Sunday, March 15, 2009

English Premier League 2008/09 Players of the Season: A Club-by-Club Guide

Who have been the best players in the EPL this season? Who will win Player of the Season at their respective clubs? Never mind the overall Player of the Year award. Nemanja Vidic seemed the champion-elect up until his nightmare performance against Liverpool recently.

So I have compiled a list of who I think will win their own club awards this season, and from that, it should be easier to pinpoint the overall award.

So without further adieu...


The Gunners have not enjoyed the best of years. Hardly the statement of the season there. But one player has still managed to stand tall while all around him the rest of the team conspired to finish out of the Champions League positions.

Manuel Almunia has been the Gunner's best performer this season. When Arsene Wenger stripped the captaincy from William Gallas and then when Cesc Fabregas got injured, he needed a leader and the Spaniard stepped up to take the mantle.

2) Denilson. 3) Van Persie.

Aston Villa

Martin O'Neill's team have pushed Arsenal all the way this season. He has assembled a team very much in the image of his previous clubs. Athletic, powerful and above all, honest.

The Villains have had many players who took a huge step forward under the manager's stewardship this season.

And the player who has managed to come out on top in a team who have performed so well this season is Gareth Barry. The captain almost moved to Anfield in the summer but O'Neill fought tooth and nail to keep him at Villa Park.

While players like Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young have stolen most of the headlines, it is on the foundation of Barry that all of Villa's good work comes from.

2) Agbonlahor. 3) A. Young.

Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn have had a difficult season. Paul Ince's stay was brief and Big Sam has found the going tough at Ewood so far. But one player that both managers could agree on was Stephen Warnock.

The defender has been a rock in a team that have conceded goals at an alarming rate this season. Popping up with a couple of goals and assists while the rest of his team have been trying to engineer a route into the Championship.

His work ethic has gained him many admirers and he seems one player destined to stay in the Premiership, even if Blackburn don't.

2) Roberts. 3) Samba.

Bolton Wanderers

Gary Megson will never be loved by the Bolton faithful. Despite this, he has transformed a team that Little Sammy Lee had tried to change too quickly from the philosophies of Big Sam Allardyce. Megson came in and picked up the pieces and found a common ground between the two styles of play.

One player has remained a constant during the three managers' reigns, Kevin Davies. The striker who was recently installed as Bolton captain has finally added a few goals to his phenomenal work rate and presence. A player who never gives less than 100 percent is everything a manager could want for a captain.

2) Jaaskelainen. 3) Taylor.


Chelsea have failed to hit the heights that were expected of them under Luis Scolari and the Brazillian paid the price with his job. The team were defensively inept under his tutelage and had drifted away as Premiership contenders.

Despite this Frank Lampard has been as good as he ever was in a blue shirt. His game seemed to move up a level under Scolari as more was expected of him and he excelled with this added responsibility.

2) Bosingwa. 3) Anelka.


David Moyes continues to work miracles with little or no budget at Goodison Park. And he is now a real contender to succeed Alex Ferguson when the great man retires.

In a team that very much resemble the work ethic that Martin O'Neill installs, Joleon Lescott has once again been their most consistent and best performer.

The big defender always comes up with goals when they are needed most and has added a real steel to the Toffee's defence.

2) Arteta. 3) Felliani.


Under Roy Hodgson, Fulham have been one of the stories of the season. Expected by many to struggle this term, they have proven to be one of the most difficult teams to break down. None exemplify this fact more than Mark Schwarzer.

The 'keeper has been in the form of his life and has saved Fulham time and time again this season in a back five that are one of the Premiership's best.

2) Hangeland. 3) Hughes.

Hull City

The Tigers have provided a breath of fresh air to the league, even if Phil Brown hasn't. Under the Geordie they have always attacked and rarely set up to hold on for a point. As a result, they have been naive on many an occasion and have paid the price.

After picking up Geovanni on a free transfer in the summer most people wondered where the aging Brazillian would fit in. But fit in he did, and how. Scoring an impressive seven goals on a team that were expected to be fodder is no mean feat.

2) Turner. 3) Ashbee.


The surprise title contenders have had to overcome injuries to key personnel, boardroom fighting, and their own manager taking his eye off the ball in a roller-coaster January.

As usual the player who they depend upon most has performed best again. Steven Gerrard has added to his immense reputation with some brilliant performances when his team looked dead and buried.

2) Reina. 3) Alonso.

Manchester City

Given the massive summer signing of Robinho, most players would be forgiven for hiding under his shadow. Not Stephen Ireland. The Cork man is never far from controversy in his own country but his performances for an erratic City this season have been nothing short of brilliant.

He has shown an incredible maturity and has become the creative heart of a City side that can be devastating going forward. Given his form this season, he would not look out of place on a team like Arsenal or even Barcelona.

2) Robinho. 3) Wright-Phillips.

Manchester United

In an historic trophy-chasing season, there have been few heroes at Old Trafford which is quite surprising given the fact that they could win every trophy available.

Ronaldo and Rooney have not hit the heights they are capable of but they have still put in performances that would have won them player of the year awards at lesser clubs.

Nemanja Vidic has stood out as the rock that provides a base for the whole team. His performances at the back this year have been mesmerizing, and his being in the side has made players like Rio Ferdinand and John O'Shea move up a level.

2) Ronaldo. 3) Van der Sar.


A couple of seasons ago, 'Boro fans voted Keith O'Neill as player of the season. Nothing special until you look into it. O'Neill never kicked a ball all season as he was suffering with a chronic knee injury.

So pissed off with the team were the fans that they gave the award to the player who had done the least amount of damage in their relegation season. Expect something similar this year.

There have been few good performers at the Riverside this season and Stewart Downing must be wondering why he decided to stay in January. He has been the only bright spot in the otherwise dreary relegation fight.

2) King. 3) Turnbull.

Newcastle United

Where do you start? To be honest there is only one player who has stood out on Tyneside this year, and he isn't even there any more.

Shay Given was a one man team before he left the mental asylum at Newcastle for the...mental asylum at the Eastlands.

2) Owen. 3) Gutierrez.


It's only when you write an article like this that you realise that there are so many clubs in a real mess in the league and that the top six are nearly there by default. Anyway, I digress...

Harry Redknapp left for pastures new, Tony Adams did his best to alienate his players and Paul Hart is trying to pick up the pieces. Glenn Johnson has maintained his own high level of play in a team that are slipping towards the Championship at every breath.

2) Crouch. 3) James.

Stoke City

Tony Pulis' side are a tough bunch. You know exactly what you're in for when you play Stoke. At home they are as formidable as anyone, their problems lie away from home, where they have picked up little or nothing. And anything they have gained can be credited to Thomas Sorensen.

The ex-Villa stopper was virtually out to stud before Pulis offered him a way back and he has easily been the Potters most impressive player. Saving his team time and time again and gaining points when it looked unlikely.

2) Delap. 3) Faye.


The team that Roy Keane built and resigned from have usually proved tough to beat. They have a real good discipline about them and having made themselves a part of the EPL the next step for Ricky Sbragia is to move them towards the top half of the league.

Steed Malbranque has added some guile to a blunt midfield. When many questioned the judgement of the Frenchman to move to the North East when he could have taken it easy, he has gone on to prove what a really good player he is.

2) Cisse. 3) Collins.

Tottenham Hotspur

This has been a poor season for the team at White Hart Lane. Expected to challenge for the Champions League they went and challenged for relegation.

Juande Ramos made way for Harry Redknapp and the steady rise up the league began. There have not been many outstanding performers for Spurs this season and my choice as the Player of the Year might come as a bit of a surprise. Benoit Assou-Ekotto has had his fair share of detractors since he signed, myself included.

But since Harry took over and put him into the team, initially for the balance he gives, he has been one of Spurs' best performers.

2) Lennon. 3) King.

West Bromich Albion

Tony Mowbray has an unusual philosophy for a team expected to be relegated. Unlike the physical approaches of Stoke and Hull, he has decided to keep the ball down and play football. It hasn't always worked...

Robert Koren has been their only spark in a midfield that desperately missed the influential Jonathan Greening through injury at important times.

The Slovenian playmaker has built a good reputation for himself in a struggling side and West Brom will do well to hold on to him next season.

2) Carson. 3) Morrison.

West Ham United

Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke have performed nothing short of a miracle at Upton Park this season. In a club racked with debt, court cases, and potential sales they have brought on the next generation and played the West Ham way.

They have had a number of senior pro's who have carried the kids along with great performances this year but Carlton Cole's contribution stands out above all others.

Often employed as a long striker, the target man has proven an adept forward who can bring others into the game, as well as score vital goals.

2) Green. 3) Upson.

Wigan Athletic

Wigan have been one of the surprise packs of the season. Steve Bruce's high flying team have challenged for the UEFA cup spot in the league when many thought they would be relegated.

The reason? A mean defence. And who has been their best defender? None other than Titus Bramble. The once maligned and joked about player has grown into an effective centre half and has really matured with age.

2) Figueroa. 3) Valencia.

And that concludes my players of the season for each team. Who will win the overall award. Well, I'll be short and sweet.

Vidic, Lampard, or Gerrard.

I'd have to say Vidic will win it even though I think Lampard has been better...

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