A gripping, thrilling Premier League season is over.
Manchester City are champions by a point over Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk and Raheem Sterling have split this year’s biggest awards, the Golden Boot was shared by three players – Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – and Alisson won the Golden Glove.
Those are the official awards. But what about the ones that really matter?
Read on to see who’s won Sport360’s Premier League Alternative Awards.
LIKELIEST TO CRASH AT THE WHEEL: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Unfortunately for the Manchester United manager, his superb start to life at the club ended up dooming him. “Ole’s at the wheel” became the favourite chant at Old Trafford, and it was sung loudly in Paris during one of the club’s most famous nights when they became the first team to win a Champions League tie after losing the first leg by two goals at home.
It was a chant that ended up being used against United – Arsenal tweeted “Unai’s at the wheel” after a 2-0 victory over the rivals, and even Barcelona succumbed, saying Messi’s at the wheel. Both of those backfired – Arsenal ended up outside the top four and Barcelona crashed out of the Champions League – but with just two wins in 12 games since that night in Paris, this award could only end up in Solskjaer’s hands.
BEST DANCE FLOOR: Emirates Stadium
It all began with United’s king of banter deciding to celebrate a goal at Arsenal by busting out some rather impressive moves. Jesse Lingard scored during his side’s 3-1 win over the Gunners in the FA Cup at Arsenal’s home stadium, pulled out a moonwalk to celebrate, and then, to rub it in, put up a picture of the celebration on Instagram and tagged the location as “dancefloor”.
Arsenal got their revenge when the two sides faced off at the Emirates again just over a month later, winning 2-0, and their players hit back at Lingard by…doubling down on their own stadium being called a dance floor.
HEALTHIEST MANAGER: Maurizio Sarri
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has become known for three things this season: never changing his tactics or philosophy, backing Jorginho to the hilt, and chain-smoking.
The Italian reportedly smokes a whopping 80 cigarettes a day! He’s been infamous for lighting one up on the touchline. Sadly – or fortunately, depending on perspective – he couldn’t get away with that in England, thanks to a ban on public smoking. An unlit cigarette did make an appearance when Chelsea were pushed to a penalty shootout by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League, however.
STEAL OF THE YEAR: Alexis Sanchez and his wages
Alexis Sanchez managed one league goal all season. Two in total along with three assists. And he’s the highest-paid player in the Premier League – by far.
With all his bonuses and incentives, the Chilean reportedly earns £500,000 per week. That works out to just under £1 every second, or roughly £50 every minute. Or, put another way, the £18million Sanchez has earned over the course of this season meant United paid their highest earner £9million per goal.
BEST PARTNERSHIP: Liverpool and opposition goalkeepers
Remember the days when strike partnerships were common? Nowadays the two up front formations have largely gone out of vogue – apart from when teams play 3-5-2, still defying convention – but partnerships remain the key to winning titles. Just ask Liverpool and Man City.
Liverpool came oh so close to their first league title in 29 years, missing out by a point. But they had their share of luck along the way; rival fans would argue perhaps more than their fair share. There were debatable penalty calls and blatantly incorrect offside decisions – how big a difference will VAR make next year?
And in their defence, their rivals also had their own share of luck; goal-line technology came to City’s rescue at two pivotal moments. First, Liverpool failed to score by a matter of millimetres when the two sides faced off in January in what ultimately became the title-defining clash; then, late in April, a Sergio Aguero strike crossed the goal-line against Burnley by just about the same margin. One goal that wasn’t, one that was, both decisions coming down to the finest of margins – City owe a big debt to technology, making the right calls of course, for their title.
But Liverpool and the referees or City and technology was still not the best partnership of the season. That honour goes to the strange relationship Jurgen Klopp’s side had with opposition goalkeepers. On three separate occasions – against Everton, Crystal Palace, and Tottenham – the men tasked with preventing Liverpool from scoring instead gifted them goals. Jordan Pickford, Julian Speroni, and Hugo Lloris nearly won the title for the Reds.
BEST JURGEN KLOPP EXCUSE: Manchester United’s injuries
Speaking of Klopp, here are some of the things he’s blamed for Liverpool not winning games this season. It was the wind’s fault that they couldn’t beat Everton at Goodison Park in March or Wolves in the FA Cup in January, the referees’ for breaking Liverpool’s rhythm against West Ham – by trying to make up for a missed offside call that allowed Klopp’s team to score earlier in the game – and the snow when Leicester City came back from a goal down to get a draw at Anfield.
But none of those can top Klopp’s explanation for a 0-0 draw against fierce rivals United at Old Trafford. That was down to injuries, Klopp said.
Harmless enough – except the Liverpool manager didn’t mean injuries to his own players. United were forced to make two first-half substitutions when Juan Mata and Lingard were both taken off after picking up knocks, while Marcus Rashford also looked stricken and would probably have come off had the other two substitutions not already been used.
And those injuries – to United players, remember – threw Liverpool off their rhythm, according to their manager.
MOST RIDICULOUS SIGNING REVEAL: Lucas Perez to West Ham
Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy? So opens one of the most famous songs of rock history: Queen’s epic Bohemian Rhapsody.
These days fantasy means more than one thing in football, and West Ham were keen to remind everyone of that fact during the summer transfer window.
Reveals of transfer signings have become increasingly ridiculous over the last couple of years and the Hammers decided to join the party when they signed Lucas Perez in August – by putting up a video which showed that the Fantasy Premier League app now included the Spaniard in West Ham’s list of strikers. Along with Queen’s instantly recognisable lines, in case anyone didn’t get the fantasy reference.
LEAST DURABLE ITEM ON A FOOTBALL PITCH: Huddersfield corner flag
What is the least reliable thing you can spot on the pitch during a Premier League game? Paul Pogba? Mohamed Salah’s ability to stay upright, whenever a defender comes too close? The entire Tottenham team?
All good answers, of course. Pogba comes closest, because he was actually on the pitch to see the right answer. In a must-win game for United, his team were 1-0 up against a Huddersfield side that had already been relegated, but were struggling to find a second goal that would seal the points and keep the top-four race alive. And of course, in keeping with the end of United’s season, they were caught on the counter as Isaac Mbenza ended up equalising for the hosts.
What happened next was no fault of Pogba’s. Mbenza, perhaps shocked that it was so easy to score against a team chasing a Champions League spot, went a little overboard with his celebrations, and kicked the corner flag. Happens often enough. What doesn’t happen, however, is that flag snapping in two, causing a five-minute delay to the game as a replacement was found.
Manchester City can become the first English team to win a domestic treble of trophies if they beat Watford in Saturday’s FA Cup final.
But no English side has done the clean sweep of league title plus FA Cup and League Cup, and City have the chance to clinch it at Wembley after adding the Premier League title to their Carabao Cup triumph.
Here, Press Association Sport looks back at the English club trebles that combined a European trophy with two domestic trophies.
The Reds’ first season under Joe Fagan’s management brought unprecedented success, with striker Ian Rush instrumental as his 32 goals helped them hold off Southampton by three points to win Division One.
The Welshman scored 47 in all competitions, including a semi-final brace against Dinamo Bucharest as Liverpool won their fourth European Cup by beating Roma on penalties in the final.
They played 13 games to win the League Cup – coming through five two-legged ties plus a replay against Fulham, before a goalless 120 minutes against Everton at Wembley and a 1-0 replay win.
Manchester United, 1998-99
Won: League, FA Cup, Champions League
United achieved almost the same feat 15 years later, though with the FA Cup – secured by a 2-0 win over Newcastle in the final – rather than the League Cup.
A final-day 2-1 win over Tottenham had secured the Premier League title, one point ahead of Arsenal, but it is the Champions League triumph and “that night in Barcelona” which lives longest in the memory.
United fell behind to Mario Basler’s early goal and remained 1-0 down until stoppage time, when Teddy Sheringham equalised before current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer poached a dramatic winner.
Won: FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup
Perhaps a less prestigious treble, with no league title and the UEFA Cup rather than the Champions League, but still a momentous season for the Reds under Gerard Houllier.
They beat Birmingham on penalties to win the League Cup, having been denied victory in normal time by Darren Purse’s last-minute spot-kick, and a late Michael Owen brace against Arsenal saw them add the FA Cup.
There was even more drama four days later in a wild UEFA Cup final, in which they led Alaves 3-1 and 4-3 before a late goal by former Manchester United man Jordi Cruyff forced extra time. Delfi Geli’s own goal settled it for Liverpool.
* Having won the Premier League and Carabao Cup last season, City are still in contention to win multiple trophies in back-to-back seasons – a feat only previously achieved by three English clubs.
Liverpool did so in 1975-76 and 1976-77, and again for four years running between 1980-81 and 1983-84, while Nottingham Forest managed it in 1977-78 and 1978-79 and Manchester United in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
* The 1997-98 season saw two doubles – Arsenal won the league and FA Cup, and Chelsea the League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup.
* Preston and Aston Villa’s 19th-century doubles came when the league and FA Cup were the only trophies available.
* City and Tottenham take the number of double-winning clubs to nine.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Yet another incredible football season has reached its conclusion. The beautiful game has not failed to disappoint, providing the fans with some jaw dropping – as well as heartbreaking – moments over the last nine months.
We have witnessed some brilliant one-off individual displays and a few consistent performers. We’ve had breakout players, impressing at a young age and veterans proving that age is just a number.
As part of our end-of-the-season awards for Europe’s top-five leagues, we’re honouring the Player of the Year and Breakthrough Player of the Year (stars aged 23 and under who made significant strides in 2018/19).
Here, we look at the winners from Premier League.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool, 27 years old
It was between Virgil van Dijk and Raheem Sterling for this one. But the colossal impact the former has produced upon arrival at Anfield tips the scale in his favour. Liverpool’s defence required a major overhaul but little did anyone think that the arrival of one Dutchman would change it all. Van Dijk – the captain without the armband – has operated with high efficiency at the heart of Liverpool’s defence. He has averaged just one tackle per game, owing to astute positioning and the tendency to get in front of the attacker and cut out the supply. Van Dijk has also been an immense figure while defending set pieces. The 27-year-old reads and wards off any aerial threat, ensuring goalkeeper Alisson has much less to worry about. The fact that he has not been dribbled past even once despite going up against the likes of players like Sterling, Eden Hazard, Son Heung-min and Bernardo Silva speaks volumes of the season Van Dijk has enjoyed.
Best performance: Clean-sheet at Goodison Park
Among other immense performances, Van Dijk’s masterclass in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park stands out as his best of the season. Performing at the top level in one of the biggest derbies in Europe is not as easy ask and the centre-back responded very well.
What next for Van Dijk?
“One-season wonder” is a rather lazy term thrown around to describe a player who has exceeded expectations in that particular season. The expectations from the most expensive defender ever were certainly high and the fact that Van Dijk still managed to exceed it means that the bar is only set higher now. He will be tasked to replicate or even better his performance from this season and guide Liverpool to their first league title since 1990. The objective remains the same, but the pressure and expectations will only make it harder.
Honourable mentions: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City).
BREAKTHROUGH PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Crystal Palace, 21 years old
Wan-Bissaka has been a revelation at Crystal Palace this season and has managed to turn heads of top English clubs. It’s been just over an year since the 21-year-old made his debut and the rate at which he has matured into a top defender is impressive. With 3.7 tackles per game, the Englishman has emerged as one of the better tacklers. Only Idrissa Gueye and Wilfred Ndidi have better numbers. Wan-Bissaka has also managed to record the highest interceptions per game among full-backs, proving the point that he is a well-rounded defender. Much like players such as Dani Alves and Jordi Alba, Wan-Bisaaka started his career as a winger and the attacking instincts have been kept alive by the youngster. But the stand-out feature of his game has to be his flawless tackling. His high tackles to fouls ratio of 6.33 serves is evidence to the fact that he’s an efficient and clean tackler of the ball. Wan-Bissaka has been consistent this season and a move to a top English club is very much on the cards.
Best performance: Assist+clean-sheet against Fulham
Wan-Bissaka ensured that Crystal Palace got off the mark on the first game of the season, with an assist and a complete performance in defence in their 2-0 win over Fulham.
What next for Wan-Bissaka?
Although Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson is desperate to keep Wan-Bissaka at the club, he did admit that any offer for the right-back will be assessed like any other. This means that it’s extremely likely he will be plying trades for one of the big six next season. The two Manchester clubs have emerged as possible suitors but it will ultimately come to the youngster’s best judgement. Regardless of where he moves, the price-tag is bound to be hefty.
Honourable mentions: Declan Rice (West Ham), James Maddison (Leicester City)