It’s time for reflection at the halfway stage of the season so we have picked out some of the best, worst, bizarre and funny moments across the Premier League, Scottish Premiership, EFL and Women’s Super League so far…
Goal of the season so far: Let’s be honest, this won’t be beaten this season or even this decade. Man Utd teenager Alejandro Garnacho silenced Goodison Park by scoring one of the greatest goals in Premier League history with a simply stunning overhead kick. Roll the tape…
Game of the season so far: Tottenham 1-4 Chelsea. Five goals scored, five goals disallowed, two red cards, a hat-trick, a penalty and Tottenham’s ridiculously high line. A bona fide Premier League classic.
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Worst process of the season so far: “That’s wrong that, Daz.” The toe-curling VAR audio from Luis Diaz’s disallowed goal against Tottenham exposed the communication issues between officials which led to a change of protocol and even pilots being called in to help. Well done boys, good process.
Unsung hero of the season so far: “Wait, wait, wait, wait. The on-field decision was offside. Are you happy with this? Delay the game, delay the game. Stop the game.” The VAR Replay Operator did his best to prevent the farcical Diaz decision. We will remember you.
MNF guest of the season so far: What’s better than returning to the club that sacked you and beating them on their turf? Showing everyone exactly how you did it on Monday Night Football! Gary O’Neil arrived at Sky Studios armed with video clips from Wolves training of how they planned to beat Bournemouth and in-game examples of it paying off. There was also time for him to break down their victory over Man City. A footballing masterclass!
Roy Keane’s best one-liner of the season so far: Magician Dynamo wowed Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Micah Richards by turning fire into ice, but Roy Keane was harder to impress. “It’s his job, isn’t it?” he smirked.
Player of the season so far: This is always a tough one to call at this stage. While Erling Haaland leads the scoring charts with 14 and four assists in 15 matches, Mo Salah has notched 11 and contributed seven assists in 17 for Liverpool. Ollie Watkins has nine goals and six assists. Heung-Min Son has scored 10 and made four. Take your pick.
The EFL’s most ridiculous moment of the season so far: Wycombe thought they were heading for a point at Barnsley deep into injury time in November. That was until goalkeeper Max Stryjek went down theatrically while holding the ball in an attempt to waste time after a nudge from Sam Cosgrove. The ball, though, slipped from Stryjek’s grasp and Cosgrove was able to tap into an empty net for the winner.
Rant of the season so far: “It’s embarrassing, it’s a disgrace, that’s what it is, a disgrace. It’s not acceptable, there’s too much at stake. We are wasting our time. It cannot continue. I feel sick.” Mikel Arteta raged after Anthony Gordon’s winning goal for Newcastle was allowed to stand and Arsenal then announced they “wholeheartedly” supported his rant.
Lawyer of the season so far: Remarkably, Arteta’s tirade went unpunished by an independent regulatory commission after he was charged by the FA. Arteta’s defence was that part of his interview had been lost in translation because the English meaning of ‘disgrace’ which suggests contempt, dishonour or disrespect has a different meaning to the Spanish ‘desgracia’ which has connotations of misfortune, tragedy or bad luck. Saul Goodman would have been proud of that one.
Kris Boyd and Chris Sutton’s argument of the season so far: These two were always going to produce fireworks over their Rangers and Celtic allegiances and they have not disappointed. Their first clash came after Rangers’ opening day defeat but it was earlier this month discussing Celtic’s January transfer plans that brought out their best. “You’re talking absolute nonsense!” said Sutton, “You fool!”.
Team of the season so far: Who saw this coming from Aston Villa? Almost top of the league before Christmas and into the Europa Conference League last 16. Who knows where they might be or what they might be lifting in May.
Manager of the season so far: Unai Emery has transformed Aston Villa. Ollie Watkins has found consistent goal-scoring form, John McGinn is playing as well as he’s ever been, they’ve nailed building attacks from the back and their offside trap is impeccably timed and coordinated. Emery might not have won a Manager of the Month award yet but he has this one.
Performance of the season so far: The only issue with this performance was the 1-0 scoreline. Unai Emery tactically dismantled Pep Guardiola as Aston Villa earned a statement victory over Man City. City attempted just two shots, both in the 11th minute, which is the fewest ever attempted by a Guardiola team while the 22 from Villa was the joint-most faced by one of his sides.
Worst decision against Gary O’Neil of the season so far: You could make an advent calendar for the bad decisions Gary O’Neil has faced this season, and the fact it hasn’t turned him into a footballing equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge is to his immense credit. Sasa Kalajdzic, congratulations – getting thumped in the head by Andre Onana was worth it after all. You might not have won the blatant penalty you deserved, but you’ve got a better prize here.
Signing of the season so far: Was £105m for Declan Rice too cheap? The midfielder has made an instant impact to Mikel Arteta’s side which is more defensively sound this season. Aside from doing his day job very, very well, Rice has also chipped in with two crucial late goals in wins against Luton and Manchester United.
Celebration of the season so far: There are a few decent contenders for this one so we’ll let you decide. There is Buakyo Saka stealing James Maddison’s dart-throwing celebration in the North London Derby, Jeremy Doku’s perfectly executed ‘Griddy’ and Jack Grealish’s Diego Maradona-esque celebration down the camera lens against Spurs.
Jones Knows’ best tip of the season so far: Gustavo Hamer scoring first at 22/1 vs Tottenham, perhaps? Or Chelsea’s 0-0 with Bournemouth at 16/1 that broke a run of 51 games without a scoreless draw was a savage shout for those that read our weekly predictions column. But Jones Knows prides himself on his Best Bets column and the 15 points of profit gained from Dejan Kulusevski’s goal for Spurs at Manchester City that was advised with double stakes at 15/2 certainly warmed his cockles and his profit and loss margin.
Jones Knows’ worst tip of the season so far: Writing ahead of Aston Villa’s home clash with Brighton, our tipster confidently declared: “Aston Villa remain a team being grossly overrated and are set for a period of sticky results. I’m always keen on backing Brighton when priced as an outsider – like they are here at 8/5 with Sky Bet. Away win it is.” Aston Villa 6-1 Brighton. Ouch.
Save of the season so far: It was a save that forced Aaron Ramsdale to put a brave face on. David Raya went sprawling to his right to claw away what looked like a certain goal from Tottenham’s Brennan Johnson and keep Arsenal level in the North London Derby. The Sky Sports cameras quickly panned to the benched Ramsdale, who had no option but to display his admiration for the save made by the man who had taken his job.
WSL goal of the season so far: What better way to win the north London derby than with a 13-pass move? Tottenham’s superb team goal started at the feet of goalkeeper Barbora Votikova and was rounded off by Martha Thomas.
WSL return of the year so far: ACL injuries are cruel, just ask Arsenal Women. Four such injuries in one season is tough going, but while two remain sidelined, superstar forward pairing Beth Mead and Viv Miedema are back in action. The league is certainly a better place with them in it and the Gunners’ title charge also a more realistic ambition.
WSL shock exit so far: Emma Hayes. Chelsea’s Emma Hayes. The pair go hand in hand. It will be strange to see another figure in the Chelsea dugout next season, after Hayes departs to oversee the US national team. Question is, after unprecedented success – the likes of which are unlikely to ever be seen again – can she go out with one last bang?
Wonderkid of the season so far: What were you doing at the age of 17? Lewis Miley became Newcastle’s youngest-ever player to score for the club aged 17 and 229 days earlier this month and has proved if you’re good enough then you’re old enough. Pesky kids.
Heartwarming moment of the season so far: Luis Diaz marked his return to the Liverpool squad in November for the first time since his father was kidnapped in Colombia by heading in an equaliser at Luton before revealing a ‘Libertad Para Papa’ (Freedom for Dad) message underneath his shirt. Luis Manuel Díaz was then freed four days later after over a fortnight in captivity.
Commentary line of the season so far: “City’s boy is Chelsea’s man!” Peter Drury perfectly called Cole Palmer’s injury-time equaliser for Chelsea to earn a 4-4 draw against the club he joined at the age of eight.
Pundit debut of the season so far: Daniel Sturridge certainly made his mark on his first Super Sunday appearance back in August. Away from his striker insight, the ex-Liverpool and England forward entertained with an impression of Roy Keane and then showed off his dulcet tones when performing his ‘initiation song’ – Usher’s Nice & Slow. “Where did it all go wrong?” concluded Keane.