One of the stranger moves at the beginning of the year was Pardew’s flight from Newcastle to the club he made his name at as a player. Unloved at St. James, Pardew seemed to be taking on an even greater challenge at the poorer, less-renowned South London club. Instead, Crystal Palace soared under Pardew -- while the Magpies needed to fight until the final day to avoid the drop.
Getty ImagesClive Rose
Liverpool’s collapse under Brendan Rodgers
Selling Luis Suarez would cost any team dearly – particularly when you don’t replace him. This year saw Rodgers become the first Reds manager since the 1950s not to win a single piece of silverware in three years in charge. He would pay for it not at the close of the season in May, but in October, when it was clear the team had quit on him.
Getty ImagesLaurence Griffiths
Leicester’s great escape
Nigel Pearson ruffled a lot of feathers at Leicester but give him credit: after the Foxes were bottom at Christmas, he got the team out of the drop zone and up to 14th by the following May. It was an incredible Houdini act, and a revival that continues today as it is unlikely Leicester looking down from the top as we head into the holidays.
Getty ImagesMichael Regan
Harry Kane emerges as the next great English hope
Tottenham have not had many reasons to be cheerful in recent years, but the emergence of Kane as a reliable scorer is a big bright spot. With 31 goals last season across all play and another ten to date at time of publication, Kane is showing himself to be a rare thing: a reliable young, English forward. Expect him to star in France at the European Championship this summer.
Getty ImagesClive Brunskill
Charlie Adam’s 66-yard goal at Chelsea
The goal of the season was scored in spectacular fashion April 4, a rocket from beyond midfield from Stoke’s Adam that caught Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois by surprise. The goal came out of nowhere, just before the half, and as Adam would later admit, it was both accurate and lucky. “Once in a lifetime,” said Adam. Stoke would lose the game 2-1 as Chelsea marched to the crown.
Getty ImagesIan Walton
Jurgen Klopp joins the Prem
One of the great characters in world football, the always manic, always quotable Klopp ended his sabbatical from football early to take over at a struggling Liverpool. It’s early days yet -- and he clearly has a lot of work to do making over an unbalanced team -- but he has brought a freshness and a joy to Anfield that was in precious short supply last season under Rodgers. May it continue.
Liverpool FC via Getty ImagesNick Taylor
Chelsea wins title; Eden Hazard acclaimed as best player in league
Last season, Chelsea looked unstoppable, grinding out wins and results week after week and putting a sword to all comers. Hazard was the key man, endlessly creative and tough, able to score seemingly at will in key contests. The games were rarely pretty – Chelsea were downright thuggish more than once – but Jose Mourinho got the results the fans demanded. And that’s why …
Getty ImagesMike Hewitt
Chelsea’s stunning collapse shocks all
… yes, here we are in December of 2015, and that tough, rugged Chelsea seems a distant memory. Or was it all a dream? The Blues have made the worst defense to a title in Premier League history and are in a relegation scrap. Mourinho looks a broken man, and Hazard looks nowhere close to being world-class.
AFP/Getty ImagesPAUL ELLIS
Oft-criticized Arsenal turn out to be 2015’s best team
If trophies were given out in a calendar year, the Gunners would be close to wrapping one up. They have been the best team from January to December this year, collecting 75 points to date, better than all other teams. Unfortunately, teams don’t play in a calendar year… and Arsenal have not won the league since 2003-04. Still, the Gunners are pretty good -- and in this wild EPL season, anything can happen.
Arsenal FC via Getty ImagesStuart MacFarlane
Jamie Vardy, scoring machine, record-breaker
How many of you named the one-time non-league player as the probable golden boot winner for the season? That would be none. Sure, Vardy -- a consistent scorer at every level -- had carried Leicester into the top-flight, but he seemed overawed by the Prem last season. Not now: he set a new record in 2015, scoring in 13 consecutive matches, to pass the great Ruud van Nistelrooy’s mark of 12. With fifteen goals already under his belt and better than half the season to play, he is the man to beat. Which brings up our next point ...
Leicester’s improbable rise to the top
Everything was supposed to be against the Foxes this season. They’d hired the wrong manager, they didn’t have the talent, and they certainly didn’t have the money. A lot of people are eating their hats this December as the Foxes peer down at the pack. Can they win the title? It’s unlikely – but at this point, why not?
Getty ImagesMichael Regan
Aston Villa’s free-fall continues
Once a proud club, Villa have been anything but over the past several seasons. This season looks to be their Waterloo as they are almost certain to be relegated. It’s a huge comedown for the founding member of the Football League in 1888 and a founding member of the Premier League. But poor decisions, poor management and wasteful spending have laid them low, and they look incapable of winning any games at all.
Getty ImagesJames Baylis - AMA
Jose Mourinho’s fall from grace
The end finally came in mid-December with a quiet word on the training ground. Ten minutes later, Mourinho was out for the second time at Chelsea, his reputation in tatters and his future uncertain. The club turned to old hand Guus Hiddink to steer their revival and avoid relegation, but as the year came to an end, that was far from certain.