It’s that time of the season when footballers get to vote for their mates or fellow countrymen in the LMA player of the year and young player of the year awards; as well as a team of the year.
So, for what it’s worth, here’s my team and players of the year:
Asmir Begovic (Stoke City)
Despite Stoke surprisingly slipping toward the threat of relegation, Begovic has been the Premier League’s stand-out keeper. This season he’s shown himself to be a great shot stopper, calm under pressure and not fazed by physical attention.
His consistency has been top drawer and the only question mark is where he’ll be playing next season as a summer offer from a big club surely awaits.
Glen Johnson (Liverpool)
Other than a few bad games, Johnson has been excellent this season. His defending, often much maligned, is better than given credit for. Going forward, he’s been able to show off his impressive technique in a transitional Liverpool side.
Ashley Williams (Swansea)
Williams has been a rock at the back in a landmark season for Swansea, showing a high level of consistency. He looks at home in the Premier League, strong in the air, comfortable on the ball and has been the League’s centre back this year.
It doesn’t surprise that the big clubs are beginning to sniff around him, it’s just a shame for him that he’s not 5 years younger.
In the absence of another stand out centre back over the full course of the season and the fact that Zabaleta was unlucky to lose out to Glen Johnson for the right back slot, I’ve put Zabaleta in alongside Williams.
Whilst Man City have missed the forward runs of the injured Micah Richards, Zabaleta has been the model of consistency and presents City with a dilemma once Richards returns to full fitness.
Leighton Baines (Everton)
It will be difficult to find anyone who disputes that Baines has been the outstanding left back in the Premier League this year. Whilst Everton have challenged for a Champions League spot, Baines has been a key man at the back and going forward with a goals and assists record this year that a winger would be happy with.
Juan Mata (Chelsea)
The Spanish playmaker has grown in stature this season and is a contender for player of the year. Whilst he may not make the speedy headline grabbing runs of Gareth Bale, but he more than makes up for it with his technique, guile and awareness.
His goal and assist stats for this season are impressive, but his influence for Chelsea this season has gone beyond stats.
Michael Carrick (Man Utd)
Although I’m not a Carrick fan, even I have to concede he’s had his best season since moving to Old Trafford. He’s always been a good passer of the ball, but this season he’s had more influence in attacking play and had probably his best season since his last at Tottenham, leading to a deserved England recall.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
Devastating on his day, he’s showing more consistency and added goals to his repertoire this year. He’s become so vital to Spurs attacking threat that the team can look a little lost without him on the pitch.
He’s established himself as one of the best players in the Premier League this season and will undoubtedly attract interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs this summer.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
May not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the Uruguayan hitman has taken his game to another level this year. His balance, skill, technique and unpredictability make him a nightmare for opposition defenders and his improved finishing that has taken him to the top of the goalscoring charts.
The level of performance and consistency he’s attained have moved him into footballs elite.
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)
An outstanding debut season, not only because of his age, but also because it’s all been in a struggling Aston Villa side. His pace and physical presence naturally help him settle into English football, but his ability, link up play and goals have really grabbed everyone’s attention and the £7m Villa paid for him already looks a bargain.
£24m for a 29 year-old with a questionable injury record, on the face of it, is something of a gamble. However, van Persie’s goals have been key to Man Utd all but securing a 20th League title, especially in the first half of the season, when Utd struggled to keep a clean sheet.
He’s also shown that his goal tally in his final season at Arsenal was no fluke and his class is there for all to see.
Honourable mentions also go to Simon Mignolet, Hugo Lloris, Matija Nastasic, Rio Ferdinand, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele, Andreas Weimann and Michu
Player of the year: Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
For me, he’s been the best player in the league this year and not just because he’s scored the most goals. He’s performed week in, week out and deserves the player of the year award, but probably won’t get it because of reputation. He’s one of those players that home fans love, but opposition fans hate.
So, despite him being the player of the year, don’t expect him to get the award his performances have deserved.
Runner up: Robin van Persie (Man Utd)
His goals put United in pole position to regain the Premier League title and give the club an instant return on their heavy investment.
Gareth Bale will be many people’s favourite for the award and may even get it, but despite putting in some great individual performances, he hasn’t shown the level of consistency that Suarez, van Persie and even Mata have.
Young Player of the year: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)
As I mentioned earlier, a fantastic debut season in English football for the Belgian striker, who at 22, looks to have a bright future ahead of him. His goals and all round play for Villa could be enough to keep them up and helped Villa fans forget about the out of favour Darren Bent.
Runner up: Matija Nastasic (Man City)
Has slowly but surely settled into the City side, growing in stature as the season has gone on. Quick, strong and technically gifted, his selection ahead of the more experienced Joleon Lescott is no longer a talking point.
Having just turned 20 and brought in from Fiorentina as part of a swap deal for Savic, he is looking a very astute piece of business from City.
Written by Andy Wales
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyArmchair
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