2014-15 EPL round-up and all-stars

English soccer wrapped up its season on Saturday when Arsenal crushed Aston Villa 4-0 in the FA Cup final. This makes back-to-back FA Cup titles for the Gunners.

Saturday’s victory capped a fine season for Arsenal. The Gunners finished third in the EPL, thus qualifying for the Champions League for the 18th year in a row.

Once again, Arsenal made a fool out of celebrity (sort of) fan Piers Morgan. After Morgan’s denunciation of the club’s manager Arsene Wenger, following a tough loss to arch-rival Tottenham Hotspur, the club went on an eleven game EPL winning streak that ended with a draw against Chelsea, the league champions. We’ve seen this play before.

Speaking of Chelsea, Jose Mourinho’s charges did a double. They won not only the EPL crown but also the League Cup (with a 2-0 win over Tottenham).

Although the 2014-15 season featured plenty of excitement — a relegation battle that featured seven teams almost until the end; Harry Kane’s breakthrough (and then some) season for Spurs; and the brilliance of Chelsea’s play during the first half of the season — it will probably be remembered as the year of epic failure on the European stage.

None of the seven English teams that competed in Europe made it to the quarterfinals of their respective tournament. To be fair, there was some bad luck involved. Arsenal and Chelsea both went out of the Champions League on the “away goals” rule (when the home-home series ends in a tie, the winner is the team that scored more goals away from home). Liverpool, after crashing out of the Champions League, was squeezed out of Europa on penalty kicks.

Nonetheless, next year’s EPL representatives — Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United in the Champions League and Spurs, Liverpool, and Southamption in Europa — must collectively do considerably better. Otherwise, the league’s prestige will take a massive hit.

Everton, the last EPL team eliminated from Europe, had a poor season — our worst in roughly a decade. Indeed, it was only after the schedule lightened due to the end of the European campaign that we pulled well clear of relegation.

This year’s team was much too good to go down, but it’s an aging squad whose best young players are coveted by the EPL’s elite. Relegation in the next few years is not out of the question.

On a brighter note, here are my 2014-15 EPL all-star selections:

First Team:
David De Gea — Chelsea
Branislav Ivanovic — Chelsea
Ryan Bertrand — Southampton
John Terry — Chelsea
Laurent Koscielny — Arsenal
Nemanja Matic — Chelsea
Santi Cazorla — Arsenal
Eden Hazard — Chelsea
Alexis Sanchez — Arsenal
Sergio Aguero — Manchester City
Harry Kane — Tottenham

Second Team:
Lukasz Fabianski — Swansea City
Ahmed Elmohamady — Hull City
Cesar Azpilicueta — Chelsea
Phil Jaglielka — Everton
Jose Fonte — Southampton
Morgan Schneiderlin — Southampton
Cesc Fabregas — Chelsea
David Silva — Manchester City
Philippe Coutinho — Liverpool
Charlie Austin — Queens Park Rangers
Diego Costa — Chelsea

Third Team:
Hugo Lloris — Tottenham
Ryan Shawcross — Stoke City
Wes Morgan — Leicester City
Ashley Williams — Swansea City
Ander Herrera — Manchester United
Jordan Henderson — Liverpool
Yaya Toure — Manchester City
Christian Eriksen — Tottenham
Yannick Bolassie — Crystal Palace
Rahim Sterling — Liverpool
Wayne Rooney — Manchester United

Player of the Year: Hazard
Everton Player of the Year: Jagielka

Strangely, two the three relegated teams have representatives: QPR (Austin) and Hull (Elmohamady). The other team going down — brave, low budget Burnley — has two players (Jason Shackell and Kieran Trippier) who probably would have made Power Line’s fourth team.

There, they would be joined, most assuredly, by the players you believe were criminally omitted from the first three units.