After the shock of Leicester winning the Premier League title last season, this term has gone much more to form. The ‘Big 6’ will indeed finish the campaign leading the way once again, with Antonio Conte’s Chelsea coming out on top quite comfortably in the end.
For many of England’s leading clubs, it has been a season of transition. The Italian manager has managed it with remarkable haste at Stamford Bridge, while in Manchester both Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have toiled a little more than anticipated at City and United respectively, although the blue half of the city have come out on top, at least in terms of league standings.
In the capital, meanwhile, there is a sense that Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal is drawing to a close, with the increasing inevitability that the Emirates side will miss out on the top four for the first time during his tenure. Tottenham, meanwhile, will finally finish above the Gunners, having built on the momentum they gained a year previous.
As ever, there have been numerous stand-out players in what has been a remarkable season.
TOM HEATON (Burnley)
Heaton has had a great season for unfancied Burnley & helped them stay in the Premier League. He's made more saves than any other goalkeeper in the league (137) and has kept 10 clean sheets in 34 appearances for Sean Dyche's side. His save ratio (75.1%) is only bettered by Hugo Lloris (76.3%).
DAVID LUIZ (Chelsea)
Once considered to be something of a pantomime figure in the heart of the Chelsea defence, the Brazil international has emerged as one of the outstanding centre-backs in the league. He has been remarkably dependable and has been a vital figure in a defence that has conceded 25 times in the 32 games he has taken part in. Chelsea have won 2.41 points per match when he has played.
JAN VERTONGHEN (Tottenham)
Vertonghen has been a crucial part of Tottenham's fantastic season and has been a consistent rock in the centre of their defence. The Belgian has the best duel success rate in the entire Premier League, winning 74% of his 50/50 battles with opposition players. He has been a key component of a Spurs's continually impressive backline.
CESAR AZPILICUETA (Chelsea)
Azpilicueta is the only player to have played every minute of Chelsea's championship winning season so far (3240) and has been a crucial part of their three-man defence. He's made 75 tackles and 68 interceptions (only N'Golo Kante has made more in both categories for the club) and has even weighed in with four assists. A versatile performer, there are few more consistent players in the league.
ANTONIO VALENCIA (Manchester United)
Valencia's Premier League career has been kickstarted under Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. The attacking right full-back has found a team-mate with a league-high 41 open play crosses this season, as well as creating 30 goalscoring chances and assisting three goals for the Red Devils. One of the few bright spots in a frustrating campaign.
N’GOLO KANTE (Chelsea)
France international Kante has almost universally been hailed as the Premier League’s Player of the Season. There was a great burden of expectation placed on him when he moved to Chelsea last summer from Leicester, but he has maintained and even surpassed the levels expected of him at Stamford Bridge.
DELE ALLI (Tottenham)
All-action midfielder Alli enjoyed a breakthrough campaign as Tottenham finished third last season, but this time around he’s excelled himself further. Providing Mauricio Pochettino’s side with a genuine goal threat in the final third, having netted a career best 17 times and created 48 chances for others. Despite being handed more offensive licence, he enjoys a strong presence defensively, with 153 recoveries of the ball.
MARCOS ALONSO (Chelsea)
Scooped up from Fiorentina in a deal that was completed just before the summer transfer deadline, the former Bolton defender has been one of the surprising heroes of Chelsea’s title-winning season. Ultimately filled a problem position on the left side for the Blues but had been on the fringes prior to a 3-0 loss to Arsenal that saw Antonio Conte switch his system. Chelsea have won 83% of the games he has started in the league.
PHILIPPE COUTINHO (Liverpool)
Liverpool are likely to be back in the Champions League next season, and Coutinho is one major reason why. The Brazilian has been exemplary with his consistency this season, scoring a personal best 12 goals in the league campaign – an improvement of 50 per cent upon last term and the second-best tally in Jurgen Klopp’s side.
EDEN HAZARD (Chelsea)
A figure who was much criticised for his performances last season, Hazard has had his best-ever season in front of goal for Chelsea in the Premier League (15 goals) and he is only one of four players to have beaten an opponent with a dribble on 100+ occasions this season in the competition (134). He made the shortlist to win Premier League Players’ Player of the Season.
ALEXIS SANCHEZ (Arsenal)
Arsenal star Alexis has been involved in 31 Premier League goals this season (21 goals, 10 assists); more than any other player in the league. He has also managed his best-ever season in front of goal (21) in league competition having frequently been preferred to Olivier Giroud at the forefront of the attack, making it all the more imperative that the Gunners can tie him down to a new deal.
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