Over the next couple weeks, the staff of 32 Flags will be counting down some of the top achievements and moments of this calendar year. 2016 has seen many things in the soccer world from the good to the bad and the ordinary to the extraordinary. Today, we are counting down the top Premier League matches of 2016.
I’ve actually kept this list in mind all year long, writing down great games right after they happened so hopefully that will cut down how many games I forget. You may notice some teams are more represented on this list then others and to that I say, if your favorite team’s manager played more like Jurgen Klopp and less like Louis van Gaal then your team would probably appear on this list a bit more.
10) Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool (December)
Entering this game, Liverpool were a free scoring team that seemed to have taken care of their defensive struggles. Bournemouth were a team that could compete but if they were going to beat a top team, they would certainly have to do it in a low scoring affair. That’s not what we got here, with both teams going back and forth only to have the game be decided on a howler by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius.
9) Tottenham 2-0 Manchester City (October)
The Pep Guardiola era could not have gotten off to a better start at Manchester City. City won their first six games of the season and hadn’t looked to be challenged in any of them. But things would be different when they rolled in to White Hart Lane and faced a Spurs team that was ready for them. Tottenham attacked City right where they were at their weakest, laying out the blueprint for everyone as to how to beat City and running them off the field in the process.
8) Everton 1-1 Tottenham (January)
Just to diversify this list a bit. It’s not always the games with the most goals that are the best games. Sometimes you can have a low scoring game that’s a thriller and that’s what happened at Goodison Park in early January. Two teams in good form just both going for the win. Good attacks, good defending, and a deserved point for both teams.
7) West Ham 3-3 Arsenal (April)
Arsenal needed a win to keep their slim title hopes alive. West Ham needed a win to keep their slim hopes at the top four. Arsenal struck twice in the first 35 minutes but that was erased when Andy Carroll of all people recorded a hat trick within 10 minutes on each side of half time. A second half Laurent Koscielny goal salvaged a point for the Gunners in a six goal thriller.
6) Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool (August)
The Premier League kicked off with Arsenal entertaining Liverpool and entertaining is certainly the right word. Philippe Coutinho hit a wonder strike right before halftime, but it was the five goal second half that got the season off on the right foot.
5) Manchester City 1-3 Leicester City (February)
All season long, people seemed to be moving the goalposts on when they would actually think Leicester could win the title. “Let’s see how they navigate the festive period,” “How will they fare when they are the hunted?” “Let’s see how they do when they face Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal in consecutive weeks to kick off February.” Well Leicester announced to the world that they were legit by going up to the Ethiad and taking Manchester City out to the woodshed. No one was doubting their title credentials after this one.
4) Norwich 4-5 Liverpool (January)
I have no problem with the rival of my favorite team playing attacking football with no regard for defense. Sure games like this will happen where they win a shootout, but for every Norwich game there is, there’s also a Bournemouth game (see above) and therefore I can watch these games and still be entertained. And boy, what a game this was.
3) Swansea City 5-4 Crystal Palace (November)
Would Bob Bradley’s first Premier League win automatically make this list? That’s a secret that only I know. But when it’s done in the fashion that it was done in? You bet ya. From 3-1 up to 4-3 down to a winner in injury time. This will probably be the best win in Bradley’s entire Premier League career.
2) Leicester City 2-2 West Ham (April)
The King Power was rocking for this one. Leicester desperately needed points to keep Tottenham from catching them in the title race. West Ham desperately needed a win to cling to their top four hopes. This was one of the best atmospheres the Premier League witnessed all season and the game certainly delivered. With Leicester down to 10 men thanks to a Jamie Vardy red card, the Hammers thought they had struck a winner four minutes from time thanks to Aaron Cresswell’s stunner. But 2016 was the year that Leicester would not die, grabbing a dramatic equalizer on an injury time penalty.
1) Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham (May)
This match had it all. There wasn’t much on the line for Chelsea but any dropped points for Tottenham would clinch the title for Leicester City. Determined to not allow that to happen, Spurs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half. And that was the last good thing about Tottenham’s season. Spurs collapsed in the second half, with Eden Hazard’s sensational equalizer serving as the nail in the coffin for their title hopes and giving Leicester City their improbable Premier League title.