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 bottom half of the table.
Best: Liverpool 1-1 Everton
Worst: Everton 2-2 Leicester
Everton has the quite dubious distinction of both their best and worst games being draws. But looking at their fixtures and considering their performance and context of the results, their best and worst games this season really wound up being draws. For their best game, Everton’s 3-0 win over Manchester United was the only other game worthy of consideration. But that 3-0 win didn’t have Phil Jagielka scoring only his tenth ever Everton goal with an incredible half volley from outside the box in the 91st minute at Anfield to draw level at 1-1. That goal will go down in the annals of the Merseyside Derby. As for their worst game, it’s Leicester because the Foxes had no business drawing that game. Tim Howard allowed two goals that were both mistakes in what should’ve been a relatively easy game against a team that was battling relegation. An honorable mention goes to Tottenham 2-1 Everton. Losing to Spurs at White Hart Lane is pretty harmless, but not when you allow Soldado to score.
Worst: Leicester 2-1 West Ham
West Ham got off to an excellent start to their 2014-15 and were quite notably in fourth place at Christmas. Their best game in that positive stretch to begin the season was easily their 2-1 win at home against the defending champions. All managers enjoy beating big teams, but it was the kind of victory you knew Sam Allardyce very deeply enjoyed. As soon as Boxing Day hit, however, West Ham’s form fell off alarmingly quick. By the end of January they were in 8th place. Their points from Boxing Day until now would put them 17th in the Premier League table, with only Burnley, QPR and Newcastle faring worse. But looking at West Ham’s fixtures through that awful stretch, there’s no game that truly stands out. The worst game for me is losing to Leicester. While the Foxes did pull off their great escape, when the Irons lost to them, they were dead last in the Premier League table.
Worst: West Brom 1-4 QPR
Trivia question: what have West Brom done that Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal have all failed to do? The answer to that question is win at Old Trafford two straight years. West Brom winning at the Theatre of Dreams last season was a surprise, but nothing out of the ordinary because of the various calamities produced by David Moyes’ management of United. But with United under Louis Van Gaal this season, hardly anyone expected a repeat performance from the Baggies. WBA did exactly that, scraping out a 1-0 win from a weird deflected goal and a heroic nine save performance from Boaz Myhill.
As for worst performance, I can’t look past losing to QPR. QPR was not very good this year. QPR was especially not very good on the road this year. These facts are common knowledge. Despite these facts, QPR managed to beat West Brom twice. Both losses were bad for West Brom. But losing at home to a team that could only manage two away wins all season is really quite dreadful, especially when you allow Bobby Zamora to score.
Worst: QPR 3-2 Leicester
Leicester’s best game really is any of the games they played between April 4th and May 16th, where they rescued themselves from relegation to finish in a respectable 14th place. But their single best game came when they shocked everyone by beating Manchester United. And it wasn’t a scrappy 1-0 game they managed to nick, they outplayed the Red Devils. Since they managed to avoid relegation, there really won’t be any game that haunts Leicester. That being said, losing to QPR isn’t particularly good.
Best: Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea
Worst: Newcastle 0-1 Sunderland
Entering their December 6th trip to Newcastle, Chelsea was still unbeaten. Discussion of them being Invincibles was beginning to gain some steam. And if Chelsea was going to lose a game, Newcastle was hardly the match people had circled for when Arsene Wenger, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and many more could breathe a sigh of relief. But it wound up being Alan Pardew leading his side past Jose Mourinho in a huge 2-1 win for his side. Newcastle also had to hang on for dear life for the last ten minutes of their win after Steven Taylor was sent off for a second yellow and Didier Drogba scored to make it 2-1 just two minutes later. Newcastle was swept by Sunderland this year. So the choice was between losing at home to Adam Johnson on a 90th minute winner or Jermain Defoe scoring a stunning volley that you simply can’t do anything about at the Stadium of Light. It’d be the one at home even before Adam Johnson developed a reputation as something more than a mediocre footballer.
Best: Sunderland 1-0 Newcastle
Worst: Sunderland 0-2 QPR
Sunderland swept Newcastle again this season. Fans of the Black Cats were likely delighted with both, but the win at the Stadium of Light carried more meaning for Sunderland. It helped give the fans confidence in Dick Advocaat in his second game as interim manager. It also had Jermain Defoe scoring one of the best goals of his lengthy Premier League career. While it ultimately was inconsequential to their relegation, at the time Sunderland’s 2-0 home loss to QPR looked quite bad, especially considering that was only of two times this season they won away from Loftus Road.
Worst: Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham
Aston Villa’s best game in a domestic competition this season really was beating Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley in the FA Cup semifinal. But since this is only including EPL results, Tactics Tim’s glorious and triumphant return to White Hart Lane is an easy selection to make. Tottenham definitely missed his 59.1% win ratio in that match. Aston Villa’s worst game also came against Spurs. At Villa Park under Paul Lambert, Aston Villa allowed two goals in the last ten minutes to have a 1-0 win turn into a 2-1 loss. Christian Benteke getting sent off for a kerfuffle really cemented this game as the worst for the Villains.
Best: Hull 1-0 Liverpool
Worst: Hull 0-1 Burnley
Hull’s season wasn’t a very memorable one, as is often the case when you’re relegated. They only managed to win two games out of the 20 they played against the top half of the table. While beating Everton 2-0 was alright, their 1-0 win over Liverpool is superior. Ultimately, those 3 points didn’t save Hull from relegation, but it was a quality result against a quality opponent. Hull didn’t officially get relegated until the final day, when Manchester United put the nail in their Premier League coffin. But the game that really did them in was when they lost at home to Burnley in a relegation six-pointer. Looking at the table, only two teams were worse than Hull this year. One of them was Burnley. Failing to beat them at home is exactly how you go down with them.
Worst: Burnley 0-1 Leicester
Of the three relegated teams, Burnley had to have enjoyed their season the most. They drew with Manchester United and Tottenham at home and quite impressively drew with Manchester City and Chelsea on the road. But the pinnacle of their performances was their 1-0 win at Turf Moor over City. The memory of that game will stick the fans in attendance far longer than any of the negativity of relegation will. Burnley’s worst game was a home loss in a late season relegation six-pointer. The 1-0 loss to escapees Leicester was made worse by the fact that Burnley had a penalty saved and then Jamie Vardy scored on the other end just a minute later.
Best: QPR 3-2 West Brom
Worst: Manchester City 6-0 QPR
For QPR’s best game, I only had five wins to choose from. This made this process equally easy and difficult. I opted for their 3-2 home win over West Brom. While it almost never occurred throughout their season, in this game QPR actually showed fight. They overcame a 2-0 deficit through a Charlie Austin hat trick, with the last goal coming 86th minute. Picking the game that relegated QPR as their worst one is pretty easy. Clinching relegation itself doesn’t make this game bad, the way they played was. QPR barely looked bothered to try and fight for Premier League lives and looked like they had accepted their fate before the opening kickoff at the Etihad.