English football came to a dramatic end this weekend. Arsenal defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final and Huddersfield Town won “soccer’s richest game” on penalty kicks to gain promotion to the Premier League. Huddersfield Town will return to England’s top division for the first time since 1972. Judging by what I saw today, and for much of the season, it will be a short, albeit lucrative, stay unless the club strengthens its squad considerably over the summer.
Chelsea had already won the Premier League, so a victory in the Cup final would have given the Pensioners a double. But Arsenal outplayed Chelsea, gaining some consolation for missing out on fourth place (and hence European Champions League football) for the first time in 20 years. A typical late season surge left the Gunners one point behind fourth place Liverpool.
Tottenham (second place), Manchester City (third), and Manchester United (sixth, but winners of the Europa League) will also play in the Champions League. Everton finished seventh and will return to European football (the Europa League).
I may write more about this year’s EPL campaign, but for now let’s get to my all-star selections:
Thibaut Courtois — Chelsea
Kyle Walker — Tottenham
James Milner — Liverpool
Jan Vertonghen — Tottenham
Gary Cahill — Chelsea
N’Golo Kante — Chelsea
Dele Ali — Tottenham
Alexis Sanchez — Arsenal
Eden Hazard — Chelsea
Kevin De Bruyne — Manchester City
Harry Kane — Tottenham
David De Gea — Manchester United
Cesar Azpilicueta — Chelsea
Steve Cook — Bournemouth
David Luiz — Chelsea
Ander Herrera — Manchester United
Paul Pogba — Manchester United
David Silva — Manchester City
Philippe Coutinho — Liverpool
Christian Eriksen — Tottenham
Romelu Lukaku — Everton
Diego Costa — Chelsea
Peter Cech — Arsenal
Laurent Koscielny — Arsenal
Gareth McAuley — West Bromwich Albion
Toby Alderweireld — Tottenham
“Gana” Gueye — Everton
Oriol Romeu — Southampton
Gylfi Sigurdsson — Swansea City
Sadio Mane — Liverpool
Wilfried Zaha — Crystal Palace
Sergio Aguero — Manchester City
Zlatan Ibrahimovic — Manchester United
Player of the Year — Kante
Runner-up — Sanchez
Everton player of the year — Lukaku
(I didn’t present my fourth team, but rest assured that it contains all of the players you think were criminally omitted from the first three — especially if their names are Heaton, Keane, or Wanyama).
Moving from last year’s second team to this year’s first are Walker, Dele, and Sanchez. De Gea slides down from the first to the second.
The EPL is blessed with a large pool of talent and, as revenue pours in, that pool keeps growing.