Monday, 18 May 2009

Premier League Team Of The Season 2008-09

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United) - Maybe other goalkeepers made more saves - more outstanding saves, even - but the bottom line is drawn by his outstanding clean-sheet record and reliability through the duration of the season - and it could be his last as a first-team regular. Schwarzer and Reina can count themselves slightly unfortunate.

Glen Johnson (Portsmouth) - He broke through into Fabio Capello's England squad and was a consistent source of quality in a struggling Portsmouth side, both going forward and at the back, so much so that he has attracted fleeting interest from both Manchester United and , if you believe what you read.

Brede Hangeland (Fulham) - An outstanding performer all season for a club that built their entire success story of the season on solid defending. Hangeland is now a target of Arsenal, allegedly, and many expect him to move on to a big club in the summer. A towering defender of great discipline and power - a real find from Roy Hodgson.

Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)
- Many people's pick for the Player of the Year, though he missed out in getting either the players' or the writers' vote (but got the players' and fans' vote at the Man Utd club awards). He was the star in United's incredible back line all season, and bar a Liverpool-inspired blip, was at his powerful and impervious best throughout the Red Devils' title-winning campaign.

Leighton Baines (Everton) - Had stiff competition from Patrice Evra and Fabio Aurelio, but had unerring consistency in his first full season of action for the Toffees. Was a rock down his flank in both a defensive and offensive capacity and just one of many of David Moyes' men to produce an extraordinarily consistent season.

Wilson Palacios (Wigan Athletic & Tottenham Hotspur) - The best way to judge Palacios' impact this season is in the form of both Wigan and Spurs when he was in their team. He had an outstanding first half of the season with the Latics, running the midfield single-handedly at times, and ended up commanding £14 million from Spurs, a highly debated fee he has gone a long way towards justifying by starring in the Lilywhites' move out of the drop-zone and into the top half of the table.

Xabi Alonso (Liverpool) - In many ways, Xabi has been the architect of all that has improved about the Reds this season - most notably, their style of play, facilitated by his ability to control the game. He was almost sold to Juventus last summer, and is now reportedly being watched by Real Madrid. Rafael Benitez would be a fool to let him go.

Stephen Ireland (Manchester City) - In a season of signings and speculation at Eastlands, it has been a one-club man, a youngster, who has been the star player. More consistent than Robinho and more influential than, say, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Ireland's range of all-round ability and boundless energy has been the embodiment of what little was right with City this season.

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) - Under stiff competition from you-know-who (that's Frank Lampard, if you didn't), the Football Writers' Association's Player of the Year makes the team for the goals, assists and all-round terror-inspiring he has done in his roaming role in the hole behind the striker for the Reds all season. He has had a campaign full of trademark Gerrard moments - grit, goals, but unfortunately for him, no ultimate glory.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) - This is being judged as the season that England's prodigal son has finally come good - but still not as the goalscorer extraordinaire the public so crave. Rooney has yet again been shoehorned into wing roles and whatever else, but has improved his passing and crossing while doing so and become more prolific in front of goal, squandering far fewer chances than before. On top of that, his form for England has been ominous, with the 2010 World Cup now edging ever closer...

Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) - So he's scored half as many goals as he did last season, yet he's still top of the Prem charts, a big-game banker domestically and particularly in Europe, and really, not a lot is going wrong for the Portuguese international. The pace, the power and the precision have all been in effect throughout the campaign, both up front and on the wing. Madrid are still on the watch, his future is still subject to speculation, but for now, we can but admire his continued ambition to succeed and the ease with which he makes it a reality.

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