It’s been a couple of weeks since the English Premier League title was lifted by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side, and since then The Blog FC staff have reviewed the last nine months of English football to compile their Team of the Season. Setting up in a typically-British 4-4-2, Thomas Stelzer and Mark Houston run through the XI (plus substitutes) and why they were among the EPL elite in 2014/15.
David De Gea (Manchester United)
A goalkeeper who demands the sorts of platitudes usually reserved for goalscoring heroes, this season David de Gea further solidified his claim as one of the world’s best. A series of incredible performances, most noticeably against Liverpool in a 3-0 victory in December in which he made eight crucial saves, ultimately secured Champions League football for the Red Devils.
He was named in the PFA Team of the Year and won the club’s Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season, the first to do so since Cristiano Ronaldo, a testament to his sensational match-winning exploits. Rarely has a goalkeeper so inspired and impacted his team’s fortunes, especially at a club whose greatest players generally starred at the other end of the pitch.
Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)
It’s becoming a rather common theme now: Young Southampton player is promoted to the first-team, impresses, earns England call-up, and is then linked with “bigger” clubs. Nathaniel Clyne is just the latest to take that step, though how quickly he’s impressed has surprised most.
Filling the right-back slot vacated by Arsenal-bound Calum Chambers, Clyne quickly established himself as one of the best full-backs in the country. Quick, technically good, capable of getting forward to join the attack while also being more than proficient in the forgotten full-back art of actually defending, Clyne is the complete package and finished the season with two goals in his 35 appearances. He earned his first Three Lions cap in November and the just-turned-24-year-old should be an England fixture for years to come.
Jose Fonte (Southampton)
After a summer that saw Southampton’s squad picked apart by the Premier League giants, one would be forgiven for expecting a decline in the club’s on-field fate. Instead we saw a Saints season that threatened for so long to end in Champions League qualification triumph.
Fonte, leading from the back, was a crucial figure in the team’s renaissance and set the standard in a miserly, organised defence. He won both the club’s Fans’ Player and Player’s Player of the Season awards for a series of masterful displays.
John Terry (Chelsea)
A veritable stalwart of both his club and the Premier League, John Terry capped another silverware-laden season with a personal milestone of his own. The Chelsea captain became only the second-ever player to play every minute of a Premier League-winning season, a definitive riposte to premature suggestions his career was on the wane.
His well-honed leadership and organisational qualities shone once again and the 34-year-old became the highest-scoring defender in Premier League history after scoring against Liverpool in May.
Aaron Creswell (West Ham)
Making his debut at home against Tottenham in August after transferring from Ipswich Town, Cresswell quickly established himself as a permanent fixture in West Ham’s impressive early form. He scored the winner against Newcastle in November and was named Hammer of the Year – the club’s player of the year award – as well as the West Ham Players’ Player of the Year, having played in all of the club’s 38 league games where he notched two goals and four assists.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
A big-money move from Barcelona, Sanchez arrived at Arsenal with all the pressure such a price tag entails. Yet the Chilean star quickly proved his worth, with his dynamic, assertive approach adding an incisive edge to Arsenal’s attacking play.
Often the lone shining light in an inconsistent team, Sanchez finished his first season in the Premier League with 16 goals and eight assists. Club legend Thierry Henry called him Arsenal’s best signing in six years, and he looks set to deliver on such pedigree.
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
When Chelsea forked out £21m for a player they had used as a bonus alongside cash for David Luiz three years earlier, many thought it wasn’t the smartest piece of business by the Stamford Bridge side. 18 months later and it still looks like a bargain (particularly considering the huge profit they made on Luiz) as Matic has cemented himself among the Premier League’s elite midfielders. At an imposing 6’4″, the Serbian international is the anchor of Chelsea’s midfield that provides the platform for the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard to weave their magic, offering an almost-peerless reading of the game and physical presence, on top of a decent range of passing. Making 47 appearances in all competitions, Matic was arguably Chelsea’s most important player.
Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
Once the golden-boy of Arsenal, Fabregas quickly reintroduced himself to the capital, as a key player in cross-town rivals Chelsea’s title-winning season.
His return to the Premier League started with a flourish, an assist in each of his first four matches saw him become the first player in Premier League to history to record an assist in six consecutive games, having secured two in his final two matches for Arsenal in the 2010-2011 season.
A shrewd purchase, Fabregas provided the creative wizardry that Chelsea had been missing the previous season and his midfield partnership with Nemanja Matic was perhaps the league’s most effective. A late season drop-off in form, and a broken nose against Stoke in April, did not diminish the Spaniard’s overall impact as Chelsea coasted to the league title, Fabregas’ first in nine attempts.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
The Premier League’s standout performer, Hazard dazzled with his exquisite touch and poise. Despite the best efforts of Premier League defenders, Hazard, often double-marked and fouled more than any other player, stood head and shoulders above as the league’s best player.
With an unrivalled ability to unlock defiant defences, Hazard weaved his way through the opposition and to the PFA Player of the Year and the club’s Player of the Year for the second season running.
He managed 14 goals and nine assists, but his true value was his ability to strike absolute fear into the heart’s of the league’s most seasoned defenders, a rare gift and one that sets him apart from almost all contemporaries.
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
In a Premier League season dominated by expensive foreign stars, Harry Kane’s performance was a refreshing callback to the type of old-fashioned English centre-forward that once dominated the league.
A home-grown Tottenham talent, his unassuming nature belied an impressive natural goal-scoring instinct that saw him reach 21 goals in 34 league matches, including a match-winning brace in the North London derby in February and a hat trick against Leicester in March.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Despite the arrival of Diego Costa and the emergence of harry Kane, Aguero proved himself the Premier League’s best striker in what was ultimately a disappointing season for the defending champions.
The Argentine managed a spectacular 26 goals in 34 matches, including all four in a 4-1 win against Tottenham in October, and won him the league’s Golden Boot. Despite injury setbacks, he impressed throughout the season, a potent combination of pace, power, industry and inspiration.
Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea)
A Bosman switch to Swansea last summer was just what Fabianski needed. Before the final round of the competition the Pole was equal-first with Joe Hart, Simon Mignolet, Ben Foster and Fraser Forster in clean sheets with 13 for the season and ended finishing in second. After struggling to take the no. 1 jersey at Arsenal for the duration of his time there, Fabianski finished his debut season with the Swans as their Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Away Player of the Year. A vital part in their record-breaking league placing.
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)
A tough, formidable with surprising grace and guile going forward, Ivanovic has been one of Chelsea’s most consistent performers since signing in 2008. Having cemented his place at right back, he was again a key part of Chelsea’s resilient title-winning defence.
A clinical finisher, Ivanovic’s run of four goals in six matches in early 2015 is clear proof of his attacking prowess and prompted manager Jose Mourinho to suggest he was one of the club’s best signings.
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Capable on either the left or the right, Cesar “Dave” Azpilicueta is very much the modern full-back. Though right-footed, the young Spaniard made all of his 29 league appearances on the left of Jose Mourinho’s back four. He contributed three assists from full-back, but it is his defensive stability and character that has earned praise from his manager and others around the league. “When I watch him, he’s as near to perfect as possible when it comes to defending; he’s immaculate,” said Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United legend, Gary Neville.
He averaged three tackles and two interceptions per match, but committed less than one foul per game, and the no-nonsense defender has already made a name for himself in the big matches; most notably against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge where he made six tackles and six interceptions, and the following week against Arsenal where he made 10 successful tackles.
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)
As with Jose Fonte, Schneiderlin had to weather a Saints exodus and interest from Arsenal, among other clubs. He responded on the pitch by continuing to be a versatile, hard-working midfielder as Southampton dominated many of the league’s best teams.
He sustained a knee injury against Spurs in late April, as Southampton’s season faltered to a still-impressive seventh-place finish, in no small part to Schneiderlin’s commanding midfield performances.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea)
Following a less than successful time in London with Tottenham, Sigurdsson returned to his former club Swansea at the beginning of 2014-15 eager to prove his ability as a creative outlet for a top-half Premier League side, and it couldn’t have started any better. On the opening day of the season Sigurdsson assisted the opener and scored the winner in a 2-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford – the first time United have lost their opening home game in over 40 years.
It was the perfect start for the Icelandic midfielder, and the good form continued from there as the Swans cemented an 8th-placed finish, with Sigurdsson hugely influential scoring seven goals and notching 10 assists in 32 appearances.
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Is there a more versatile footballer in England’s top division? (James Milner, maybe). Equally adept with both feet, the Spaniard was universally recognised as an attacking midfielder, capable of playing centrally or on either flank behind the striker, until the annual realisation by Arsene Wenger that they lack a quality deep-lying midfielder forced the playmaker to find yet another home deeper than ever before. The 30-year-old played in all three lines of midfield this season and contributed seven goals and 11 assists in 37 appearances, with 10 of those appearances in a defensive midfield position.
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Only making the bench seems a little harsh on the Brazilian-cum-Spaniard, who netted 20 times in 26 league appearances in his debut Premier League season while rarely ever seeming 100% fit. One of three players to depart Spanish champions Atletico Madrid for Chelsea during the summer, Costa was an instant hit for the Blues and his early season form was key to Chelsea’s title win. It has been stated that if Jose Mourinho could design a footballer, it would be Costa. Quick, physically imposing and with plenty of needle, it seems a match made in heaven; and one that may dominate for years to come.