The Premiership lived up to its billing as the most exciting and unpredictable league in world football in 2016-17 as fans were treated to another madcap nine months. Chelsea were crowned champions despite finishing 10th the previous season, while holders Leicester City finished a lowly 12th. Arsenal finished outside of the top four for the first time in Arsene Wenger’s tenure, but they set the record for the highest points tally of any fifth-placed team since the Premiership began. We witnessed the most outrageously competitive Goal of the Season battle ever seen, brimming with scorpion kicks and wild acrobatics, and it was won by a player that only netted five times all season. There was all manner of excitement and intrigue at both ends of the table, and a plethora of remarkable statistics has emerged. Here are seven of the most surprising:
- Kane hates August
Harry Kane won the Golden Boot for the second consecutive season and looks a great option at Sun Bets to make it three in a row in 2017/18 as he such a sensational striker. He scored four more than second placed Romelu Lukaku, despite spending 736 fewer minutes on the pitch as a result of injuries. He scored more goals in 2016/17 than the entire Middlesbrough squad combined, only the fifth time a Premiership player has ever outscored an entire club. But the Tottenham forward has still never managed to find the back of the next in the month of August. He has played 10 times in the opening month of the season and never scored.
- Unlucky Tottenham
Spurs ended a miserable spell of two decades spent finishing below bitter rivals Arsenal as they ended up second in the table. Yet fans will be disappointed to miss out on glory, because their tally of 86 points would have won them the title the previous year. It would have given them a comfortable five-point cushion over Leicester City, so Kane and co must be cursing the arrival of Antonio Conte, who transformed Chelsea.
- McAuley Deadlier than Rooney
West Brom were the surprise package of the 2016-17 season, finishing a respectable 10th when many expected them to battle relegation. Central to their charge up the table was their prowess from set pieces. They conceded the Premiership’s lowest proportion of their goals from dead ball situations (21.6%) and scored the league’s highest proportion (48.8%). Central to that was veteran centre back Glen McAuley, a rock defensively and a revelation in the opposition penalty area. McAuley banged in eight league goals, the same amount as Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata, and more than Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba.
- Kante Destroys Pogba
More bad news for Pogba as the man who commanded the world’s largest ever transfer fee was completely outshone by Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante in 2016/17. Fresh from winning the title with Leicester, Kante joined Chelsea and drove them to a comfortable league win. In doing so he became the first player ever to win the Premiership in consecutive seasons with two different teams (unless you count Mark Schwartzer, who sat on the bench all season as Chelsea won it in 2014-15, and then sat on the bench all season at Leicester when they won it the following year). Kante won all three Player of the Year titles, and that is despite a very remarkable statistic: Chelsea paid £11 million less for Kante than the fee “super agent” Mino Raiolo took for brokering Pogba’s move to Man Utd. That’s right, not only did Kante cost about a third as much as Pogba did, he cost a lot less than Pogba’s agent’s fee, and Pogba did not exactly light up the league.
- Super Snodgrass
In early January, West Ham signed Robert Snodgrass from Hull for £10 million and he spent the second half of the season at the City of London Stadium. Despite that, he still finished the season as Hull’s top scorer with seven goals, and created more chances than any other Hull player (45). But the joke was also on West Ham: Dimitri Payet created more chances than any other Hammers player in 2016-17 despite playing his final game of the season on January 2 ahead of his move to Marseille.
- On Your Head, Salomon
Salomon Rondon became only the second player in Premiership history to score a hat-trick of headers when he terrorised Swansea in December. The only other player to achieve that feat was Everton’s Duncan Ferguson, who was known to terrorise people with his head regardless of whether the ball was anywhere near him or not.
- Arsenal Solace
It was a pretty miserable season for the Gunners as they finished behind Tottenham and dropped out of the top four for the first time since the mid-1990s. But they finished the season well, won the FA Cup and can also take solace from this fact: for the second season in a row they inflicted the heaviest defeat the eventual champions tasted as they beat Chelsea 3-0 at The Emirates. In the previous campaign they beat Leicester 5-2, so if Arsenal thrash a team next season, that team could well go on to win the title.