The big difference between Chelsea's 3-2 defeat to Stoke last season and 2-0 win on Monday was Nemanja Matic's dominant display in midfield, writes Matt Stanger...
It's that time of year, when we look back with fondness and wonder. So, here for your delectation are Football365's top ten players of the year. Please don't get angry, okay?
What do the papers, the TV, and fans of other clubs think about your team? In this series, John Nicholson and Alan Tyers look at the stereotypes, coverage and media agendas for each team in the Premier League. This week, it's the turn of stripey south coasters, Southampton.
Ex-player pundit presence
The great Le Tissier is a cheerful soul and enjoyable company on Soccer Saturday. Fittingly for a player with his appetite for work, he never seems to do much else. Actually eats real chips while working. Respect. Mick Channon and Andy Townsend we mentioned last week, Sir Keggy needs no further comment, nor does Alan Shearer. Please God. Iain Dowie is a regular panellist and brings the manic-eyed intensity of a man who has seen god but can't quite find the words to describe the experience. Neil Ruddock is enormous. Peter Shilton was, for a while, the subject of a truly great Twitter parody account but that seems to have closed. Terry Paine MBE has (or certainly had) himself a pundit job in South Africa; the gag was that he had lived in Africa so long he'd changed his name to Terry Painembe.
Radio host Christian O'Connell, preposterously bearded UK Garage star Craig David, Sky Sports presenter Ed Chamberlin, Top Gear presenter Tiff Needell (a dude, not a lady, despite what the name would suggest), the drummer out of Coldplay and the drummer out of Coldplay's dad are among those claiming Sainthood, or having it claimed for them. Glamour model Lucy Pinder appeared on Soccer Saturday in a Southampton shirt, which was presumably for nice for Southampton fans who like that sort of thing.
Back page leaders?
Ownership wrangles and general "boo, more foreigners are owning our great old clubs," are pretty much the only headlines The Saints are likely to garner unless they have a massive ruck with Portsmouth, which is always likely. Despite their presence in the top flight and long pedigree, the media seem to treat Southampton as also-rans; small beer who are "down there on the coast somewhere." Might get a mention if one of the old boys has a good lunch with Lawrie McMenemy who continues to dine well off his few successful years at the club starting in the 1890/91 season.
Gaffer's media skills
Mauricio Pochettino's continuing inability to communicate in English is either a ridiculous failure or a brilliant ruse, depending on how you look at it. Initial suspicion of swarthy foreigner taking over from upstanding Englishman was a default media standpoint for a while. Then everyone realised the man we're calling MoPo has got them playing some sodding good football, got them fitter and more well-organised too, so the little Englanders have shut up, thankfully. He seems like a nice bloke.
Vox pop cliché fan
Currently chippy at being ignored by mainstream media whilst being a bit good. Sick of only getting a mention when everyone is going on about Gareth bloody Bale and Theo sodding Walcott. Still sad at not playing at The Dell. Easily prompted into LeTiss worship. Old timers will do a windmill arm celebration, Channon style, with very little prompting.
Keyboard warrior ferocity
Will actually fight with Portsmouth fans using a keyboard as a weapon but outside of that, none seems to exist, possibly due to easy access to the calming influence of those nice ponies in the New Forest.
Of the clubs we have covered so far, answering this section for Southampton has been far and away the hardest task. There was the Rupert Lowe era, an unusually posh period that reached its apogee with the appointment of Lowe chum Sir Clive Woodward, of egg-chasing fame, as a Director of Sports Science And Wearing Chinos, but that's all over now. Southampton's brand? We genuinely don't know. What makes Southampton Southampton? Anyone?
Allows everyone to say "they've got a great academy" because of Bale and Walcott while knowing nothing at all about the club. Everyone Loves Matthew. Produced two of the most enjoyable results of the Premier League era - thumping Man United 6-3 and then 3-1 when Ferguson moaned about grey kits. Older fans may remember Saints beating United 4-1 in the 1986 League Cup third round replay, a result that was the final nail in Big Wrong's coffin. Depth of hatred for Portsmouth is impressive. Always used to be called Soton in football scores, a somehow mystical and now old-fashioned but much-missed abbreviation.
Archetypal news stories
'I Am Hello Thank Please' blasts Saints boss.
Pochettino declares, "We have parachutes but no wolves, so no soup for you."
Southampton census reports 55% of male babies named Matthew, 60% of female babies also. All said to be fat and lazy but talented.
Southampton get tiny percentage of transfer money off resale of someone who used to play for them ages ago.
John Nicholson and Alan Tyers
See Alan's new book 'Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects' here
Read Johnny's book, 'The Meat Fix' here
Alan on The Ashes and more here.