Sunday 11 December 2016

The 10 best Premier League games of the 2015/16 season including last night's thriller

Published 13/01/2016 | 17:37

Wayne Rooney celebrates with Juan Mata as he scores their third goal during the Barclays Premier League match at St James' Park
Wayne Rooney celebrates with Juan Mata as he scores their third goal during the Barclays Premier League match at St James' Park

Was the thrilling 3-3 draw between Newcastle and Manchester United the match of the season so far? Here's our top 10...

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10. West Ham 3 Bournemouth 4

No game has delivered more goals or swung so wildly from one extreme to another. Bournemouth's early two-goal lead - courtesy of Callum Wilson - was scrubbed out by goals shortly after half-time from Mark Noble and Cedric Kouyate, but rather than buckling under the anticipated home onslaught, Bournemouth simply rolled up their sleeves and plundered two more of their own, including Wilson's hat-trick goal. Modibo Maiga pulled one back but the damage had been done.

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9. Manchester United 3 Liverpool 1

The most entertaining game of the season at Old Trafford, even if that is not necessarily saying much, also delivered two of the best goals. One, an overhead volley from Christian Benteke, was a case study in brutal, brilliant finishing and remains the high-water mark of the striker's Liverpool career; the second, Anthony Martial's laser-guided finish into the bottom corner of the net after a slaloming run appeared to announce the arrival of a major new talent. It could yet.

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8. Stoke 2 Manchester City 0

No team has undergone a greater transformation in style than Stoke in the last two years, and it achieved its most eloquent expression in a quite breathtaking 45 minutes of football at the Britannia Stadium. The hosts' attacking triumvirate of Bojan, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic were irresistible and their slick interchanges, clever runs and soft-shoe skills would not have looked out of place at the Nou Camp. City were grateful to only lose by two.

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7. Chelsea 2 Swansea 2

A day that set the tone for Chelsea's catastrophic first half of the season. The dropping of two points was the least of their problems, as it turned out: Jose Mourinho's decision to publicly upbraid two members of his medical staff, Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn, for treating a stricken Eden Hazard on the field was gobsmacking at the time and the controversy only mushroomed as the days rolled on. The incident undermined Mourinho's authority and sparked a chain of events which ultimately cost him his job.

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6. Leicester 3 Aston Villa 2

A game that provided early pointers that Leicester had the potential to be a genuine force, and Villa to be relegation candidates. The visitors appeared assured of victory after doubling the lead they held at half-time through Carles Gil's 63rd-minute goal, but then came the breathtaking Leicester comeback. Richie de Laet, Jamie Vardy and - in the 89th minute - Nathan Dyer left Villa feeling like they had been smashed square in the solar plexus, and sent Leicester's season into orbit.

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5. Bournemouth 3 Everton 3

Proof that 'Fergie time' is alive and well and living in a sleepy town on the south coast. The most jaw-dropping denouement of the season came after Everton contrived to concede seconds after forging 3-2 ahead deep into injury time at Dean Court. That Junior Stanislas's equaliser was only made possible by a pitch invasion from Everton fans following their own team's third goal, which led to more added time, only added to the drama.

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4. Manchester City 1 Liverpool 4

Liverpool were a club in turmoil following the sacking of Brendan Rodgers, British management's golden boy less than two years previously, but the arrival of Jurgen Klopp sprinkled stardust over the whole league, not just Liverpool. And this early win at the home of the title favourites helped justify the hype: the visitors' high-intensity game was far too good for City, who could have lost by more than three goals.

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3. Leicester 2 Arsenal 5

Another portent of Leicester's ambition this season, as they decided to take on Arsene Wenger's cavaliers at their own game. They failed, but what a glorious failure it was. Alexis Sanchez stole the show with a sublime hat-trick but there were moments of genius to savour from Jamie Vardy and Theo Walcott, as the two teams produced an astonishing 43 shots at goal over the 90 minutes.

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2. Leicester 2 Chelsea 1

One of the most hyped games of the season, and for very disparate reasons. The purists were purring at seeing Leicester rise to the challenge of being expected to swat aside the reigning champions; dedicated followers of the Premier League soap opera were beside themselves as the Jose Mourinho reign came to a wretched end in the east midlands. He was sacked three days later.

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1. Newcastle 3 Manchester United 3

The match of the season so far by virtue of being so gloriously unexpected. A collision of a fragile, shot-shy Newcastle with a resolutely dull Manchester United should have been settled by - at most - a single goal. Instead, six goals were shared in a breathless, brilliant game of football illuminated by a wonderful strike from Wayne Rooney and a bolt-from-the-blue equaliser from Paul Dummett with just seconds remaining. It wasn't like Kevin Keegan's Entertainers all over again, but for 90 minutes at least, Newcastle's fans could pretend their side can compete with English football's elite, and United's that Louis van Gaal is Sir Alex Ferguson's natural heir.

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Telegraph.co.uk

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