Some alternative Premier League awards

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With the Premier League set to finish for the summer this weekend, many fans are drawing up their end of season awards. Not wanting to be the millionth Brit to rave about Declan Rice or discuss the merits of Ollie Watkins over Erling Haaland, I thought I would provide a unique view of the season from my wholly biased and (something scarily close to) football hipster perspective. Enjoy! (Three hours after this was written Monday Night Football had the same idea and nabbed two of my categories)

The Miggy Almiron award for most unexpected purple patch

Winner: Rodrigo Muniz

Premier League player of the month can throw out some strange names. Fraser Forster, Joel Matip, and Joe Willock have all (deservedly) claimed the award before, and I still can’t believe Almiron’s near supernatural month in October 2022 wasn’t a fever dream.

Going into this season, Alexander Mitrovic’s unseemly departure had left Fulham without over a quarter of their goals. The acquisition of Raul Jimenez went some way to repairing the damage, but truthfully his five goal return highlights his decline since his skull fracture at Wolves. Adama Traore is still living off his 2019-20 season highlights, and Carlos Vinicius doesn’t score against anyone outside the eighth tier of English football. Following an injury to Jimenez, Fulham were forced to play 23-year-old Brazilian, Muniz, who had had little impact at the club thus far.

He finished the season with eight goals in the league, four of which came in March. His double against Spurs and extraordinary scissor kick vs Sheffield United showed a player who, when confident, has the world at his feet. It will be interesting to whether he kicks on next season or falls to the wayside and Fulham have to recruit.

Adama Traore is still living off his 2019-20 season highlights, and Carlos Vinicius doesn’t score against anyone outside the eighth tier of English football

The Derby County award for falling below rock-bottom expectations

Winners: Sheffield United

Going into this season, every football fan had either Sheffield United or Luton Town finishing bottom of the Premier League table come May. Whilst Luton have given a good account of themselves considering their player-base, Sheffield United have performed even worse than most were expecting. Paul Heckingbottom’s tenure never demonstrated anything to suggest Premier League preservation, whilst Chris Wilder’s appointment felt like an admission of stagnation as the club limped to 16 points and set a record for the most goals conceded in a campaign.

More experienced players at this level such as Oli McBurnie and John Egan Oliver Norwood performed poorly for large portions of the season, and new signing Gustavo Hamer looked like the only player who wanted to play Premier League football at times.

The Micah Richards award for best new pundit

Winner: Daniel Sturridge

Closely followed by Theo Walcott, Sturridge has been a fun presence on screens this season. Whilst his more considered and analytical approach is a deliberate antidote to the brash arguments between Neville, Kane, Carragher etc, it does bring balance to the pundit space which can turn into an echo chamber with the same simplistic opinions and phrases bouncing around its walls. Sturridge’s predictions have also garnered him a positive reputation, calling the result of Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich’s Champions League semi-final along with the goalscorers.

This year saw three hattricks scored on the same day for the first time ever

The Steven Naismith award for roguest hattrick

Winner: Eddie Nketiah

There’s one every year. Jack Harrison. Yannick Bolasie. Adam Johnson. This year saw three hattricks scored on the same day for the first time ever, as Erling Haaland, Son Heung-Min and Evan Ferguson all took home the match ball on 2nd September. Ferguson was in with a shout of this award, as were Chris Wood and Elijah Adebayo for their brief transformations into Lionel Messi and Sandor Kocsis respectively.

However, Nketiah’s hattrick versus Sheffield United is the strangest one in my opinion. He made ten starts this season, scoring only five goals. For three of those to come in the same game is highly unusual. That game, along with his first England cap, suggested a special season may be waiting for him, but it was easy to see why it wouldn’t work. Mikel Arteta had far more forward options than the season prior and it was only really injuries that saw his call-up to the England setup.

The Kevin Keegan award for most unnecessary headloss

Winner: Jamie Carragher

Following Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Liverpool that put them firmly in the title race, Carragher bizarrely ranted about Martin Odegaard’s decision to take a photo of the Arsenal cameraman, Stuart MacFarlane, insisting he should get down the tunnel instead.

Many fans pointed to Arsenal’s right to celebrate a big victory over their title rivals and MacFarlane’s integration into the club hierarchy, as his appearance in a pre-match team talk on ‘All or Nothing’ testifies. Carragher would have none of it, doubling down on his Twitter account before seemingly joking about it with Odegaard in a post-match interview the week after. It was just a bizarre hill to die on.

I genuinely believe Palace have one of the best centre back partnerships in the league

The Daniel Agger award for most underrated Danish centre back

Winner: Joachim Andersen

No, I’m not talking about Mads Andersen or Mathias Jorgensen – this is a bare-faced excuse to talk about Joachim Andersen. Despite Palace’s form only hitting an upward trajectory with the appointment of Oliver Glasner, Andersen’s consistency across the season has been incredible. He has the most clearances in the league, has made the 16th most passes of any player, and has one of the highest long ball success rates too. His work often goes under the radar at a mid-table club such as Palace, but his numbers are similar to that of a player operating in a possession-based system where the opposition drop off.

His performances for Palace and Fulham have been excellent ever since he joined the league from Lyon, and with a fully fit Marc Guehi next to him next season, I genuinely believe Palace have one of the best centre back partnerships in the league.

The Stevan Jovetic Award for goal-scoring globetrotting

Winner: Justin Kluivert

By scoring for Hertha Berlin in 2021, Jovetic became the second player ever to have scored in Europe’s top five leagues after Florin Răducioiu. Justin Kluivert matched that feat this season after joining Bournemouth from Roma, and at 25 is by far the youngest player ever to have achieved that accolade. Although he had a slow start, but January he had cemented his place in the team and has pushed on from there. Bournemouth are a good bet to finish high up next season considering their late season form, and he could well be one of the main man for them.

Image: Timmy96 via Wikimedia Commons

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