There was a predictable champion at the end of the 2019-20 Serie A campaign as Juventus clinched a ninth successive Scudetto, and their success is reflected in Opta's Team of the Season. 

Although Juve finished 2019-20 just a point ahead of second-placed Inter, they had wrapped up the title with two games to go – beating Sampdoria 2-0 on July 26.

Cristiano Ronaldo was unsurprisingly key, finishing as his team's top scorer, but for much of the season there were a few sides that looked like they might push Juve all the way.

Inter, Atalanta and Lazio all had their moments where they were able to dream and they each had individuals who impressed.

Following the conclusion on the campaign on Sunday, we teamed up with Opta to outline the Serie A Team of the Season.

OPTA'S SERIE A TEAM OF THE SEASON

GK: Wojciech Szczesny, Juventus

Poland international Szczesny has come a long way since struggling in the latter part of his Arsenal career. He was once again a dependable option between the posts, remaining first choice despite the return of Gianluigi Buffon. He ended the season with a 74.4 per cent save success rate, the best of the Serie A goalkeepers to have played 20 or more times.

RB: Juan Cuadrado, Juventus

Hardly the most convincing of defenders, granted, but Cuadrado boasts the versatility to play in a few roles down the right flank and he became an important figure for Maurizio Sarri – his 28 Serie A starts is just one fewer than he managed in the previous two seasons combined. The Colombian was certainly influential, too, as he was involved in more open-play sequences that ended with a shot made by someone else (132) than any other player this term. He also chipped in with two goals and five assists.

CB: Stefan de Vrij, Inter

No team conceded fewer goals in Serie A this season than an Inter side that Antonio Conte ensured was well-drilled. Netherlands centre-back De Vrij played a major role in that as he featured 34 times – though his efforts were not notable just for his defensive effectiveness. The former Feyenoord man scored three goals and also set up another three, making him the most productive centre-back in the league in this regard.

CB: Francesco Acerbi, Lazio

After Inter, the next-best defensive unit in Serie A was Lazio, who let in 42 (six more than Conte's men). Acerbi missed just two games all season and his form at the start of the season also saw him make three starts for Italy. The 32-year-old has proven himself to be one of Serie A's best stoppers, as evidenced by the fact he was dribbled past just six times this term. No other outfield player with more than 35 appearances did better than that.

LB: Theo Hernandez, Milan

Former France youth international Hernandez has rediscovered the early promise he showed during a fine loan spell at Deportivo Alaves in 2016-17. While question marks remain over his defensive abilities, the Atletico Madrid youth product has excited with his attacking tendencies in 2019-20. No defender completed more dribbles (57) than him, while he also had a hand in nine goals (six goals, three assists).

CM: Luis Alberto, Lazio

Since leaving Liverpool for Rome in 2016, Luis Alberto has arguably developed into one of the world's best creative midfielders. The Spain international sees passes few others can and he has put that to particularly good use in 2019-20, with his 106 chances created being a Serie A high. Similarly, his 15 assists was second only to Alejandro Gomez (16), as he helped Simone Inzaghi's men mount a title challenge. Often linked with a return home to Sevilla, Lazio will surely be doing everything they can to keep Luis Alberto at Stadio Olimpico.

CM: Fabian Ruiz, Napoli

The other half of a Seville-centric midfield, Real Betis product Fabian probably hasn't impressed quite as much as he did in 2018-19, but he has nevertheless continued to show plenty of promise. Still only 24, Fabian attempted the most passes (2,331) of any player in the league this season, while he had a hand in nine goals, the same amount as in the previous campaign.

AM: Alejandro Gomez, Atalanta

Like a fine wine, 'Papu' Gomez just seems to get better with age. Now 32, the Argentinian has enjoyed a fantastic season for the often-exhilarating Atalanta. He scored seven goals for a second successive season, but his haul of 16 assists is five more than 2018-19. That figure is the highest since Opta records began in 2004-05.

FWD: Paulo Dybala, Juventus

The Sarri-Juventus combination continues to puzzle many, but if there's one thing he has got right, it's helping Dybala get back to something resembling his best. He had been strongly linked with a move away last year, but Dybala was involved in 17 Serie A goals this term (11 goals, six assists) and managed to coexist with Ronaldo more effectively. Of his 11 strikes, eight (73 per cent) were the opening goals of matches, the biggest quantity among players with 10 or more.

FWD: Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

Considering there being murmurs of discontent between himself and Sarri, and suggestions the coach hasn't been able to get the best out of the Portugal great, Ronaldo's had a pretty effective year. With 31 league goals, it's been his best goal-scoring campaign domestically since getting 35 with Real Madrid in 2015-16, while his goals have secured 24 points, more than any other player.

FWD: Ciro Immobile, Lazio

What a season Immobile has had. With 36 league goals, the Italy international equalled Gonzalo Higuain's record for a single campaign, while that haul also won him the coveted European Golden Shoe. On top of that, his record of nine assists was bettered by only Gomez, Luis Alberto and Domenico Berardi. If he can keep it up, Lazio will surely fancy themselves of challenging Juve again next term.

Ciro Immobile completed a sensational individual season by scoring against Napoli in Lazio's final Serie A outing.

The 30-year-old's first-half strike in Saturday's 3-1 defeat was his 36th goal in 37 top-flight appearances during 2019-20.

That astonishing return secured Immobile the Capocannoniere as Serie A's top scorer, along with the coveted European Golden Shoe.

Here, with some help from Opta Paolo, we take a look at his special efforts.

 

Joining Serie A's elite

If Immobile had managed a brace at Stadio San Paolo, he would have boasted the outright best season in Serie A history.

As it is, his 36 goals equalled the best mark in a single campaign set by Gonzalo Higuain in his Napoli days in 2015-16.

Immobile is only the fifth Italian to hit the 30-goal mark in his native country's premier competition, following Giuseppe Meazza (1929-30), Felice Borel (1933-34), Antonio Angelillo (1958-59) and Luca Toni (2005-06).

Golden days

Toni's prolific 2005-06 with Fiorentina made him the first Italian to be crowned the leading marksman in Europe, with Roma great Francesco Totti following suit the next season.

Immobile becomes the third Italian on that list and the first winner from Serie A since Totti.

In the intervening period, 10 of the 13 Golden Shoes have found predictable homes, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo winning six and four respectively.

Messi's Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez has two, while the latter's countryman Diego Forlan came out on top thanks to a bountiful 2008-09 at Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo's 2007-08 campaign at Manchester United and Suarez's 2013-14 for Liverpool marked the only two times the award had been outside LaLiga in between Totti and Immobile's triumphs.

Making history at Lazio

Immobile is the third player to pass 100 goals in Serie A for Lazio, with his tally now at 103.

Club greats Silvio Piola and Giuseppe Signori are the Biancocelesti's other centurions.

Piola scored 143 in Serie A, while Signori is now just four ahead of Immobile on 107.

All of Immobile's Serie A goals for Lazio have come under Simone Inzaghi, amounting to the biggest haul for any player under a single head coach during Italy's three-points-for-a-win era, which began in 1994-95.

Inzaghi is developing his leading forward's game in more than one aspect. Immobile scored and supplied at least one assist in six Serie A games in 2019-20 – more than any other campaign in his career.

He finished the season with nine assists to his name.

Ciro Immobile completed a sensational individual season by scoring against Napoli in Lazio's final Serie A outing.

The 30-year-old's first-half strike in Saturday's 3-1 defeat was his 36th goal in 37 top-flight appearances during 2019-20.

That astonishing return secured Immobile the Capocannoniere as Serie A's top scorer, along with the coveted European Golden Shoe.

Here, with some help from Opta Paolo, we take a look at his special efforts.

 

Joining Serie A's elite

If Immobile had managed a brace at Stadio San Paolo, he would have boasted the outright best season in Serie A history.

As it is, his 36 goals equalled the best mark in a single campaign set by Gonzalo Higuain in his Napoli days in 2015-16.

Immobile is only the fifth Italian to hit the 30-goal mark in his native country's premier competition, following Giuseppe Meazza (1929-30), Felice Borel (1933-34), Antonio Angelillo (1958-59) and Luca Toni (2005-06).

Golden days

Toni's prolific 2005-06 with Fiorentina made him the first Italian to be crowned the leading marksman in Europe, with Roma great Francesco Totti following suit the next season.

Immobile becomes the third Italian on that list and the first winner from Serie A since Totti.

In the intervening period, 10 of the 13 Golden Boots have found predictable homes, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo winning six and four respectively.

Messi's Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez has two, while the latter's countryman Diego Forlan came out on top thanks to a bountiful 2008-09 at Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo's 2007-08 campaign at Manchester United and Suarez's 2013-14 for Liverpool marked the only two times the award had been outside LaLiga in between Totti and Immobile's triumphs.

Making history at Lazio

Immobile is the third player to pass 100 goals in Serie A for Lazio, with his tally now at 103.

Club greats Silvio Piola and Giuseppe Signori are the Biancocelesti's other centurions.

Piola scored 143 in Serie A, while Signori is now just four ahead of Immobile on 107.

All of Immobile's Serie A goals for Lazio have come under Simone Inzaghi, amounting to the biggest haul for any player under a single head coach during Italy's three-points-for-a-win era, which began in 1994-95.

Inzaghi is developing his leading forward's game in more than one aspect. Immobile scored and supplied at least one assist in six Serie A games in 2019-20 – more than any other campaign in his career.

He finished the season with nine assists to his name.

Vincent Kompany joined Manchester City in August 2008 – a little more than a week before the club's trajectory was irreversible changed by Sheikh Mansour's takeover.

The centre-back position, where long-serving club captain Kompany excelled and became a club great, has become a focus for the owner's transfer market millions over the intervening years.

However, there have been more expensive misses than hits, with City's struggles after Kompany's departure last year underlining how subsequent centre-back additions have rarely been anywhere near as successful.

Bournemouth's Nathan Ake is set to be the next man into the building, with City reportedly having agreed a £41million fee for the Netherlands international.

Here, we look at the major centre-back signings made by City during the Abu Dhabi era and how they panned out.

KOLO TOURE (ARSENAL £14M, JULY 2009)

A former title winner with Arsenal, Toure was given the captain's armband by Mark Hughes as club stalwart Richard Dunne was ushered out of the door. The Ivory Coast international struggled for consistency, however, and became a back-up option under Roberto Mancini. Arguably his most significant contribution to City's success was his mere presence encouraging brother Yaya to make the move to Manchester.

JOLEON LESCOTT (EVERTON £22M, AUGUST 2009)

Like Ake now and plenty of others in between, the fee City paid Everton for Lescott brought snorts of derision. But the England international established a rock-solid partnership with Kompany that underpinned the 2011-12 Premier League title triumph. City have never appeared quite so settled at centre-back since their alliance broke down the following year.

JEROME BOATENG (HAMBURG £10.5M, JUNE 2010)

Before going on to become one of Europe's elite central defenders at Bayern Munich, Boateng endured an unhappy year in Manchester. Primarily a right-back at that stage of his career, he found his path to the first team blocked by Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta and failed to settle.

STEFAN SAVIC (PARTIZAN £6M, JULY 2011)

Given he was fourth-choice in a season when Kompany and Lescott excelled, it was remarkable how quickly Savic carved out a reputation as an accident-prone liability. A year after signing him, Mancini had lost faith and decided to cut his losses. The steady hand in Atletico Madrid's formidable backline today is a player utterly transformed.

MATIJA NASTASIC (FIORENTINA £12M, AUGUST 2012)

Savic served as a makeweight in the deal to bring Nastasic to the Etihad Stadium. He performed impressively during a largely forgettable 2012-13 campaign, for which Mancini paid with his job. Successor Manuel Pellegrini did not much fancy Nastasic, with injuries further compromising the Serbia international before he moved to current employers Schalke in 2015.

MARTIN DEMICHELIS (ATLETICO MADRID £4.2M, SEPTEMBER 2013)

A loyal lieutenant for Pellegrini, Demichelis left Atletico Madrid without playing a game when the opportunity to reunite with the Chilean coach arose. Long of hair and short of pace, his introduction to the Premier League was fraught and Marcus Rashford skinning him to win a 2016 Manchester derby gave his City career a clanging footnote. However, the Argentina international's experience and steel was vital as the Blues edged out Liverpool in a knife-edge 2013-14 title race.

ELIAQUIM MANGALA (PORTO £42M, AUGUST 2014)

Unperturbed by a massive transfer fee, Mangala was majestic on his debut as 10-man City battled to a 1-1 draw against Chelsea. To be blunt, he never reached those levels again and was rarely close – a slapstick own goal in his next outing at Hull City proving far more representative of what was to come. A popular squad member, Mangala came up short in terms of form, fitness and temperament to unfortunately stand as one of the biggest transfer flops in Premier League history.

NICOLAS OTAMENDI (VALENCIA £32M, AUGUST 2015)

Mangala's struggles sent Pellegrini back into the transfer market for another big-money addition. Otamendi proved scarcely more reliable and the duo generally needed to be watched through one's fingers when paired together. Nevertheless, the Argentina defender's dogged determination saw him become a mainstay during the 100-point season under Pep Guardiola in 2017-18, when he deservedly won a place in the PFA Team of the Year. His error-strewn efforts since have worn increasingly thin.

JOHN STONES (EVERTON £47.5M, AUGUST 2016)

A flagship signing ahead of Guardiola's first season, Stones appears set for the exit door having failed to realise his undoubted potential. He oozed class during the early stages of back-to-back Premier League successes over the previous two seasons, although he tellingly spent large chunks of both run-ins on the sidelines. Injuries have not helped and Guardiola appears to have lost trust in a man who once looked set to be synonymous with his reign.

AYMERIC LAPORTE (ATHLETIC BILBAO £57M, JANUARY 2018)  

For now, Laporte remains City's most expensive central defender and the Frenchman has given considerable bang for their buck after the costly folly listed above. As important to City for his precise and varied range of left-footed playmaking from deep, Laporte is Guardiola's defensive rock. When his cruciate knee ligament injury last August followed a failure to replace Kompany, the writing for 2019-20 was on the wall.

We could well be talking about Saturday's FA Cup showdown between Arsenal and Chelsea as the Olivier Giroud final.

The France striker will likely start for the Blues against his old club at Wembley after scoring twice in the semi-final win over Manchester United to take his tally in the competition to 16, a number only Sergio Aguero (19) can better since Giroud's debut.

Giroud has gone from a bit-part back-up looking for an exit to a crucial element of Frank Lampard's plans in 2020, particularly since the restart of football in England. As well as firing his side into the FA Cup final, he scored six Premier League goals - including vital ones against Aston Villa and Norwich City - to help his side secure a top-four finish.

"Now he is getting the absolute credit he deserves," Lampard said after the win over United, having hailed Giroud's professionalism while he was out of the first-team picture.

But why has the 2018 World Cup winner been seemingly underappreciated for so long?

Using Opta data, we delved back into Giroud's Premier League career for Arsenal and Chelsea to find out.

MONSIEUR RELIABLE

Giroud has scored 86 league goals in 238 appearances for Arsenal and Chelsea. Since his debut in the competition in August 2012, only Aguero, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Jamie Vardy have scored more.

Despite this, Giroud is no stranger to the substitutes' bench - he has only started 37 times in the league in the past four seasons. If you go back to May 2016 to extend that number to 38 - in other words, a season's worth of starts - Giroud has scored 32 goals. Taken in isolation, that would match the record tally for a 38-game season set by Mohamed Salah in 2017-18.

Giroud's minutes-per-goal rate in the Premier League is unsurprisingly solid: 154.3. It's not as good as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's (128.3), but it's better than that of Alexandre Lacazette (178.2) and only fractionally lower than Tammy Abraham's (151.6), all of whom have been regularly preferred to Giroud in starting line-ups.

Giroud has also performed well in the Expected Goals category. He has only had negative xG differentials (ie, scored fewer goals than should reasonably be expected given his chances) in three of his past eight league seasons. Twice, in 2014-15 and 2016-17, he has overperformed in terms of xG by a factor of more than five.

So, why has he not played more?

THE BIGGER PICTURE

One problem might be Giroud's xG differential has fallen in recent years.

Since his Chelsea debut on February 5, 2018, he has scored 13 league goals from an expected 15.5, giving him a -2.5 difference. That number is below the top 10 goalscorers in the league in that time and pales in comparison to Aubameyang, who has a differential of 7.2, or Tottenham's Kane (10.4).

Those numbers make sense when you consider Giroud's 'big chance' conversion rate for Chelsea is at 29.2, almost exactly the same as Abraham (29) and below maligned former team-mate Alvaro Morata (32.5). Likewise, his shot conversion rate, including blocked shots, is 12.9 - lower than Abraham (16.7) and Morata (14).

There was a similar theme for the Gunners. In his Arsenal days, Giroud's big chance conversion rate was 36.3 per cent, with his shot conversion rate at 16.3. Aubameyang (49.35 and 24.8) and Lacazette (39.2 and 18.4) rank far higher.

Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that Chelsea average more wins (58.7 compared to 55.2), more goals (1.9 compared to 1.7) and fewer goals against (1 compared to 1.3) without Giroud in the side.

RESURGENCE

Giroud told L'Equipe this week that he wants to keep playing until he is 36 and that the signing of Timo Werner by Chelsea is simply "an extra motivation" to perform.

Nobody, Giroud included, expects Werner to spend too much time on the bench at Stamford Bridge - so what can the former offer Lampard?

He has form, of course - he became the oldest player to score in five consecutive Premier League games in July and has found the net in each of his past seven appearances in all competitions - but his usefulness goes beyond his goal tally. After all, this is a player who started all but one of France's games at their World Cup triumph two years ago, despite not scoring.

Giroud offers a different sort of threat in the Chelsea attack, rather as he did for Arsenal. Since his debut, he has scored 31 headers in the Premier League, five more than any other player (Aubameyang has three).

In that same period, he has won 1,063 duels, averaging 6.5 per game for Chelsea at a success rate of 51 per cent, which is greater than any other current Chelsea or Arsenal striker. Similarly, his average of 4.9 aerial duels won per 90 minutes for Chelsea is more than double Abraham's tally, while he averages 7.7 touches in the opposition box per game compared to Abraham's 6.4.

These are not new elements to Giroud's game, yet they have been undervalued. He is a target man whose unselfish work can make teams tick, yet his knack for goals - when given the opportunity - speaks for itself.

Were fans allowed inside Wembley on Saturday, Giroud would be worthy of adulation from all sides of the ground.

The NBA is ready to return. A season that was put on hold early in March will resume on Thursday, albeit in an unexpected location, with a revised format but without any fans.

Basketball has had to adapt amid a global health pandemic, putting in place a plan complete with strict health and safety protocols due to coronavirus.

A bubble has been formed at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando. Move over Mickey Mouse and the rest of the gang, LeBron James and company are the stars now. Forget all about Space Mountain and instead take in the roller-coaster ride that is the NBA Playoffs. 

Ahead of the opening game – which sees the New Orleans Pelicans take on the Utah Jazz – here is a breakdown to try to explain how the champions will be crowned in unprecedented circumstances. 

SO HOW EXACTLY IS THIS GOING TO WORK?

Rather than finish off the remainder of the regular season before starting the playoffs, the NBA devised a new system to decide who progresses. 

The change means not all teams will be playing in Florida, as the field has been reduced to 22. That number, however, does not include an even split between Eastern and Western Conference. 

Instead, there will be 13 from the East and nine from the West, with each to play eight "seeding" games which will be added to their regular-season records. 

ARE ALL THE PLAYERS INVOLVED, THOUGH?

No. The NBA has permitted those with concerns to voluntarily opt out without any punishments, either from the league or their teams, though they will lose a portion of their salaries. 

Several have done just that due to health concerns or family reasons. Being in a bio-secure bubble for so long (teams entered early in July) left some with a difficult choice to make. 

Those who have tested positive for coronavirus are also ruled out. For example, DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie will not be in action for the Brooklyn Nets, who are also without injured duo Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. 

If you think that is unfortunate, the Nets signed Michael Beasley to take the roster spot belonging to Taurean Prince due to the latter having COVID-19, only for the replacement to then also be ruled out after he was diagnosed with the virus.

WHAT IS THE FORMAT FOR THE PLAYOFFS?

There will still be 16 teams involved, and those who had already clinched a berth are safe. 

It will be a traditional format, where the top seeds play the eighth-ranked team and so on. They will be best-of-seven matchups too, though obviously home advantage no longer exists.  

However, there is a potentially interesting wrinkle. The seven teams with the best record will advance, but there has been a subtle change for the last spot in each Conference. 

If the franchise sitting eighth has a four-game cushion over the team sitting behind, they go through as per usual. If the margin is inside four, however, a play-in tournament will be required. 

A PLAY-IN TOURNAMENT - WHAT'S THAT? 

Okay, so the eighth and ninth seeds will play in a best-of-two-game series, with the lower-ranked team needing to win both head-to-head contests to deny their opponents and progress to the playoffs.  

This is the reason why there are a different number of teams from each conference, as only those within range of qualifying have been invited to participate. 

Looking at the standings, the Memphis Grizzlies sit eighth right now in the West, yet their 32-33 record means five teams – the Portland Trail Blazers (29-37), the Pelicans (28-36), the Sacramento Kings (28-36), the San Antonio Spurs (27-36) and the Phoenix Suns (26-39) – are close enough to get within four games.  

In the East, however, the last two berths look set to be filled by the Nets (30-34) and the Orlando Magic (30-35), who occupy those positions currently. The Washington Wizards (24-40) have serious ground to make up if they want to make the postseason. 

WHEN WILL THE FINALS START?

The target date for the best from the East and West to start their series is September 30.  

It should be noted that, while the basketball is going on in the Orlando bubble, there are other important dates in this rearranged league calendar.  

The NBA Lottery is scheduled for August 25, while the Draft is set for October 16 (after the postseason has concluded).  

Once the rookies have found out where they will next call home, free agency comes just around the corner. Well, less of a corner and more a matter of hours.  

The NBA's annual moratorium (when teams and players can come to verbal agreements over deals) starts at 00:01 ET on October 19 and continues through to 12:00 ET on October 23.  

After all that, there is time to relax... until the 2020-21 season tips off on December 1.

The NBA finally returns on Thursday and it's been a long-time coming.

Not since March 11 have players taken to the court and fans watched official games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, after months of waiting, the New Orleans Pelicans-Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers-Los Angeles Clippers clashes will headline the 2019-20 season restart in Orlando, Florida.

Inside the Walt Disney World Resort bubble, 22 teams will resume their regular seasons before the playoffs.

The Milwaukee Bucks topped the NBA standings at the time of the postponement, while the Los Angeles Lakers were flying in the Western Conference.

Using STATS data, we look at the best-performing players prior to the hiatus as LeBron James eyes a fourth championship ring and Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo chases a maiden title.

 

Red-hot LeBron

After a tough first season in Los Angeles, James has returned to his brilliant best in 2019-20. Before the coronavirus-enforced break, the four-time MVP catapulted himself into the mix for a fifth Most Valuable Player honour by leading the Lakers – who have played 63 of their 82-game regular season – to a Western Conference-best 49-14 record.

As the 35-year-old superstar prepares to resume his bid for another NBA crown, James leads the league in assists per game with 10.6. If he maintains his pace, James would be the third-oldest player to lead the NBA in assists per game behind two-time MVP and Phoenix Suns great Steve Nash – who did so in both 2009-10 (age 35-36) and 2010-11 (age 36-37). The former Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers forward has also been averaging 25.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this season.

James, whose maiden campaign at Staples Center was cut short by a Christmas Day injury almost two years ago, was playing some of his best basketball alongside All-Star recruit Anthony Davis before the March suspension. In five games that month, James averaged 30.0 points and 10.6 assists per game, while shooting 55.7 per cent from the field. It is the only time in the last 30 years that any NBA player has averaged 30.0-plus points and 10.0-plus assists on 55.0-plus per cent shooting in a calendar month (minimum five games played).

 

Giannis – The Greek Freak

The Eastern Conference-leading Bucks (53-12) are on track for their first NBA title since 1971 thanks to superstar MVP Antetokounmpo after Mike Budenholzer's side lost in the Conference Finals last season.

Antetokounmpo – expected to go close to winning back-to-back MVPs – has not taken a backward step since being crowned the league's best in 2018-19, averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the high-flying Bucks this season.

The only players to average 25/13/5 in a season are Elgin Baylor (1960-61), Wilt Chamberlain (1963-64 and 1965-66) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1972-73 and 1975-76).

 

Harden firing Rockets

James Harden's standing among the greats is often debated but there is no doubting his quality and importance to the Houston Rockets.

Harden has established himself as a scoring machine in Houston since joining the Rockets from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, especially from beyond the arc, and after averaging 36.1 points last season, the 2018 MVP is at it again.

In 2019-20, Harden – now partnered with fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook – is averaging 34.4 per game. The only players to average 34-plus points in back-to-back seasons are Wilt Chamberlain (six straight from 1959-60 to 1964-65), Baylor (three straight from 1960-61 to 1962-63) and Michael Jordan (1986-87 to 1987-88).

The Rockets – sixth in the west with a 40-24 record – are relying heavily on Harden to lead the two-time champions to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1995.

 

Dallas' dazzling Doncic

If you thought Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic was a one-season wonder, think again.

The reigning Rookie of the Year continues to take the NBA by storm, elevating the Mavericks (40-27) into a legitimate playoff threat after Dallas missed the postseason for a third consecutive year last term.

A first-time All-Star this season, Doncic is averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game for the much-improved Mavs in 2019-20.

The 21-year-old Slovenian sensation – who is forming a formidable combination with fellow international star Kristaps Porzingis – is looking to join Oscar Robertson (five times), Jordan (1988-89), Harden (2016-17) and Westbrook (2016-17) as the only players to average 28/8/8 in a season.

 

Williamson following in MJ's footsteps

When it comes to number one draft pick Zion Williamson, believe the hype.

The Pelicans rookie has not missed a beat since debuting in January, quickly making his presence known around the NBA competition.

Likened to James during his college days with Duke, Williamson has averaged 23.6 points per game in his first 19 games – the most by any player through 19 career games since Chicago Bulls and NBA legend Jordan (25.6).

Williamson has helped fill the void left by Davis in New Orleans and the Pelicans – 10th in the Western Conference with a 28-36 record – will be hoping the 20-year-old can lead the organisation to just their second playoff appearance in five seasons.

 

Keep an eye on Nets' LeVert

The Nets will be far from full strength in the NBA bubble. Superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are both sidelined through injury, while DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Wilson Chandler and Taurean Prince have opted out.

Step up Caris LeVert.

LeVert has been much improved since re-joining the starting line-up with the playoff-chasing Nets. In his first 14 games off the bench, he was only averaging 11.1 points, 2.7 assists and 2.6 rebounds as Brooklyn went 5-9.

Since returning to the starting five, the 25-year-old is averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds through his last 16 games. More importantly, the Nets (30-34) boasted a 9-7 record to be seventh in a congested Eastern Conference.

David Silva played his 309th and final Premier League match on Sunday, helping Manchester City end the season with a rout of Norwich City. 

While he did not get on the scoresheet, the 5-0 thrashing was still a fitting farewell for a player who must be considered one of the best to ever to play for the club. 

His future remains unclear, but the 34-year-old's legacy in English football is safe: four league titles, two FA Cups, five EFL Cups and, just maybe, a Champions League triumph next month. 

Opta provides a clear insight into the brilliance of Silva over the past 10 years...

BORN TO PLAY - AND WIN

Silva reached 200 Premier League wins in just 289 appearances, faster than any other player in the competition's history. Indeed, City won 69.2 per cent of all league games when 'El Mago' was on the pitch - 214 in total.

City's very own Mr Reliable has only made fewer league appearances since his debut than two goalkeepers, David de Gea (312) and Ben Foster (322), while only Kyle Walker has played more Premier League minutes in that time.

Of course, Silva has never just been making up the numbers in City blue. He managed 93 assists, at least 17 more than any other player since his debut in 2010.

Unsurprisingly, his 793 chances created is also far clear of his closest rivals - Eden Hazard is next on 595.

Overall, he has provided 153 goals and assists combined, the fourth-highest since he came to English shores, behind just Wayne Rooney (155), Harry Kane (163) and Sergio Aguero (226).

AN ALL-TIME GREAT

Silva is in esteemed company in Premier League history. He is sixth on the all-time assist table, one ahead of Steven Gerrard and behind only Dennis Bergkamp (94), Frank Lampard (102), Rooney (103), Cesc Fabregas (111) and Ryan Giggs (162).

For City, he is unsurprisingly top of almost every chart.

He has played more games, won more games and provided more assists than any other City player in the Premier League, while behind only Aguero for goals and assists combined. While hardly prolific, only Yaya Toure (62), Raheem Sterling (67) and Aguero (180) can better his tally of 60 goals.

 

EL REY

Only De Gea and Fabregas (350) have played more Premier League games than Silva when it comes to Spanish players, and none have won as many matches or can compare to his win rate.

Fernando Torres (85) is the only Spaniard with more goals, while just Fabregas is above Silva for assists and combined goal involvements (161).

 

CONSISTENCY KING

Silva's best season for goals and assists was in 2011-12 - City's first title triumph - when he registered 21. He has managed at least 11 goal involvements in each of his league campaigns in England.

The midfielder created more than 60 goalscoring chances in every season except 2019-20 and twice surpassed a century, reaching 104 in 2011-12 and then 105 the following term.

He completed 18,794 passes in the Premier League with an accuracy that averaged more than 87 per cent.

After Maurizio Sarri claimed his first league title with Serie A champions Juventus, Stats Perform News revisits an interview with former player Luca Tognozzi.

 

Maurizio Sarri's journey to the top of Italian football has been long and arduous.

Sarri's first foray into coaching came at the age of 31 via U.S.D Stia in 1990 while juggling work commitments – foreign currency trader by day, coach by night. That combination of banking and amateur football continued until he devoted himself to coaching in the early 2000s.

Years in the lower tiers of Italian football saw Sarri gain promotion with the likes of Sansovino, who he led to Coppa Italia Serie D glory in 2002-03, and Sangiovannese. There were also brief and forgettable stints in charge of Pescara, Arezzo, Avellino, Hellas Verona and Perugia.

It was not until 2014 that Sarri had his first taste of Serie A after guiding Empoli to promotion at the age of 55. A surprise move to Napoli followed 12 months later – the Naples-born coach, who grew up in Tuscany, an unpopular choice among fans and even club great Diego Maradona.

But Sarri revolutionised Napoli and Italian football with his attacking and free-flowing brand, earning admirers from far and wide. Head-hunted by Chelsea following two runners-up medals in Naples, Sarri was lured to Serie A champions Juventus after leading the Blues to Europa League glory in his one and only campaign at Stamford Bridge in 2018-19 for his first major title.

Sarri's Juve appointment raised eyebrows last July, questions asked due to his Napoli links and philosophy – his approach in complete contrast to Bianconeri teams of years gone by. The 61-year-old, though, became the oldest head coach to win Serie A on Sunday as he celebrated his first league triumph following a 2-0 success at home to Sampdoria.

With nine years of domestic domination however, Sarri has been tasked with leading the Old Lady to Champions League success after five runners-up medals since their last triumph in 1996. Juve trail Ligue 1's Lyon 1-0 heading into next month's Champions League last-16 return leg following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Former midfielder Luca Tognozzi knows Sarri better than most. He was a favourite of the Italian veteran, following Sarri to Sansovino, Sangiovannese and Pescara.

"The chance and his decision to land to Juventus team I think he is the right person in the right place at the right time," Tognozzi told Stats Perform News. "He deserves this opportunity for several reasons:  the way with which his teams played in recent years, results he achieved always.

"I am sure his dedication to daily work, his wilfulness and his adaptability will immediately give his mark. He is in the most important Italian football team and will also have the opportunity to entertain his audience with his personal way of making his teams play to be able to fight to achieve great results.

"I think all this is the right reward, if you can say so, for a man and for a coach who too late he got a chance to be a trainer in a team that can be highly competitive in all European competition. I am very happy for him because he deserves all of this."

Tognozzi enjoyed success with Sarri at Sansovino, where the pair helped the club move up to Serie C2 from Serie D. Tognozzi then followed the coach to Sangiovannese in 2003 and promotion to Serie C1 was achieved.

"Sarri has always been Sarri," said the 42-year-old, who also played for Sarri at Pescara in 2005-06. "Certainly, over the years he has also had the capability and the smartness to evolve himself and his way to teach football.

"I feel very proud to have been one of his players. He was a fantastic football teacher for me. I had some fun life moments with him because he is a very ironic person [as almost all Tuscan people are] ... but I keep those moments for myself."

Tognozzi continued: "He is highly demanding because he believes in what he does and the way he teaches in a work methodology and he doesn't leave nothing to chance. This makes him a special person. He can be liked or not but in the football world where not always everything is so genuine, his passion and his determination is authentic.

"Football is his passion and Sarri is involved at 100 per cent in every little detail. He started from the amateurs up to the professionals, a long journey to arrive at the top. I think it may be a greatest satisfaction. At the same time, many experts should do mea culpa for their fast and superficial evaluations.

"Out of the field Mr. Sarri is a normal and simple person with whom you can talk about everything: from literature to story, from politics to music."

Another season, another Scudetto for Juventus.

The bulldozing Bianconeri have won Serie A for a ninth year in succession following their 2-0 victory over Sampdoria on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi scored the goals that clinched the championship for Juve following a run of just one win in their previous five games.

Although it may not have been a vintage Juve season they still extended their record run of consecutive titles.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the stats behind their ongoing dominance.

 

Days of glory

The first title in this incredible run was secured on May 6, 2012.

By defeating Sampdoria, they clinched number nine three days after they celebrated their 3,000th consecutive day as Italian champions.

A record for Sarri

Antonio Conte led Juve to their first three titles in this run and Massimiliano Allegri extended it by a further five.

Maurizio Sarri kept the tradition going in his first season at the helm, earning his first major trophy in Italian football.

By topping Serie A aged 61, he surpassed Nils Liedholm (60 years and 219 days) to become the oldest coach to win a Scudetto.

Not as solid

Sarri was appointed to bring a more expansive approach to Turin and their defence has seemingly suffered as a result.

Juve have already conceded 38 goals, becoming the first team to win the title while shipping that many since Milan let in the same amount in their triumphant 1961-62 season.

Veteran centre-back Giorgio Chiellini is the only player to have made at least one appearance in each of Juve's past nine Serie A title successes, with Gianluigi Buffon the only player in history to have won more Scudetti.

In the season he surpassed Paolo Maldini at the top of the all-time Serie A appearances list, Buffon, who has been back-up to Wojciech Szczesny since returning from Paris Saint-Germain, won the league for an incredible 10th time.

Ronaldo rolls on

Juve's continued success owes a lot to the incredible goalscoring feats of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner may be 35 but his prolific nature does not appear to be waning; this season he became the first player in history to score at least 50 goals in Serie A, LaLiga and the Premier League.

Ronaldo was also the fastest to 50 goals among players to have debuted since 1994-95, hitting the milestone in just 61 appearances with a double against Lazio on Monday.

That brace also moved the Portugal captain onto 30 goals for the season, a tally he stretched to 31 against Samp, making him just the third Juve star to reach that mark in a single top-flight campaign, following in the footsteps of Felice Borel (32 in 1933-34) and John Hansen (30 in 1951-52).

***CHECK AFTER FT IN SAMPDORIA GAME, UPDATE INTRO AND CHECK SECOND AND THIRD SECTIONS***

Juventus are the Serie A champions for the ninth season in succession after Sunday's 2-0 win over Sampdoria.

Cristiano Ronaldo's biggest challenge for the Bianconeri might be just on the horizon when they resume the Champions League knockout stages next month – the big, elusive prize the five-time Ballon d'Or winner was brought to Turin to help secure.

However, the master goalscorer has taken to life in Serie A in sensational fashion and broke through the 50-goal barrier in his 61st appearance against Lazio at the start of this week.

No player in modern Serie A history has done so as rapidly, while his brace against he capital club moved him on to 30 league goals this season .

Quicker than Shevchenko, Ronaldo and Trezeguet

Ronaldo's fast 50 puts him ahead of some esteemed names in the period from 1994-95..

Milan and Ukraine great Andriy Shevchenko got to the mark in 68 games, while his namesake and another fellow Ballon d'Or recipient, Brazil icon Ronaldo, got there in 70 outings for Inter.

The previous quickest to 50 for Juve was France striker David Trezeguet in 78 games – the same number required by Inter's 2010 Champions League final hero Diego Milito.

On course for Juve's best individual season

Ronaldo became the third Juve player to score 30 goals in a single Serie A campaign, after Felice Borel and John Hansen.

He will surely back himself to surpass Borel's 32 from the 1933-34 season in the two matches that remain this season and would have equalled that tally against Samp had he not struck the crossbar with a late penalty. 

However, Maurizio Sarri might want to rest his star forward as he faces up to a 1-0 Champions League last-16 deficit ahead of Lyon's visit to the Allianz Stadium.

Serie A joins Premier League and LaLiga as Cristiano's playground

Ronaldo is the first player to score 50 or more goals in the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A, having hit 84 in England's top flight for Manchester United and a remarkable 312 in league competition at Real Madrid.

He has faced 21 sides in Serie A to date, with Chievo the only club he is yet to net against – and that is only because Stefano Sorrentino saved a Ronaldo penalty in a 3-0 Juve win last January.

Parma, Sassuolo, Lazio and Samp have suffered most, with Ronaldo netting four apiece at their expense.

It was not always straightforward, but Juventus are Serie A champions with two games to spare.

In a run stretching back to 2011-12, Juve have now won nine consecutive Scudetti, with Sunday's 2-0 win against Sampdoria sealing glory this time.

Fittingly, a moment of magic from Cristiano Ronaldo set Juventus on their way to the title-clinching victory, his strike just before half-time settling the nerves.

Maurizio Sarri replaced Massimiliano Allegri at the helm of the Turin giants for 2019-20 and there have been teething problems.

Nevertheless, as these key games demonstrated, a willingness to fight back from behind and a lethal forward line separated them from the competition once more.

Juventus 4-3 Napoli (August 31)

The second weekend of the season saw Sarri tasked with taking down his former employers, with whom he memorably ran Juve so close in 2017-18. A debut goal from Danilo was quickly followed by Gonzalo Higuain crashing home, and Cristiano Ronaldo made it 3-0 shortly after the hour.

Game over, right? Wrong. Kostas Manolas headed in Mario Rui's 66th-minute cross, with Piotr Zielinski the provider for Hirving Lozano two minutes later. Giovanni Di Lorenzo scrambled home to seemingly complete an astonishing comeback nine minutes from the end, only for Kalidou Koulibaly to put through his own goal in stoppage time.

Inter 1-2 Juventus (October 6)

Antonio Conte started Juve's dominant streak nine years ago and he arrived at San Siro this term with similar intentions for his new club. Inter had six wins from six when they welcomed the champions to Milan.

Paulo Dybala thrashed a fourth-minute opener across Samir Handanovic and Ronaldo rattled the crossbar before Matthijs de Ligt was penalised for handball and Lautaro Martinez levelled from the spot. A high-quality contest remained all square until 10 minutes from time, when Higuain coolly converted Rodrigo Bentancur's pass for a finely constructed winner.

Atalanta 1-3 Juventus (November 23)

Robin Gosens nodded Gian Piero Gasperini's effervescent Atalanta side ahead in the 56th minute, Musa Barrow having erred from the penalty spot before half-time, and Atalanta held firm until Juventus turned the game on its head in the final quarter of an hour.

Higuain hit a brace before compatriot Dybala completed the scoring – securing a victory that would only appear more important after lockdown as Atalanta stormed up the table.

Juventus 2-0 Inter (March 8)

The new normal arrived at the Allianz Stadium for the Bianconeri's final game before the shutdown as the Derby d'Italia took place behind closed doors.

Juve had lost 1-0 to Lyon in the Champions League last 16 in the previous match – a deficit they will finally have the chance to try to overturn on August 7 – but put in a controlled performance to move nine points clear of Conte's men. Aaron Ramsey pounced for the opener and Dybala gave a timely demonstration of his class once more midway through the second half.

Atalanta 3-2 Lazio (June 24)

If beating Inter seemingly ruled the Nerazzurri out of the title race, Lazio were hot on Juve's heels. Simone Inzaghi's team beat the Old Lady 3-1 in both Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana in December and entered lockdown a point behind them at the summit. In their first game back, a Marten de Roon own goal and an excellent Sergej Milinkovic-Savic strike had them 2-0 up inside 11 minutes.

But Atalanta were typically relentless, with Gosens heading in before the break and a Ruslan Malinovskiy piledriver levelling matters. Lazio had long been on the ropes by the time Jose Luis Palomino snatched the points in the 80th minute. The team who had looked like being Juve's main rivals would never properly recover.

Juventus 2-1 Lazio (July 20)

Lazio's implosion was not immediate, as they scraped wins over Fiorentina and Torino on the back of their collapse in Bergamo. However, they had taken one point from the past 12 on offer by the time they travelled to face Juve.

Not that Sarri's side had fared much better, with a 4-2 loss from being 2-0 up at Milan and unhelpfully action-packed draws with Atalanta and Sassuolo leaving them staggering towards the finish line.

Cue Ronaldo, who converted a 51st-minute penalty and tapped in from Dybala's pass shortly afterwards. Ciro Immobile reduced the deficit with a spot-kick of his own, but Juve were on the brink - even if there was time for one more wobble in a 2-1 loss at Udinese.

The Premier League's longest season yet concluded on Sunday with Liverpool champions for the first time.

The Reds were comfortable in ending a 30-year wait for a top-flight title, but there was drama until the closing minutes of the final day.

Manchester United and Chelsea can celebrate Champions League qualification as the division's strugglers reflect on their contrasting fortunes.

Meanwhile, with the help of Opta data, we look at some of the quirkiest numbers from the 2019-20 campaign.


5 - David Luiz conceded five penalties in the Premier League this season, the most a player has ever given away in a single season in the competition.

167 - Jack Grealish was fouled 167 times in the 2019-20 Premier League, the most fouls won by a player in a single campaign on record (since 1998-99).

24 - Scott McTominay now has the fastest Premier League yellow card on record. He was booked just 24 seconds into Manchester United's December home win against Newcastle United.

2000 - It was a season of milestones for McTominay, who scored Manchester United's 2000th Premier League goal against Norwich City in October. They became the first club to the landmark.

27 - The Norwich class of 2019-20 became the only side not to record a single point from a losing position in Premier League history. They lost all 27 matches in which they fell behind.

4 - Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard's fourth-placed finish is the highest finish for an English manager in their debut Premier League season since Frank Clark's Nottingham Forest came third in 1994-95.

2 - Lampard's season ended well, but September's 2-1 defeat to Liverpool made him just the second Chelsea boss - after Bobby Campbell in 1988 - to lose his first four home matches in all competitions.

33 - At the age of 33, Jamie Vardy became the oldest player to win the Premier League Golden Boot, scoring 23 goals in 2019-20.

5 - Virgil van Dijk became just the fifth outfield player to play every minute for a Premier League title-winning side, following Gary Pallister (1992-93), John Terry (2014-15), Wes Morgan (2015-16) and Cesar Azpilicueta (2016-17).

2013 - Anthony Martial's June hat-trick against Sheffield United was Manchester United's first in the Premier League since Robin van Persie scored three against Aston Villa in April 2013.

7 - Martial and Marcus Rashford assisted one another a combined seven times in this season's Premier League, the most of any pairing in a single edition of the competition for Manchester United.

49 - All 49 clubs to have played in the Premier League have conceded at least one hat-trick after Raheem Sterling's three-goal haul against Brighton and Hove Albion in July.

14 - Manchester United won 14 penalties in the 2019-20 season, the most a team has ever won in a single Premier League campaign.

29 - Harry Kane is the only player to face more than one club in the Premier League and score against them all, with Sheffield United the 29th he netted against.

15 - Kevin De Bruyne ended the season with a joint-record 20 assists - tied with Thierry Henry - but he became the first player to set up 15 goals in three separate Premier League campaigns.

93 - Tottenham went a record 93 games without a goalless draw before they were held 0-0 by Watford in January.

Chelsea, Manchester United and Aston Villa were the big winners on the final day of the Premier League season.

Chelsea and United will join Liverpool and Manchester City in the Champions League next season, thanks to their respective 2-0 wins over Wolves and Leicester City.

Leicester must be content with a place in the Europa League, alongside Tottenham, while seventh-placed Wolves will wait to see whether Arsenal beat Chelsea in next weekend's FA Cup final to discover their European fate.

Wolves could yet earn a Champions League spot by winning the Europa League next month.

Jack Grealish's late goal helped Villa to a survival-sealing 1-1 draw at West Ham. Bournemouth won 3-1 at Everton and Watford lost 3-2 at Arsenal. Both the Cherries and Hornets will be playing Championship football next season.

Here, we look at how Sunday's events unfolded in England's top flight.

16:01 – Five changes for champions Liverpool and they go behind inside 25 seconds as Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle catches the reshuffled Reds napping.

16:04 – Watford make a nightmare start to their title bid as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gives Arsenal an early lead from the penalty spot. The Gabon international was fouled by Craig Dawson.

16:12 – Wonderful touch and finish from Harry Kane to put Tottenham in front at Crystal Palace and fire their top-six ambitions.

16:13 – Another big penalty in the relegation scrap as Joshua King puts Bournemouth ahead at Goodison Park.

16:20 – OOOFFF! Nick Pope started the final day with Golden Glove ambitions, level on 15 clean sheets with Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson, but there is nothing the Burnley goalkeeper can do about a 25-yard screamer from Brighton and Hove Albion's Yves Bissouma.

16:24 – More Watford woe as Arsenal cut through their defence far too easily and Kieran Tierney applies a side-foot finish for his first Premier League goal.

16:33 – Training ground stuff from Aubameyang, who sets himself up for his own overhead kick from Tierney's corner – moving to within a goal of Jamie Vardy in the Golden Boot race. Stick a fork in Watford, they're done.

16:43 - Cancel that, there's hope for Watford! David Luiz brings his innate feel for light entertainment to the party by fouling Danny Welbeck in the box. Troy Deeney takes a Troy Deeney penalty and it goes in.

16:45 – Moise Kean tapped in from close range to level for Everton, but Dominic Solanke's stoppage-time header restores Bournemouth's lead at the break. They need a favour from West Ham, where the goalless scoreline will do Aston Villa just fine for the moment.

16:45 – Glorious behaviour from Kevin De Bruyne, who takes a touch outside the Norwich City penalty area and clips a sensational finish over Tim Krul into the top corner. Manchester City were already leading through Gabriel Jesus' 11th-minute goal.

16:48 – Chelsea are heading back to the Champions League! Frank Lampard's men strike not once, but twice in first-half stoppage time against Wolves. Three minutes after Mason Mount's sumptuous free-kick, Olivier Giroud perseveres to crown a sharp counter-attack.

17:10 – Chris Wood levelled for Burnley before half-time but Aaron Connolly restores Brighton's advantage at Turf Moor.

17:11 – Jeffrey Schlupp sends a finish soaring into the roof of the net for Palace. Opponents Spurs remain in sixth as it stands, but they are only ahead of Wolves on goal difference.

17:18 – Big moment at the King Power Stadium as Vardy flicks a header on to the top of the crossbar. Chelsea's strong showing against Wolves means it looks like Leicester must win and Manchester United must not lose as they duke it out for top-four honours.

17:18 – After Virgil van Dijk's equaliser, Divock Origi scores Liverpool's second set-piece goal of the day at Newcastle to move them towards 99 points – the second highest total in Premier League history.

17:27 – Penalty to Manchester United! Jonny Evans and Wes Morgan converge on Anthony Martial after Hamza Chowdhury gets caught in possession. VAR upholds Martin Atkinson's decision.

17:27 – Another buzz of defiance from the Hornets as Danny Welbeck scores against his old club from close range.

17:29 – Bruno Fernandes scores! Cool as you like from Manchester United's season-changing signing, who sends Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way from the spot. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men are on their way back to the Champions League.

17:29 – Danny Ings might be the Southampton striker who entered the final day with Golden Boot ambitions but Che Adams' second of the game puts Ralph Hasenhuttl's men 2-1 up from a goal down against Sheffield United.

17:37 – That's 100 Premier League goals for a third successive season for Manchester City. Raheem Sterling now has 20 of those and De Bruyne has set up 20 of them, matching Thierry Henry's single-season assist record.

17:41 – Ings converts from the spot as Southampton go 3-1 up. Like Aubameyang, he's poised to finish on 22 goals – one behind Vardy.

17:43 – David Silva is embraced by his Manchester City team-mates as he is substituted on his final Premier League appearance. Riyad Mahrez has just made it 4-0.

17:44 – Huge, gigantic, massive goal for Aston Villa! And it had to be Grealish. Lukasz Fabianski should have done better but Villa will not care at all.

17:45 – BUT WAIT! West Ham are level after Andriy Yarmolenko's shot is deflected in off… that's right, Grealish. How are your nerves?

17:48 – Two of the season's outstanding players sign off in style. De Bruyne wraps up a 5-0 City win – a result that means the Golden Glove for Ederson - with his second of the afternoon, while Sadio Mane completes a 3-1 comeback win for Liverpool at Newcastle.

17:56 – Deep, deep into stoppage time at Leicester, Jesse Lingard rubber-stamps third place for Manchester United. What on earth was Schmeichel doing?

17:59 – Full-time at Emirates Stadium and Arsenal have edged it, so Watford are down. Welbeck and Deeney had chances to equalise for Watford, but the result means Villa's players are now celebrating across London. Junior Stanislas completed a fine Bournemouth showing at Everton but the Cherries are also doomed.

The Premier League season concludes on Sunday, with Liverpool completing their victory lap at Newcastle United.

A dominant campaign from Jurgen Klopp's men means the destination of the big prize has long been decided, although there are still the matters of Champions League qualification and relegation to address.

The remaining top-four berths will go to two of Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United – with the latter two playing each other at the King Power Stadium in Sunday's standout clash.

At the other end of the table, two of Aston Villa, Watford and Bournemouth will be joining Norwich City in the Championship next season.

However, as we examine below, there are individual awards and achievements still up for grabs.

 

Vardy leads the way in Golden Boot race

A goal from Jamie Vardy against United could represent a huge step towards Europe's elite competition for Leicester City, while it will almost certainly mean the Golden Boot for the former England striker.

Vardy is on 23 goals, in a landmark campaign that saw him being up 100 in the Premier League. Of the 29 players to have reached a century in the competition, only Ian Wright (28 years, 286 days) made his debut at an older age than Vardy (27 years, 232).

The main competition comes from Danny Ings, whose 21 goal makes him the third Southampton player to score 20 or more in a Premier League season, following Matt Le Tissier (25) in 1993-94 and James Beattie (23) in 2002-03.

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is next in line on 20. The Gabon international has also enjoyed a landmark campaign, becoming the sixth fastest player to 50 Premier League goals in history as he did so on his 79th top-flight outing for Arsenal.

Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling are the outsiders on 19 apiece. If Sterling nets against Norwich, he will become the first Englishman to score 20 times in a top-division season for Manchester City since Brian Kidd – now a member of Pep Guardiola's backroom staff – did so in 1976-77.

 

De Bryune hunting Henry's assist record

One man in particular will be keen on Sterling adding to his haul – provided it comes from one of his passes!

Kevin De Bruyne has 19 assists in the Premier League this season, placing him one shy of Thierry Henry's competition record.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil also assisted 19 times during 2015-16.

De Bruyne has been directly involved in 30 league goals this term, scoring 11 alongside his creative exploits. This is the most for a central midfield since Frank Lampard scored 22 and supplied 14 assists for Chelsea in 2009-10.

The efforts of Sterling and De Bruyne have gone a long way to placing City close to an impressive collective feat. If Guardiola's side score three times against Norwich, they will reach 100 goals for a third consecutive Premier League season.

 

Ederson and Pope battle it out for Golden Glove

Another City player looking after number one on Sunday is their number one. Ederson is on 15 clean sheets, putting him level in the Golden Glove standings with Burnley's Nick Pope.

The Clarets end another excellent season at home to Brighton and Hove Albion and if Ederson and Pope cannot be separated at full-time the award will be shared.

Both men have a similar save percentage, with Pope stopping 70.7 per cent of efforts sent his way compared to Ederson's 69.6, but the Englishman has been far busier.

Pope has made 118 saves from 164 shots faced, compared to Ederson's 64 from 92.

Although impressive, neither man has been flawless, with Ederson committing three errors leading to goals and Pope culpable for two.

Page 1 of 59
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.