0-3…
11. All big clubs have embarrassed themselves at least couple of times. Chelsea have lost to Stoke, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. Manchester United have given out three points to Norwich, Swansea and Bournemouth. Manchester City received two proper spankings from Liverpool along with home upsets from West Ham and Leicester. And Arsenal? 0-4 crash to Southampton, 1-2 at home to Swansea, 1-2 at Hawthorns to West Brom… Pick your poison.
12. The managers are keen on saying and doing quite unusual things. From Klopp’s reaction to the title challenge question, through Mourinho’s blame games, Louis van Gaal’s irate comebacks at the journalists, till Alan Pardew’s most recent, strong words of anger against the penalty decision for Delaney’s foul on Benteke. And then, there was this LVG’s slide. Not just your usual ‘same-old’ jibber-jabber.
13. The goalscoring charts simply don’t make sense. Dele Alli has scored more goals than Yaya Touré; Scott Dann has scored more goals than Pedro and Robert Huth has scored more goals than Memphis Depay. However, the odd truths don’t end there: right-back Glen Johnson and Héctor Bellerín have piled up exactly as many assists as Juan Mata and Eden Hazard.
14. In 288 games played so far, there have been 115 home wins (40%) to 94 away wins and 79 draws. This means that a) the home turf advantage has not been as big of an asset as the last time around, when it produced 45% win ratio and b) there are as many as five Premier League teams that defied the norm by winning the majority of their points on the road (namely: Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester and Liverpool).
15. Speaking of Liverpool: they have managed to beat Norwich at Carrow Road. It wouldn’t be anything special; except for the fact that the scoreline was 5-4 in favour of the visitors, the teams have scored one goal each in the 90+ minute, The Reds have come back from 1-3 at the 54th minute and Jürgen Klopp’s glasses got smashed in the post-match mayhem of ecstasy.
Glasses have been broken…
16. Despite the five-goal craziness, the German manager must be disappointed with his main striker. While still at Aston Villa, Christian Benteke has scored 11 goals in the last ten 2014/15 Premier League matches. Now, at Liverpool, Benteke has contributed only eight goals in 24 games, often times warming the bench. At the same time, his former club has managed to bag only twice as many goals in 29 games as their former #9 scored during his spring run.
17. Another forward upset with his performance would be WBA’s one-man strike force, Saido Berahino. Only four goals in 24 games from a guy who banged 14 in 2014/15 is not a good return. What’s worse, Berahino has been in a lengthy dispute with his club regarding his failed Tottenham transfer last summer and now, his is easily in the shadow of Baggies’ most expensive signing ever, Salomon Rondón.
18. Rondón’s West Brom have already played as many as three five-goal thrillers this season, each of them ending 3-2 and one of them even ending in WBA’s victory. That, combined with 2-2 draws against Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester, proves that even a team based on infamous ‘Pulisball’ tactics is not completely immune to the insanity around.
19. WBA aren’t the only side that improved offensively. Following the sub-par 2014/15 performance, West Ham have completely changed their ways and are now the sixth top-scoring Premier League at the moment, surpassing both the point and the goal tally from the last season with nine games to spare. Truly remarkable – considering that this is, you know, West Ham…
20. The catalyst of Hammers’ leap forward has been Dimitri Payet. With 55 successful dribbles completed in just 22 games, 8-goal and 7-assist return and London Player of the Year Award snatched from Mesut Özil himself, the Frenchman has pretty much conquered England immediately. Best proof? Despite his 3 month-long injury, he is still the fourth best-scoring midfielder in the Fantasy Premier League.
21. Slaven Bilić has done a terrific job at teaching his players how to win in the lions’ dens. 2-0 at Emirates, a shocking 3-0 at Anfield, following two early strikes and, in the end, 2-1 victory at Etihad, despite having to defend their lead desperately with the record-breaking 57 clearances. Too bad that the team had also a streak of eight games without a single win – otherwise, they would be finding themselves in the top 3.
22. If West Ham are the kings of away games, Stoke are the kings of their home. Results are telling the tale: they have beaten Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United and drew Arsenal – all that at Britannia Stadium; all that with four clean sheets to their name. On the other hand, Mark Hughes’ lads have lost in front of their own fans against Liverpool, Everton, Crystal Palace, Watford and West Brom, scoring only one goal in those five matches.
23. After bringing in 46 big-money signing in the last eight years, after shedding over £1.000.000.000 in the transfer fees alone, Manchester City were still forced to field 35-years old Martin Demichelis in a bunch of competitive games. And, as usual, the Argentinian lad put his own, double-left-foot effort into the results like 1-4 to Spurs, 1-4 to Liverpool, 0-2 to Stoke and 1-3 to Leicester.
…and Demichelis had his legs trammeled by a Spiderman.
24. City’s most recent big signing, £49 million man Raheem Sterling has scored six goals and produced two assists in 26 Premier League matches so far. To put it in the perspective: that is the same return as the one provided by Ayoze Pérez at Newcastle – much inferior club that paid only £1.5 million to sign their Spanish forward in 2014.
25. Crystal Palace’s defenders have scored in total 8 goals out of 31 their team has managed to net this season. There isn’t really anything else interesting to say about Alan Pardew’s team – maybe except for the fact that they’ve spent the last seven months without a proper forward, signed Emmanuel Adebayor out of pure desperation and thus, put the pressure on their forgotten hero Connor Wickham, to finally start hitting the target again.
26. Another team to profit from their back-four’s attacking skills are Southampton. The centre-back partnership of Fonte and van Dijk has already came up with 5 goals while Maya Yoshida added one and the emergency right-back Cuco Martina contributed what is likely to be the goal of the season so far. Ronald Koeman must be proud.
27. Weirdly enough, once Saints have been blessed with the return of Fraser Forster, they’ve also stopped conceding goals for a full month. The guy who’s been watching the action from the stands for 10 months had a cracker of a game against Arsenal, set the new club record of 708 minutes with a clean sheet and only lost it to Fàbregas – after 45 days of maintaining it.
Goals against Fraser Forster are like buses…
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) February 27, 2016
28. Spurs are winning many (15 so far) games. Spurs are not conceding many (only 24, less than anyone else) goals. Toby Alderweireld rapidly grows to be the best centre-back in England while Mousa Dembélé races N’Golo Kanté for the title of the best all-around midfield enforcer. And that’s Tottenham – the team known for dropping the ball in the middle of the season and never recovering their fans’ dream of actually achieving something.
29. One of the two teams to actually accomplish the unthinkable and beat Spurs at White Hart Lane is Newcastle. However, apart from that result and a sensational 2-0 home win over Liverpool, Steve McClaren’s team is pretty much doomed. Reason? 53 goals conceded in 28 games with lads like Coloccini, Dummett or Stevie Taylor constantly embarrassing themselves.
30. And, last but not least, the leader of the other team to beat Tottenham in London. Riyad Mahrez. Fifteen goals. Eleven assists. Top of the table. Top of the world, almost. All that from the Algerian who, just two years ago, would be kicking the ball in the French Second Division, getting only six goals in 60 appearances for Le Havre. And now, he’s here.