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Premier League Season in Review: Foxes Outlast Field

From Leicester City winning the title to sublime goals and hilarious press conferences, it was a season to remember in the Premier League.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

During the opening weekend of the Premier League season, a supposed two-horse race for the title between Chelsea and Manchester City kicked off with the reigning champions drawing 2-2 against Swansea City. Meanwhile, a sure-to-be-relegated Leicester City side topped Sunderland, 4-2.

Then Chelsea continued to lose, tumbling to the bottom half of the table, while Leicester City, led by Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, rose to first place by Christmas.

Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers were sacked, Manuel Pellegrini became a a lame duck manager and Louis van Gaal said a lot of bizarre things to the press (more on that later) but lasted the entire season despite Manchester United's ongoing struggles.

In all, it was a strange Premier League season filled with unlikely challengers at the top and plenty of week-to-week mayhem. We take a look at all of the things that got us to this point. Share your own opinions in the comments section and feel free to make up new categories as you see fit.

Biggest Surprise: Leicester City

It's still hard to believe Leicester City won the league. Claudio Ranieri's squad, which faced 5,000-1 odds to become champions, mounted an incredible wire-to-wire run to the top as the traditional top flight powers, including Tottenham and Arsenal, faded down the stretch.

It wasn't close, either. The Foxes finished 10 points clear at the top and clinched the title on May 2 when Tottenham fell victim to an equalizing strike from Eden Hazard. Each season the words "surprise" and "shocking" get bandied about to describe upstart teams, but we may never see another story quite like Leicester City's.

Biggest Disappointment: Chelsea

After dominating the league last season, Chelsea seemed to have the pieces in place to challenge for a second straight title. Instead, Jose Mourinho led his team on a 16-game plunge down the table, and by the time Roman Abramovich pulled the plug on his tenure, Chelsea was in 16th place and just one point from the relegation zone.

The comedic fall from grace played out in front of the media through a series of meltdowns by Mourinho, culminating in his press conference following Chelsea's defeat to Leicester City three days before he was sacked. He said "I feel my work is betrayed," went on a rant about a ballboy and insinuated that Eden Hazard had faked an injury.

Though Chelsea recovered somewhat to finish in 10th place, their tumultuous first half of the year stained a campaign that had started with sky-high expectations.

Player of the Season: Riyad Mahrez

While Jamie Vardy also deserves consideration for this honor, it was Mahrez's creative intelligence that propelled Leicester City to a 68 goal season. The 25-year-old attacker, who cost a reported £400,000, used his slick skills and electric left foot to score 17 goals and produce 11 assists.

He's a legitimate talent going forward and should provide Leicester City with attacking firepower as long as the Foxes are able to keep him around. Just watch this highlight montage:

Goal of the Season: Dele Alli vs. Crystal Palace

This one was difficult to pick out. Christian Benteke's overhead kick goal against Manchester United and Cuco Martina's swerving long-range strike for Southampton against Arsenal garnered serious consideration.

But the way Alli casually juggles the ball over a defender before unleashing a game winning strike makes this the finish of the season:

Best Press Conference Moment

Jürgen Klopp was excluded from this list, as he'll get his own article in due time. Beyond him, there was the constant delight of Ranieri, the bitterness of Mourinho and the absurdity of van Gaal to choose from.

Van Gaal attempting to pull a reporter's hair and making strange sexual remarks (not for the first time) takes the top prize, though.

See You Again

Though the level of football was often atrocious, this season's relegation battle was still engaging, as Sunderland once again wriggled free to remain in the top flight. In the process, they relegated Newcastle, setting off celebrations only surpassed by those of Leicester City.

While some teams rebound to earn promotion the year after being relegated from the Premier League, other sides remain mired in mediocrity for years. It could be a while before we see Newcastle, Aston Villa or Norwich City again.

And while Newcastle and Aston Villa have at times inflicted pain on Liverpool in recent years, Norwich City has always been an enjoyable matchup for the Reds. No one will forget the 5-4 win over the Canaries on Jan. 23 that helped Klopp build momentum in the second half of the season.

Later, friends.


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