MX23RW : Friday, October 19 07:47:01

The Sports Mole team's 2014-15 Premier League awards

The Sports Mole team dishes out a number of awards following the conclusion of the 2014-15 Premier League campaign.

Best player

Barney Corkhill, Staff Reporter: "Eden Hazard may have swept all of the official awards for player of the season but, for me, Harry Kane has been the star of the 2014-15 campaign. To have reached 31 goals in all competitions - 21 in the league - when he didn't break into the first team until November is a remarkable achievement.

"To put that into context, he is the first Spurs player to do that since Gary Lineker in 1991-92, and only the eighth Englishman to have achieved the feat in the Premier League era. Add to that a goalscoring England debut and it is hard to imagine how this season could have gone any better for the 21-year-old."

Darren Plant, Reporter: While the Premier League's attacking players usually attract the majority of votes for this award, I'm going to go for Chelsea skipper John Terry. The likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa have all made huge contributions to the Blues' title-winning campaign, but it's questionable whether Chelsea would have dominated the season without the influence of their captain. Terry has played every minute of every game, scored five goals and most importantly, helped his team keep clean sheets in almost half their fixtures.

Dan Lewis, Reporter: "While I don't believe this category is as clear-cut as many make out, it is certainly difficult to argue against Eden Hazard being crowned the division's finest player this season. His goals and assists helped propel Chelsea to the league title, particularly at a time when many of his teammates began to fade. Best of all, the Belgian scored 18 of his 19 goals in separate games, proving his ability to perform on a consistent basis."

Eden Hazard of Chelsea breaks with the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on January 31, 2015© Getty Images

Sian Cowper, Reporter: "Arsenal have finished fourth in six of the last nine seasons, but the arrival of Alexis Sanchez has helped transform the Gunners into title contenders this season, just falling short in their late charge to catch Chelsea. The Chilean's 16 league goals have certainly helped, but he has also been instrumental in helping his teammates find the back of the net more often too, with eight assists, while also bringing out the best in teammates like Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla."

Michael Hincks, Reporter: "While Eden Hazard has been Chelsea's star man, Nemanja Matic was the vital cog which made it possible. A few more seasons playing at that level and he'll be up there with Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira when debating the Premier League's best ever defensive midfielder.

Best manager

Pascal Lemesre, Championship Correspondent: "I'm going to sing the praises of Swansea City boss Garry Monk. Many wondered what the Welsh side were doing last year when they named centre-back Monk as interim player-manager, but he has proved all the doubters wrong since. He achieved a record points haul this season and did it after losing his best player - Wilfried Bony - midway through the campaign. It will be an intriguing summer ahead as Swansea have plenty of cash to spend."

Joe McPhee, Production Assistant: "Though some people tipping them for the drop was an exaggeration, Ronald Koeman had a tough job on his hands at Southampton. The exodus of key players last summer was quickly forgotten because of the Dutchman's astute business in the transfer market and effective tactics on the pitch. What he has done on the South Coast this season has been brilliant, frankly. A nod here also for Garry Monk."

Danielle Joynson, Staff Reporter: "Swansea City were immediately written off at the start of the campaign, and to go from no-hopers to their best ever Premier League finish, just shows the quality of their manager Garry Monk. Many thought that the Welsh outfit would be struggling at the bottom in Monk's first full season in charge, but he's proved everyone wrong by guiding the team to eighth and executing decent results over Manchester United and Arsenal. The fact that Swansea have done as well as they have after losing their best player Wilfried Bony to Manchester City in January also proves that Monk is more than capable of leading a top-flight club."

Swansea City's English manager Garry Monk gestures during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England on August 16, 2014© Getty Images

Dan Lewis, Reporter: "It seems fanciful these days to ignore the title-winning managers and instead pick out those further down the table for recognition. While Ronald Koeman, Mark Hughes and Garry Monk have all done terrific jobs at their respective clubs, and not least Nigel Pearson who deserves huge praise for turning around Leicester's fortunes, for me Jose Mourinho is a worthy winner. He somehow avoided each Manager of the Month award throughout the course of the season, but his recruitment last summer highlighted just why he is the best football boss on the planet."

Simon Sinclair, Reporter: "Considering the turmoil Southampton went through in the summer, losing several key players, their performances this season have been remarkable. Ronald Koeman deserves huge credit for bringing together old and new faces to mount what looked be a serious challenge for a Champions League place. Although the Saints have fallen short of the feat, the club have still had an outstanding season."

Goal of the season

Danielle Joynson, Staff Reporter: "There have been many contenders this season, but for me, one of the goals that impressed me the most was Enner Valencia's strike for West Ham United against Hull City in their 2-2 draw in September. For him to get that much power behind the ball after making a quick cut to the right, shows its quality, and to open your account at a new club with a goal like that isn't half bad!"

Darren Plant, Reporter: "The Premier League has been spoilt for goal-of-the-season contenders but there can only really be one winner. Charlie Adam's always been known as a player who has a powerful left foot but no-one could have predicted that would help him successfully drive the ball over Thibaut Courtois from inside his own half at Stamford Bridge. It was a goal that drew comparisons to similar efforts from David Beckham and Wayne Rooney, but for me, this was the best one of the lot."

Callum Mulvihill, Reporter: "Jermain Defoe might not go on to be a Sunderland great in the latter stages of his career, but he delivered a moment that every one of the club's supporters will remember forever. Chasing a win to boost their survival bid, the Black Cats were up against fierce rivals Newcastle United and the points were secured by a stunning left-foot volley from the former Spurs striker. Having the confidence to unleash an effort from that position was admirable. Pulling it off? Incredible."

Jermain Defoe of Sunderland scores the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Newcastle United at Stadium of Light on April 5, 2015© Getty Images

Joe McPhee, Production Assistant: "At 3-0 down, a goal scored with little time left is almost always viewed as a consolation, but Matty Philips's long-range effort for QPR at Crystal Palace was a simply stunning goal. It was completely ridiculous to even try to shoot from where he was, and yet it was beautiful as it floated over Julian Speroni into the net. Shades of David Beckham at the same end of Selhurst Park against Wimbledon all those years ago. Quality."

Matt Law, La Liga Correspondent: "There are a number of deserving contenders this season, but Zamora's effort against West Brom was quite sensational. There appeared little danger when the QPR forward drove down the right and Baggies defender Joleon Lescott would have felt in control of the situation. However, with the outside of his left foot, Zamora somehow generated enough power to loop the ball into the top corner. Charlie Adam's effort against Chelsea was a joy, but Zamora's just involved a little bit more skill."

Best summer signing

Giuseppe Labellarte, Reporter: "It's not unusual for a newly-promoted club to bring in a veteran marquee signing in the hope that he will help them survive their first season in the top flight. More often than not it doesn't work out, but the examples that do live long in the memory of the fans.

"When Leicester City brought 34-year-old Esteban Cambiasso to the King Power Stadium on a free signing, many wondered whether he still had it, but the Argentine was instrumental in the Foxes' great escape from relegation trouble thanks to his tough tackling, incisive passing, crucial goals and his influence on the other players. Christophe Dugarry was deemed one of the best signings by a promoted side when he helped Birmingham City stay up in 2003, but Cambiasso is right up there with the Frenchman."

Paul Gorst, Reporter: "Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal an added dimension and shone in the early stages of the campaign, but Diego Costa's first season in the Premier League yielded a 20-goal return and the title. Costa's all-terrain battle tank style is tailor-made for English football, and the Brazil-born Spain international took to it seamlessly. An impressive debut for the former Atletico Madrid star."

Pascal Lemesre, Championship Correspondent: "Cesc Fabregas just pips Diego Costa for me. He has proven to a be a tremendous signing for the Blues with his vision and calmness on the ball. His wonderful pass in their opening game of the season at Burnley to set up Andre Schurrle proved just what an excellent acquisition he was going to be. West Ham should also get a mention for signing Aaron Cresswell for around £4m. They could probably sell him for £10m+ now."

Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea controls the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Burnley and Chelsea at Turf Moor on August 18, 2014© Getty Images

Matt Law, La Liga Correspondent: "There are some obvious names in this category - Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa to name a few - but for me, Herrera has been a revelation for Manchester United. It took the Spaniard a bit of time to work his way into the United XI, but he has had an excellent second half to the season, which cannot really be said for the likes of Fabregas and Costa. Herrera's ability in possession has been key to United's strong form, while he has weighed in with eight goals in all competitions. The 25-year-old is now fully settled at United and should be a cornerstone of their team next season."

Michael Hincks, Reporter: "Alexis Sanchez has been at the forefront of everything Arsenal have achieved this season, which may well result in an FA Cup trophy. He has terrifying pace and could well lead Arsenal to greater things next season if they strengthen up front."

Most disappointing summer signing

Paul Gorst, Reporter: "Mario Balotelli arrived at Liverpool as the maverick headline-stealer who was ready to have his apparent world-class potential finally unlocked by Brendan Rodgers. One Premier League goal and a couple of bizarre social media rants later indicate that the signing was monumental failure. Expect the Italian to return to his homeland this summer."

Darren Plant, Reporter: "When Manchester United signed Radamel Falcao, they would have been aware that they were taking a considerable risk on a player who had just returned from a serious injury, but the Colombian hasn't come close to meeting the expectations of even the most pessimistic fans. Three of his four goals did help United to five crucial points, but his overall return of four goals from 26 Premier League appearances is extremely poor for someone of his quality."

Callum Mulvihill, Reporter: "I'm almost certain that Angel di Maria will eventually be a success at Manchester United, but the Argentine would surely admit that he hasn't been good enough since arriving for a British-record fee. A couple of flashes of brilliance is not enough to please the club's supporters or Louis van Gaal, but his chip over Kasper Schmeichel in the loss to Leicester City proves just what he is capable of when he is firing. However, fans will quickly run out of patience if he fails to find consistency next season."

Manchester United's Argentinian midfielder Angel Di Maria and Queens Park Rangers' English defender Nedum Onuoha run after the ball during the English Premier League football match between Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United at Loftus Road Stadium i© Getty Images

Danielle Joynson, Staff Reporter: "There's been a few, but for me, Mario Balotelli is the most disappointing. I suppose you could argue that Liverpool should never have signed him in the first place. It was an odd acquisition and seemed somewhat desperate as Brendan Rodgers tried to find a replacement for Luis Suarez. It became clear very quickly that Balotelli wasn't the answer. While £16m isn't the largest of price tags in today's market, many would expect more than just four goals in a season from a striker. Not only did he struggle in front of goal, he rarely displayed the desire to drop back and help his teammates."

Michael Hincks, Reporter: "Mario Balotelli - little more needs to be said on the matter. Liverpool fans laughed when Danny Welbeck joined Arsenal for £16m while they got Balotelli for the same price. Only one team are laughing now, as Balotelli has been dreadful - the gamble didn't pay off and Brendan Rodgers should get rid this summer."

Overachieving team

Giuseppe Labellarte, Reporter: "Many feared for Southampton when they lost manager Mauricio Pochettino and a number of their best players including Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers. To lose one or two key players is disastrous, but to lose five could have been catastrophic. Instead, manager Ronald Koeman showed acumen in the transfer market to replace the departed more than adequately and drilled them into an exciting and able squad that actually exceeded the previous season's achievements. It's a shame that they weren't able to secure a European berth as they'd threatened all season, but nevertheless they punched well above their weight."

Joe McPhee, Production Assistant: "Considering they were still in the bottom three in mid-April, and then all of a sudden safe with a game to spare, I genuinely believe that Leicester have overachieved. Favourites for the drop last summer, their form lately has been nothing short of miraculous and staying up before the season's final day is an amazing turnaround."

Dan Lewis, Reporter: "A blip last season led many to believe that Swansea were in for a real relegation battle this term, but Garry Monk has defied all expectations during his first full campaign as a manager. The Swans seem to have the knack of plucking untested managers out of thin air, with each doing a better job than the last. A true season to remember for the Welsh club, and the only way is up if they keep hold of Monk beyond the summer months."

Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea City celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Hull City at Liberty Stadium on April 4, 2015© Getty Images

Paul Gorst, Reporter: "Southampton were widely tipped to be rooted in the mire of a relegation fight by many before the campaign began, and the Saints eventually just missed out on the achievement of European football. Swansea City and Crystal Palace also deserve a mention for their respective feats."

Simon Sinclair, Reporter: "Swansea City have a very strong case as well, but Southampton defied the critics at the start of the season who suggested that they would struggled following several high-profile departures last summer. Ronald Koeman had his team challenging for a place in the Champions League until the final two months of the season and who would have believed that at the start of the campaign?"

Underachieving team

Barney Corkhill, Staff Reporter: "Having pushed Arsenal hard for the final Champions League place in 2013-14, Everton were expected to launch another top-four challenge this year. That never materialised, however, with the Toffees more concerned by relegation until March. Roberto Martinez, lauded as a forward-thinking, free-flowing football manager last season, came under scrutiny, and another chairman may well have pulled the trigger. It is no coincidence that their form improved after they were eliminated from the Europa League, but overall it has been a thoroughly disappointing campaign for the Merseysiders."

Sian Cowper, Reporter: "Alan Pardew was busy in the transfer market seemingly strengthening his side ready for the 2014-15 season, with the likes of Siem de Jong, Jack Colback and Remy Cabella all making the move to St James' Park. However, the manager's departure has seen the team's form deteriorate in the second half of the campaign, leaving them in a relegation battle. For whatever reason, the squad just has not performed under John Carver, leaving the team finishing in the bottom half of the table for a third time in four years."

Callum Mulvihill, Reporter: "Liverpool fans were treated to a surprise title challenge last season thanks largely to the brilliance of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. Suarez departed and Sturridge had his campaign ruined by injuries, and perhaps it was too much to expect that they could do it all again, but they simply haven't got close to reaching those heights.

"Failing to replace Suarez was the big problem, but the monthly changes of formation and tactics from Brendan Rodgers displayed the problems at the club. A return to the Champions League ended in disappointment, but there have been too many low moments in the league campaign and they look a long way from the side which entertained us all with their exciting football a year ago. Can Rodgers recover?"

Dejected Liverpool players Rickie Lambert and Steven Gerrard look on after conceding the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League group B match against Basel on December 9, 2014© Getty Images

Simon Sinclair, Reporter: "Although Liverpool lost Luis Suarez last summer, the club did spend a lot of money on players to maintain a challenge for the Premier League title. However, Brendan Rodgers's men were off the pace from the very start of the campaign and never had a realistic chance of overhauling Chelsea. To miss out on a place in the Champions League was a huge disappointment to the club and a huge step back from their accomplishments last season."

Giuseppe Labellarte, Reporter: "There is no reason why club the size of Newcastle United shouldn't be at the very least in the top 10 of the Premier League each season - realistically they should be pushing for Europe - but all is not good at St James' Park. The constant battles between the fans and owner Mike Ashley, the supporters' loathing of ex-manager Alan Pardew, the lack of acumen in the transfer market and the replacing of Pardew with the inadequate John Carver have all contributed to the Magpies coming within one game of relegation. Ashley recently stated that he will be looking to invest in the squad next season - let's hope he puts his money where his mouth is and get Newcastle back where they should be, because at the moment it's depressing."

Most memorable match

Michael Hincks, Reporter: "From a personal point of view, this match (Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom) saved Villa's season and arguably delivered them from relegation. It was the first three points we picked up under Tim Sherwood thanks to a late, late Christian Benteke penalty and we never looked back. Credit to Baggies keeper Ben Foster for conceding the penalty - should be a candidate for Villa's player of the season!"

Barney Corkhill, Staff Reporter: "QPR 2-3 Liverpool deserves a mention as a game that saw four goals in the 87th minute or later and three own goals, but even that doesn't beat the lunacy that transpired at Goodison Park on August 30. Chelsea found themselves two goals to the good inside three minutes before Kevin Mirallas pulled one back for the hosts on the stroke of half time. A Seamus Coleman own goal sparked another goal frenzy - this time five in the space of 10 minutes - as both sides alternated in finding the back of the net until Chelsea moved into a 5-3 lead. Diego Costa then got his second of the game in the 90th minute to complete a madcap affair on Merseyside."

Matt Law, La Liga Correspondent: "Just when Man United needed it most, they put together a strong run of form in the league to move into the top four. One of those victories arrived at Anfield on March 22 and it is as well as a United team have played away to Liverpool for some time. The first goal was a super finish from Juan Mata, who found a way past Simon Mignolet after a wonderful Ander Herrera pass.

Juan Mata of Manchester United scores his second goal during the Barclays Premier League match against Liverpool at Anfield on March 22, 2015© Getty Images

"Steven Gerrard got himself sent off before he had time to blink in the second period and Mata was on the scoresheet again in the 59th minute with a wonderful volley. Liverpool did manage to make it 2-1 through Daniel Sturridge in the 69th minute, but the visitors held on to secure a vital three points. As a United fan, it does not get much sweeter than winning at Anfield and Mata's brilliance made it all the more memorable."

Sian Cowper, Reporter: "Leicester City's come-from-behind win over Manchester United at the King Power Stadium back in September was one of the most surprising results of the season. After fighting back from 3-1 down for a 5-3 success, the result left Nigel Pearson's side with just one loss from their first five outings back in the top flight. The fixture also sticks out as it was the team's last win in the Premier League until December 28, a run which left them at the bottom of the table."

Pascal Lemesre, Championship Correspondent: "Tottenham Hotspur were involved in plenty of high-scoring ding-dong battles, but none were better than the New Year's Day 5-3 win over Chelsea. Spurs hadn't beaten their fellow Londoners in 10 meetings and it looked like that streak would be extended when Diego Costa put Chelsea in front. However, the hosts rallied spectacularly and were 4-1 up shortly after half time, with two of the goals being scored by the white-hot Harry Kane. This game seemed to be where he really announced his ability. Unfortunately for Spurs, Chelsea would get their revenge two months later in the Capital One Cup final."

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Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates as he scores their second goal during the FA Cup Semi Final between Arsenal and Reading at Wembley Stadium on April 18, 2015
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City86202131820
2Chelsea86201851320
3Liverpool86201531220
4Arsenal86021910918
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs8602157818
6Bournemouth85121612416
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves843196315
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd84131314-113
9Watford84131112-113
10Leicester CityLeicester84041412212
11Everton83321312112
12Burnley82241012-28
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8224913-48
14Crystal Palace821559-47
15West Ham UnitedWest Ham8215813-57
16Southampton8125614-85
17Fulham8125921-125
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield8035417-133
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle8026613-72
20Cardiff CityCardiff8026417-132

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