Football Features

What every club’s (confirmed) Player of the Year says about their season

By Chris Smith

Published: 12:03, 14 May 2019 | Updated: 15:09, 21 May 2019

After a pulsating title race and intense battle for survival, the 2018/19 Premier League season is over.

We’ve seen Manchester City and Liverpool go head-to-head for the biggest prize, Manchester United and Arsenal slip outside the top four and Wolves impress everybody by finishing a comfortable seventh in their first season back in the Premier League.

And with the end of the season, comes every club’s Player of the Year award. Goalkeepers making a host of saves to scoop the award in a struggling side, defenders keeping their goalkeepers quiet in the league’s elite and goalscorers stealing the limelight can often give a strong indication about what kind of season their team has had.

So what do this year’s Player of the Year winners tell us about the teams they’ve played for? Please note, a few latecomers are yet to officially announce their club awards.

Arsenal: Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played 35 and 36 Premier League games, respectively, for Arsenal this season, while the pair are the only players at the club to reach double-figures when it comes to goalscoring with totals of 13 and 22.

Lacazette has been involved in 18 of the Gunners’ 21 Premier League wins this term, while Aubameyang played a part in 20. It had to go to one of them.

Lacazette has more assists (8), more touches in the opposition box (203) and has completed the joint-highest number of dribbles (46) of any other Arsenal player in the league this term. His goalscoring in all competitions hasn’t really improved, sitting at 19 in 48 games this season after notching 17 in 39 last season, but his influence on Arsenal’s play has, courtesy of a lethal partnership with Aubameyang.

This can be directly mirrored in Arsenal during their first season under Unai Emery. Have they vastly improved their league position? No. They’re still sitting outside the top four.

However, even the Arsene Wenger’s biggest fans will tell you Emery has improved the side, pushing them closer to the summit of the Premier League and reaching a Europa League final along the way. Small changes for both Lacazette and Arsenal have seen player and team edge that little bit closer to where they should be.

Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser

Bournemouth’s highest individual honour is the Player’s Player of the Season award and it’s hard to envisage anyone but Ryan Fraser winning it this season.

Fraser sits only behind Eden Hazard (15) on 14 Premier League assists this season and his partnership with striker Callum Wilson has been excellent. Like Bournemouth, Fraser hasn’t been totally consistent and the Scotland international went eight Premier League games without a direct goal involvement between 13 January and 2 March.

However, all in all, it’s been another strong season punching way above their weight for both club and player with the Cherries scoring more goals (56) than any other side outside the Premier League’s top six.

Brighton & Hove Albion: Shane Duffy

A season that promised vast improvement in the early stages very quickly turned into a nervous slog for Brighton as they scrambled for survival. In the end, Cardiff turned out to be worse than Chris Hughton’s side but it should come as no surprise that Shane Duffy scooped the Player of the Year award for the Seagulls.

The Republic of Ireland international tops the Premier League in terms of clearances (243) and headed clearances (170), while no Brighton player has won more aerial duels (188) or made more blocks (43) than Duffy this season. In short, he’s been an absolute rock. He’s had to be.

Brighton ended 2018/19 with nine winless games and the two points they picked up against Arsenal and Newcastle recently simply wouldn’t have been possible without Duffy, who made a match-high five tackles and won more headers (4) than any Brighton player against the Gunners. Brighton have been on the backfoot and Duffy has been busy.

Burnley: Ashley Westwood

During Burnley’s recent 1-0 defeat to Manchester City, Ashley Westwood was level with Aymeric Laporte on three interceptions – more than any other player on the day. The midfielder was everywhere, charging around to break up City attacks as Pep Guardiola’s men struggled against Sean Dyche’s resistance.

If this doesn’t sum up Burnley’s season, what does? The Clarets struggled to juggle their European commitments with domestic obligations early in the season but after a harrowing 5-1 defeat to Everton, they went on a run of just one defeat in 10 games across all competitions. It’s once again been industrious and disciplined and nobody personifies that better than Westwood, who also has seven assists.

Cardiff City: Neil Etheridge

Cardiff have been up against it right from the very first whistle this season and, in all honesty, they’ve done well to finish 18th. It should, therefore, come as absolutely no surprise to find out Neil Etheridge was awarded the club’s Player of the Year award.

Only Lukasz Fabianski (149) has made more saves in the Premier League than Etheridge (141) this season, while the Philippines international sits level with Jordan Pickford on three penalty saves, the highest in the English top flight. Cardiff have worked hard but have massive shortcomings. As a result, Etheridge has had to grow extra limbs.

Chelsea: Eden Hazard

At so many times this season, Chelsea have been labelled as a one-man team. If Eden Hazard hasn’t done it, neither have Chelsea. The Belgian has 19 goals and 16 assists in all competitions this season and absolutely nobody will be shocked to see him clean sweep Chelsea’s Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Goal of the Season awards – the first player in the club’s history to do so.

Without Hazard, the Blues simply wouldn’t be in the top four, nor would they have reached the Europa League and League Cup finals. Another nervous summer awaits Chelsea’s supporters and Maurizio Sarri.

Crystal Palace: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has made more tackles (129) than any other Premier League defender this season and only sits behind Wilfred Ndidi and Idrissa Gana Gueye (both 142) in this regard, although those two have been stomping around in midfield and doing this for years on end.

Wan-Bissaka also sits just behind Etienne Capoue (86) on 84 interceptions, the second-highest total in the Premier League. The young right-back has been solid as a rock in his debut Premier League season, as have Crystal Palace, who were widely tipped to struggle before a ball was even kicked. Roy Hodgson’s men have conceded 53 goals this season and although that doesn’t look overly impressive, only Newcastle (48) have conceded fewer among the division’s bottom 11 clubs.

Everton: Lucas Digne

They may have hit a few roadblocks along the way but Everton have well and truly recovered from their turgid spell under Sam Allardyce.

Gone are the days of bunkering in and holding out for 1-0 wins. Marco Silva has the Toffees playing free-flowing, entertaining football.

Nobody epitomises that more than 2018 summer signing, Lucas Digne. Leighton Baines has been a wonderful left-back and a faithful servant to Everton over the years but having moved the wrong side of 30 a long time ago, a replacement was needed.

Digne showed just why he has Barcelona, PSG and Roma on his CV, delivering more successful crosses and corners (83) than any other Premier League player during 2018/19, while also creating more chances (71) than any other defender – the Frenchman even outperformed the likes of Mohamed Salah, Raheem Sterling and Paul Pogba in this metric.

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Fulham: TBA

Huddersfield Town: Christopher Schindler

Second-season syndrome hit Huddersfield Town like a steam train and their desperate points total of 16 is one of the lowest the Premier League has ever seen.

The Terriers have been terrible, scoring just 22 goals all season. The fact that Christopher Schindler is the club’s Player of the Year having made more blocks (34) and clearances (134) than any other player at the club should really explain all you need to know. The German centre-back’s solitary goal also accounts for 4.54% of Huddersfield’s entire tally this season.

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Leicester City: Ricardo Pereira

Ricardo Pereira sits only behind James Maddison (13) in terms of big chances created at Leicester this season with 10, while the England man has one more assist than Pereira’s six.

It’s been a season of transition for the Foxes, with a number of new players coming into the club, as well as a new manager in Brendan Rodgers. That has undoubtedly brought inconsistency but also promise, so it seems only fitting that it’s one of those new recruits scooping up the individual accolades. Even more will be expected of Pereira and Leicester next season.

Liverpool: TBA

Thanks to their title race going down to the final day of the season, their upcoming Champions League final with Spurs and the Nations League finals this summer, Liverpool won’t be holding an end of season awards ceremony.

Instead, they will be allowing fans to pick their star player from 2018/19 via an online vote. Virgil van Dijk? Mohamed Salah? Alisson? Liverpool have so many candidates to top this poll, it’s almost impossible to predict a winner.

Manchester City: Bernardo Silva

An unprecedented domestic treble, a first-ever league titled retained in their history or by any club since Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man Utd. Manchester City are the undisputed dominant force of English football right now.

Right at the heart of their success has been Bernardo Silva, the unassuming, diminutive Portuguese genius who is a symbol of everything good about Pep Guardiola’s stylish team.

Work rate, tenacity and incredible skills are rolled into one little package and this sentence could apply to both Silva and the entire City team, who run through brick walls and are unrelenting in their quest for silverware.

Silva’s rise from bit-part player to the first name on the teamsheet – something Guardiola himself has admitted is true – has been a joy to watch this season.

Manchester United: Luke Shaw

It’s been a tough old season for Manchester United. A terrible start under Jose Mourinho was followed by a mini revival under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. That, of course, fizzled out and the Red Devils are now consigned to Europa League football next season, while most of England has made no secret of their pleasure in seeing United fail.

It’s probably just about right, then, that a player who takes a lot of flack from the neutral but has seen vast improvement on the pitch should pick up their Player of the Year award: Luke Shaw.

The odd hiccup aside, this has been Shaw’s best season since that horrific leg break and the left-back looks nailed on to be Solskjaer’s first choice next term. But despite the accolade, and just like Solskjaer himself, more will be expected next year if he is to hit true United levels.

Newcastle United: Salomon Rondon

Rafa Benitez has worked another miracle at Newcastle United, guiding them to the lower reaches of mid-table and keeping the Mapgies well out of the Premier League relegation battle.

Their ‘Three Amigos‘ of Salomon Rondon, Ayoze Perez and Miguel Almiron have been absolutely crucial to that, with the former standing above all the rest as Newcastle’s Player of the Year.

The Venezuelan striker managed 11 goals and seven assists for Benitez during his loan spell from West Brom but moreover, his hold up play has given Newcastle breathing space at vital times when their backs have been against the wall this season. Hard work and discipline personified.

Southampton: Nathan Redmond

Enigmatic, mercurial and mightily frustrating. Earlier in the season, we could have easily been talking about both Southampton or Nathan Redmond here.

The Saints were terrible under Mark Hughes, as was Redmond – who didn’t manage to notch a single goal or assist prior to the Welshman’s dismissal. Since the appointment of Ralph Hasenhuttl, they’ve been much improved, climbing to Premier League safety with games to spare. And with that, we’ve seen a much more impressive Redmond, who has managed nine goals and four assists since the ‘Alpine Klopp’ was appointed.

Improvement all around, this one is all tied up in a neat little package.

Tottenham: Heung-min Son

With almost every Spurs player suffering from injury at some point this campaign, Heung-min Son has had to fill all sorts of roles for Mauricio Pochettino, including stepping in for Harry Kane as a centre-forward.

The South Korea international has, of course, filled in brilliantly with 12 goals in 31 Premier League games, helping the club finish fourth. But it’s in the Champions League that Son and his teammates have shone.

Son followed up his strike in the round-of-16 clash against Borussia Dortmund with three goals across the two legs against Manchester City in the quarter-finals as Spurs won a dramatic encounter on away goals, eventually reaching the final after an equally breathless clash with Ajax.

This crop of players could still seal immortality in the final against Liverpool at the start of June but Son has just pipped the much-improved Moussa Sissoko to the Player of the Year award. And that tells you all you need to know about what this Spurs side is made of.

Watford: Etienne Capoue

We mentioned before that Capoue tops the Premier League interception chart and it’s this kind of hard work and energy in central areas that summarises Watford’s season and Javi Gracia’s style of play.

Up against much bigger budgets, the Hornets have often looked like ‘the best of the rest’ in the Premier League this season. A few poor results knocked them down the pecking order but fuelled by Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucoure in the engine room, Watford have an FA Cup final to look forward to. Capoue’s hard work has helped Watford show exactly what you can achieve with a limited squad.

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski

The Premier League’s busiest goalkeeper, Fabianski has made 149 saves this season and sits alongside Etheridge as the only two goalkeepers to be named Player of the Year at their respective clubs (so far).

Manuel Pellegrini’s first season in east London can be labelled as distinctly average, with defenders Issa Diop, Pablo Zabaleta and Ryan Fredericks making a combined seven errors leading to shots this season.

These defensive lapses have kept Fabianski on his toes and makes the Hammers conceding just 55 Premier League goals a lot more impressive. Without the Polish stopper, this wouldn’t be possible and they must tighten up over the summer.

Wolves: Joao Moutinho

Wolves have made a glorious return to European football for the first time in over 40 years in their first season back in the Premier League.

But Nuno Espirito Santo’s men haven’t had to grind their way to seventh place. Far from it. Wolves have played with style, bravery and attacking intent and all season long, they’ve been a thorn in the side of the division’s established elite.

But none of it would have been possible without the signing of experienced Portugal international, Joao Moutinho. The Euro 2016 winner created more chances (84) and completed more passes (1580) in the Premier League than any other Wolves player in 2018/19, while his team-high 113 tackles is a perfect representation of just what this side are all about.

Creativity and resolute defending all rolled into one, Wolves are going to be dangerous again next season.