End of season review: Ton-up Chelsea scoop title

Although the title race went the distance there is no doubt that Chelsea were the best Premier League by some way this season.

Despite losing six times, Chelsea still managed to beat Arsenal, Liverpool and Man Utd home and away, managing to hit the back of the net a PL record 103 times on their way to a third title.

Carlo Ancelotti must be praised for finally exercising the demons of Jose Mourinho, while Florent Malouda, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba hid the deficiencies of a stuttering Chelsea defence.

However, this season is a massive missed opportunity for Arsenal and Liverpool, who have both come close in recent seasons, to chase down their major rivals who had been weakened by age and the sale of key players.

While the Gunners and the Reds stuttered, credit must be given to their city rivals Tottenham, who claimed a place in the Champions League preliminary round, and Everton – for shrugging off a poor start to narrowly miss out on the Europa League.

The surprise package of the season must be Birmingham City, widely tipped for relegation, managed to string together a 15 game unbeaten run, held together by the impressive performances Scott Dann, Roger Johnson and Joe Hart at the back.

The bottom half of the Premier League was as poor as ever with Wigan (who conceded 55 away goals) and West Ham (only seven away points) undeservedly staying up and Burnley, Hull and Portsmouth well off the pace resigned to playing Championship football next season.

Player of the year
Didier Drogba

The official award went to Wayne Rooney but Didier Drogba managed to scoop the Golden Boot with 29 goals despite missing most of January at the African Nations Cup.

Manager of the year
Roy Hodgson / Carlo Ancelotti

If it was on both league and cup form the award would go to Roy Hodgson for leading Fulham to the Europa League final and to a comfortable 12th place finish.
But Ancelotti has been the best league manager, transforming Chelsea into a more attractive side and bringing much more stability to a side which has had four different mangers in the last two seasons.

Most improved player
Florent Malouda

The former Lyon winger looked like a completely different player for Chelsea this season after finally settling in England. Honourable mentions go to AstonVilla’s Richard Dunne, Man Utd’s Nani and Fulham’s Bobby Zamora.

Signing of the season
Thomas Vermaelen

The Arsenal defender was bought into the club to fill a Kolo Toure shaped hole and was assured throughout the season despite being written off for being to small.
Man Utd’s signing of Antonio Valencia from Wigan and Sunderland stealing Darren Bent from Spurs also come close.


Everton’s surge for Europe; United’s title race slip; Zamora for England

MUCH of the talk of surprise packages in the league this season have centred around noveau-riche Manchester City, flattering-to-decieve Tottennham Hotspur and the ultra-direct Aston Villa.

But no-one is nattering about Everton. The Toffees have produced a number of outstanding performances this season including impressive wins against Chelsea and Manchester United and a battling draw at the Emirates against Arsenal.

Their good form has come despite a poor start to the campaign and terrible injury record but since their pre-Xmas fightback against Spurs, coming from 2-0 at Goodison to claim a draw they have only lost once (and that was against local rivals Liverpool).

With Mikel Arteta finally back from his lay-off are a strong bet to make the Europa League at the very least.

EVERY defeat at the top of the league seems to signal either the end of a title race or marks the beginning of a crisis but Manchester United’s recent form must be a worry for their fans.

The Red Devils looked very beatable in the European excursion to Milan, with Wayne Rooney eventually pulling them through but their makeshift defence crumbled in the second half at Goodison Park.

The still have to face Cheslea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs in their last 11 games knowing that only wins will be good enough to secure their 19th title.

But without Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand it could be a tough ask.

A BANDWAGON is snaking its way through Fulham and Hammersmith picking up anyone who rates Bobby Zamora as an England forward.

While Zamora would be an outside bet for a place in the squad (depending on the number of strikers Fabio Capello takes there are sill a number of credible of choices ahead of him including Theo Walcott, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent.

But as long as Michael Owen stays at home I don’t think anyone will complain.