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Premier League


09:32 EAT 22/06/2017
Chelsea 2016/17 Premier League champions, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta
The race for the Premier League title was a one-horse race for most parts of the 2016/17 season with the rest fighting for the CL spots....

It was a season to remember for Stamford Bridge faithful. For the second time in three years, Chelsea were crowned the Premier League champions. Under the reign of new manager Antonio Conte, the Stamford Bridge club claimed the title in comprehensive fashion, racing to a tally of 93 points that was well beyond the 86 managed by runners-up Tottenham Hotspur.

The Blues won 30 out of the 38 matches, setting a new Premier League record – beating their own mark, set when they won 29 matches in the 2004-05 season under Jose Mourinho.

As for the defending champions Leicester City, who stormed to the title in the 2015-16 season for a fairytale ending, the championship defence was a torrid adventure. Starting the season as a pale shadow of what they had achieved in 2015/16, the Foxes flirted with the relegation positions, leading to the sacking of manager Claudio Ranieri.

Thankfully, under new manager Craig Shakespeare, they scripted a revival of sorts. They gelled well and put in performances that steadily helped them rise up the ladder and finish 12th.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur – powered by the goal-scoring prowess of Harry Kane – finished as runner-up in a season that saw them keep pace with the leaders until only the final few weekends.

Just like last year, it was their talismanic striker Kane who notched up another Golden Boot award, becoming only the fifth person, and the first since Robin van Persie (2012 and 2013) to claim the award for two successive seasons. Kane scored 29 times in the Premier League this season, which was two more than what the relegated Middlesbrough team could score.

In third came Manchester City, who had actually looked favourites to win the title, given the spectacular start they had to the season. They had won six out of their first six matches, but slipped up midway through the season.

They held on to their Champions League position after a late surge, which had a lot to do with the return of captain Vincent Kompany, who had struggled with injuries for two years. The powerful Belgian marshalled the defence ably in the latter stages of the tournament, even popping up to chip in with crucial momentum-changing goals.

Peering over to Merseyside, under Jurgen Klopp, the Reds of Liverpool finally made a comeback to the Champions League after finishing fourth. In a season marred by inconsistencies, the Reds kept a miraculous record against the top ranked clubs, remaining undefeated. But their slips against lower-ranked opponents meant they had to wait until the final gameday to secure the Champions League playoff spot. 

All didn’t turn out well for Arsenal though, who for the first time in 20 years, failed to qualify for the Champions League. Arsene Wenger’s men fell just one point short of Liverpool (76) in the table, eventually coming up at fifth with 75 points.

Finally, in sixth place came Manchester United in their debut season under Jose Mourinho. Still going through the rebuilding stages post the retirement of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, the Reds found a keen goalscorer in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as skipper Wayne Rooney – who became the club’s leading goalscorer after overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s tally of 249 to set a new mark at 253 goals – steadily got sidelined after a string of poor performances.

However, in the world’s most expensive player, Paul Pogba, United found a linchpin in midfield. Yet the gifted Frenchman could not drive the Red Devils alone, and often suffered from inconsistent patches.

Despite finishing sixth, United had a strong run in the Europa League when they won the title. According to UEFA provisions, the win propels United into an automatic spot in the Champions League next year.

It was a year of highly competitive football with the usual dose of drama. In fact, the 75 points Arsenal managed as a 5th placed team was the highest achieved by a team in that position in the Premier League era – another testament to the nature of the competition.