The Premier League’s Unsung Heroes of the 2018/19 Season

Premier League's unsung heroes

The 2018/19 Premier League season has been memorable for all the right reasons. As fans, we have been treated to football of the highest quality, especially at the top of the table where two of the league’s greatest ever sides have been going head to head since the first ball was kicked back in August. When the PFA Team of the Year was released at the end of last month, it was no surprise that ten of the 11 players were made up from the stars of Liverpool and Manchester City. With so much focus on the title race, it has been easy to be oblivious to what else has been going on in the league. Here are some of the Premier League’s unsung heroes of the 2018/19 season.

Premier League’s Unsung Heroes in 2018/19

James Maddison

For Leicester City, the 2018/19 Premier League season will be one that will last long in the memories of everyone involved with the club. Unfortunately, the tragic helicopter accident that claimed Foxes owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s life overshadows anything that happened on the pitch this season.

A positive for Leicester this season has been the fantastic form of youngster James Maddison. Signing in the summer from Norwich City, £22.5 million may have seemed a fair amount of money for the then 21-year-old. However, after grabbing 14 goals and assists in his first season for the club, he has quickly proved his worth.

Maddison has picked up personal accolades this season as well, named as Leicester’s Young Player of the Year at the end of season awards. He was also called up to Gareth Southgate’s England side in October 2018 after making previous appearances for the U21 side. With the Nations League coming up in the summer, Maddison will be hoping he has done enough to earn a place in the squad. The sky is the limit for this young star and it will be exciting to watch him develop even further next season.

Łukasz Fabiański

West Ham United were probably the most inconsistent team in the league last season. Beating the likes of Manchester United one week, then losing to Brighton & Hove Albion the next. The only thing consistent about West Ham this season has been goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański. The 34-year-old has had a fantastic season, which was recognised by the fans as he won the Hammers’ Player of the Year.

Fabiański held the record for most saves this season at a staggering number of 148. The fact that he wasn’t even in the discussion for the best goalkeeper this season proves that he is one of the Premier League’s unsung heroes. However, poor performances from the West Ham defence meant that they only kept seven clean sheets all season. If the Polish keeper was ten years younger, he would have some of Europe’s biggest clubs lining up to sign him.

West Ham will be hoping that Fabiański has many more years to come before he decides to hang up his gloves. With how this season has gone, he looks far from finishing any time soon.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Gareth Southgate has a real headache when it comes to picking his right back for England. With the talents of Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier, he is spoilt for choice. The depth in this position has become even greater this season with the sudden rise of Crystal Palace youth product Aaron Wan-Bissaka. After making his debut in the 2017/18 season, Wan-Bissaka has become an established member in the Palace first XI this year, putting in some excellent performances and impressing many people, with reports of some of the top six clubs being interested in signing him.

The role of the full back has evolved over the years. Modern full backs have more of an attacking emphasis, with defensive duties almost becoming secondary. Wan-Bissaka has a perfect balance of the two, showing promising exciting runs going forward, resulting in him getting a few assists this season. It is his defensive qualities however that have caught the eye of fans and analysts. His tackling and intercepting abilities have been pivotal in the way Crystal Palace play on the counter-attack.

There has been talk of the young Englishman perhaps making a move to Old Trafford in the summer. All we know is that wherever he is next season, it is going to be a joy to watch how this young talent develops.

Lucas Digne

Everton came into the 2018/19 season with a brand new look. After appointing former Watford boss Marco Silva during pre-season, the new manager was swiftly backed with the finances to build his own team at Goodison Park. One of the players that Silva decided to bring in was Barcelona left-back Lucas Digne. When coming from a club as prestigious as Barcelona, there is a great deal of expectation from the board and fans. Digne has stepped up to these expectations and had an excellent season, looking defensively strong and adding a lot going forward also.

An aspect of the Frenchman’s game that has been very impressive this season is his ability from set pieces. It turns out that he is an excellent free-kick taker, scoring a couple in the league. He managed to grab eight goals and assists in total this year, being one of Everton’s most important sources of inspiration and playmaking. For the price of £18 million, Digne has been one of the bargains of the season.

Everton had a very strong finish to the season, finishing eighth. Their home defensive performances were excellent in their last few games, which Digne contributed to considerably. Everton will be hoping to continue this great form into next season and it will be interesting to see how their French full-back develops in his second year.

Fabian Schär

Rafa Benitez has done the trick again at Newcastle United this season. With limited resources and finances, he has managed to steer the Magpies to safety for the second season in a row, taking them to 13th place and a comfortable 11 points above the relegation places. There is still a debate on whether the Champions League-winning manager will be at St. James’ Park next season or be off to another club, but it can be said for sure that he has done a fantastic job at Newcastle in his three and a half years there.

Benitez will admit that a big reason that Newcastle have managed to survive comfortably is due to the fantastic performances from Swiss defender Fabian Schär. Costing just £3.6 million, Schär is definitely one of the bargains of the season. He didn’t really feature in the early stages of the campaign and only really became a regular starting member after an unfortunate injury to captain Jamaal Lascelles. As soon as he came into the side, there was no looking back as he quickly established himself as one of Newcastle’s key players.

Newcastle started the season very poorly and were sitting second bottom without a win after ten games. As soon as Schär came into the team they looked more assured at the back and won three games in a row. It wasn’t just the Swiss’ brilliant defensive play that caught the eye of fans this season. He managed to score four goals from centre back, including a quite wonderful 25-yard strike against Burnley that won the March Goal of the Month. This alone should qualify him as one of the Premier League’s unsung heroes of last season.

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