Who'd have guessed in August that we would be raving about Claudio Ranieri and Marcus Rashford approaching the business end of the season.

The 2015-16 season has been full of surprises.. here are the Daily Mail's biggest 10.


The last Englishman to win the Premier League Golden Boot was Kevin Phillips back in 2000. But here we have two 'locals' leading the way in Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy. One with great technique, one with blistering pace; both top of the scoring charts.

Jermain Defoe and Troy Deeney have also hit double figures while Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll are all currently fit and among the goals as well.


Wayne Rooney will hope to follow suit when he returns, then Roy Hodgson really will have a monster selection headache for Euro 2016.


General wisdom is that clubs should not rip up their playing squads or have a revolving door for managers if they want stability and success. Watford have disproved every rule going.

The Pozzo family owners won promotion last season despite going through six managers in three years. But it still seemed foolish to let Slavisa Jokanovic leave after taking them up, to bring in a Premier League novice, Quique Sanchez Flores. Not only that, they then signed 16 new players!

Instead of being a mess, Watford have been a revelation. Ian Wright dubbed Flores 'The Sherrif' and everyone knew what he meant. The Hornets ensured their Premier League survival early and are in the FA Cup semi-finals. Their raft of new players have gelled well with Etienne Capoue, Allan Nyom and Valeron Behrami particularly outstanding, as well as striker Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo


It's no shock that the former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager can drill his players and organise a team defensively, more than he decided to take the challenge at Newcastle United in the first place.

If it was surprise that Mike Ashley should turn to Benitez in the first place, at least that was borne out of desperation.

But for Benitez to accept a relegation scrap having taken his last five jobs with Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli and Real Madrid was startling. A big financial bonus for keeping the club up is clearly a factor, but asking Siem de Jong to play like Cristiano Ronaldo is still a massive culture shock.


There was a time when a smaller club would be wasting their time trying to stop a bigger club poaching their star player. Not any more as John Stones and Saido Berahino would testify.


Whereas at one time a pressure of agents and financial muscle would ensure moves would happen, the new TV deals have allowed any Premier League club to withstand pressure and point to the player's contract if they want to keep them.

Chelsea had three bids turned down for Stones and their assumption that they'd force Everton to sell has wrecked their season. Berahino threw his toys out of the pram on numerous occasions but is still at The Hawthorns.


Wasn't even 12th-choice at United last season, Rashford has become one of the fastest-rising stars in Premier League history, at the age of 18.

After starting just twice for United's Under 21s - he was listed on their website as an Under 18 player - Rashford was thrown into the deep end for a must-win Europa League tie, and has stayed in the side, scoring five goals including last weekend's Manchester derby winner at The Etihad Stadium.

His pace and movement have seen him compared to Patrick Kluivert and Andy Cole, and he has probably single-handedly ensured Louis van Gaal can remain in post at Old Trafford until the summer.


Once every generation, you get a combination of players who capture the imagination so that it's nearly impossible to name one without the other.

Kevin Keegan and John Toshack, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and now an ex-Fleetwood Town striker and a £400,000 Algerian plucked from undistinguished service in France.

Despite the obvious contributions of others, it's Vardy and Mahrez who have pushed Leicester City to the brink of a first championship in the club's history.

Their link-up play is fantastic, Vardy stretching defences all over the place, Mahrez picking him out and also using the free space to score goals himself. When Vardy's record 11-game scoring run ended, Mahrez hit a hat-trick against Swansea. That's teamwork.


Marseille is by no means a small club but when West Ham signed Payet in the summer, how many thought the Frenchman would outshine David Silva, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata as the most influential playmaker in the Premier League?

Payet has eight goals and eight assists in the league and earned West Ham a FA Cup quarter-final replay against Manchester United with a wonderful free-kick at Old Trafford. No wonder manager Slaven Bilic said he needs to be a poet to find the right words to say about his No 10.

West Ham have already rewarded Payet with a bumper new contract after only a few months at Upton Park. No wonder, they need him at the Olympic Stadium next season.


It's said about the Premier League that anything can happen. Except it's not really been true - until this season.

In the last nine months, match predictions really have been a lottery. West Ham won at Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. City have lost five times at home, Everton eight. In the first half of the season, Leicester beat everybody and Chelsea nobody.

Even Norwich, fighting relegation, beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. So did Southampton. Yet United have themselves beaten Arsenal and Manchester City. Nothing has made sense.


Expectations about Alli were limited to a few first-team appearances or maybe a loan when he arrived at Spurs having led MK Dons to promotion for League One. Instead the teenager is a major part in Tottenham's push for the title and an expected starter for England at Euro 2016.

Alli, 19, is a throwback to the Steven Gerrard and Bryan Robson where a top midfield player can stop goals, create goals and score goals. His wonder-strike against Crystal Palace, two fantastic touches to control before a volleyed finish, is a serious contender for Goal of the Season.

England manager Roy Hodgson has already fast-tracked him into the England squad and his partnership with Harry Kane augurs well for club and country in years to come.


Everyone tipped Leicester City at the start of the season - for relegation. Mainly because they appointed a 63-year-old Ranieri as their manager.

The Italian, now 64, was derided as a tinker-man in his last spell in England more than a decade ago and his last job with the Greek national team saw them lose at home to the Faroe Island.

We should have known better. Ranieri has charmed everyone and more importantly got Leicester playing to a system and style that has been unstoppable. Far from tinkering, Ranieri has settled on a clear starting XI and made big decisions such as leaving out Swiss star Gokhan Inler because he wouldn't suit the formation.

In particular, he has managed to add to the remarkable team spirit at the club, rather than try to take it away.

- Daily Mail