BE PART OF THE TEAM

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 8°C Sunday 29 November 2020
Advertisement

Best moment? Worst signing? Our writers review the 2019-20 Premier League season

The42′s reporters have their say on a campaign that saw Liverpool win their first league title in 30 years.

Players have been regularly taking a knee in support of Black Lives Matter prior to Premier League matches.
Players have been regularly taking a knee in support of Black Lives Matter prior to Premier League matches.
Image: Richard Heathcote/NMC Pool/PA Wire

Updated Jul 26th 2020, 11:02 AM

Garry Doyle

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Marcus Rashford’s charitable actions during the lockdown, which culminated in the UK Government formally helping out vulnerable, impoverished children, was just amazing. So too was the respect and unity shown by players during the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Who was your Player of the Season?

Virgil van Dijk — outstanding defender who is a level above everyone else in the world. Honourable mentions to Kevin De Bruyne and also Jamie Vardy, who — at 33 — is defying logic.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

The best was Bruno Fernandes who is just one of those players you love to see. As for the worst, well step forward David Luiz.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Clive Tyldesley, the ITV commentator, who at a time when millions around the world have lost their jobs, showed world-class qualities in keeping a straight face while posting a self-pitying rant on his Twitter account about being demoted as lead commentator at the station. No, he hasn’t been made unemployed. His hardship is to merely have to commentate on the second best game on the ITV menu. Was scarlet for him.

Which Irish player has impressed you most?

John Egan — a much better player than originally thought. His comfort on the ball, coupled with his ability to deprive opposing players of cheap possession, is indicative of his growing self-belief. A sure thing to appear on the team sheet for the opening games of the Stephen Kenny era.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

Liverpool — they were just magnificent, full of power and pace and like the Liverpool teams of old, were capable of grinding out results on the nights when there was no flow to their game. Their front three impress in terms of industry as well as creativity, while their outstanding pair of full backs have changed the way the game is played. Also have a soft spot for Wolves, Sheffield United and Burnley.

Name your favourite moment from this season.

Discovering the mute button on my Twitter account after 50-year-olds began to flood my timeline with childish nonsense about a club they have seen play twice in the flesh.

Describe the season in one sentence.

Nearly as boring as the 1987/88 series of Antiques Roadshow.

liverpool-v-chelsea-premier-league-anfield Liverpool players celebrate with the Premier League trophy. Source: PA

Fintan O’Toole

What will be your defining memory from this season?

The surreal sight of the Premier League trophy being presented to the Liverpool players on the Kop with a large crowd of their fans joining in the celebrations from outside the stadium.

Who was your Player of the Season?

Kevin De Bruyne. The player who pulls the attacking strings for Man City, he’s just fantastic to watch. 11 goals and 19 assists this season puts him ahead of Sadio Mané and Jordan Henderson. For me.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

- Bruno Fernandes. Hard to think of a player since Van Dijk that has transformed a team’s fortunes to the same extent. The impact of Fernandes has catapulted Man United into the frame for Champions League action.

- VAR. The big-name Premier League signing came in at the start of the season, all set to sort the constant whinging and never-ending debates over decisions. Instead, it’s created plenty of farcical situations. Please make it stop.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

De Bruyne against Watford and Jamie Vardy against Southampton were both superb, but Trent Alexander-Arnold was outstanding against Leicester at Christmas. He’s taking attacking play from a nominal right-back role to new heights.

Which Irish player has impressed you most?

John Egan. It’s been really admirable to see a player recover from a serious leg injury at the age of 20, leave a big club and climb his way back up through the rungs of the English football ladder before making his mark in the top flight this season. Really solid defensively and a couple of lovely goals of late as well. Similar arguments can be made for the resilience shown by Sheffield United team-mate Enda Stevens and Aston Villa’s Conor Hourihane.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

Sheffield United. The Irish contingent increased the interest and they were really impressive for a team just up from the Championship with Chris Wilder doing a brilliant job in charge. The 3-3 draw with Man United back in November was a wildly entertaining game.

Name your favourite moment from this season.

The green light for Project Restart. Lockdown provided a new-found appreciation for live sport.

Describe the season in one sentence.

And I think VAR is going to have a look at that.

end-of-201920-premier-league-season-package Kevin De Bruyne impressed for Man City. Source: Peter Powell/NMC Pool

Paul Fennessy

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

What will be your defining memory from this season?

With apologies to Liverpool fans, it will undoubtedly be the surreal scenes in the midst of games routinely being played out without crowds of spectators and in front of a select few face-mask-wielding onlookers.

Who was your Player of the Season?

It was one of those seasons where there’s no obvious choice. I’ll go with Sadio Mane. 17 goals and seven assists is no mean feat. Honourable mentions to Jordan Henderson, Kevin De Bruyne, Mo Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Alisson and Virgil van Dijk.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

Bruno Fernandes is the obvious answer for best, but I’m going to go with Raúl Jiménez — 17 goals and six assists has helped turn Wolves into one of the most formidable teams in the league.

There’s plenty of competition for worst, but Tanguy Ndombele to Spurs, a club-record signing at £54 million — £4.5 million more than Fernandes — stands out. He might still turn out to be a good player eventually and injuries haven’t helped his cause, but the French midfielder has struggled to impress under both Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

I’m going to interpret this question creatively and go with an individual performance of a team rather than a specific player. As bad as Southampton were on the day, Leicester City played some absolutely breathtaking football in their 9-0 record-equalling win. It gave a glimpse of what Brendan Rodgers is trying to implement with the Foxes, ultimately leaving them on the brink of a Champions League spot.

Which Irish player has impressed you most?

Enda Stevens and Matt Doherty were both particularly excellent, but John Egan was even better. At the time of writing, Sheffield United have the joint-third-best defensive record in the league, a statistic that would be almost unthinkable at the start of the season, and the 27-year-old Corkonian deserves enormous credit for it.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

After the relative tedium of the Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho tenures, Man United have rediscovered some of the excitement that characterised much of the Alex Ferguson era under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, spearheaded by the exciting likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.

Honourable mention to Nuno Espírito Santo’s Wolves team and Pep Guardiola’s Man City, who found the net 97 times at the time of writing — in that department, they were statistically way better than everyone else.

Name your favourite moment from this season.

In a game often mired in cynicism and regularly awash with platitudes, Marcus Rashford’s successful school meals campaign was a breath of fresh air and demonstrated the power of football at its best.

Describe the season in one sentence.

VAR City Blues.

manchester-united-v-afc-bournemouth-premier-league-old-trafford Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes has won plenty of admirers since signing for the club in January. Source: Peter Powell/NMC Pool/PA Wire

Gavin Cooney

What will be your defining memory from this season?

Fitting in with what was a fundamentally strange season, I’m going for the image of a pixelated Jurgen Klopp weeping on Sky Sports the night Liverpool won the league. It told us something about Klopp, I think, as the heft of his personality brought a lot of emotion to what might otherwise have been a weird anticlimax in a bland, biosecure hotel function room. It’s little wonder his players find him so inspiring.

Who was your Player of the Season?

Sadio Mane pips Kevin De Bruyne for me. De Bruyne is amazing, but Mane was probably the most decisive player in the league’s best team by miles. Of his 17 goals, eight came in one-goal wins and he also won match-winning penalties in home games against Leicester and Spurs. Mane earned Lionel Messi’s top vote in the Ballon D’Or last year, so he’s evidently doing something right.

Name the best and worst signing of the season.

The best signing probably has to be Bruno Fernandes, even though he arrived halfway through the season. He has totally transformed Manchester United by indulging in this novel practice of passing the ball forward.

The worst…can I say Jose Mourinho for Spurs? If not, then I’m going to for the player whose only competition comes from, erm, himself. Danny Drinkwater was loaned to Burnley and then Villa, and he has as many Premier League medals as wins in the competition since August 2018 — one. His career has stalled amid a slew of off-field issues; hopefully he can get back on track.

Best individual performance you witnessed this season?

Trent Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool in their 4-0 win at Leicester at Christmas. I think we’ll look back at that performance as being this Liverpool side at their absolute peak, and Alexander-Arnold was superb, setting up two goals before scoring his own in true Carlos Alberto style.

Which Irish player has impressed you most?

There is, happily, loads to choose from, but let’s go with John Egan, who won’t be straying from the Irish team any time soon.

Which team did you most enjoy watching (aside from the club you support)?

Sheffield United.

Name your favourite moment from this season.

From an Irish point of view, Aaron Connolly’s goals against Tottenham were great, but I’ll go with David Martin’s debut for West Ham in a win at Stamford Bridge. His Da Alvin played almost 600 games for West Ham, but David had to wait until he was 33 to play just once. He got the chance at Chelsea thanks to Lukasz Fabianski’s injury and Roberto’s endemic haplessness, and kept a clean sheet and broke down in tears. Alvin was in the stand doing commentary for TalkSPORT, but he broke away from the mic to tearfully embrace his son in front of the press box. Football is a father/son story for a lot of us, so it was lovely to see it playing out as such.

Describe the season in one sentence.

A low-quality season elevated by Liverpool, tainted by the hapless use of VAR and thrown into stark relief by Covid-19.

About the author:

The42 Team

Read next:

COMMENTS (17)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel