Who changed the face? Garth Crooks’ Season Team

Manchester City led Liverpool to the Premier League title by one point with both teams remaining late to win the final.

Tottenham defeated Norwich to secure a return to the Champions League, but Arsenal’s five goals against Everton were in vain.

Manchester United lost to Crystal Palace but were qualified for the Europa League next season as West Ham lost to Brighton.

Burnley’s great escape was brief with a 2-1 loss to Newcastle and relegation. Leeds survived thanks to Brentford’s victory.

Garth Crooks' Season Team

Goalkeeper – Alisson (Liverpool)

Alisson Becker

Alisson: It looks like it’s been a while since Alisson scored the winning goal in the 95th minute at West Brom to help Liverpool secure a place in the Champions League this season. Since then, they haven’t looked back.

One of the reasons the Reds are so successful is Alisson. The towering Brazilian goalkeeper continues to make important one-on-one saves at crucial moments. He’s also one of those goalkeepers who makes them look pretty mediocre when making great saves.

The Premier League title this season may have avoided him, but the Champions League title is still held in the final against Real Madrid next Saturday. And I wouldn’t object to him making another important save in that game.

Did you know? No goalkeeper recorded more clean sheets than Alisson (20) in the 2021-22 season.

Defenders – Rudiger (Chelsea), Van Dyke (Liverpool), Dias (Man City)

Antonio Rudiger, Virgil van Dyck, Ruben Dias

Rudiger: It didn’t take long for Chelsea to realize that they had bought the jewel. Antonio Rudiger looked as if he was born to play for Stamford Bridge, but it took Chelsea a long time to realize that. To be fair to their supporters, it’s not entirely unreasonable to have confidence in Rudiger as they had some great defenders in their time. But since then, he has won the Premier League and Champions League. He is one of the few true warriors left in the game and is the perfect replacement for Sergio Ramos. This is probably why he leaves for Real Madrid.

Did you know? Chelsea conceded 0.8 goals per game this season when Rudiger played in the Premier League, and conceded 1.3 goals otherwise.

Van Dyke: He looks impeccably clean on the pitch and plays the same way. He is undoubtedly the best defender on the planet. And without him, Liverpool would not have come close to the success they had achieved.

But that’s part of Jurgen Klopp’s genius. The ability to know what your team needs and when they need it is a key element of management. Also, Van Dijk wasn’t world class when he arrived at Anfield, but under the attentive management of Klopp and his coaching staff he turned into a very special person.

The fact that they had been holding him for so long is also a testament to the ardent Anfield crowd who valued the Crown Jewels highly.

Did you know? Van Dijk won 77% of air duels (117/151), which is the highest percentage of any player who has competed at least 100 times.

Dias: Manchester City have not had a centre-back with such authority since Vincent Kompany. Ruben Dias also introduced classes to the procedure.

The Portugal international was at the center of Manchester City’s Premier League title campaign. When he was absent due to injury or due to a team change, the absence was no worse than the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool when Liverpool were drafted in the first half.

City got through the defeat very quickly, but they had to bring Dias back to do it.

Did you know? City have won 79% of their Premier League matches when Dias has played this season (23/29) and 67% otherwise (6/9).

Midfielders – Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), De Bruyne (Man City), Eriksen (Brentford), Cancelo (Man City)

Trent Alexander-Arnold Kevin de Bruyne, Christian Eriksen, Joao Cancelo

Alexander-Arnold: His defense in the FA Cup final against Chelsea was the best 23-year-old full-back I’ve ever seen. I’m just mentioning it because that’s one aspect of his game that I consider a little suspect.

But anyone who knows anything about Liverpool will say that they win when they have a full-back to play. Chris Lawler, Alec Lindsay, Phil Neal, Steve Nicol – none of them were great defenders, but they liked to dash forward and get involved.

Trent Alexander-Arnold plays in the true Liverpool tradition of full-backs flying forward and taking action. He has an astonishing 19 assists in all competitions this season, and could reach 20 by the end of the Champions League final.

Did you know? Alexander-Arnold has created more chances (90) than any other player in the Premier League this season.

De Bruyne: It can be said that he is currently the best football player in the world. In fact, I thought his performance was better overall during the 2019-20 season, but you will see something very special when Kevin de Bruyne plays football. George Best, Zinedine Zidane, and The Bruyne definitely have them.

His 5-1 win over the Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this month was the best individual game I’ve seen in a while. What made him so impressive was not only his four goals, but the way he scored. He added another Premier League title to his tally, but now only the rare Champions League title will help him.

Did you know? De Bruyne enjoyed one of the Premier League’s best scoring seasons (15), creating more chances per 90 minutes than any other player (3.6 – excluding players under 500 minutes).

Eriksen: Some readers may be a little surprised to see Christian Eriksen on my team of choice. It’s amazing that he’s playing professional football. Having a heart attack while he was playing for his country must have been a life-changing experience for him. To get back from it, going back to the game and transforming the team like he did is pretty amazing. His performance at Brentford has been outstanding and we are delighted to bring him back.

Did you know? About 48% of Brentford’s Premier League score has come from the last 11 games since Eriksen’s first start.

Cancello: This boy is so comfortable with the ball that he is confident he can play in any outfield position on the pitch. He moves very gracefully, has great feet and amazing eyesight, and looks like he learned football in a finishing school for geniuses. In fact, he’s perfect for Pep Guardiola and the beautiful way he insists he should play the game.

It was the great Brian Clough who said that every player should treat the ball like his best friend. Joao Cancelo treats the ball like his family.

Did you know? Only The Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus (8) have more assists than Cancelo (7) in the Premier League this season.

Strikers – Son (Tottenham), Mane (Liverpool), Salah (Liverpool)

Heung-Min Son, Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah

son: The partnership between Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min is undoubtedly important. But this season I won’t let the specter of Kane overshadow Son’s contribution to Tottenham this season. It was the South Korean national team that held the fortress while Kane complained about his failure to move to Manchester City. Heung-Min Son was excellent overall and his performance on that spell deserves recognition. That’s why he’s excited to share the Golden Boots with Mohamed Salah. It is a fitting tribute to mark his scoring efforts this season. Next season’s Champions League football won’t be bad either.

Did you know? Son Heung-min became the first Asian to win the Premier League Golden Boot.

mane: He seldom goes to the game, is tough like an old boot, and doesn’t sing or dance. This is Sadio Mane.

What season did this boy have? Diogo Jota arrives and tries to take his place, as does Luis Diaz, but to no avail. Then he flies to Cameroon for a month to represent Senegal in the African Cup of Nations. In the final penalty shootout, he wins his homeland tournament and returns to Liverpool to resume where he left off.

He completely ridicules the ‘I need a break’ brigade who rushes to the treatment room whenever he smells the build-up of furnishings. Mane was a sensation at Liverpool and without a doubt the most dedicated striker at Liverpool.

Did you know? In his eighth Premier League season, Mane scored 10+ goals for the eighth time. This is the best 100% record in the history of the competition.

Salah: It’s unimaginable to exclude a player who has scored 23 goals in the Premier League, but I’ve been considering it for a while. Salah’s goal speaks for itself, but in the last few games of the season, Football Writers’ Choice Footballer of the Year is struggling to get in shape. His performance in the two cup finals was mediocre at best. But I can almost pinpoint the moment Salah was in trouble and it seemed to coincide with his contract negotiations. It’s difficult to quantify to what extent players find these discussions interfering with their game, but it remains unresolved. Liverpool need a Salah shot from every cylinder against Real Madrid. He has points to solve with them.

Did you know? Salah won the Premier League Golden Boot for the third time, with Thierry Henry alone winning more (4).

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