Ten games which defined the 2015/16 Premier League season
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 15/05/16 6:33pm
After the curtain came down on a thrilling Premier League season, we take a look back at 10 defining games.
Defending champions Chelsea started the season as title favourites but the writing was on the wall after a chaotic draw with Swansea on the opening day. The Blues had Thibaut Courtois sent off as they dropped two points at Stamford Bridge, but the game will be remembered for Jose Mourinho's infamous confrontation with team doctor Eva Carneiro.
The Chelsea manager was furious when Carneiro and physio Jon Fearn entered the field of play to attend to Eden Hazard in stoppage time of the 2-2 draw. Mourinho branded Carneiro's actions "impulsive and naive", and she left the club a few weeks later. The furore left a dark cloud over Chelsea's season and set the tone for their wretched title defence, with Mourinho eventually departing in December.
Liverpool supporters enjoyed their first glimpse of what a Jurgen Klopp team could do with their 3-1 win away to Chelsea in October, but it was their 4-1 demolition of Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium that really set the pulses racing.
Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho ripped City apart and Manuel Pellegrini's side were left stunned by their high-intensity pressing and ruthless finishing. City were top of the table before kick-off, but Liverpool exposed their defensive flaws just as Tottenham had done a month earlier. By Christmas, Pellegrini's side had dropped to third.
Jamie Vardy's record-breaking heroics in November feel like a mere footnote in Leicester's extraordinary season, but his opening goal against Manchester United at the King Power Stadium will still take its place in Premier League history.
With a powerful finish across David de Gea, the former non-league striker beat Ruud van Nistelrooy's record and became the first player to score in 11 consecutive Premier League games. Vardy went on to finish the season as the Football Writers' and Premier League Footballer of the Year.
On the same day that league leaders Arsenal succumbed to Joe Allen's injury-time equaliser in a 3-3 draw against Liverpool, Leicester clinched a vital 1-0 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
The win, which came courtesy of Robert Huth's 83rd-minute header, moved Leicester level on points with the Gunners and reinforced the growing belief that Claudio Ranieri's men could become genuine contenders in the title race.
With two wins and two draws from their previous five games, bottom-side Aston Villa welcomed Liverpool to Villa Park in February hoping for what could be another step towards their miraculous survival. Instead, Remi Garde's men were served a 6-0 thrashing from which they never recovered.
Joleon Lescott further angered Villa fans by tweeting a picture of a supercar in the wake of the game, and the West Midlanders went on to lose 11 of their remaining 12 games of the season as they slid into the second tier for the first time since 1987.
If ever there was a match to sum up Arsenal's season - or Arsenal in general - it was surely this crazy draw with West Ham at Upton Park. The Gunners were in cruise control after first-half goals from Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but they spectacularly collapsed as Andy Carroll's quick-fire hat-trick turned the game on its head.
With its early promise and collapse followed by a sense of false hope from Laurent Koscielny's equaliser, the game was a microcosm for Arsenal's campaign. The result effectively ended their slim hopes of winning the title, while from a West Ham perspective it provided further evidence that Slaven Bilic's side are emerging as challengers to the Premier League elite.
Tottenham made the short trip to Stamford Bridge knowing nothing less than three points would be enough to keep the title race alive. Things appeared to be going to plan when they took a two-goal lead through Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane, but the game turned on its head in an incident-packed second half.
Gary Cahill pulled one back for Chelsea before Eden Hazard's late leveller, and tempers boiled over on a number of occasions. Tottenham received a record nine bookings in total, and midfielder Mousa Dembele was retrospectively banned for six games after eye-gouging Diego Costa. At the final whistle, Leicester celebrated an incredible title triumph.
Five days after the stormy draw at Stamford Bridge which handed Leicester the title, the Foxes celebrated in style in their final home game of the season. There was a carnival atmosphere at the King Power Stadium, with a pre-match ceremony which included a rousing performance from world-renowned opera singer Andrea Bocelli.
On the pitch, Leicester produced a scintillating performance to blow Everton away. Vardy scored twice with the other goal coming from Andy King, and the players were presented with the Premier League trophy after the final whistle as they partied with their buoyant fans.
The final game at Upton Park was full of drama on and off the pitch. There were ugly scenes before the game as the Manchester United coach was attacked as it entered the ground, and the visitors endured more suffering in the match itself.
Manchester United appeared to be closing in on the win they needed to move above Manchester City thanks to Anthony Martial's brace, but the Hammers produced a remarkable comeback, with Michail Antonio equalising before Winston Reid's winning goal. It was a thrilling finale for the historic ground, and West Ham celebrated long into the night as Louis van Gaal's men contemplated a season without Champions League football.
While Leicester had already clinched the title by the final week of the season, there was plenty left to be decided at the other end of the table. Sunderland had taken a big step towards survival with a 3-2 win over Chelsea as Newcastle and Norwich dropped points, and they had the chance to guarantee it against Everton on May 11.
Sam Allardyce's side did not disappoint. Patrick van Aanholt and Lamine Kone scored just before half-time to take the roof off the Stadium of Light, and Kone added his second shortly after the break. The Black Cats celebrated another great escape at the final whistle, and a few days later Roberto Martinez was sacked by Everton.