Premier League 2016-17: Chelsea run clear, Spurs always chasing, Sunderland struggles

David Moyes and Antonio Conte had long spells at the bottom and top respectively
David Moyes and Antonio Conte had long spells at the bottom and top respectively

It was the season in which Chelsea played by their own record book.

The Blues topped the table while, at the other end, Sunderland could not escape the drop after 110 straight days at the bottom.

Records tumbled through to the last day of the campaign, when we saw 33 goalscorers, more than ever before in a single day of a 38-game season.

Goals scored from outside the penalty area fell to a Premier League low of 11.6% so, if you like a goalmouth scramble, this was your year.

Chelsea class but will Costa elect to stay?

From the moment Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap General Election on 18 April, the title was as good as Chelsea's.

The London club have won the title the past four times - 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2017 - the country has been asked to elect a government.

They did so in style, with their 30 wins beating the Premier League record of 29, which the Blues also set in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

As the graphic above shows, Antonio Conte would do well to hold on to Diego Costa as his goals won more points than anyone else in the league. The striker has been linked with a move to China, but why would he want to leave London?

The city is home to the best and second-best sides in the league for just the third time in English top-flight history.

Spurs stellar but always chasing

Harry Kane
Kane won the Golden Boot but has still never scored a league goal in the month of August

For all their free-flowing attacking play, for all Dele Alli's quality and Christian Eriksen's guile, Tottenham didn't spend a single day on top of the table in 2016-17. That's less than relegated Hull City who spent 24 hours at the summit on the opening weekend.

Incredibly, Spurs had four players who were involved in 20 or more league goals this season. No other side had two players who could boast of such a contribution.

So many troops chipping in helped Mauricio Pochettino's side to a goal difference of +60, a record for any side who did not win the title.

What would they have mustered had Harry Kane not missed eight games in the league? His mark of five hat-tricks in the season puts him among stellar company, as only Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo can match the mark in any of Europe's top five leagues.

Fallen giants

Jose Mourinho
Sixth place is Jose Mourinho's lowest league finish at any club after a full season in charge

Manchester United's season saw manager Jose Mourinho criticise Luke Shaw, take an age to utilise Henrikh Mkhitaryan and lament the workings of the fixture computer.

It led to him making more changes to his starting line-up - 120 - than any other manager and he finished outside the top three for the first time in his managerial career.

Leicester celebrate
Applying three points for a win, Leicester's mark of 44 in 2016-17 is the worst for defending champions since Liverpool in 1902

The Red Devils never finished a Premier League season lower than third under Sir Alex Ferguson but have now done so in each of the four seasons since he left.

And those famous Manchester United v Arsenal battles for titles in recent memory now look further away than ever, with the pair outside the top four as a duo for the first time since 1979.

The Gunners - fifth - can feel a little hard done by as their mark of 75 points is a record for any side finishing outside the top four in the Premier League era.

What was life like in 1999?

Gomes comes on for Rooney
Angel Gomes (right) set a new Premier League record but Tottenham have the youngest XI in the league on average

United still have the Europa League final to contest, of course, and would qualify for the Champions League with victory over Ajax on Wednesday. Mourinho could point to his use of youth as a positive for the campaign, as the side deployed for their final league game against Crystal Palace was their youngest Premier League XI - with an average age of 22 years and 284 days.

Forward Angel Gomes became the first player born in the year 2000 to feature in the Premier League in the process, making a generation of football fans feel old.

The 16-year-old is younger than David Beckham's oldest son Brooklyn and young enough to have never seen Glenn Hoddle manage the England side.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor topped the charts with her hit 'Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)' on the day Gomes was born in August 2000.

Adam Smith, Jack Wilshere and Callum Wilson have formed part of Bournemouth's English contingent
Adam Smith, Jack Wilshere and Callum Wilson have formed part of Bournemouth's English contingent

Spurs can boast the youngest average starting XI in the league at 25 years and 298 days, ahead of manager Mauricio Pochettino's former club Southampton (26 years and 169 days).

Bournemouth, though, may well be England boss Gareth Southgate's favourite side as 11 different English players made 20 or more appearances for the Cherries. No club has hit this mark since Aston Villa in 2000-01.

Not doom and gloom at City

Liverpool did not lose a game against any of the top six
Liverpool did not lose a game against any of the top six while Man Utd and Arsenal won two matches apiece

Pep Guardiola's failure to muster a title challenge in his debut Premier League season was surprising but there are signs things are coming together.

In securing a seventh straight top-four finish - the longest streak in the league now - City managed 12 away wins. That is their joint-most since 2001-02, and they can also draw comfort from the fact Sergio Aguero is somehow getting better.

Never before has he scored 33 goals in a season for the club, and the Argentina international only started 25 league games. He also now appears to have an able deputy in Gabriel Jesus who scored seven goals and made four in just eight league games.

Kevin de Bruyne also served up a league-high 18 assists, further evidence there is much to like at City, despite the lack of title.

My team definitely needs a...

There are those players you just know your club must keep. Relegated Sunderland will do well to do that with Jermain Defoe - who scored over half of their goals this season - while Everton may feel the heat of interest in Romelu Lukaku, scorer of 40% of their goals.

Jermain Defoe scored 52% of Sunderland's goals while Romelu Lukaku hit 40% of Everton's
Jermain Defoe scored 52% of Sunderland's goals while Romelu Lukaku hit 40% of Everton's

But when a season ends you also instantly mull over what your team needs in order to be better when August comes.

If it's a midfielder to keep play moving you're looking for, Middlesbrough's Adam Forshaw could offer up a bargain. Of all the midfielders to play at least 25 games, his pass-completion rate of 88.3% is only bettered by some big names.

If your team needs a tackle master, tempting Idrissa Gueye away from Everton may be money well spent as he won 100 tackles in 33 league outings, comfortably clear of Southampton's Oriel Romeu on 87 in second.

And when it comes to taking chances, Fernando Llorente's name is up in lights. For all those players to play 25 league games, no-one made more of their shots. His haul of 15 goals from 52 shots gives him a 28.9% goals-to-shots ratio.

And finally - good riddance

Many of you may well be sad to see the end of the season arrive.

Sunderland fans, though, could be forgiven for throwing a street party to wave 2016-17 goodbye. Chelsea's joy was perfectly contrasted by months at the bottom for the Black Cats. Their yearly Houdini escapes have become part of Premier League folklore. Alas, finally, they fell short.

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