In the course of every team’s 38 fixtures, there will be great triumphs and terrible embarrassments. Every team had games that their fans will cherish when they think back on the 2014-15 season and games they’d soon like to forget. These are those games for the top half of the table. The bottom half will come later today.
Best: Swansea 0-5 Chelsea
Worst: Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea
Given that Chelsea won the Premier League and only lost three games, it was difficult to identify their best game this season since there’s several excellent candidates. A dominant road win is the best candidate. The 5-3 loss to Tottenham was bad, but Harry Kane won that game for Tottenham more than Chelsea lost it. The Newcastle game ended their hopes for an unbeaten season and it was game they had a much better chance at winning than facing an in-form Kane at White Hart Lane.
Worst: Manchester City 0-2 Arsenal
Manchester City really seemed like the opposite of Chelsea: they had many choices for their worst game of the season. Losing to Stoke at home and Burnley away were candidates, as were drawing with Hull and Burnley at the Etihad. But really only one game will stand out looking back at the season: Arsenal at home. One season removed from thrashing the Gunners 6-3, City lost a game where it clearly looked like Arsenal was the team that wanted it more. Looking on the bright side for City’s disappointing title defense, Southampton was a great road performance against a very good team. Gael Clichy even scored, which hadn’t happened in a really long time.
City’s worst fixture was Arsenal’s best. Arsenal avenged their embarrassment from last season and did so with a complete performance from everyone. Santi Cazorla in particular had a masterful game, completing 10 dribbles with a goal from the penalty spot and an assist. For once, Arsenal didn’t roll over in a big game. Of course Arsenal’s worst game was a big game where they rolled over. Manchester United beat them at the Emirates through a comedy own goal from Kieran Gibbs and Wayne Rooney icing the game on the counterattack. Arsenal largely outplayed United – United scored twice but had only one shot on target – but couldn’t get the win, which makes this game worse than losing the North London Derby for me.
Manchester United had only won a single Manchester Derby since the 2011-12 season prior to this game, and had failed to beat City at the Theatre of Dreams since Rooney’s iconic bicycle kick back in February 2011. Additionally, United never really got a chance to prove how good they were in the fixture at the Etihad due to Chris Smalling’s red card. The win could prove to shift to the tide in the rivalry but at the very least, it ended a drought United fans felt had gone on far too long. The Leicester game hardly needs an explanation. Conceding five goals and blowing 2-0 and 3-1 leads to a team that just barely escaped relegation is pretty dreadful.
Worst: Liverpool 1-3 Crystal Palace
Liverpool’s win over Southampton has gradually become less important as the season progressed. But after Liverpool went into St. Mary’s and grabbed three points, they were just two points away from Manchester United in fourth and just took 3 points from one of their other main Champions League rival. Coutinho’s goal of the season candidate didn’t hurt either. I originally had planned to pick Liverpool’s loss at Old Trafford for their worst game of the season. But Crystal Palace and Alan Pardew spoiling Gerrard’s emotional Anfield farewell will haunt Liverpool and the fans in attendance for years. That game is a sour taste in their mouth that won’t be very easy to remove.
Best: Tottenham 5-3 Chelsea
Worst: Crystal Palace 2-1 Tottenham
For some teams I found it difficult to select their best game. It is either because there are several good candidates or no clear cut candidate for which game was the best. That is not the case for Tottenham. There is only one possible answer, and it was that magical 5-3 win over Chelsea on New Year’s Day. The game took Harry Kane from a striker who was in decent form to HARRY KANE, THE FUTURE OF ENGLAND with his two goals and an assist. It was Spurs’ first win over their London rivals since 2010 and there’s no doubt it was worth the wait. Tottenham then managed to do the most Tottenham thing ever, which was lose their very next game at Selhurst Park to a Crystal Palace team situated in the bottom three when the game started. Losing to Tim Sherwood wasn’t ideal either, but Palace takes the cake.
Worst: Southampton 0-1 Swansea
I’m generally trying to avoid just picking the game with the most goals as the best game a team has in the season. But when a team scores eight goals, there is no chance any other game will be topping that. Dusan Tadic had a hat trick of assists and a goal while Graziano Pelle added a brace. Losing to Swansea by itself at home isn’t really that bad. But this is Southampton’s worse game because Swansea only had one shot on goal and it was this goal from Jonjo Shelvey. Ronald Koeman didn’t take it well, saying “We are very frustrated. I think the most lucky team won today.”
Worst: Swansea 0-5 Chelsea
Swansea started the season off with beating Manchester United at Old Trafford. While it was certainly an impressive result for the Welsh side, that team was hardly the team that Louis Van Gaal managed to lead back to the Champions League. By February, LVG had the team he wanted and surely would’ve been able to exact revenge for his team’s earlier loss. But Swansea had different plans, and managed to sweep United with their 2-1 win. As for their worst game, losing to Chelsea isn’t that bad by itself. But when you fail to get a shot on goal and are down 4-0 before you can even get to halftime, that’s a bad performance no matter who you’re facing.
Worst: Stoke 1-2 Burnley
I originally wanted to go with Stoke’s 3-2 win over Arsenal at the Britannia. But Arsenal hasn’t beaten Stoke on their ground since 2010, when Cesc Fabregas, Nicklas Bendtner, Thomas Vermaelen and Danny Pugh scored the goals in a 3-1 Arsenal victory. So it had to be Stoke going beating the defending champions at their own house. As the season has progressed, City has proven that the Etihad wasn’t quite the fortress it was in 2013-14, but you’d be hard to pressed to ever argue beating the defending champions as the road that isn’t your best game of the season. Burnley won a grand total of two games away from home in their one year stint in the Premier League. One of those came against Stoke. Nice job, Mark Hughes.
Worst: Crystal Palace 0-2 West Brom
Crystal Palace has Liverpool’s number. They famously drew with Liverpool 3-3 at Selhurst Park last year and made Luis Suarez cry. This season they beat Liverpool at home, winning 3-1. Later this season, Palace traveled to Anfield for Steven Gerrard’s final home game. And they spoiled it in absolutely glorious fashion with another 3-1 win. While nine years is probably a bit too long to wait for a revenge, Alan Pardew in particular had to enjoy being the party pooper. His West Ham was on the receiving end of Gerrard’s famous 2006 FA Cup Final goal. West Brom is Palace’s worst game not because of how they played or anything to do with West Brom itself. But seeing Tony Pulis win in your own ground after unceremoniously kicking him to the curb wasn’t likely to be an enjoyable experience.