The Gongs

It’s quite surreal that the Premier League season has actually ended! An historic dog fight between Manchester City and Liverpool culminated in Manchester United still having 13 more Premiership titles than Liverpool. #youwinsome #youlosesome

Fair play to them both as they were clearly head and shoulders (and knees and toes) above everyone else. This City team will go down as one of the best Premier League sides of all time (they’ve bought so much depth that they had one of the best seasons in football without their most gifted player Kevin de Bruyne being fit). This Liverpool team will also go down as one of the best Premier League sides of all time. They came up short but they have been so wildly consistent and top class that it is unfathomable how they have ended up in 2nd. I would feel bad but they mauled Barcelona in a Champions League semifinal over 180 minutes, and now go into a final in Madrid as lopsided favorites for the first ever time (I’m referring to actual Champions League forays and not the European Cup where….ummmm….it was slightly easier to win).

So, anyway, I’ll get right to the awards portion of this post:

Player of the Season: Raheem Sterling, Manchester City

  • an absolutely monstrous year from Raheem where he went from so incredibly good to world class as the season progressed. He is simply unplayable when in form, and he’s essentially always on form. His touch and technique are flawless and he just makes things seem so effortless. He willed this side to victories at times and he’s only getting better. Shouts to Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool and Sergio Agüero of City who both had cracking campaigns.

Manager of the Season: Nuno Espírito Santo, Wolverhampton Wanderers

  • this Wolves team finished an astonishing 7th in their first season back in the top flight. Nuno had this squad purring and playing such high quality football. They played all the top teams so tough (even knocking Liverpool and United out of the FA Cup) and were able to hang onto the best of the rest title even as Leicester City and Everton and West Ham (!!) made their moves. A shot at the Europa League next season a fitting reward. Nuno won’t struggle to keep this team together as the loanees (Raúl Jiménez, Jonny Otto, Leander Dendoncker) have been bought from their parent clubs, so this team should now be aiming for even higher levels.

Team of the Season: 3-4-3 formation

  • Goalkeeper: Ederson, Manchester City
  • this is why these awards should happen after the season concludes as opposed to the supremely nonsensical approach Britain takes and names their winners with crucial weeks to play, as I would have put United’s David de Gea here. de Gea floundered at a vital juncture as his contract situation took center stage whilst Ederson remained consistent throughout the season. He is reliable between the pine sticks for City and has cut down on the needless errors on the ball that certainly popped up during the earlier stages of his English career.
  • Defender: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Crystal Palace
  • what a season from this absolute rock of a right back. At 21 he seems to have the nuances of the game down and can straight up fly up and down the wing. Opponents simply cannot get past A1B. He wins tackles at an elite level and stays strong. He’s consistent and he’s skillful and he will cost a fortune if you are looking to buy him (he’s English in the sense that he was born in England and will likely be called up by England very shortly, but is eligible to play for the Congolese as well). Crystal Palace had such a disappointing season in general but Aaron was a surefire bright spot and definitively their best player throughout.
  • Defender: Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool
  • the best defender in the game bar none. He’s just so solid and very rarely makes a mistake (Lionel Messi’s first goal in the semifinal probably the only time all season where I thought Virgil lost his man and looked ordinary). He chips in with goals too which is what all the greats do so well.
  • Defender: Jonny Otto, Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • I know what you’re thinking…he’s not a bloody left back! He is though. Just go ahead and trust me on that. Ask Atlético Madrid if you don’t believe me. Jonny is a beast. He is so incredibly fun to watch on that left flank as a wing back. He can attack, he can defend, and he brings some grit to this game as well. He’s comfortable on the ball and does not shy away from bigger and better competition. Shouts to Liverpool’s Andy Robertson, who is phenomenal, and would also slot in here with no qualms.
  • Midfielder: Bernardo Silva, Manchester City
  • the biggest surprise of the season for City was that Bernardo finally turned the corner and became the devastatingly good player they knew they had. He picked up the pieces from the de Bruyne injury and made himself irreplaceable. He fed the attack and kept the midfield churning. Bernardo is such a force going forward and his form only fueled his ever growing confidence and comfort on the ball.
  • Midfielder: Eden Hazard, Chelsea
  • the most formidable player in the Premier League as far as out and out talent goes. Hazard is a magician and one of the best on the planet. He is simply unstoppable and his touches are sublime. He sees the game so much more intelligently than the rest and can do things with the ball we mortals can only dream of. Real Madrid getting a bargain here (an even bigger bargain considering Los Blancos paying less for Hazard than Barcelona will need to cough up for Antoine Griezmann).
  • Midfielder: Fernandinho, Manchester City
  • he is still the anchor in that City midfield. Injuries began to take their toll on the 34 year old, but his contributions to this side emphatically led the championship charge. Fernandinho brings stability to the middle and covers the back line. He is efficient and reliable. And will be woefully difficult to replace (Ilkay Gündogan is not the answer).
  • Midfielder: Raheem Sterling, Manchester City
  • as stated, a machine on an utterly star studded City team.
  • Attacker: Sadio Mané, Liverpool
  • the most dangerous attacking component on this unspeakably magical Liverpool roster. Mané has been so fantastic for these past two seasons that I still can’t quite figure out why the big Spanish sides have not vultured him away yet. He scores goals and more goals and more goals. He rarely misses and carries with him that classic striker swagger of yore. Mané can play with the ball too and is just so dangerous in the final third.
  • Attacker: Sergio Agüero, Manchester City
  • the best striker in the Premier League (with the best hair to boot) and one of the best #9s in the world. He finds goals out of nowhere and always delivers. If you need something to happen in a match, this is your man. He is a behemoth and almost single-handedly won City the title towards the end (his winning goal against Burnley and his instant equalizer against Brighton, for example).
  • Attacker: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
  • an interesting season for Mo, as he wasn’t a Ballon d’Or candidate necessarily, but his almost top form is still better than the best from most other people kicking a ball about. He was joint top scorer in the Premier League with 22 goals and conjures up beautiful strikes when all seems lost. Salah is a phenom and should never be slept on. He didn’t take over matches and wow week in and week out like last season, but he delivered constantly and with such goddamn grace.

Subs:

  • Goalkeeper: Alisson, Liverpool
  • Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool; Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City; Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham Hotspur; Andy Robertson, Liverpool
  • Midfielders: Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal; Declan Rice, West Ham; João Moutinho, Wolverhampton Wanderers; Georginio Wijnaldum, Liverpool
  • Attackers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal; Son Heung-min, Tottenham Hotspurs

A spectacular season in the books! Now all attention goes to the FA Cup final and then the European finals featuring even more (read: ALL FOUR) English teams. The Premier League has cemented its place as the most difficult football league and the reward is the genuine domination of its clubs in Europe. Well played to all involved and now let’s let the transfer gossip hot up.

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