It’s been a season filled with astounding twists, sharp turns and dizzying highs, and while the dust may only just be beginning to settle, there’s still plenty to sink our teeth in to as we take a look back at some of the stand-out performers of the season gone-by.
Whether it was for defensive solidity, offensive flair or tactical mastery, these players have got people talking, tweeting and debating like never before – and drinking it all in has been an absolute pleasure.
Because regardless of how the spoils were shared, there’s sure to be plenty of fans out there in the aftermath of Manchester City’s Premier League triumph who will take away more than a handful of great memories and unforgettable moments.
And with that, it’s time for us to pick out the best and to offer up a personal take on exactly who deserves to smile broadly over the summer – regardless of medals adorning their neck or not.
Don’t forget to let us know who your ‘Best XI’ of the season are in the comments section, below, and on our twitter account.
It was a toss-up between the headgear-wearing Blues shot-stopper and Manchester City’s Joe Hart. But the 31-year-old net-minder just about edges this one.
Under severe pressure week-in, week-out to perform against some of the best attackers in the business, he’s not been too shabby at all. And while he’s been aided and abetted by a mean back-four, his commanding presence in and around the 18-yard box has been difficult to dismiss. The fact he kept more clean sheets than any ‘keeper in the league, bar Szczesny – both with a huge 16 – is also irrefutable evidence as to his genius in the custodian department.
In truth, his consistently impressive displays between the sticks would likely have garnered more attention had Jose Mourinho’s men gone on to win the title, but their well-documented failings up front meant their defence became necessity; something that they needed rather than something they oozed.
And yet, in a season where the headlines were hogged by Liverpool and City’s goal-grabbing bonanzas, Cech’s displays should seem much more outstanding, if anything.
Bias? What bias? Republic of Ireland star, Seamus Coleman, is fully deserving of his place on this list.
And although the Toffees ended the campaign empty-handed, their hearts will be full of pride for the way their team carried themselves from one week to another. And while their former boss David Moyes lurched from one disaster to the next, the blue half of Merseyside went from strength to strength.
A regular fixture down the right-hand side, he wowed the Goodison Park spectators with some fine football and can proudly reflect back on a season of hard graft and silky skills.
His finest moment? Nutmegging Santi Cazorla in their 3-0 triumph over Arsenal. Or was it his keepie-uppie solo run in the same match? Or maybe it was his stunning solo goal against Southampton back in December?
Well, you get the picture.
Luke Shaw (Southampton)
Under Mauricio Pochettino, Southampton have cut the look of a really polished outfit, and for a time they even looked capable of securing European football for next season. And while that didn’t quite happen, there are still lots of positives to be taken away.
And Luke Shaw is certainly one of them. Taking the left-back position as his own, his marauding runs down the flank really earned him more than his fair share of suitors; the Guardian’s report that Manchester United have bid in excess 0f 20 million for his services a real testament to that.
And while some might argue for the inclusion of Leighton Baines – who also had a cracking season – in his stead, Shaw gets the nod here partly because of his age. As he’s a full 11 years younger than his England compatriot, he has the ability to become a veritable world-beater, whereas Baines, taking nothing away from his displays, has reached the age where footballers generally hit their peak.
The future looks bright and with a World Cup in Brazil to look forward to, there’s no end to the possibilities.
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Kompany is an absolute must. Not only was he a commanding presence right throughout the season, but he also chipped in with four goals to boot and carried a real sense of leadership about him as his side continued to battle valiantly when all others got swept up in the red tide of Liverpudlian ecstasy.
His success in securing the Citizens’ second-ever Premier League trophy will be remembered for years to come by the Etihad faithful for his work-rate and his composure. He knew when to surge forward to help out on the offensive, and he knew when to track back and quell any counter-attacks. His delight at lifting the trophy at the weekend was utterly deserving.
Only time will tell if he can lead his side to a successful defence next term.
Scooping up the PFA Young Player gong, it came as no real shock back in April that Hazard had been deemed by most to be in a class of his own.
In fact, it’s really quite easy to imagine how the Blues could have become embroiled in a tiring battle with both Arsenal and Everton for fourth spot had it not been for his consistent goals from midfield. He really stepped up to the plate this season.
Motivated, undoubtedly, by the looming World Cup, his dazzling and jinking runs from the left wing were a constantly menacing presence for right-backs up and down the league table. And his 14 league goals also underlined that he isn’t just an attractive footballer but he’s an effective one as well.
Silverware isn’t too far away if the Belgium international improves yet more and Chelsea pick up a good striker in the summer.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Once more a powerhouse charging through the middle of the park, he ended the season as the Sky Blues’ top scorer. And not only were his goals crucial to snatching the title from under Liverpool’s nose, but a lot of them were absolute belters. If you want reminding, just take a look at his strike against Sunderland during their 3-1 win. Pinging it from 30-yards, the Ivory Coast maestro lobbed the ‘keeper with one of the best strikes of the season.
He constantly sought to get better, and was never going to be satisfied with just the League Cup. A tremendous talent.
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge may very well have taken up the ‘SAS’ mantle laid down by the 1994/95 Blackburn Rovers pair of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, but Raheem Sterling was equally as instrumental in the nearly-men’s title flirtations.
Possessing the enviable quality to play on either flank, the 19-year-old has fought off the likes of the Saints’ Adam Lallana to make it into this list – both players’ undeniable talents equally recognised by their inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad.
Scoring the majority – six, in fact – of his nine goals since the turn of the new year, which included a brace against Arsenal as well as a key strike against Manchester City – Sterling certainly rose to be occasion in the big games and improved greatly as the season wore on. No doubt, Steven Gerrard’s guidance certainly played a huge role in that.
It’s a massive understatement, but his future looks exceptionally bright.
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
They might very well have faded away dramatically from the reckoning when crunch-time arrived, but there have still been some fantastic individual displays at the Emirates this season. Aaron Ramsey, in particular, was a delight to behold.
Tucking away a truly memorable goal against Swansea in the first half of the season after some fantastic combination play between Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere and himself, the Wales international went further than showing flashes of genius as he proved quite a regular threat.
His genius flicks and deft touches certainly lit up the season and gave Arsenal fans plenty to smile about when the going was good.
And having struggled with injury throughout the season, as well as having to fight to nail down a role he felt comfortable with, the 23-year-old, deserves credit for the way he prevailed to smash home 10 league goals – many of which were downright screamers.
Superlatives run dry when this man takes to the pitch.
After bagging a plethora of scintillating goals this season as well as taking home the PFA Player of the season gong, it seemed only right that he’d reflect back on his achievements with a Premier League medal in hand.
But football isn’t a game where fate meets merit. It’s one where anything can happen.
And when City took home the title at the weekend, thanks to a couple of title-hampering capitulations from their rivals, Liverpool fans will have felt that more than most.
But the goals that Luis Suarez put away on a regular basis will also have underlined just how full of possibilities the beautiful game is as some of them seemed to defy physics and belief. His long-range stunner against Norwich, a prime example that immediately captured the imagination with its punch and fantasy.
An unforgettable season.
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
And while some believe that the Reds’ season was a failure, such as former Liverpool legend Alan Hansen, it’s not difficult to disagree with the revered pundit. Having jumped from a seventh place finish last season to second a year later, the Merseyside club have been the out-and-out surprise package in a season jam-packed with bombshells and incredulity.
They have exceeded almost everyone’s expectations. It has been far from a failure.
And key to that excessive performance has been Daniel Sturridge. Starting the season with a bang, and in the absence of Suarez, he stood up to the challenge of guiding his club through the opening series of games by scoring four goals to help Liverpool to 10 points from their opening four games.
And he continued in the same vein for the season, notching up 21 league goals to score more than any other striker, bar Suarez. Sublime football from a player that looks set to light the World Cup alight in a few weeks.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
By taking the leap from Chelsea to the Toffees in search of regular, first-team action, the towering centre-forward illustrated a maturity beyond his years, as well as a hunger beyond compare. And he duly reaped the rewards as he established himself as a primary figure in their search for Champions League football.
To put it in to context, he nabbed more goals than the highest-scoring Chelsea player.
And despite not clinching the dream, they did slightly over-achieve their 71-point target as well as finishing above Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the final standings. Not to mention, they also nailed down Europa League football – a competition, should they retain the services of Lukaku and continue to build over the summer, they could realistically win.