Premier League End of 2015 Awards
With 2015 having departed, let’s have a look at some of the winners, and losers, from this calendar year of Premier League football, and what a year it’s been. These awards take into account form over the entirety of 2015 – hence the inclusion of Chelsea and Jose Mourinho in these awards (and not always for negative reasons!)
Team of the Year – Leicester City
How can there be another candidate? From bottom at Christmas 2014 to top of the pile by Christmas 2015. Even though the Foxes have been displaced by Arsenal for the end of year title, quite simply no other Premier League gained as many points as the East-Midland’s side over the last 12 months – and done so under two differing managers no less. What an incredible story, and one we hope continues to run in 2016.
Honourable Mentions – Arsenal and Chelsea
It is quite unbelievable that Chelsea do not claim this award considering they won two trophies in 2015 (The Capital One Cup and Barclay’s Premier League), but that of course is entirely down to the unmitigated disaster that the 2015/16 season has been for The Blues so far (more of which later). Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, meanwhile, finish 2015 as the FA Cup holders (for the second successive year) and top of the league, looking many people’s favourites to claim a first title since the ‘Invincibles’ campaign of 2002/03.
Coach of the Year – Claudio Ranieri / Nigel Pearson
The fact that this award is shared by two managers who have been and were in charge for only half of the year is testament to the crazy campaign it has been. Nigel Pearson led the Leicester City recovery which took The Foxes from rock bottom to a respectable 14th placed finish, losing only one of their final nine matches. The Englishman was then sacked following off-the-field-events, and replaced by Claudio Ranieri, to the consternation of many. The Italian boss hadn’t managed in England since his stint with Chelsea between 2000 and 2004, but has since taken his side to heady heights.
Honourable mentions – Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Alan Pardew
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side continued to hover around success, despite failing to claim the big prizes that the club’s fans crave. It was a stellar year nonetheless by most standards. And Jose Mourinho? Well, he won the Premier League for a third time. Alan ‘Chunky’ Pardew and Crystal Palace have had a successful year, and are currently flirting with the Champions League places – a far cry from when he arrived in January 2015 with the club sitting in the relegation zone. Pardew then led Palace to their highest ever Premier League finish (10th), and in doing so became the first manager to take over a club sitting in the bottom three and take them to the top half of the table in the same campaign
Player of the Year – RiyadMahrez
Leicester City’s Algerian attacker, signed from Le Havre in 2014, was nothing short of sensational in notching up 16 goals and 9 assists to be one of the most prolific contributors in the league, and has been instrumental in his side’s climb to the summit of the table. 2016 could be a big year for the exciting 24-year-old forward.
Honourable mentions – Eden Hazard, Mesut Ozil
Lest we forget, Chelsea and Belgium’s Eden Hazard was head and shoulders the standout performer in the 2014/15 league campaign, and was rewarded with both Player of the Year prizes. The less said about the remainder of 2015 the better, but his contributions from the first half of the calendar year cannot go unnoticed. Mesut Ozil, meanwhile, has been nothing short of sensational in notching up 16 assists alone in the 2015/16 campaign to add to the 4 he added between January and May. That’s not to mention 6 goals and general all-round play that leaves observers purring.
Striker of the Year – Harry Kane
In a competitive category, the award goes to Tottenhamand England’s young striker who burst onto the scene in November of 2014, and went on to finish only behind Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero in the scoring charts, racking up 21 strikes in the process. Yet in 2015, Kane is head and shoulders out in front in terms up top-flight marksman, having notched an impressive 27 times – spectacular numbers indeed for a young player charged with leading his side’s push for Champions League football.
Honourable mentions – Jamie Vardy, OdionIghalo, Sergio Aguero, RomeluLukaku
Aguero, of course, finished the 2014/15 campaign on top of the pile with his unrivalled 26goals, and would surely have continued in a similar vein had injury not curtailed his progress through much of the year. The Argentine remains a class apart. Watford’sOdionIghalo, however, takes the honour of the most prolific striker in the English leagues in 2015 in stacking up an incredible 30 league goals, 14 of which have been so far in the Premier League in his first season playing at that level. The Hornets may face a task in holding onto the young striker if his form continues. And then there’s Jamie Vardy. What else can we say about a man who broke the Premier league record by scoring in 11consecutiveleague matches between August and November? And all achieved by a 28 year old who was playing non-league football only four years ago. Dreams can and do come true in the Barclays Premier League
Young Player of the Year – Dele Alli
Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli has only been featuring in the Premier League for five months, but has already taken the football world by storm with his performances which have gained him rave reviews and a full England call-up. If the 19 year old, who was playing in League 1 for MK Dons prior to this league campaign, continues his meteoric rise, Spurs could be struggling to hold onto yet another star player when the big guns inevitably come sniffing.
Honourable mentions – Raheem Sterling, Reece Oxford, Hector Bellerin
Raheem Sterling has shaken off the controversy surrounding his move from Liverpool to Manchester City by continuing to do what he does best – terrorising defences with his blend of attacking verve and speed. The young wide player will be a key player in his sides assault on the Primer league and Champions League double moving into 2016. West Ham United’s Reece Oxford deserves a mention for his outstanding performance on his league debut at the Emirates Stadium, contributing to an impressive 0-2 win for his side. And 20 year-old HectorBellerin has been perhaps the stand-out right-back in the league whilst featuring for Gunners’ defence that has been pivotal in the team’s success this year.
Surprise of the Year – Chelsea / Jose Mourinho
Chelsea and Jose Mourinho’s incredible descent into farce in 2015 has been rivetingviewing, and an event that surely no one could have predicted. With his club sitting precariously close to the relegation places and his players seemingly in revolt, the Portuguese boss was relieved of his duties, with GuusHiddink once more placed in temporary charge until the end of the season. Keep on watching for the next episode in the Chelsea story.
Honourable mentions –The Premier League in general
Whereas the 2014/15 season rather turned into a procession for Mourinho and The Blues, and there were predictable relegations for the likes of Burnley, QPR and Hull, the 2015/16 season so far has been like no other. With Leicester City flying high, and other less glamourous teams such as Watford, Crystal Palace and even Bournemouth notching impressive and deserved wins in climbing the table, this season has been a joy to behold. Established Premier League clubs in the form of Aston Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle United are in danger of losing their top flight status, and new kids such as the aforementioned Vardy, Mahrez and Alli all continue to impress in what is turning out to be a season to relish for all football fans. Long may it continue.
By: Steven Paget