The end of the year is fast approaching and as we all prepare for the festive celebrations, it’s worth looking a back on the football we’ve all enjoyed over the past 12 months.
It’s been a memorable year for Premier League sides with European football’s two major competitions featuring all-English finals as Liverpool and Chelsea tasted continental success, whilst Manchester City continued their dominance of the English game by completing an unprecedented domestic treble.
We’ve decided to look back at some of the stars of the past calendar year and fit them into a starting XI.
The Premier League Team of the Year for 2019:
Goalkeeper: Alisson – Liverpool
Liverpool’s goalkeeper woes led to them splashing a then world-record fee for a goalkeeper to sign Alisson from Roma last summer, though the Brazilian has proved to be worth every penny spent, bringing an assuredness to a previously vulnerable area of Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The 27-year-old would spend the first half of the year maintaining Liverpool’s ultimately futile title challenge, though he would finish his debut season in English football by winning the Premier League’s Golden Glove award.
The Reds disappointment would be short-lived, however, Alisson helping his side to European success by starring in their victorious Champions League campaign, before helping Brazil to Copa America success during the summer.
He would miss the first two months of the new season through injury before returning to help the runaway leaders build a ten point lead at the top of the Premier League, and he will play a crucial role as the club finally look to win an elusive league title.
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
The academy graduate has flourished into arguably the best attacking full-back in world football over the past year, helping Liverpool to Champions League success and a club-record unbeaten league run.
The England international would break the assists record in a single season for a defender last term and has begun the new season in similar fashion, with only Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min having provided more goals during the first half of the season.
Alexander-Arnold’s technique and potent delivery make him an invaluable asset to Jurgen Klopp’s runaway league leaders, Liverpool having failed to lose a Premier League game since defeat to eventual champions City in the first week of January.
Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool
The reigning PFA Player of the Year is a certainty to feature at the heart of our defence, the Dutchman’s colossal displays last season seeing him crowned by his peers as the finest player in the division.
Liverpool’s defensive solidity has not quite been what it was during the opening months of the new season, though they still possess the second best defensive record in the Premier League and have established a significant advantage at the top following an unbeaten start.
That unbeaten start extends a record of 34 league games without defeat for Jurgen Klopp’s side, whilst it is now just one loss in their past 56 Premier League fixtures.
Key to their success has been the leadership of Van Dijk in defence, a player few would argue a case against being the best defender in world football.
Centre-back: Aymeric Laporte – Manchester City
The French defender may have missed a significant portion of the current campaign through injury, though the champion’s stuttering form in his absence highlights the impact Laporte has on the club’s backline.
Pep Guardiola’s side were pushed hard towards the end of last season by nearest challengers Liverpool and had to embark on a flawless title run-in, winning their last 14 games in succession to pip their Merseyside rivals to the title by a point with the defender scoring a vital goal in their final day win over Brighton.
That run would include a remarkable ten clean sheets, Laporte the cornerstone of a defence that would also go on to complete the first domestic treble in the history of English football.
Left-back: Andy Robertson – Liverpool
Just as important as Alexander-Arnold on the opposite flank, Liverpool full-back Andy Robertson has played a huge role in the club’s recent successes, providing energy and width to allow the club’s forward players to flourish in inverted attacking roles.
The Scotland international is strong defensively and a threat going forwards, finishing last season with 11 assists and beginning the new campaign similarly productively with five to his name in the Premier League so far this term.
It’s been a meteoric rise for the former Hull City player in recent seasons, the 26-year-old rightfully regarded amongst the finest players in the world in his position.
Midfield: Fabinho – Liverpool
It took a little time for the Brazilian to settle at Liverpool following his £40m move from Monaco in the summer of 2018, but after a bedding in process Fabinho would make himself an irreplaceable presence in the spine of Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Nicknamed ‘The Dyson’ by his manager for his ability to sweep up danger in front of the defence. Fabinho is now one of the first name’s on the club’s team sheet and acknowledged as one of the finest holding midfielders in Europe.
A star turn during the club’s Champions League success and unbeaten start to the season, an injury ruling the midfielder out for around two months is a major blow to the Reds ahead of the festive period.
Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
Injuries may have hampered the Belgian last season, though he still more than contributed to City’s domestic treble, starring as the club dismantled Watford 6-0 in the FA Cup final earlier this year.
This year, however, has been a reminder of his qualities with De Bruyne having been arguably the finest player in the Premier League over the opening months of the campaign despite his side’s indifferent form.
The 28-year-old’s creative brilliance has one again been evident as he has racked up six goals and nine assists so far this season, comfortably leading the division for goals provided and on course to break Thierry Henry’s long-standing record of 20 assists in a single Premier League season.
Midfield: James Maddison – Leicester City
Leicester continue to go from strength to strength following the arrival of Brendan Rodgers in February, finishing last season strongly before embarking on a surprise title challenge in the opening months of the new season.
Central to their success has been the creative influence of midfielder Maddison, no player in the Premier League creating more chances than the 22-year-old throughout the whole of last season.
Maddison has continued his improvement this season and has been recognised with inclusion in the England squad, the playmaker having scored five goals and provided a further three assists in the league so far.
The former Norwich star drifts into dangerous areas and helps pull the strings for an exciting, young Foxes side, whilst his ability from set-pieces adds another dimension to his attacking armoury.
Right-wing: Raheem Sterling – Manchester City
Pipped to the PFA Player of the Year by Van Dijk last season, Sterling would be rewarded for the finest season of his career to date by scooping the Football Writer’s Footballer of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards.
His accolades came on the back of a season which saw him score 25 times in all competitions, including 17 in the Premier League and a two-goal haul in City’s FA Cup final victory over Watford.
The England international has flourished into one of the most exciting attacking players in world football and continues to thrive under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, scoring 15 times in all competitions already this season as the club seek further silverware following last season’s treble success.
Undoubtedly amongst the Premier League’s finest players over the past 12 months, the sky is seemingly the limit for the 25-year-old as he continues his upwards trajectory to superstardom.
Left-wing: Sadio Mane – Liverpool
A sixth inclusion for Liverpool in our team of the past calendar year, Senegalese star Sadio Mane earns his inclusion in our side following a prolific year for the Merseyside club.
Mane would begin the first half of 2019 in blistering goalscoring form to earn a share of the Premier League’s Golden Boot, his haul in the second half of last season seeing him finish level with teammate Mohamed Salah and Arsenal‘s Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang on 22 league goals.
This season again has seen the forward begin in fine form, Mane hitting eight goals and providing a further five assists in the open months of Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season.
In between those hauls came Champions League and UEFA Super Cup success, Mane scoring twice in the final victory over Chelsea of the latter to add further silverware to the club’s trophy cabinet.
An almost talismanic figure for the Reds in recent months, Mane has perhaps overtaken the likes of Salah and Van Dijk as Liverpool’s most important star.
Forward: Jamie Vardy – Leicester
Jamie Vardy’s storied Leicester career continues to write new chapters, the forward having been given a new lease of life since Brendan Rodgers appointment at the King Power Stadium in February.
Since the Northern Irishman’s arrival Vardy has scored a staggering 26 goals in just 28 games, with the 32-year-old the red-hot favourite to win the Premier League’s Golden Boot after racing into an early lead at the top of the standings.
It’s now 17 goals for the season for the former England forward, whose prolific run has seen Leicester emerge as title contenders and the Foxes look primed to secure Champions League qualification.
Vardy called time on his England career over a lack of minutes, though having admitted himself he is in career-best form, Gareth Southgate must be debating persuading the forward to return for next summer’s European Championships.