English Premier League 2015-16 Replay

(Excerpts from Delphi Forums, Spring 2017)

With the current EPL season all but decided, I am reminded of the intrigue of last season. Why not replay it? Can Leicester City repeat their amazing run and become the champions of England? Will Tottenham or Arsenal finally rise to the top? Can Newcastle avoid relegation and keep the Tyne-Wear Derby intact? Who will prevail among two evenly matched clubs in Manchester?

Those answers are a long ways away. Let's start at the beginning.

Week 1 Results:

Bournemouth 2:0 Aston Villa 41' Ritchie, 82' Stanislas

Arsenal 0:1 West Ham 90'+2 Payet

Chelsea 3:0 Swansea City 68' Fabregas, 70' Costa, 90+7 (PK) Pedro

Everton 3:1 Watford 25' Ighalo, 40' Lukaku, 54' OG on Watford, 86' Lukaku

Leicester City 2:1 Sunderland 25' Defoe, 26 (PK) Mahrez, 90+3 Mahrez

Man United 3:1 Tottenham 15' Alli, 20' Martial, 40' Lingard, 72' (PK) Martial

Newcastle 1:3 Southampton 16' van Dijk, 26' A. Perez, 46' Davis, 83' Pelle

Norwich City 5:3 Crystal Palace 16' Redmon, 28' Dann, 45' Mbokani, 45+2 Hoolahan, 46' McArthur, 56' Wickham, 78' Mbokani, 90+3 Redmon

Stoke City 2:1 Liverpool 2' Sturridge 57' Bojan, 90+1 Bojan

West Brom 0:2 Manchester City 8' Bony, 46' Sterling

Observations on Week 1

Norwich's high-scoring battle with Crystal Palace was phenomenal! What a way to start the season. And these are bonus points for the Canaries who lost 1:3 in this fixture in reality. History repeats itself for Arsenal, who drop their home opener to West Ham. Payet knocked in the heartbreaker in added time. Wenger OUT!! A weak start for Leicester. They trailed early to lowly Sunderland and it took an added time goal by Mahrez to get the points. They'll need to do better than that. The defending champions, Chelsea, handled Swansea with ease, fueling speculation that they could hoist the trophy again at the end of this campaign.

Week 2:

Man United 0:0 Aston Villa

Crystal Palace 0:3 Arsenal 31' Giroud, 77' Gabriel, 84' Giroud

Liverpool 1:1 Bournemouth 45+1 Sturridge, 75' Stanislas

Manchester City 1:0 Chelsea 90+3 Aguero

Southampton 2:3 Everton 19' PK Lukaku, 52' Coleman, 60' Tadic, 70' Lukaku, 90+3 Davis

Sunderland 1:0 Norwich 33' Borini

Swansea 2:2 Newcastle 8' Janmaat, 35' Sigurdsson, 36' Ayew, 45' Cisse

Tottenham 1:2 Stoke 68' Shaqiri, 79' Affelay, 90+5 Carroll

Watford 3:1 West Brom 12' Ighalo, 19' Prodl, 27' Deeney, 82' Dawson

West Ham 0:2 Leicester 2' Okazaki, 82' Mahrez

Week 2 Thoughts:

Only 2 match days in and we are already down to 4 unblemished clubs! Lukaku emerges as the early goal-scoring leader with 4. And look who else is in the upper crust of the league: Leicester! They've been fueled by a red-hot start by Mahrez. A very disappointing start for Tottenham. That added-time goal by Carroll in the home opener was a real sucker punch. On the other hand, Stoke are rolling with huge wins over Liverpool and Tottenham. Will this early momentum last? Crystal Palace is saving money on defense by not having one.

Week 3 Results:

Arsenal 1:1 Liverpool 1' Lallana, 89' Walcott

Crystal Palace 1:1 Aston Villa 43' Dann, 46' OG on CP

Everton 1:2 Man City 5' Barkley, 63' David Silva, 90' Aguero

Leicester City 3:1 Tottenham 24' Albrighton, 31' Lamela, 57' Drinkwater, 75' Mahrez

Manchester United 4:0 Newcastle United 1' Martial, 45+1 Martial, 54' Mata, 90+2 Depay

Norwich 1:2 Stoke 22' Diouf, 46' Howson, 90+3 Walters

Sunderland 2:0 Swansea 39' Borini, 64' Borini

Watford 1:1 Southampton 45+1 Tadic, 64' Deeney

West Brom 5:1 Chelsea 2' Gardner, 7' Costa, 22' McClean, 34' Morrison, 54' Rondon, 73' Rondon

West Ham 1:0 Bournemouth 15' Noble

Week 3 Observations:

Oh how the mighty have fallen. 5-1!!! Chelsea's resounding defeat sends shockwaves through the league. The defending champs drop to the lower third of the table. Mourinho OUT!! Arsenal will have to wait two more weeks for a chance to win at home. Wenger OUT!! Tottenham's miserable start continues and they fall to the bottom of the table. Pochettino OUT!! But what about this Leicester bunch? Certainly they're not for real. Mahrez's 4th goal ties him for the league lead. (And Vardy hasn't even gotten started yet...) Another road win for Stoke City keeps them in the elite of the league. Certainly they're not for real either, right? Manchester City's second half comeback against Everton was the marque match of the week. Since Leicester and Stoke are just pretenders, this must be the next league champions in waiting.

Week 4 Results:

Bournemouth 2:2 Leicester 34' Vardy 0:1 67' Huth 0:2 89' Ritchie 1:2 90+3' Wilson, level

Aston Villa 1:2 Sunderland 9' PK Gestede 1:0 54' RC, PK, Borini, level 83' 1:2 Kaboul

Chelsea 2:0 Crystal Palace 15' Hazard 90+2' Zouma

Liverpool 3:0 West Ham 66' Skrtel 71' Allen 83' Firmino

Manchester City : 3:0 Watford 24' DeBruyne 47' DeBruyne 90+3' Aguero

Southampton 3:0 Norwich City 33' Tadic 68' Davis 90+3' Pelle

Stoke City 2:3 West Brom 7' Gardner 0:1 8' Shaqiri, level 11' Rondon 1:2 37' Shaqiri, level again! 87' Dawson, 2:3

Swansea 2:2 Manchester United 45+3' Rashford 0:1 54' Paloschi, level 74' Ayew 2:1 90+2' Ander Herrera, level! (Composure goal!)

Tottenham 5:0 Everton 26' Kane 39' Alli 46' Chadli 48' PK, Kane 87' Kane (hat trick!)

Newcastle United 0:0 Arsenal

Observations:

Turnarounds! Tottenham got off the mat as Harry Kane suddenly surged. They did so at the expense of Everton, who's strong start to the season has been completely erased. Scrappy newcomers Bournemouth surprised Leicester in earning a draw. This leaves Man City as the lone unblemished club in the league. West Brom the giant slayers? After thrashing Chelsea, Albion followed up with a thriller to end Stoke's undefeated run. Sunderland took advantage of a red card to stay in the top portion of the table. Borini is tied for the early lead among goal-scorers.

Week 5 Results:

Arsenal 4:1 Stoke City 5' Giroud 1:0 21' Ramsey 2:0 46' Giroud 3:0 78' Ozil 4:0 87' Diouf 4:1

Crystal Palace 0:0 Man City

Everton 4:2 Chelsea 7' Lukaku 1:0 17' Hazard 1:1 34' Barkley 2:1 46' Lukaku 3:1 53" Barkley 4:1 89' Azpilicueta 4:2

Leicester City 0:0 Aston Villa

Man United 2:0 Liverpool 18' Hand Ball! PK Man United. Saved by Mignolet! 22' Ander Herrera 1:0 85' Fellaini 2:0 Chances: MNU 9 LIV 3

Norwich City 2:2 Bournemouth 9' Howson 1:0 41' Cook 1:1 56' Redmond 2:1 70' Stanislas 2:2

Sunderland 0:3 Tottenham 25' 0:1 Lamella 52' 0:2 Alderweireld 63' 0:3 Alli

Watford 3:0 Swansea 12' Ighalo 1:0 43' Deeney 2:0 44' Watson 3:0

West Brom 2:1 Southampton 88' Long 0:1 90+3' Sessegnon 1:1 90+5' Berahino 2:1 !!!

West Ham 1:2 Newcastle 23' Carroll 1:0 26' Mitrovic 1:1 46' Wijnaldum 1:2

Week 5 Observations:

1 Man City vs. #20 Crystal Palace and what do we get? 0:0 draw of course! (That's why we play the games.)

Another Stunner for West Brom! TWO goals in added time to rally over Southampton! West Brom has reached the elite tier of the table. The Leicester City cinderella run is certainly coming to an end as they get held to a scoreless draw by Aston Villa. Right? RIGHT?? Lukaku regains his form propelling Everton in a big win over the defending champions. Six goals leads the league. Tottenham is climbing from the depths in impressive fashion. Pochettino for manager of the year!

Week 6 Results

Bournemouth 3:3 Sunderland 9' King 17' Defoe 40' Smith 86' Defoe 87' Afobe 90+5' Khazri

Aston Villa 1:2 West Brom 46' Berahino 90' Sessegnon 90+3' Bacuna

Chelsea 1:2 Arsenal 14' Gibbs 81' Ozil 87' Oscar

Liverpool 4:2 Norwich 2' Mbokani 46' Origi 69' Firmino 71' Allen 88' Redmond 90+3' Can

Man City 1:1 West Ham 29' Toure 46' Kouyate

Newcastle 3:1 Watford 31' Townsend 58' Wijnaldum 62' Lascelles 86' Ighalo

Southampton 1:3 Manchester United 25' Rooney 76' Pelle 82' Rooney 90+3' Schneiderlin

Stoke 1:3 Leicester City 3' Vardy 29' King 63' Bojan 84' Vardy

Swansea 1:0 Everton 3' Sigurdsson

Tottenham 1:0 Crystal Palace 90+3' Alderweireld

Mid-Season Summary

A Long Road Ahead of Aston Villa. They have only two goal scorers in 6 matches. They were also gifted an own goal a couple games back. Vardy has arrived and Leicester City is hanging with the unbeaten clubs of Manchester. An heroic last second effort by Alderweireld keeps Tottenham climbing up the table. Arsenal over Chelsea? Yep. This is fiction after all. Newcastle is looking good in a dominant win at home over Watford. There seems to be two Evertons: A good one and a bad one. Which will show up next week?

(Due to life circumstances at the time, the amount of detail I posted had to be cut down, so I mainly updated the table after each round)

Midway through the fixture list and things are tightening up! That's what makes this such a fun season to replay. Leicester made a huge statement with a 4:1 destruction job on Man City. Both Everton and Man United dropped points at home too. Of the top four, only West Ham picked up points in an impressive 2:1 result over a tough Southampton side. Norwich notched their second victory, 4:2 over Aston Villa, but a long climb remains to reach safety.

Round 21 Update

Two more weeks elapsed and those Hammers are in impressive form! They defeated Liverpool 2:1 at Upton Park and then went on the road and collected 3 points from Bournemouth (0:2). Meanwhile, Man United was held to a draw at St James Park. Leicester City is very menacing now too. In three consecutive matches, they outscored Man City, Bournemouth, and Tottenham 9:1 and two of those were on the road. Everton's offense roared back to life in a shocking 0:5 steamroller over Man City.

Round 23 Update

Oh dear... What a difference one goal and one week can make! West Ham 0:1 Man City. All other teams in the top 6 earned 3 points, knocking the Hammers down to 4th place. And there's Leicester... now only 1 point off the pace!

Aston Villa, now winless in 6 straight has fallen into the danger zone. Norwich managed a big upset 3:2 over Liverpool, but they'll need to win at least 4 of the remaining 15 matches to reach escape velocity from the gravitational pull of the Championship League.

Round 28 Update

A month later, Man United is still finding ways to win, but Leicester has cut the margin to 1 point! Wow. Man City's disappointing run continued, losing 3 of 4 and they have pretty much dropped out of the race. Tottenham and Arsenal are managing their perrenial late season runs at the top 4 and next week, they face each other! Everton and West Ham also play each other in a crucial match! At the bottom of the table, Norwich appears doomed. They need to be at least 7 points better than their competitors in the relegation zone. Swansea is now flirting with disaster, due to their goal differential.

Round 29 Update

This week brought us several crucial matchups in the context of this replay.

Everton 1:2 West Ham. West Ham emerged victorious from Goodison Park in a battle for 3rd place! Man United was held to a draw at Stoke, allowing little Leicester to reach the top spot for the first time! Tottenham and Arsenal battled to a 1:1 draw. In the danger zone, Norwich has won 3 of their last 4 matches and now they are even with Crystal Palace and Aston Villa! Swansea - having lost at home against Norwich - is looking very vulnerable!

Round 31 Update

Two weeks later... In the Manchester derby, City defeated United, 1:0, a result that dropped United 4 points behind Leicester's sizzling run. Amazing West Ham posted clean sheets against both Watford and Chelsea to stay in range of the Foxes. They face-off in Round 34... Meanwhile, Swansea got a huge win over Newcastle and Norwich picked up 4 more points to change the look of the Relegation Zone.

Man! This is a crazy season!

Round 33 Update

The 33rd round of fixtures is in the books! The field is having a hard time keeping pace with little Leicester City. Leicester was held to a 1:1 draw by visiting Southampton, but at the same time, Crystal Palace went to Upton Park and rallied for 2:3 victory! Wow. Missed opportunity for the Hammers. Next, West Ham hosted Arsenal and fought to a 1:1 draw. Leicester smashed Sunderland 0:3 to open up a 5 point gap for the league championship! The battle at the bottom remains intense as Newcastle, Crystal Palace, and Norwich are all on the cusp. Crystal Palace just nipped Norwich 3:2, but a week earlier, the Canaries rolled over Newcastle 4:1!

Coming up in Round 34, West Ham travels to Leicester. A Leicester win virtually assures the conclusion of the Cinderella story. Newcastle has a shot at 3 points hosting Swansea. Likewise, Norwich is hosting Sunderland.

Round 34 Update

In the big match of the week, Leicester scored in the opening minute and went on to a resounding 3:0 win at King Power Stadium. Delirium! The Foxes have opened a 7 point gap with only 4 matches remaining. Their march will pit them against Man United, Chelsea, and Everton in the final 3 games... So, it's not over yet! Man United and West Ham face each other next. A draw in that one pretty much assures the end of the championship race.

The wild match of the week was a nasty clash between Chelsea and Man City in which both sides were red-carded in the 1st half! The field opened up and Man City prevailed 2:3. Also, Newcastle did indeed play well at home defeating Swansea 3:1, but Norwich edged Sunderland 2:1 as well.

Rounds 35 and 36: Leicester City Are the Champions!

In the 35th round, they defeated Swansea at King Power 3:0. Meanwhile, West Ham bounced back with a 2:0 victory over Man United, which coincidentally put the Foxes out of reach! Arsenal has been feasting on low table teams to move into second place by a single goal. At the other end of the spectrum, Aston Villa is the first to be relegated. Crystal Palace seems certain to join them, but Newcastle still has a chance to escape the pull of the lower league. In the 36th round, worthy of mention was Swansea City's romp over Liverpool 4:1! Also Newcastle 3:0 over Crystal Palace.

The Final Table

Season Wrap-up:

  • Scoring in my replay was lively: 1064 goals versus 1026 for the actual season. 3.7% higher. Not nearly as many draws in my replay: 86 vs 107 actual. I used the Composure option throughout this replay, which resulted in a lot of late goals and great drama, but it also broke a lot of even scores. It would be interesting to re-replay it without using COMP and see if that theory holds any water. Oh well. I'm not doing it! Ha.
  • West Ham was a big beneficiary of fewer draws. Only 4 in the replay versus 14 actual! Defensively, they overachieved too which culminated in 2nd place finish here.
  • Neither Tottenham nor Man City could match their real life defensive prowess which had them finishing a bit lower, but interestingly, they were very close to actual in the point standings. Tottenham 69 actual, 68 replay. City 66 actual, 69 replay. Wow!
  • Speaking of points, 13 clubs were within 4 points of their actual performance. Only three were exact, Newcastle, Swansea, and Arsenal.
  • Crystal Palace's defense was atrocious for me. 70 goals allowed versus 51 actual. I suspect their CON rating of 6, both home and away, allows too many scoring chances against them.
  • Throughout the replay, I felt like Man United was over-performing. In the end, they were actually pretty close. Replay 20-10-8 versus 19-9-10 actual. Their goal differential was nearly doubled though, +27 replay, +14 actual, but I think that has much to do with van Gaal's conservative approach.

Overall, I am proud of this little game and happy with these results.