Soccer

Races for Premier League’s individual accolades coming down to final day

Races for Premier League’s individual accolades coming down to final day

Harry Kane took control of the Premier League Golden Boot race after bagging four goals against Leicester City.

Tottenham’s Harry Kane was all smiles following his four-goal performance against Leicester City.

Alexis Nunes and Steve Nicol go toe-to-toe in predicting fixtures from the final match day of the Premier League season.

With Real Madrid linked with David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois, Shaka Hislop rates the top 5 goalkeepers in the world.

The final day of this season’s Premier League doesn’t look set to be particularly exciting — the title and relegation races have been settled, while Liverpool and Manchester City have easy matches to seal Champions League football ahead of Arsenal.

Indeed, perhaps the only minor interest comes from the battle for individual records — some of them are highly vaunted awards, others simply trivia. But here’s the standings in six separate categories ahead of the weekend action:

Goals

After Alexis Sanchez hit both goals in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Sunderland on Tuesday evening, it seemed the race for the Golden Boot was going to be a head-to-head shootout between him and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku at the Emirates on Sunday — Sanchez on 23, Lukaku on 24.

But Harry Kane’s incredible four-goal haul for Tottenham against Leicester on Thursday evening means he has shot ahead of both, and is now on 26 goals for the campaign, and suddenly a strong favourite for this honour.

Kane won the Premier League’s Golden Boot last season, too, and would join an elite group of players to have won multiple Golden Boots — Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba and Robin van Persie. Only Shearer, Henry and Van Persie have retained the award outright, with Owen finishing joint-top in both 1997-98 and 1998-99.

It’s a remarkable achievement, and all the more impressive considering Kane’s 26 goals have come from only 28 starts, whereas Lukaku and Sanchez have both made 35.

FW scorers 20170519 Harry Kane’s four goals vs. Leicester have him in the driver’s seat for the Premier League’s Golden Boot.

Clean sheets

Thibaut Courtois is in the driver’s seat for the Premier League’s Golden Glove award — handed to the goalkeeper who has kept most clean sheets in a season. He’s currently on 16, and Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris’ mistake against Leicester means he’s currently stuck on 15. He can now only tie with Courtois. This would be the first time either Courtois or Lloris won the award.

Courtois’ record of clean sheets this season has been peculiar — he kept six in a row from Oct. 1 to Nov. 20, the period after Chelsea switched to a three-man backline, although then kept none between Jan. 22 and April 30, when Chelsea embarked upon a run where they repeatedly conceded a single goal, often very late in matches.

Courtois is a slightly nervous and insecure figure who has often felt he hasn’t received enough credit for his achievements with Chelsea — this award would recognise his hugely impressive consistency.

Assists

It doesn’t feel like Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has enjoyed a particularly sparkling campaign, by his own lofty standards, but he’ll almost certainly finish this season as the Premier League’s most prolific assister. He has managed 16 from 32 starts this season, some way clear of his nearest challengers Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson on 13.

If you’re surprised by De Bruyne’s assist tally, it’s probably because a significant number have come in recent weeks — generally after everyone has decided upon their player of the year candidates. In the past two months, De Bruyne has added seven assists to his tally, including two in the 3-0 victory at Southampton and two more in the 5-0 victory over Crystal Palace. Next season, though, Pep Guardiola will be looking for more decisive contributions.

FW assists 20170519 Kevin De Bruyne quietly leads the Premier League in assists, upping his total from nine last season to 16 this term.

Dribbles

It’s a three-horse race to finish as the Premier League’s most prolific dribbler this season. Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha has beaten opponents 140 times this season, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is just two behind, and Adama Traore of Middlesbrough sits on 136. Traore might not start this weekend, however — indeed, his numbers are quite extraordinary considering he has made only 16 starts and 11 substitute appearances this season.

Whereas Traore beats opponents through pure speed, Zaha is more about trickery and Hazard about his sudden acceleration. It’s worth considering their dribble success figures, too. Zaha’s is only 51 percent, compared to 74 percent for Hazard and 60 percent for Traore. Of the top 10 most prolific dribblers, incidentally, Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele has the highest success rate, on 78 percent.

Bookings

No contest here. Watford’s Jose Holebas has been shown an incredible 14 cautions this season, two ahead of Bournemouth’s Harry Arter and three clear of teammate Sebastian Prodl, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, Leicester’s Danny Simpson, Southampton’s Oriol Romeu and Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi, all on 11.

Holebas has led the way in this respect for much of the season, and was the first player to be suspended for one match when reaching five bookings, and then a further two matches for reaching 10 bookings.

If Holebas is booked this weekend in Watford’s home game with Manchester City, he’ll become the first man in Premier League history to be booked 15 times in a season.

Minutes played

Six players have played every single minute this season. Three are goalkeepers — Southampton’s Fraser Forster, Swansea’s Lukasz Fabianski and West Brom’s Ben Foster — while the three field players are all defenders, Ben Gibson of Middlesbrough, Steve Cook of Bournemouth and Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea.

Spare a thought for Crystal Palace’s Joel Ward, who was substituted two minutes from the end of the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth back in August — which are the only two minutes he has missed all season. Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe had a similar experience, dragged off seven minutes from time on the opening day, but ever-present since. For a 34-year-old attacker based around explosive moment, it’s an impressive record.

Michael Cox is the editor of zonalmarking.net and a contributor to ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Zonal_Marking.

Harry Kane took control of the Premier League Golden Boot race after bagging four goals against Leicester City.

Tottenham’s Harry Kane was all smiles following his four-goal performance against Leicester City.

Alexis Nunes and Steve Nicol go toe-to-toe in predicting fixtures from the final match day of the Premier League season.

With Real Madrid linked with David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois, Shaka Hislop rates the top 5 goalkeepers in the world.

The final day of this season’s Premier League doesn’t look set to be particularly exciting — the title and relegation races have been settled, while Liverpool and Manchester City have easy matches to seal Champions League football ahead of Arsenal.

Indeed, perhaps the only minor interest comes from the battle for individual records — some of them are highly vaunted awards, others simply trivia. But here’s the standings in six separate categories ahead of the weekend action:

Goals

After…

Source: http://www.espnfc.com/english-premier-league/23/blog/post/3129463/races-for-premier-leagues-individual-accolades-coming-down-to-final-day

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