As 2016 draws to a close EPL Index takes a look at five things we learned from a busy calendar year which included several management changes, a whole host of awards and some fantastic goals. Leicester City achieved the impossible but are now struggling in the depths of the relegation zone just six months later, while Chelsea have taken the Premier League by storm in the new season.
Diego Costa can deliver the Premier League title for Chelsea
He is possibly one of the most disliked players in the Premier League but it’s clear he has some serious talent. The Chelsea forward had an off-season in 2015-16 and the Blues failed to mount a challenge for the title. They slipped into the relegation zone and spent the following six months building there way back up the table, finishing the season in 10th place. It was an improvement at the start of the year but Costa and Eden Hazard’s failure to find form proved ultimately costly for Chelsea.
Since the summer, Costa has been magnificent. He is the league’s top goal-scorer with 14 goals in his first 18 appearances and he’s provided five assists too. It means he’s been involved in scoring a goal in each of his Premier League appearances in the 2016-17 season and it’s helped Chelsea reach the top of the table. They sit six points ahead of Liverpool, despite being beaten by the Merseysiders earlier this season. An incredible run of 12 games unbeaten and only two goals conceded has highlighted Chelsea’s recent surge of success and it’s Costa who is central to it all.
He could be the one to bring the league title back to Chelsea and it’s crucial he remains injury-free.
Jamie Vardy could be a one-season-wonder
The Leicester City man was incredible for Claudio Raneiri’s side when they lifted the league title last summer but his goal-scoring form has been a huge disappointment in 2016-17. The change Vardy has experienced in 2016 has been astonishing but it may have proven many doubts from fans who claimed he was a one-season-wonder. Six months ago he was runner-up in the race for the Golden Boot, a nomination for the PFA Player of the Year and a Premier League champion. Now, he has just five league goals to his name, just two substitute international appearances since June and his side could face the drop in May.
He scored 24 league goals last season but aside from a sensational hat-trick against Manchester City, Vardy has done very little to help his side and it has coincided with their graceless fall. Perhaps the fairy tale story is already over?
Jose Mourinho has lost the battle of the managers
It’s not been the best calendar year for Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese was sacked following a poor spell with Chelsea and spent the start of the year unemployed. He was then handed a fantastic opportunity to prove himself as the best manager in the world as he took over at Manchester United and has battled it out against Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp in 2016-17. However, Mourinho has not fared as well as he’d have liked and after spending over £200 million on transfers in the summer, it’s his side who trail the top five clubs in the Premier League.
United are just three points behind Tottenham but they have struggled to show the same level of consistency as Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal and the league table shows that. Mourinho’s big-money buys have not had the kind of impact many had expected, though Zlatan Ibrahimovic has started to get his goal-scoring boots back on in recent weeks. The record-breaking sum United paid for Paul Pogba has not yet been justified and Mourinho has failed to inspire supporters, producing dull performances against Liverpool and Manchester City in an attempt to avoid defeat.
Klopp has done wonders in Merseyside and Conte’s tactical switch has made Chelsea unbeatable but Mourinho is yet to showcase any kind of brilliance in comparison and though Guardiola has struggled to adapt too, his side are still very much in the title race.