What if the Premier League was played over a calendar year?
Who would be champions of 2016, which uncapped Englishman would finish above Jamie Vardy in the scoring charts, and which players would be in the running for individual awards?
We take a look at who performed best – and worst – in 2016.
The 2016 champions are…
It would have been almost impossible to believe 12 months ago when Jose Mourinho had been sacked after the then champions suffered nine defeats in their opening 16 Premier League games – but the Stamford Bridge club’s transformation in 2016 has been dramatic.
Stabilised by Guus Hiddink and streaking clear at the top of the 2016-17 table under Antonio Conte, Chelsea edge out Manchester United and Liverpool to top spot in the 2016 rankings. Tottenham can feel aggrieved their New Year fixture falls on New Year’s Day as if it hand been 24 hours earlier and they win, they would move second.
Manchester City miss out on the top four, while 2015-16 title winners Leicester are eighth after a difficult run between August and December.
At the other end – excluding the promoted and relegated teams – Crystal Palace, Watford and Swansea make up the bottom three, with Palace a huge 11 points behind their closest rivals.
Liverpool – champions in waiting?
Jurgen Klopp has made a big impact since arriving at Liverpool in October 2015 – and that impact is becoming clearer with every passing month.
In 2016, his team have scored the most goals…
…made the most successful passes…
…had the second-highest number of shots (659), more than 60 ahead of title rivals Man City (596), West Ham (574) and over 100 more than Chelsea (552).
…and they are up there in terms of highest average possession…
So what more do Liverpool have to do to end what will soon be a 27-year wait for a title?
The answer? Defend better.
Which players topped the stats for 2016?
Quiz question for you: which three English players outscored Leicester striker Jamie Vardy in the Premier League in 2016?
Tottenham’s Harry Kane, obviously. Jermain Defoe of Sunderland – correct.
The other one? West Ham’s Michail Antonio! Top marks if you got that one.
And here’s a tip for Fantasy Football players. Get Cesar Azpilicueta in your team.
For starters, the Chelsea defender has played the most minutes in the Premier League in 2016 (tied with Leicester’s Wes Morgan, Bournemouth’s Steve Cook and Manchester United’s David de Gea). Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk was also level with that bunch until he was sent off late in their final fixture of the year on Saturday.
Spaniard Azpilicueta has also had more touches than any other player…
…and is second on the list for completed passes, behind only Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. He also features in the top 10 for tackles made and successful passes in the opposition half.
Away from the teams occupying the top six in the Premier League, there have also been plenty of stellar performances. West Ham’s Dimitri Payet – one of the stars of 2015-16 – created the most scoring opportunities, 28 more than his closest rival – Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen.
Along with Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil (111), they were the only three players to create more than 100 chances in 2016.
At the other end of the pitch, the two keepers with the best shots-to-saves record do not belong to a top-six club.
Stay clear of trouble
And finally, a few names for Fantasy Football devotees to avoid. These players repeatedly found themselves in trouble with referees in 2016, with Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye the most-booked Premier League player of 2016.
Despite that poor disciplinary record, he was not one of the 47 players sent off during the calendar year. Forty-six of those were dismissed once, while Vardy and Tottenham midfielder Victor Wanyama hold the dubious honour of being the most-dismissed players of the year – both were sent off twice.