Premier League 18/19 End of Season Awards
The 2018/2019 Premier League season come to a close this Sunday, and while there’s still the small matter of a Title to decide, everything else other than the silverware destination has been decided. So we made it high time we offered up our obligatory season recap; including our Player of the Season, Game of the Season, and Team of the Season. So without further aplomb, here’s our Premier League 2018/2019 End of Season Awards!
Player of the Season
Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)
Despite what Twitter and Weird Steve down the pub might say, it’s hard to separate the impacts Raheem Sterling and Virgil Van Dijk have had on their respective teams and this record-breaking title race. But while Sterling’s numbers are sensational and his off-the-field comments deserve huge credit, Van Dijk is playing like the best player in his position anywhere on the planet – let alone on these shores.
£75 million for a central defender from Southampton may have raised eyebrows at the time, but if you listened closely, Liverpool knew they had a bargain. The Dutchman’s calmness and poise are essential to an otherwise often frantic set-up. Strong, quick, highly intelligent, Van Dijk reads the game better than anyone in the division, and his contribution of 4 goals and 4 assists are also not to be sniffed at. The rise of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have certainly helped matters at Liverpool, but Van Dijk’s dominance is obvious. A truly phenomenal footballer.
Young Player of the Season
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
While we know Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva both qualified for the PFA’s official award, but at 24 years old, we’re ignoring the both of them. For us – while the likes of Leicester’s James Maddison and England’s Declan Rice deserve a mention – that left a straight two-horse race between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. But the stats don’t lie and we’re not sure people know just how good the Crystal Palace fullback has been this season.
The 21-year-old has won 124 tackles this season – that’s the third highest amount in the league behind Wilfred Ndidi (another young player who deserves a mention here) and Idrissa Gueye. He has only been dribbled past nine times all season and has also made the second most interceptions in the league (82). Not only that, he had the second most dribbles of all defenders (54) going forward. For a man playing in his first full season in a decidedly mid-table team, Wan-Bissaka’s season has been nothing short of staggering. Expect a big move within the next few transfer windows.
Breakthrough Player of the Season
Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
They may not be the most glamourous team in the league but we’ve always had a soft spot for Eddie Howe and Bournemouth. And despite a mid-season wobble, it’s been another steady season for the men from the South Coast, with Ryan Fraser their undoubted standout performer. With 14 Premier League assists, Fraser is currently one behind a mesmerising Eden Hazard, and has also chipped in with seven goals. Considering he managed just 5 goals and 3 assists in the 2017/2018 campaign, that’s an astonishing improvement.
Fraser has played in every Premier League match this season and could still set a new record for goal combinations if he and Callum Wilson can link up twice on the final day when they take on Crystal Palace. So far, the pair have assisted each other to score on 12 occasions, just one behind Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton who linked up 13 times for Blackburn in the 1994/95 season. Rumours are Arsenal are sniffing around Fraser this summer and it’s easy to see why.
Signing of the Season
Raúl Jiménez (Wolves)
The likes of Salomon Rondon (Newcastle), James Maddison (Leicester) and, of course, Alisson Becker (Liverpool) deserve to be in with a shout here but we’ve gone for Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Raúl Jiménez as our Signing of the Season. Despite scoring a league-leading 82 time on their way to promotion to the Premier League in 2017/2018, only Diogo Jota chipped in with more than 12 goals. Nuno Espírito Santo knew he needed summer reinforcements and managed to land Raúl Jiménez on loan from Benfica.
The latest in a long line of imports from Portuguese clubs, the Mexican had a difficult time of it at the Portuguese champions, netting just 6 times in 33 games. That form seemed to carry over to Molineux, with three goals in Jiménez’s first 13 Premier League games. But the Mexican soon found his feet and has gone on to play in integral role in Wolves’ successful season, scoring 17 goals in all competitions alongside a healthy 10 assists. No wonder Wolves forked out the £30 million to secure his services permanently.
Game of the Season
Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool
There’s been plenty of last-gasp drama this season with Liverpool managing a fair share of last minute winners throughout the campaign, but we’ve opted for their defeat at the Etihad in early January as this season’s Game of the Season.
Liverpool went into the game 7 points clear at the top after City lost games against Crystal Palace and Leicester over the Christmas period. That meant it was a must-win for City and a must-not-lose for Liverpool, with a potential 6 point swing the difference. Not only was it packed with quality and tension, despite it taking place as early as January, Leroy Sane’s winner and 1.12cm of Goal Line Technology have probably decided the destination of the title…
Goal of the Season
Andros Townsend v Manchester City (Crystal Palace)
Probably the award to cause the fiercest debates in the office, we’re opting for Andros Townsend’s rocket against City as our Goal of the Season. There were shouts for Mo Salah v Chelsea last month and Eden Hazard’s mesmerising solo goal against West Ham, but for technique and sheer shock element, Townsend has it.
Manager of the Season
Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool)
It’s highly likely Liverpool will miss out on their first ever Premier League title despite hitting an unthinkable 97 points. But with a Champions League Final to come and one of the finest seasons ever produced by any club, for us this one is easy to call. Pep Guardiola deserves plaudits for the past two seasons, while Nuno Espírito Santo and Javi Gracia also earned honourable mentions here, but we make Jürgen Klopp our Manager of the Season.
Liverpool are a team built in Klopp’s image; sparky and passionate. Free-scoring up top, watertight at the back, the Reds have lost just one match all season and never really looked like losing many more. The clear disparity in resources with the likes of City has meant Liverpool and Klopp have been meticulously building to this moment for 3 years. It’s almost perverse they probably won’t win the club’s first league title in 30 years this weekend. Still, this is the best Liverpool team for a generation and Klopp deserves recognition for it.
Team of the Season
And finally, our Team of the Season. Various players almost made the cut with the likes of Liverpool trio Gini Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold and even Mo Salah unlucky to miss out, but all in all, we think the 11 basically picks itself…
Who was your Player of the Season? Have we got any glaring omissions in our Team of the Year? Let us know in the comments below or join the debate over on Twitter!