Earlier in the week, Tyler Everett did his La Liga Best XI and awards for the season. With the Premier League wrapped and time to digest and analyze the season, let’s look at the best of England’s top division.
Specifically, we’ll cover:
- Premier League’s best XI
- Best player
- Best Newcomer
- Manager of the Year
- Team of the Year
We’ll also share some thoughts on who could possibly win these awards next season.
Premier League’s best XI of 2019-20
Here’s the starting XI. The subs will be listed separately.
Subs: Nick Pope, Harry Maguire, Ricardo Pereira, Adama Traore, Raheem Sterling, Danny Ings
Had Alisson played something close to a full season, he would’ve been the pick. But he didn’t. Durability matters. Ederson led the Premier League in clean sheets despite a leaky defense that gives up too many quality chances.
Nick Pope was a boss in net for Burnley, helping them to a surprising mid-table finish. He gets the bench spot.
Basically, the same deal as last season, just replacing one of the center-backs.
Virgil van Dijk was not as consistent this campaign as last, but he’s still the best center-back in England. Trent Alexander-Arnold is the best right-back in the world. He was second in the Premier League in assists with 13. Andy Robertson was right behind him with 12.
As for the other center-back spot…James Tarkowski! Two Burnley players make the team of the season? You bet your ass they do! Tark played all 38 matches–and played every single minute of every match. He’s a monster in the air (5.2 aerials won a game) and chipped in two goals and two assists. Tarkowski edges out Harry Maguire. The Man U man stabilized what was a shaky backline and proved to be (almost) worth the money spent.
We’ll talk more on Jordan Henderson later, but seeing how he’s likely cleaning up the individual awards this season, it’s tough not to include him in our best XI for the season.
Kevin de Bruyne is the best player in the Premier League. His 20 assists tie the record for most in a season.
James Maddison was the best player on what was for half the season the second best team in England. Leicester crumbled when he was out.
Where is Bruno Fernandes, you ask? He played 14 matches for Manchester United. That’s it. If he plays at even 80% the level this upcoming season as he did in those 14 matches, he’s a shoe-in for 2020-21 best XI.
At 33, Jamie Vardy is the oldest Golden Boot winner in league history. Sadio Mane was the most consistent game-to-game threat of Liverpool’s front three. However, Mo Salah was the most productive. The Egyptian tallied 19 goals and 10 assists. Only KdB’s 33 total G+A was better than Salah’s 29. Give that man his due.
MVP: Jordan Henderson
It’s the age old MVP debate: how do you define value?
If the MVP was given to simply the best player every season, LeBron James would have 12+ awards in the NBA. But there is nuance in each season.
Liverpool’s team is historic. From June 1, 2019 until July 26, 2020, they won four major trophies (Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Premier League). The country -> continent -> world trifecta in almost unprecedented in England (Manchester United’s 2007-08, ’08-09 campaigns are the only parallel).
What isn’t in question though is Hendo’s impact on Liverpool. When he played, the Reds won 90% of their matches. When he didn’t, it was closer to 60%. The impact was visual on the pitch. Team intensity and accountability dropped when Liverpool’s captain didn’t play.
That is value.
Next season: Raheem Sterling is aging into his prime season. Man City will be hungry to recapture the title. Sterling could pop off for some silly numbers like 25 goals and 12 assists.
Premier League’s Best Player: Kevin de Bruyne
I mean, dude is just absurd.
10 goals and a record tying 20 assists coupled sheer dominance in almost every match. KdB takes the “best premier player” title from fellow Belgian Eden Hazard this year. Other than Lionel Messi, there may not currently be a better player in the world.
Next season: Going all-in on Raheem Sterling. The combo of age, opportunity and desire are all there.
Best Newcomer: Christian Pulisic
While we won’t go as far as ESPN’s Mark Odgen and name Christian Pulisic as one of the EPL’s best XI this year, by almost any metric, the American was among the most elite attacking players in England.
When oddsmakers put Pulisic’s goal +/- at 9.5 in the preseason, we all scoffed. He scored 9. And that was after a month of being in Frank Lampard’s doghouse along with a sustained injury absence.
Chelsea’s attack will be downright scary next season. Don’t be surprised to see Pulisic’s goal total double.
Next season: Look for future Pulisic teammate Timo Werner to have a massive impact right out the gates.
Manager of the Year: Jurgen Klopp
We could build a credible case for Frank Lampard, Chris Wilder, or Sam Dyche. However, despite some frustrating lapses of casualness, Klopp’s team was historic. And he brought Liverpool their first domestic title in 30 years.
Next season: We’ll offer this with a caveat: If Wolves spend a little money on squad depth this summer and keep their key pieces, Nuno Espirito Santo wins it. If not, this will go to Pep.
Team of the Year: Liverpool
Let’s just put a bow on it:
- 99 points (2nd highest ever)
- 32 league wins (tied for most ever)
- Clinched with 7 matchdays to go (earliest ever)
- UEFA Super Cup
- FIFA Club World Cup
- Premier League title
Next season: Have a baaaaad feeling City regress upwards and Liverpool downwards. City may run over the league.