Premier League 2016/2017 End of Season Awards
With the 2016/2017 Premier League season coming to a close this Sunday, and with all the major places settled following Chelsea’s title win and Hull’s relegation last weekend, we thought it’s only appropriate we offer up our obligatory season recap, including our Player of the Season, Game of the Season, and Team of the Season. So without further ado, here’s our Premier League 2016/2017 End of Season Awards.
Player of the Season
N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
It doesn’t take too much football knowledge to see just what a difference Kante’s signing from Leicester has made to Chelsea. The PFA and Football Writer’s Player of the Year has been colossal in Chelsea’s central midfield two, and has added some much needed energy and stability in a midfield which often got overran last season, and his ability to win the ball so far up the pitch is crucial to side with as much pace as the Blues.
Eden Hazard has been superb in spells but while there are many reasons for Leicester’s exploits last season and this, as well as Chelsea’s change in fortunes, there is one constant. His name is N’Golo.
Young Player of the Season
Dele Alli (Tottenham)
Probably the easiest award to give, it’s easy to forget that Dele Alli has only just turned 21 years old. The Spurs man hasn’t looked back since his move from MK Dons in 2015 racking up a staggering 27 league goals in the process, all from midfield.
If he carries on with this trajectory, it really isn’t a stretch to suggest Alli could well be up there with the Premier League midfield greats. But for now, just enjoy him. It’s been a long time since England produced someone of his talent.
Breakthrough Player of the Season
Leroy Sane (Manchester City)
With the Young Player of the Season Award being a bit of a no-brainer, we thought it only fair to give someone else an emerging talent award. And we’re giving it to Leroy Sane. The 21 year old German came for big money in the summer from Schalke having been courted by pretty much all the European big boys at some point over the last couple of years. And it’s not hard to see why.
The City winger has come on leaps and bounds under Guardiola and has really come into his own in the second half of the season. The perfect wide-man mixture of balance, pace and quality, Sane could be a match-winner for years to come in Manchester.
Signing of the Season
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)
While Kante should win this award, we thought we’d mix it up a bit. The likes of Sadio Mane and especially David Luiz have been inspired purchases, but we’re not sure any signing has taken on as much at their club as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Arriving from Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer in the summer, none of us really knew what United were getting when they signed the enigmatic Swede. The French league is a doddle after all.
Well, while his already limited pace has long gone, the man they call Zlatan scored 27 goals this season, including a cup final winner for United in an otherwise disappointing first season under Mourinho. He’s not always been on form, but he’s always contributed more than anyone else in that squad. He’s 35 years old and quite simply, he’s incredible.
Most Underrated Player of the Season
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
One of only three outfield players to play every single minute of every single league game in the 2016/2017 season, nobody deserves the Most Underrated Player award than Cesar Azpilicueta. For us, ‘Dave’ as they call him affectionately at Stamford Bridge is the best pure defender in the Premier League.
He works harder than anyone, is never out of position, is never beaten one-on-one and even contributes going forward, chipping in with five assists this season – two more than Pogba. Giving a minimum of 8/10 performances every single week, Azpilicueta is a footballer everyone should want in their team.
Game of the Season
Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool
There have been plenty of great games to choose from, with Chelsea’s win at Man City back in early December being the season’s most significant, but we’ve gone for Bournemouth’s dramatic comeback against Liverpool that same weekend as our Game of the Season. Liverpool were well on course for a serious title challenge, with the Cherries wary of a relegation fight.
Liverpool looked dominant in the first half and raced into a 2-0 lead before being pegged back and then once again restoring their two goal lead thanks to a corker from Emre Can to make it 3-1. Queue a classic Premier League comeback with the south coast side scoring two in two minutes to level things, before Chelsea loanee Nathan Ake scored a dramatic 93rd minute winner. Vintage Barclays.
Goal of the Season
Olivier Giroud v Crystal Palace (Arsenal)
Probably the award to cause the most debate in the office, we’re labelling Olivier Giroud’s stunning scorpion kick against Crystal Palace as our Goal of the Season. We’ve got a lot of love for Andy Carroll’s thumping scissor kick and Mkhitaryan’s similarly amazing scorpion kick, but we’ve never seen anything like Giroud’s. Plus, Mkhitaryan was offside…
Manager of the Season
Antonio Conte (Chelsea)
While Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche and Mauricio Pochettino all deserve very special mentions, this one could only really go to one man. There’s one real reason why Chelsea are champions: Antonio Conte. The energetic Italian was exactly the tonic the West London club needed following the acrimonious departure of Jose Mourinho midway through last season.
Not only has the football been breath-taking at times – especially during the 13 game win streak – the humility and passion he’s brought to not only Chelsea, but the Premier League as a whole, has been a breath of fresh air. And when you consider that only two sides have won the English double since the turn of the millennium – with the last being Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea in 2009/2010 – the potential feat next weekend is all the more remarkable. You also get the feeling he’s only just getting started at Chelsea. Chelsea need to back his project. If they do, it could be ominous for everyone else…
Team of the Season
And finally, our Team of the Season. Many players almost made it with the likes of Christian Eriksen, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Silva all have decent enough seasons. But all in all, we think our 11 essentially picked itself.