Sportscafe’s 2021/22 Premier League season’s end of season awards

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A proper nine-month season and it’s all over but like always it’s been one hell of a ride because that’s the Barclays for you. It was filled with the meh, the insane, a whole lotta chaos, the absolutely incredulous, a few billion goals and, so without further ado here’s the end of season awards.

Manager of the season

Amal Joyce – Pep Guardiola: Pep Guardiola: Well it's hard to look past the manager who guided Manchester City to their fourth league title in five years although there were quite a few strong contenders. Jurgen Klopp did extraordinarily well to match a well-oiled City machine and lost the title by only a point much to their despair. Yet, Guardiola is my preferred pick though for the way City went about their win. There were tense moments that engulfed their Premier League campaign but to mastermind what they did in the fashion they did is all due to the genius of the Spaniard. 

Siddhant Lazar – Graham Potter: A lovely new beard, a trendy turtleneck and a net-spend of £15 million but still somehow Brighton and Hove Albion have finished ninth. As if that wasn’t enough, the Seagulls finished only five points off a European spot with a club-record points total and all that’s despite not having a proper striker. Now imagine, if the kings of xG signed a lethal and prolific goal-scorer this summer? Just imagine.

Best Goal of the Season

AJ – Hakim Ziyech vs Tottenham: There is something so satisfying and visually pleasing in the sight of a goalkeeper rooted to his spot as the ball curls past them from range! This is precisely what the Moroccan playmaker did as he weaved his magic of a left foot from the edge of the box to curl a ball onto the left top corner past a bewildered Hugo Lloris. Ziyech faced some stiff competition from Salah’s goals against Watford and Manchester City but ultimately I thought the Chelsea man’s effort was more awe-inspiring than the rest.

SL – Mohamed Salah vs Manchester City: I really tried, I really really tried to find a better one. But after cutting down the list from all 1071 goals to just 29, nothing even came close. Sure, James Ward-Prowse’s array of free-kicks were glorious, Ruben Neves’ chip over Ben Foster cheeky and Sterling’s finish vs Everton perfect but compared to this? Nothing. There’s just something about a man beating four world-class defenders and a world-class keeper that is jaw-dropping.

Offensive player of the year (Big six)

AJ – Mohamed Salah: The mercurial Egyptian has again proved his worth to the Merseyside club by scoring and assisting plenty of goals! Salah scored 23 goals to spearhead a title challenge for his side while also being very selfless and registering 14 assists. The Egyptian did drift off towards the end of the campaign but that can be attributed to being a key cog in what has been a long season. The Liverpool No 11 won the Premier League Golden Boot award alongside Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min for the third time in his Reds career.

SL – Heung-Min Son: Since this is Big Six only, the options are plentiful. Bukayo Saka has been a gem, Sadio Mane was back to his best, Kevin De Bruyne dragged City across at times and Mo Salah was unplayable in the first half of the season. But as far as consistency and just sheer quality goes, my hat has to go to the lovely Heung-Min Son. 23 goals, 9 assists and his consistency meant that Harry Kane’s lack of form meant nothing. That there, is a £100 million player.

Defensive player of the year (Big Six) 

The Portuguese fullback took a massive step forward in terms of his performances this season as the defender was one of the best in a title-winning City side. In a team full of creators, Cancelo was able to match the quality of output of his own more illustrious teammates and set up 7 goals for his side. Not only that, while he has faced criticism for his defensive displays in the past, the full-back was solid across both the left and right side and was also one of the first names on the teamsheet.

Outright winner – Joao Cancelo 

Offensive player of the year (Everyone else)

The West Ham man has been one of the most consistent players in the Premier League this season as the attacker combined his high work ethic along with flair to match the output of some of the best players in the Premier League. The Hammers star registered double figures in both goals and assists as he scored and set up 12 goals apiece for his side. The 25-year-old was crucial in solidifying European aspirations ahead of the campaign and was one of the key performers in an improved West Ham side.

Outright winner – Jarrod Bowen

Defensive player of the year (Everyone else)

AJ – Marc Cucurella:  In my opinion, Brighton's improved form and fortunes were cemented by the reliable performances of Marc Cucurella. The Spanish defender was a breath of fresh air as his energy and dynamism added another dimension to Graham Potter’s attack.  The 23-year-old made 35 appearances for the Seagulls as they relied on the Spaniard’s excellence to solidify their record their highest-ever Premier League finish with a record points total of 51 from 38 matches.

SL – Marc Guehi: Eyebrows were raised after Patrick Vieira and Crystal Palace signed this Chelsea starlet for a rather expensive £18 million but my god, has he paid it back in spades. Equal parts calm and aggressive, Guehi has been the perfect addition to a Palace defense that lost more than a few key stars last summer. Not only that, he became the Eagles’ youngest captain in more than a decade in February, showing that the future is a bright one at Selhurst.

Rookie of the year

There’s definitely something cooking at Crystal Palace because last season this award went to the Eberechi Eze and this term, it goes to Michael Olise. Dejan Kulusevski does have a claim for the title as well but given that he played only half the season, the Swede is out-done and rightfully because Olise has been a gem. Just seven-goal contributions but the talent, the guile and creativity plus that lovely turn of pace and tekkers show that Olise has what it takes to build a lovely career.

Outright winner – Michael Olise

Game of the season

AJ – Tottenham 3-2 Manchester City:  Manchester City needed to continue their good run of form by beating Tottenham in order to keep the pressure on title challengers Liverpool. Yet at the same time, Antonio Conte’s side had just started to believe in the prospect of finishing in a Champions League spot. City looked to brush off an easy assignment at home although they were stunned when Tottenham took the lead twice to leave the English champions desperate to find the equalizer. They did score in stoppage time via a well taken Riyad Mahrez penalty and the home crowd rallied their side to find a way to seal all three points but Harry Kane had the last laugh as he headed home the winner to stun the Etihad.

SL – Liverpool 3-3 Brentford: Jurgen Klopp summed it up perfectly with “It was a wild ride.” Because it was and the wow-factor of the game wasn’t Liverpool, it was the fact that Brentford simply didn’t care that it was Liverpool. From the moment go, the Bees hurried and hassled the Reds, pressed them like a memory from the Liverpool past and stunned the away fans. But the Reds still conceded, then equalised and took the lead only for the Bees to storm their way back. Curtis Jones then smashed home a stunner, Salah spurned a glorious chance and Yoane Wissa made them pay with the equaliser, eight minutes from 90.

Best signing

After what happened to him last summer, the sheer fact that Christian Eriksen signed for a club is incredible. The fact that he signed for a Premier League club and transformed Brentford into a potential top half team is extraordinary. That’s because the Bees, prior to signing the Dane, looked wrung out and bound to go down but then Eriksen walked in. They won seven of the ten games he started in and that Chelsea performance was thrillingly awesome. It means that whether he stays or goes, Eriksen will forever be remembered by the Brentford faithful.

Outright winner – Christian Eriksen

Worst Signing

AJ – Romelu Luaku: Much was expected of Romelu Lukaku after he made his return to London from Inter. But an ill-judged interview and inconsistency has marred the Belgian's spell at the club. A return of only five league goals for a player expected to catapult the European champions to title glory tells its own story. The Belgian is now the backup to Kai Havertz and his future at Stamford Bridge is under scrutiny due to his inadaptability and failure to mark his own stamp on the pitch.

SL – Chris Wood: If you look at this from purely a “lets take another relegation-threatened side’s best striker” stance, then Chris Wood did his job. By simply paying out his release clause, Newcastle weakened Burnley so badly that the Clarets did get relegated despite signing Wout Weghorst. But spending £30 million on a striker to score two goals in 16 league appearances is enough to classify him as not just a flop but as arguably the worst signing this season.

Best Save:

AJ – David De Gea vs Wolves: There were quite a few eye-watering saves in the Premier League although none was better than Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea’s double save against Wolves. Roman Saiss rose highest from an incoming inswinging corner and sent a thumping header at goal but De Gea was at the right place at the right time to deny the defender. He did deny the defender but no one expected the Wolves man to be denied again by De Gea on the rebound. That is exactly what happened and the United keeper deserves credit for his reflexes and instincts.

SL – Alisson vs Tottenham: In a season filled with 1071 goals, one was bound to get more than a sensational save or two but after lots of contemplation, there was only one winner for me. Aaron Ramsdale’s sensational double save against Leicester was awesome but this from Alisson was otherworldly. A simple one v one chance for Dele Alli and he unleashes a goal-bound finesse shot that was most definitely bound for the bottom corner. That was until Alisson decided otherwise. A save so good, that almost everyone thought Alli fluffed his lines until they realised and even then, few believed it.

Worst moment 

AJ – Covid-19 enforced break: The worst moment of the season is undoubtedly when football went off the radar during winter due to the Covid-19 enforced breaks in competition. The newsflash of games being postponed to another day was a disappointment too hard to endure after looking forward to the thrills of the Premier League all week. It couldn’t be helped that games were postponed although it was definitely nightmare fuel to many a fan worldwide especially when clubs had very little reason to do so.

SL - Premier League sanctioning the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle: You can understand what Newcastle United fans felt when this was first announced and while you can blame them, you really can’t at the same time. But the sheer fact that the Premier League allowed something like this to happen despite the human-rights abuse, despite their war in Yemen that has killed more than 90,000 people and despite Amnesty International pleading them not to, tells you something has to change. Especially when they (Amnesty) release a statement that describes it as “an extremely bitter blow for human rights defenders”, then you know something’s wrong.

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