Alphabet of Wonders

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A
is for assists
He is way too polite to admit it, but we all know this: Mesut Özil is quite possibly the most frustrated footballer on this planet right now. The German was on a verge of breaking all the creativity records England has ever seen and of becoming another player to single-handedly carry his team to the trophy-winning glory. But that was four months ago. In the last nine games, MÖ11 has delivered only one assist and his team would continue to throw away the chances he created to crash out of the title race. To call it a disappointment would be an understatement.

B is for Britannia Stadium
The usual graveyard of big clubs was largely responsible for Stoke’s good run in the middle of the season. After a 0-1 false start against Liverpool, The Potters would delight their fans by scoring home wins over Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, getting away with a clean sheet in each of those game. Stoke’s actual ‘groundsman’ this season has been Marko Arnautović, who netted eight out of his 11 Premier League goals in front of the home crowd. Sadly enough, the injuries of Jack Butland, Erik Pieters and Glen Johnson at the end of the season have hit Mark Hughes’ team hard – and, as the effect, Tottenham’s visit in “the lion’s den” has ended with a 0-4 rout for Harry Kane and his friends.

C is for chat shit, get banged
2011/12 season: Jamie Vardy is playing for a Conference Premier team Fleetwood Town, later proving to be that division’s top scorer and securing the fifth-tier title for his team.

2015/16 season: Jamie Vardy is the Premier League champion and joint-second top scorer, making his England National Team début and breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of goals netted in consecutive BPL appearances.

 

D is for dilly-ding-dilly-dong

E is for Europe
It’s been another miserable continental-cup story for the Premier League. Manchester United couldn’t get past Wolfsburg and PSV in the Champions League; Chelsea were easily the second-best team in a confrontation against Paris SG. Arsenal, traditionally hit the brick wall of Barcelona, but not before suffering two bizarre group-stage defeats to Dinamo and Olympiacos. A little better story has been provided by Tottenham, who had fairly decent run in Europa League – at least until Dortmund jumped in and outclassed Poch’s XI. So the only club to save England’s name was actually Liverpool – the authors of a memorable, quarter-final comeback against BvB. Will they be able to beat Sevilla in Milan?

F is for flops
As usual, there were plenty. Well over £1 billion spent by 20 clubs didn’t prevent them from picking the wrong men for the job. Chelsea agreed to pay a £5 million loan fee for the services of permanently injured Falcao; Newcastle threw away £12m for Florian Thauvin only to never see him play; Liverpool splashed £32.5m on Christian Benteke, who couldn’t even break into The Reds’ first team for the most of this season. However, the biggest miss of the season was, without a doubt, Memphis Depay. This £25 million lad saw the likes of Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard and out-of-position Anthony Martial all outrunning him for a spot in Manchester United’s starting XI. What a waste.

G is for grooming
Easily the most disgusting story of the season has been Adam Johnson’s trial over his sexual advances towards the 15-years old girl. It was mind-blowing how a wealthy, young man who lives in a mansion, drives a luxury car and enjoys life with a hot fiancé replaced it all with few years in prison and a public disgrace. There is not much more to say about this case. Young girls, stay away from professional footballers – chances are, those cunts are not as nice and, like in Adam Johnson’s case, not as skilled in football, as you think.

H is for Hazard
There was no greater fall from grace this season than the story of 2014/15 Player of the Season. He would start off with the reputation of a leading BPL star, with 14 goals and 10 assists to his name in the previous campaign. It’s now May 2016 and the Belgium international has produced just four goals and four assists. In the meantime, he would go through a horrific decline of form, one big managerial change, an unsuccessful tactical experiment as a false nine and a bunch of games watched exclusively from the bench. The bright spot? Just like the last season, his brilliant goal at the end of the season has sealed the league title for a team in blue shirts. Only this time, that team wasn’t Chelsea…

I is for injuries
Many people have already tried to undermine Leicester’s triumph and all of them failed – but one thing is for sure, LCFC have almost completely managed to avoid fitness problems. During their splendid conquest, the injuries were plaguing such names as Agüero, De Bruyne, Kompany, David Silva, Rose, Vertonghen, Cazorla, Coquelin, Rooney, Shaw, Schweinsteiger, Henderson, Ings, Sakho, Sturridge, Payet… Despite playing with a 100% consistent line-up, the worst Foxes experienced was few muscle cramps in Mahrez’s legs and Jeffrey Schlupp’s knee injury sustained at one of the Ghana’s national team gatherings. Is it just the result of playing in only one competition for nearly entire season? Or maybe a sign from above?

J is for jobs
The managers have been surprisingly secure about their positions this season. Louis van Gaal has survived a gigantic slump at Manchester United and Steve McClaren’s catastrophic spell at Newcastle has been stopped by sacking at least three months too late. This actually has been the theme of the entire league run: the bosses who eventually flew through the door were always the ones who got two or three chances too many. Still, few people expected that the names like Monk, Mourinho and Rodgers will all be enjoying unemployment this time of the year. Apparently, the fate of a BPL commander-in-chief remains a Russian roulette…

K is for Kanté’s heat map

No comments.


L
is for Lineker

 

M is for Mahrez
Who the fuck is Riyad Mahrez? That’s the question most football fans in Europe would’ve asked just ten months ago. The Algerian took part in Foxes’ miraculous escape from the relegation, but four goals and three assists in 30 appearances hardly impressed anyone, maybe apart from few die-hard Leicester fans. This time around, though, the anonymous winger needed just eight Premier League games to surpass his last-season achievement and he simply wouldn’t stop delivering – up to the point, when he deservedly won the Player of the Year accolade. Number-wise: an absolute supernova; style-wise: the new coming of Arjen Robben, whose cutting inside on the left foot is just too fast to handle.

N is for nothing (to say)

O is for odds
The season of surprises has pleased the bookmakers – but only up to the certain point. When Leicester’s ridiculous title run has been completed, the bookies immediately reported a £25 million losses. The reason? In order to lure people into making outrageously unlikely bets, they had to overblow the winning odds – until they’ve actually reached 5000/1 margin (Justin Bieber to be elected USA president was only 2500/1 – and the guy wasn’t even born in United States to meet the constitutional criteria). Of course, such practice paid off as long as there were enough overly optimistic fans and the absolute outsiders were never actually winning anything. But Claudio Ranieri had other plans.

P is for philosophy
This season, Manchester United were eliminated in the group stages of the Champions League. They would also consistently top the league’s ‘sideways passing’ statistic, go on a eight-game winless streak between late November and the New Year’s Eve, use Marouane Fellaini as a target man for the lack of a better striker and be a part of constant speculations about hiring José Mourinho for the 2016/17 season. The mastermind behind all that – Louis van Gaal – spent his time berating the journalists, starting various players in rather eccentric positions and taking multiple notes during each game. The catch for all that? During his spell at Old Trafford, the Dutchman has spent as much as £250million on new players.

Q is for quote
“I’m never surprised by the criticism that comes. After 20 years I’m used to it.” – Arsène Wenger, March 2016, following Arsenal’s 2-3 defeat at Old Trafford, against injury-plagued Manchester United team.

R is for refereeing
Using the rude words was never one of my strengths, but let’s be frank: the referees this season have deserved no other, common nickname than ‘clampets’. Mark Clattenburg’s two offside goals standing for Tottenham against Man City (4-1); Mike Dean’s failure to send off Diego Costa instead of Gabriel in Chelsea vs Arsenal (2-0); Robert Madley’s blatant Sunderland favouritism in Tyne-Wear Derby (3-0); Craig Pawson’s two offside goals standing for Arsenal against West Ham (3-3); and finally, another rotten ‘Clattenburger’, when he forgot to send off two or three lads in a title-deciding Chelsea vs Tottenham game (2-2). A comedy of ugly errors – and those are only off the top of my head.

S is for stats
They lie. They very much lie. Leicester have won the league while being the second-worst team in terms of pass completion (70.2%) and the third-worst team in terms of possession (44.7%). On the other hand, there was also this sad statistical lie fact for the runner-up Tottenham:

Oh, how angry Pochettino has to be…


T
is for tweet of the season

 

U is for upsets
This season saw Norwich winning at Old Trafford; Bournemouth winning at Stamford Bridge; Crystal Palace taking three point at Anfield; Newcastle collecting the win from White Hart Lane and Swansea dismantling West Ham at Upton Park. If anyone is still surprised that just 80 points was enough to seal the first place, don’t: the financial parity has turned Premier League into the most exciting, most unpredictable big league to follow.

W is for winter
This time, the impact of winter signings was truly negligible. Everton have managed to burn£13.5 million on Oumar Niasse, which didn’t the club’s gradual meltdown. Newcastle signed Jonjo Shelvey, who from then on played a bunch of poor games. Benik Afobe (£10m, Bournemouth) and Alberto Paloschi (£8 m, Swansea) had only one or two good games before slipping into obscurity. Only Timm Klose (£8.5m, Norwich) and Andros Townsend (£12m, Newcastle) truly lived up to the expectations.

V is for Villa
Sad, but logical: The Villains are sinking. This summer, they let go of their two absolutely key players: a striker and a defensive midfielder. What’s worse, the latter has turned out to be a snake and fled to Manchester City just week after his declaration of loyalty to the Claret and Blue shirt. The following season was no better: new and talented left-back Jordan Amavi has suffered a season-ending injury already in November while the other Jordan – Ayew – would only capture the headlines after a straight red received against West Ham. Four managers in charge, embarrassing 11 defeats in a row and new kid on the block, Jack Grealish having to be disciplined for partying in nightclubs – yeah, you get the big picture.

X is for xperience
It’s fair to say that the older players had less impact on the season than in the 2014/15 campaign. However, Heurelho Gomes (35) has been consistently excellent in Watford’s goal; Wes Hoolahan (33) provided a bunch of assists for struggling Norwich side and Jeremaine Defoe (33) single-handedly lifted Sunderland towards the survival with over a dozen of goals. On the other hand, the likes of Tim Howard (37), John Terry (35) and Yaya Touré (32) have been on a severe decline, proving once again that it’s the smaller, less ambitious teams, who are usually benefiting from the veterans’ presence.

Y is for youth
The youngest BPL player this season – 16-years old Reece Oxford – had a cracker of a game on the opening day against Arsenal. Two years older Marcus Rashford stepped up in the absence of better strikers and scored a brace (incidentally, also against Gunners). His Man City peer Kelechi Iheanacho also started to bag goals despite the crazy competition for MC’s starting XI. 19-years old Dele Alli has been a sensation at Tottenham while Alex Iwobi enjoyed a bunch of promising games for Arsenal. Those five lads, along with Joseph Gomez (Liverpool), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) and Jonathan Leko (WBA) are currently the league’s main hope for a brighter future.

Z is for zing!

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