Leicester City – Final league position: 1st
“Claudio Ranieri? Really?” Gary Lineker ‘s tweet on the 13th of July last year summed up the lukewarm reception Ranieri received when he was appointed Leicester City’s new manager at the beginning of this season following Nigel Pearson’s departure. Now they are Premier League Champions for the first time in their 132-year history and they have thoroughly deserved. It just goes to show that money isn’t everything. Jamie Vardy won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year 2016 award as well as Barclays Player of Year, Claudio Ranieri got the Manager of the Year accolade and Riyad Mahrez was crowned PFA Player of the Year. However, the whole team deserve awards. Midfielder N’Golo Kante has been phenomenal this season, as has captain Wes Morgan. Wes Morgan and Kasper Schmeichel are two of only three players to have played every minute of the Premier League this season. Only four previous PL champions have won the title by a greater points margin than Leicester this season. The Foxes are living proof that when you work hard, it pays off. Well done Leicester City!
Tottenham Hotspur – Final league position: 3rd
Irrespective of their last four results (drawn two, lost two) and the fact that they allowed their North London rivals Arsenal to finish above them for the 21st consecutive season, Tottenham have had a very good season. Englishman Harry Kane scored 25 goals in 38 Premier League games to claim the 2015/16 Golden Boot, Hugo Lloris narrowly missed out on the 2015/16 Golden Glove even though he kept an impressive 13 clean sheets and Dele Alli was named PFA Young Player of the Year. Spurs lost six games this season. Only Leicester (lost three) have done better. In addition, the 10 goals Spurs conceded in their last four Premier League games was more than they did in their previous 14 when they conceded nine which just goes to show how solid Spurs have been defensively this season. Boasting the youngest squad in the Premier League, some of England’s best talents and with manager Mauricio Pochettino signing a contract this week that commits him to the club until 2021, the future is bright for Spurs.
Southampton – Final league position: Subject to change
Since the start of 2016, only Leicester (42) have taken more points than Southampton (39). Following Ronald Koeman’s appointment, the Saints have now beaten every team in the Premier League once. Southampton keeper Fraser Forster was out for 10 months, but when he returned, he passed Paul Jones’s top-flight record for the longest run of time without conceding a goal, reaching 708 minutes. He kept six consecutive clean sheets on his return, making 17 saves in that span. Considering they had a few dips in the season, Southampton have done exceptionally well. Koeman and his players have been quietly excellent and due to the success of Leicester it has gone under the radar. Shane Long has had his best season in terms of goals at Southampton, scoring 10 in the league and 12 in all competitions. To top it all off, they qualified for the Europa League with a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace and the highest points total they have ever achieved in the Premier League. At the moment they are 5th, but as long as Man United do not lose to Bournemouth tomorrow, Southampton will finish the season in 6th place.
West Ham – Final league position: 7th
If Man United win the FA Cup on Saturday, the Hammers will reach the Europa League third qualifying round next season, but even if that doesn’t happen, West Ham should be proud of their season. They have achieved their best Premier League points total and scored 65 goals which is the most goals they have scored in a Premier League season. They have beaten every team in the top six bar Leicester at least once this season and they beat Liverpool both home and away in the Premier League. Dimitri Payet has been West Ham’s best player by far this season with nine Premier League goals and twelve assists. His free-kicks have been a joy to behold. Eight of those assists and three of those goals have come in his last 12 Premier League appearances.
Watford – Final league position: 13th
The second half of Watford’s season has been incredibly poor, they lost six of their last 10 games, won two and drew two. They will also be looking for a new manager next season with Quique Sanchez Flores departing after yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland. Troy Deeney and Ighalo scored 28 Premier League goals between them. Deeney got 13 of those and is 4th on the list of most goals scored by English players in the Premier League this season. The Hornets ended 2015 in 8th place and considering their dip in form, they should be proud that their final league position is only five places below this. Their main aim was to avoid relegation and they have definitely done that.