2019/20 Premier League Awards | Sporting Index

(If The Season Ended Now) Sporting Index’s Premier League Awards

Whilst there’s still plenty of speculation and uncertainty surrounding the future of the 2019/20 Premier League, one thing we can all agree on is that it has already delivered the thrills, spills and breathtaking moments that only England’s top league can produce.

From record-breaking runs of form, to jaw-dropping upsets, the Premier League is the most tactically diverse and competitive league in the world of sport, as well as being the most lucrative, and those who make their mark on a campaign can earn themselves a place in the history books. Here at Sporting Index, we thought we would host our award ceremony now, take a look back at the 2019/20 campaign so far, and begin dishing out the accolades...

Player of the Season

Nominees: Kevin De Bruyne, Sadio Mane, Sergio Aguero, Jack Grealish

Liverpool are unique in the sense that, despite walking the league this season, they haven’t really had any standout individuals to point towards. The form of Sadio Mane however has been the closest thing you’ll find for the champions elect. Standing up in the most crucial of moments, the Senegalese forward has 14 goals and 7 assists to his name, the second best haul of any Liverpool player, and his xG (Expected Goals) and xA (Expected Assists) tallies of -1.57 and -2.13 make him a far more valuable contributor than Mohammed Salah (-0.46 and +1.24) and Roberto Firmino (+7.49 and -0.60).

Manchester City might have offered up a fairly tame title defence this year, however legendary duo Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero have proven themselves to be arguably the best players in the league once again. After an injury-plagued campaign last year, De Bruyne has returned back to his best this year with 9 goals and a league best record of 16 assists and 3.89 key passes per ninety.

Sergio Aguero became the Premier League’s most prolific foreign player, broke the record for most league hattricks and reached fourth spot in the all-time leading Premier League goal scorers charts this season, racing to 16 goals and 3 assists in just 22 appearances before the season’s postponement. The consistency shown by the Argentine hitman is simply staggering and many feel he’s been criminally underrated over the years.

An outside shout for sure, but Jack Grealish has been the difference between potential Premier League survival and a one way ticket back to the Championship for Aston Villa this season. Villa might not have the win record of Liverpool or City, but that just makes Grealish’s 7 goals and 6 assists all the more impressive. No one in the bottom half of the table has an all-round record like this and Grealish deserves some serious recognition if it helps defy the latest football odds and keeps Villa in the league.

On the whole though, no one has dazzled us quite as consistently as Kevin De Bruyne so we’ll crown him our Player of the Season.

Winner: Kevin De Bruyne

Manager of the Season

Nominees: Jurgen Klopp, Chris Wilder, Mikel Arteta, Brendan Rodgers

Gerard Houllier couldn’t do it, Rafa Benitez couldn’t do it, not even King Kenny himself could do it, but Jurgen Klopp has gone where no Liverpool manager could and all but delivered the Premier League title to Merseyside. Having topped the table since matchday 2, the outcome of the league has rarely been in doubt this season and Klopp’s combination of passion on the touchline and gritty tactics have helped the Reds smash record after record on their way to a first title in thirty years.

Sheffield United’s sudden status as European football chasers this year is even more impressive when you remember that this time last year they weren’t even about to win the Championship. Chris Wilder’s formulation of the Blades’ three-back formation has helped turn Sheffield United into one of the toughest to beat sides in the league and there’s every chance they’ll continue to keep the likes of Arsenal, Spurs and Everton at bay if the league does resume.

When Mikel Arteta was appointed Arsenal head coach in December, the Gunners were on a run of just one win in nine and were languishing in 9th place, seven points off the top four. What followed was a run of just one loss in eleven, and a far healthier Win Index week in week out in our football spreads. Mikel Arteta’s best achievement so far has arguably been the restoration in confidence for the Gunners, rather than out and out results on the pitch.

Leicester were tipped for a European push before the season kicked off, but in a season of turmoil and inconsistency, the steeliness shown so far by Brendan Rodgers is seriously impressive. With a side built around talismanic English players, Rodgers has brought his attractive style of play back to the league and looks set to land Leicester with only their second ever season of Champions League football.

Had Liverpool gone unbeaten this season, this award would surely be heading home with Jurgen Klopp; however, Sheffield United in a European spot is not something you see every year so we’ll go with Chris Wilder for our Manager of the Season.

Winner: Chris Wilder

Golden Boot Winner

Nominees: Jamie Vardy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero, Mohammed Salah

Since being promoted with Leicester City in 2014, Jamie Vardy’s goal tallies read: 5, 24, 16, 23 and 18. At the time of this season’s postponement, he’s currently on 19 goals from 24 appearances and stands an excellent chance in breaking his own personal record. His xG of -4.76 is the second best haul of any player currently in the top 10 scorers in the league and contribute significantly to Leicester’s league best tally of -10.23 more goals scored than we would have expected to see.

Despite playing for a struggling Arsenal team and being mainly employed on the left, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has once again shone as one of the Premier League’s most potent finishers. He has scored 17 and assisted 1 one of Arsenal’s 40 goals in the league alone this season, showcasing their reliance on the Gabon international, and his xG of -5.00 more than what he might have been expect to have scored is the best of any striker in the country.

All nominees in the race for the Golden Boot have played 26 of the league’s 29 games this season, except for Sergio Aguero who has only played in 22 so far. Despite playing 817 fewer minutes than Jamie Vardy, Aguero is only three goals and one assist behind the Golden Boot leader and his xG tally of just -1.05 is perhaps a better indication of the coldblooded consistency behind how the Argentine forward operates.

One cog in the league’s best frontline, Mohammed Salah has once again had another prolific season in front of goal for Liverpool. His 16 goals and 6 assists are an impressive feat on their own, but what makes Salah a contender here is his xG90 and xA90 (Expected Goals and Assists per 90 minutes) which, at 0.62 and 0.29, is the most evenly spread of anyone in this list.

However, as things stand at the moment, Jamie Vardy will be picking up his first Golden Boot award in the Premier League.

Winner: Jamie Vardy

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Surprise Package of the Season

Nominees: Sheffield United, Wolves, Newcastle, Norwich

With the same amount of losses this season as Manchester City and even fewer than the likes of Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester United, Sheffield United have undoubtedly been a surprising revelation in this year’s Premier League. The Blades have constructed a defence that has conceded +11.89 goals fewer than we would have expected to see and have lost only twice away from home all season (to Liverpool and Manchester City).

Wolves had a brilliant debut campaign in the Premier League in 2018/19, but many expected to see Nuno Espirito Santo’s side drop off this year. Second season syndrome, a lack of activity in the transfer window, a slightly slow start after a couple rough opening fixtures and the demands of a tough Europa League campaign looked to be a combination of circumstances that could have made the year a tough one for Wolves. Instead, they’ve lost the second feset amount of games in the entire division and remain just five points off Champions League football next year.

The loss of Rafa Benitez and players like Ayoze Perez made Newcastle one of the favourites for relegation in the league’s preseason odds. The fact that they are currently in 13th with 35 points from their 29 games so far is a pretty solid, if slightly unexpected surprise, from Steve Bruce and co. The Toon have lost three times at home this season and claimed three points off the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United this year.

Daniel Farke’s Norwich City have been the surprise package of English football since the beginning of last season, defying the odds and racing to the Championship title and an unlikely promotion to the Premier League. Whilst they have occupied the relegation zone longer than any other side all season, the Canaries have still claimed some surprising scalps against the likes of Everton, Leicester and that legendary win against Manchester City, which will surely go down as the result of the season.

It would be easy giving the award here to Sheffield United, but we think that, given how they have actually spent less and had to manage a far heftier level of fixture congestion and weight of expectation, Wolves are truly the surprise package of this season’s Premier League. Nuno Espirito Santo has built a relatively small squad, managed it impeccably and quietly gone about keeping up pace with the league’s biggest players, establishing his side as arguably the country’s most underrated team right now.

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