After much deliberation, I and my colleague, Joshua Crabb, came to the conclusion that the fairest thing to do would not be to just make a Team of the Season but also a U-23 Team of the Season too. Whereas we both had a hand in choosing the teams, I will be taking on the task of writing out the reasons behind our choices for the Senior team and I will leave it to Joshua to expertly explain our reasoning for the players that made it into our U-23 squad.
Some of you may not like our choices but like most things in life, football is subjective, so although you may not agree with everyone that made our Teams of the Season I hope you can understand why we have picked the players that we have picked. We feel that each player that has made these squads have proven themselves both as individuals and also as important members of their teams this season. So with that in mind, this is Sports Obsessive’s Premier League Team of the Season.
Goalkeeper Star of the Season: Nick Pope
Goalkeeper: Nick Pope
The English stopper had another incredible year for Burnley, barely missing out to Ederson for the Golden Gloves trophy at the end of the season. In my opinion, Pope has to be a shoo-in for the England no.1 spot. Pope has once again proven to be of the highest level and it might not be long before a top 6 team comes calling for his services. A team like Chelsea may be a possible destination considering Frank Lampard’s well-documented doubts over Kepa in the Chelsea goal, but I’m sure Sean Dyche will do his utmost to hold onto to his no.1 for as long as possible.
Right Back: Trent Alexander-Arnold
It is hard to believe that the Liverpool right-back is only 21 years old. His attacking prowess is second to none right now in the Premier League. Although a born and bred scouser, Alexander-Arnold plays with the flair of the Brazilian fullbacks of old. His delivery is so impressive and he has become a lethal weapon for Liverpool on the right-wing. The Englishman notched up 13 more assists this season, topping his own record from the previous year by 1. As the seasons go by and the role of the fullback becomes even more important to the game, one can only imagine that Alexander-Arnold will be on many more of these teams for years to come.
Center Back: James Tarkowski
James Tarkowski reminded us all that he truly belongs in the Premier League. Tarkowski put in another assured season at the heart of the Burnley defence, and with each and every year he looks more comfortable at this level. Tarkowski once again proved that he has the quality to push for a starting spot in the national setup, along with Nick Pope in goals. Tarkowski’s importance to Burnley is undoubted but unfortunately for Sean Dyche, he might have a major struggle on his hands trying to hold on to one, if not both, of his prized assets.
Center Back: Virgil Van Dijk
This season was the one in which Virgil Van Dijk finally supplanted Sergio Ramos as the top center back in the world. A gargantuan season from Van Dijk saw him complete another full 38 game season, marshalling Liverpool’s backline without missing a single minute of Premier League action. Van Dijk’s influence in the back four at Liverpool is beyond doubt and he has been such an important cog in the Liverpool machine since he signed just over two years ago. The Dutch center back has proven with every passing game that he is a Rolls Royce of a defender and that, without him, Liverpool’s recent success may not have been possible.
Left Back: Andrew Robertson
The impossible rise of Andy Robertson has to be one of the greatest stories in the history of football. When Liverpool signed Robertson from Hull, I’m sure not even Jurgen Klopp could have imagined how influential the Scotsman would be over the next few seasons. Just like Alexander-Arnold on the right side for Liverpool, Robertson has produced double-figures in assists for back to back seasons. This season, he was only one assist away from his teammate and showed with his work-rate and delivery that he is one of the top left-backs in world football.
Defensive Star of the Season: Virgil Van Dijk
Midfield: Jordan Henderson
The Liverpool captain led his team to their first Premier League title this season and was immense in the centre of midfield. Henderson’s growing influence and importance to the Champions is without question now. As the seasons go by, his quality as a player and as a leader has grown exponentially, and without him, the Liverpool side does not look quite the same, which is a huge compliment to the former Sunderland player. The leader of the Champions has proven this season that his tireless work ethic is not all that he has in his toolbox. His quality as an incisive passer and midfield general have both been highlighted this year. All these qualities show why his presence was so important to Liverpool’s success this season.
Midfield: James Ward-Prowse
The midfield maestro has had another excellent season for the Saints and has been at the heart of their resurgence under Ralph Hassenhuttl. Ward-Prowse’s ability at both dead balls and set pieces are so important to Southampton and always cause the opposition problems. He is another one on this list that might have piqued the interest of some of the bigger clubs at the top end of the table. The short off-season should be an interesting one for both Ward-Prowse and Southampton as a whole. It wouldn’t be the first time the South-Coast side has lost one of their top stars post-season and I’m sure they can not wait for the transfer window to slam shut again.
Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne
The Belgian playmaker has proven himself to be, if not the best, then at least one of the most creative midfielders in world football this season. His eye for a forward pass is not only beyond reproach, it is also without equal. With each season, Chelsea must look on in envy as their former player continues to light up the Premier League. I’m sure as David Silva’s time in Manchester came to a close that the Man City fans were worried, but with De Bruyne in the team, those fears have been more than alleviated. This season, he has laid on 20 assists to his teammates in the league, which saw him run Jordan Henderson close for the Player of the Year award. To be honest, he has every right to feel more than a little aggrieved at missing out, but I’m sure he will be competing for many more individual and team awards next season.
Midfield Star of the Season: Kevin De Bruyne
Attacker: Sadio Mane
Liverpool’s attacking trio may not have been as ferocious this year as in previous seasons, but out of the three, it was Sadio Mane that stood out the most. The importance of Firmino and Salah to Liverpool’s attacking football is clear for all to see, but it was Mane who dragged the league winners to many a win this season. His ability to score an important goal is maybe without equal right now. So many games that teetered on a knife’s edge were decided by the Senegalese attacker this season. His worth to the Liverpool team is immense and he single-handedly won them so many important points on their league-winning run. Mane’s work rate and positive attitude are so pivotal to Liverpool’s success and, under Klopp’s guidance, he has become more and more well-rounded as a player with each passing year.
Attacker: Jamie Vardy
It was a cruel ending to the season for both Vardy and Leicester. The Foxes were pipped to Champions League football on the final day, having been beaten by Manchester United. This must have left a bitter taste in Vardy’s mouth for the off-season, but the fact that he won the Golden Boot award for top scorer might have just sweetened that taste ever so slightly. Even with this individual glory, Vardy must be still thinking what might have been, but he has to be happy with his accomplishments, and his ability to score not just goals in their bundles but also against the best teams the league has to offer. This season, Vardy has shown once more that he is the most potent striking threat England has to offer and is a far more versatile forward than the one-dimensional Harry Kane.
Attacker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
The Arsenal skipper has shown in every league that he has played in that he has an uncanny knack for scoring goals, and this season was no different. Aubameyang shared the Golden Boot award with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah last season, and also ran Jamie Vardy close again this year. Aubameyang has also shown how influential he can be in the F.A. Cup final, scoring both goals to secure the victory for the Gunners. His prowess in front of goal is not all that Auba brings to the Arsenal team; his pace and physicality are huge weapons for the Londoners on the break-away, and he has grown into his role as Captain excellently, quickly leading both Arsenal and Mikel Arteta to the aforementioned F.A. Cup trophy, which is huge for both manager and club.
Attacking Star of the Season: Sadio Mane
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
There were a few managers that came to mind for this award but none could hold up to the job that Jurgen Klopp has done at Liverpool. The German has transformed the club from top to bottom and, following Champions League glory last year, has backed that up by ending the club’s 30-year title drought this season. Klopp’s presence and leadership at Liverpool have been a force of nature over the past few seasons, and with each year, both he and the club look more comfortable in the crunch moments and at the top of the table.
He has brought a real winners mentality to Mersyside, and to beat Manchester City by such a wide margin at the top of the league is one of the greatest managerial accomplishments anyone has achieved in the history of the league, especially when you consider Man City’s riches. There can be no doubt the immensity of the job Klopp has done at Liverpool, and it should be very interesting to see how he looks to strengthen his squad for the upcoming season, considering both the shortness of the window and the financial restraints that will surely be placed upon him in the transfer market.
I’m sure you all have a few players in mind that you think should have made this team, but be aware that they might have just squeezed into our U-23 Team of the Season. We feel that every player more than merits their place in the squad, and the managers we have chosen as the stewards of our Teams of the Year have proven themselves more than capable at the helms of their respective clubs.
I would love to hear from you all on who would make your Team of the Season and what manager you feel made the best of what he had at his disposal this season. So, hit us up in the comments section and let us know what your choices are, and who you all think was more deserving of a place in Sports Obsessive Premier League Team of the Season.