Kyrie Irving has made headlines for a lot of reasons over the past year, but in the last few weeks is where he's looked closest to making the decision to never play basketball again. First were the rumors that if traded, he would simply retire. Then came the news that he would not be taking on the vaccine, even if...
Premier League Team of The Year
That reality has prompted to release our team of the year based on where things stand in the premier league. Victor's picks are in BLUE and Jake's are in RED.
GK: Dean Henderson, Sheffield United
My goalkeeper has to be Dean Henderson from Sheffield United. Henderson is a big reason Sheffield have only given up 25 goals this season, ranking second behind Liverpool. Alisson would have a shout for this spot if not for his midseason injury. It'll be interesting to see what Manchester United do when faced with the option between Dean Henderson and David De Gea next season.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool
Last season at 20 years old, TAA set the record for most assists from a defender with 12 assists. This season at 21 years old what has he done so far? 12 assists already before the season was prematurely stopped. No questions here.
RCB: Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool, Player of the Year
Last season the big storyline was how Van Dijk wasn't beat 1 on 1 all season. This season thanks to Nicholas Pepe that's not the case but Van Dijk has been nothing short of sensational. It's easy to forget that Liverpool once struggled defensively two years ago before they signed Van Dijk. For that reason alone, Van Dijk gets my recognition as the player of the season again.
LCB: Chris Basham, Sheffield United
Chris Basham is a bit of an unsung hero. 31-years-old is a bit old to have a breakthrough season but that's exactly what has happened year. Sheffield United have had a great season and it is largely thanks to their center back trio of Basham, Jack O'Connell and John Egan. However, it's Basham who ranks first in the league in tackles won, possessions won in the final third, interceptions, and second in headed clearances. He deserves this spot.
LB: Andy Robertson, Liverpool
Andy Robertson has been stellar again at left back for Liverpool this season. It'll be hard to find a left back more athletic and fit than Robertson and he uses that to his advantage. Along with Trent Alexander-Arnold, this wingback duo is a big part of Liverpool's recent domination.
RCM: Wilfred Ndidi, Leicester City
Along with Chris Basham, Ndidi is the ultimate unsung hero. His dirty work in the middle of Leicester's midfield has propelled them to third in the table, evident by the fact that he ranks third in the premier league in tackles. In the five games he missed through injury this season, Leicester City gained 2 points out of a possible 15 . . .
LCM: Jordan Henderson, Liverpool
Jordan Henderson has been a vital clog in Liverpool's midfield. His work does not always show up on the stat sheet but he is an invaluable part of Liverpool's midfield. Liverpool have not lost the last 39 games Henderson has played in, that's more than a season's worth of games.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
Along with Van Dijk, De Bruyne might be the most surefire inclusion on this list. Just when we thought he could not possibly top everything he has done so far, he takes it to another level. 8 goals and 16 assists is about one goal contribution a game. That is absolutely ridiculous coming from the center of the field. He would be my player of the season if not for Liverpool's ridiculous season. It would feel out of pocket to give the player of the season to a player whose team is currently 25 points behind in the premier league table.
RF: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
A lot of people will leave him off their list and they will be wrong every single time. There is simply no reason to leave the Premier League's second top scorer off the team of the season. Not to mention that he's done it for a struggling team in Arsenal that currently lies in 9th place. There is no telling where Arsenal would be without his 17 goals.
CF: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City
Vardy lost the sauce a bit over the last couple season but he's back in full force and ready to party. It seems he made the right call to give up national team play. His 19 goals make him the league's top scorer and is already one more than last season's total despite playing in 8 less games.
LF: Sadio Mane, Liverpool
Mane has slowly started to get the credit he deserves since the second half of last season. There's a reason that when rumors of Timo Werner came about, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were held up as tributes before he was. It also helps that he has a co-sign from Lionel Messi, the greatest player of all time.
Brendan Rodgers, Leicester City
Well, well, well, Brendan Rodgers is back in action. Proving once again that there are some people who are mediocre managers of great teams and great managers of mediocre teams. His time at Liverpool did not end well and after a glorious stop in Scotland, Rodgers is back as one of the best managers in the premier league. Leicester City have no business in 3rd place after losing the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Harry Maguire and N'golo Kante over the years. Rodgers is bringing back hints of the magic from the 2015/16 season and deserves credit for that.
Runner-Up: Jurgel Klopp, Liverpool
GK: Kasper Schmeichel
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
RCB: Harry Maguire
LCB: Caglar Sonyuncu,
LB: Ben Chillwell
CM: Bernado Silva
LCM: Joao Moutinho
RST: Mohamed Salah
CF: Sergio Aguero
LST: Son Heung-Min
GK- Dean Henderson, Sheffield United
Manchester United's only player in my eleven comes in a way they probably wouldn't have predicted earlier on in the season. Henderson was one of the many reasons that this Sheffield team was so solid defensively. Tied with Alisson and Schmeichel in clean sheets with 10 and only behind Nick Pope (11), is a tremendous accomplishment considering where most predicted Sheffield to finish the season. Although I have seen many people still picking Alisson to feature in the team, I can't justify putting him in over Henderson due to his missed time throughout the year due to injury and his the privilege of playing behind the best defense in the league. Manchester United will have an interesting decision to make between Henderson and De Gea here pretty soon.
RB- Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool
Trent Alexander-Arnold is already a clear favorite to win Young Player of the Year and should quite easily be the right back in this team. At the age of 21, Trent has already asserted himself as the best right back in the Premier League, and perhaps even in the world. Liverpool's style relies heavily on both of their talented outside backs to defend as well as attack. With Trent being second in assists in the whole league (12) as a defender, third in passes completed, and Liverpool first in clean sheets, Trent easily makes the team.
CB- Caglar Soyuncu, Leicester City
Just like N'golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez before him, Harry Maguire made a move away from Leicester to join a bigger club. Yet Leicester are very good at finding talented players to fill these gaps. To fill the hole Maguire left, Leicester signed Caglar Soyuncu, and it didn't take long for him to look like one of the best center backs in the whole league. One of the biggest reasons Leicester kept 10 clean sheets this season is because of his dominant presence in the backline and it would not surprise me to see him be one of the next great Leicester players linked with a big move.
CB- Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool
I thought hard about potentially putting in Tarkowski or Egan in this spot, but then I realized that would just be crazy. Last year's Player of the Year had another great year for Liverpool and deserved his place again. Van Dijk currently leads the league in passes and is the biggest reason that Liverpool lead the league in clean sheets, even without having Alisson in goal for part of the season. He also makes both of Liverpool's attack-minded outside backs jobs a lot easier knowing they have one of the greatest defenders in the world behind them.
LB- Andrew Robertson, Liverpool
Andrew Robertson has one of the better stories in the Premier League. Who would have ever guessed the former relegated left back at Hull City just a few seasons ago would find himself a move to Liverpool and establish himself among the best left backs in the world. Similarly to Alexander-Arnold, Robertson has a big impact on Liverpool both defensively and offensively. He is in fourth place for passes completed and tied for fourth place in assists with 7, which for an outside back is a great tally. Combine this with the fact they lead the league in clean sheets and it's easy to understand why he deserves his place in the team.
CM- Mateo Kovacic, Chelsea
After what looked like would be a horrible season for Chelsea after losing Hazard, serving a full summer transfer ban, starting over with a brand new manager, and having to rely on a lot of unproven young players previously out on loan, they still managed to find a way to finish in fourth place. Much of that was due to Mateo Kovacic being the heart and soul of Chelsea's team. Chelsea lucked out by being able to turn his loan deal last season into a permanent deal this season despite being under a transfer ban. Being an underrated midfielder defensively and a great player during build up play, Kovacic is the type of player every manager wishes they had in their midfield.
CM- Jordan Henderson, Liverpool
One of the more underrated and disrespected players in Liverpool's team is starting to get the recognition he has earned. He may not put up the numbers of Mane, Salah, or even Trent and Robertson, but Henderson's presence and leadership in the heart of Liverpool's team should not go unnoticed. Henderson is even being chosen by some to be this year's Player of the Year because of Liverpool's pure dominance on the league with no player in particular standing out above the others. Although winning Player of the Year would cause De Bruyne to ask himself what else he has to do to finally get his hands on the trophy.
CM and Player of the Year- Kevin De Bruyne, Man City
My next midfielder, Kevin De Bruyne, is also my pick to win the Player of the Year trophy. It feels a bit weird not picking a Liverpool player to win that award considering they have many worthy candidates. Although, Liverpool's dominance was a complete team effort this season with many players stepping up and getting in each others' way at winning Player of the Year. De Bruyne already has 8 goals and 16 assists through 26 appearances, which is easily on pace for a career season for him. This Man City team is nowhere near as dominant as the one we've seen the past two seasons, but that is not the fault of De Bruyne. Liverpool players won the last two Player of the Year trophies despite not winning the league, so now it's De Bruyne's turn to spoil the party.
RW- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Without Aubameyang it would have been very interesting to see where Arsenal would have finished this season. Even with Aubameyang showing the league how good he is in front of goal, Arsenal still find themselves in 9th place and under a new manager. Aubameyang scored 17 goals in 26 appearances, the next highest was Alexandre Lacazette with 7 and Nicolas Pepe with 4, which really shows how crucial Aubameyang was to Arsenal this season. Just because Arsenal may have had their struggles this season, does not mean Aubayemang should be exiled from making the team of the season.
ST- Jamie Vardy, Leicester City
The number 9 for Leicester City has done it again pulling off another phenomenal season. Leicester have shocked everyone once again and find themselves in third place, looking likely to be in the Champions League next season. It would be very hard to leave the leader in the Golden Boot race out of the team with 19 goals in 26 appearances. Leicester have a great team on paper, but without Vardy's 19 goals, the next highest scorer for Leicester is Ayoze Perez on 7. So it makes you wonder where Leicester's goals would come from if it wasn't for their main man up front.
LW- Sadio Mane, Liverpool
Right next to De Bruyne, Sadio Mane is one of the most fun attacking players to watch in the Premier League. Whether he is using his pace to get on the end of a long ball, soaring up head a cross, or trying to beat a defender or the dribble, Mane is one of the most dangerous attackers to go up against. Sadio Mane currently has 21 goals and assists (14 and 7 respectively), while teammate Mo Salah has 22 (16 and 6), although the only reason Salah is ahead is because he is the one who gets to take their penalties. Mane's play this season was on a whole new level and makes him another candidate to be Player of the Year, and even continue to put his name in the conversation of winning a Ballon d'Or.
Manager of the Year- Chris Wilder, Sheffield United
Chris Wilder is the obvious candidate for Manager of the Year despite Jurgen Klopp's dominance with Liverpool. Klopp has built one of the greatest teams in Premier League history after multiple seasons of focusing on investing money on the correct players and developing what they already had, but this is not more impressive than the story at Sheffield United. Chris Wilder's Sheffield were believed by many to be the worst team on paper coming into the season and caused most to predict them as relegation favorites. At that point, surviving relegation looked like it would be a massive accomplishment within itself. Although after a summer of very little investment into the team who previously came second in the Championship, they became one of the hardest teams to beat in the league. Depending on how the season finishes, Sheffield could very well find themselves in a European competition next season, not bad for a roughly unchanged team coming from the Championship.
Runner-up: Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool
GK- Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester City
RB- Ricardo Pereira, Leicester City
CB- John Egan, Sheffield United
CB- James Tarkowski, Burnley
LB- Enda Stevens, Sheffield United
CM- Joao Moutinho, Wolves
CM- Wilfred Ndidi, Leicester City
CM- Fred, Manchester United
F- Mo Salah, Liverpool
F- Danny Ings, Southampton
F- Sergio Aguero, Manchester City
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