The Premier League season finally came to an end this past weekend (but let's be honest it was really done in October). Luckily they'll be plenty of football this summer to satiate our appetites until August when our favorite friends and foes trot out onto the field again.
Game of the Season: Liverpool 4- 3 Manchester City-- An instant Premier League classic. After this game and two high-octane Champions League ties, it is hard to remember that City smacked Liverpool 5-0 in the reverse fixture this season. On this day, however, Liverpool outclassed City for much of the match, before a late wobble almost undid all their hard work. Goals from Oxlade-Chamberlain, Firmino, Mane, and Salah proved enough of a head start to counter for an almost inevitable late defensive collapse. If Liverpool are to become a force both domestically and in Europe in the next few seasons, this will be the game that will be pointed to as the one where people sat up and took notice.
Player of the Season:
Mohamed Salah-- What can be said about Salah that hasn't already been said? He is majestic, magnificent, and is capable of moments of brilliance that only a certain Argentinian would perhaps even dream of attempting. No one, Klopp and Salah included, predicted the Egyptian would have the impact that he's had this season. But Liverpool have an absolute gem on their hands. A record-breaking 32 goals with a Champions League final on the horizon represents something of a dream first season for Salah. Though the big boys in Europe are rumored to be sniffing around, he seems happy at Liverpool, and Klopp has built the team in a way that really gets the best out of him. It's perhaps too early to talk about him in the same breath as Henry, Ronaldo etc in terms of greatest every Premier League player but if he has another season like this one, it will be hard to deny him any accolade that comes his way.
Young Player of the Season:
Raheem Sterling-- The young Englishman had a phenomenal season for City, scoring 18 goals and cementing his place in Guardiola's teamsheet. Sane may have scooped up the official YPOTY award, but Sterling would have been an equally worthy recipient. In previous seasons, Sterling has been criticized heavily for a lack of end product, and oftentimes profligate finishing. With 2 years of coaching from Guardiola under his belt now, Sterling has grown into one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League. Now, he just has to figure out how to carry that form and mentality into this summer's World Cup with England.
Goal of the Season:
Wayne Rooney vs. West Ham-- This goal, which sealed a hattrick for Rooney in an otherwise unremarkable Everton victory over West Ham, was the fairy tale moment that many Merseyside Blues had been waiting for when the prodigal son returned to Goodison Park last summer. The ball fell to the Everton #10 just inside his own half, and with one golf-like swing of his right foot, Rooney arched the ball effortlessly over the referee, the West Ham back line and a scrambling Joe Hart. Rooney has been a fading force in recent years, and if news in the last few days is to be believed, his days in the Premier League are over. But this was a vintage Rooney strike which live long in the memory of those Everton fans who were lucky enough to see it.
Signing of the Season:
It's obviously Mohamed Salah-- but rather than talk about him again and again and again and again, let's give someone else their 15 minutes of fame. There are a few contenders-- Pascal Gross had a terrific campaign at Brighton and is one of the main reasons they secured another season in the top flight. Before his injury, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had proved many doubters wrong with his performances at the heart of Klopp's midfield. No one was particularly excited about the arrival of Nemanja Matic at Manchester United last summer, but he has certainly brought a much-needed stability to the middle of the park.
But on the other side of Manchester, Ederson has proved to be the missing link for Pep and his City side this season. His distribution from the back is often as precise as some of his more illustrious midfield teammates, and he's also capable of the acrobatic brilliance more typically associated with goalkeepers. No he didn't bang in a record breaking 32 goals, but his performances and his playing style justified Pep's insistence on having a ball playing goalkeeper, and helped turn City from title contenders to title winners. For that reason alone, he is a worthy signing of the season.
Flop of the Season:
Everton-- Many (myself included) really thought they would push for a top 4 spot this season. But in retrospect, the money they chucked around last summer was not at all well spent. The big concern was always replacing Lukaku's goals and presence-- but Sandro misfired, Klaassen looked out of sorts, and Rooney started brightly before fading in the latter months of the season. Though their 8th place finish is respectable, their performances at times were nothing short of woeful. With Big Sam out the door, it will be interesting to see what the incoming manager (most likely Marco Silva) will get out of this squad of misfit toys next campaign.
Team of the Season:
Walker Otamendi Tarkowski Alonso
De Bruyne Fernandinho David Silva
Salah Kane Sterling