Saturday 1 October 2016

Arsenal finish top of the class for 2015

Published 22/12/2015 | 09:55

Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring the second goal for Arsenal with Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Nacho Monreal
Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring the second goal for Arsenal with Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Nacho Monreal

The Premier League’s Christmas No.1 spot for 2015 goes to Arsenal, with Arsene Wenger’s side collecting the most points over the course of this calendar year.

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The now departed Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho may have been the manager lifting the trophy that matters after his side were crowned as champions last May, but it is Wenger who secures the title of the most prolific manager of the course of the last 12 months.

There are two games left to play before the final points total for 2015 are totted up, but this is your Indepdendent.ie guide to the great managerial achieves of this year, with a couple of over-achievers featuring highly in the rankings.

TOP OF THE CLASS – Arsenal

Total points: 78 (2.16 points per game)

Arsenal have mastered the art of finishing a campaign on a high and the Gunners’ surge of form at the back end of last season has helped to ensure that they have collected an impressive total of points from 36 Premier League games they have played in 2015.

If Arsenal maintain their level of performance in the second half of this season, they are likely to finish as Premier League champions for the first time since 2004.

CITY’S NEARLY MAN – Manuel Pellegrini

Total points: 68 (1.88 points per game)

Manuel Pellegrini looked certain to face the axe at Manchester City after his side’s limp defence of the Premier League title they won in 2014 put his position under severe strain.

A less than convincing start to this season means question marks linger over his future, with Pep Guardiola widely expected to replace him in the summer of 2016.

THE UNLIKELY LADS – Leicester City

Total points: 66 (1.83 points per game)

The Foxes appeared to be doomed to relegation as they propped up the Premier League heading into Christmas last season, but a remarkable revival in the final weeks of the campaign has been followed up by sensational form in the first half of this campaign.

Playing an exciting brand of football and led the goals of Jamie Vardy, Leicester are have been a jot to behold as they have stormed to the top of the Premier League standings. Everyone has become a Leicester fan in 2015.

THE PHILOSOPHY – Manchester United

Total points: 63 (1.75 points per game)

Manchester United’s manager has been under-fire from his critics throughout 2015, with the less than entertaining brand of football he is promoting failing to impress the club’s army of supporters around the world.

Given the current uncertainty over his future, it would be a major surprise if he was still in place at Old Trafford by the time we get to Christmas 2016. In fact, he might not even make it to next weekend if the current rumours are accurate.

KNOCKING ON THE DOOR – Tottenham

Total points: 62 (1.72 points per game)

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has emerged as one of the more impressive touchline technicians of the year, with his brand of high-energy football giving Spurs fans real hope that they can enjoy a bumper 2016.

However, Spurs have specialised in false dawns for far too long and Pochettino needs to change that script if he is to cement his reputation as one of the brightest young coach’s in the game.

OVER-ACHIEVERS – Crystal Palace

Total points: 61 (1.69 points per game)

Crystal Palace were in the relegation positions at the wrong end of the Premier League table when Alan Pardew was appointed as their manager at the start of 2015 and they finished up in tenth position after collecting 32 points in the second half of last season.

Their momentum has been carried into this campaign, with their 5-1 win against Newcastle last weekend evidence that the Pardew effect can be enduring as they target a top eight finish this season.

THE CHAMPIONS – Chelsea

Total points: 59  (1.63 points per game)

Mourinho’s Chelsea were convincing winners of the Premier League title last May, but the number of points collected by the Portuguese tactician in 2015 provides compelling evidence to confirm his team were on the slide before their desperate slump this season.

Chelsea’s poor form started on New Year’s Day 2015 when they lost 5-3 at Tottenham and while they have flickered into life at times, their slide has been ongoing for the best part of 12 months.

ALL CHANGE – Liverpool

Total points: 58 (1.61 points per game)

New Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been given a glimpse of the inconsistency his side seem unable to shed in the first few weeks at Anfield, with sparkling wins mixed with chastening defeats.

Finding a stable footing that will allow Liverpool to make progress is a challenge for Klopp in the New Year, with additions to his squad likely to allow him to shape the team in his vision.

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