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Garth Crooks' team of the season

Garth Crooks
By Garth Crooks
BBC football reporter and Score pundit

Here it is, my final Premier League XI for the 2008/2009 season, which is partly based on my team of the week selections but also my overall view of the campaign now it has finished.

606: DEBATE

During this rollercoaster ride of a season I have rewarded clean sheets, penalty saves, goalscorers, assists and downright good play.

If your team loses you have to be outstanding to take the place of players who have achieved what the game is all about - winning!

So here is my team of the season, playing in a 4-4-2 formation. What do you think of my selection?

Shay Given
SHAY GIVEN (goalkeeper)
Man City

Shay Given's outstanding performances for Newcastle and clean sheets for Manchester City following his transfer to Eastlands in February ensured he featured a number of times in my team of the week selections.

Arsenal's Manuel Almunia and Bolton's Jussi Jaaskelainen are worth honourable mentions behind the Republic of Ireland international.

Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar helped his side set a clean sheet record of 14 games without conceding a goal in the Premier League but he did not grab all the headlines because he also had an outstanding defence in front of him.

Jose Bosingwa
JOSE BOSINGWA (defender)
Chelsea

Chelsea's Jose Bosingwa wins the honour of taking the right-back slot in my XI.

He arrived from Porto in May 2008 and his raids down the flank became a feature under Luiz Felipe Scolari's short reign as Blues boss as well as under interim coach Guus Hiddink.

John Terry
JOHN TERRY (defender)
Chelsea

John Terry's quiet consistency became crucial for Chelsea this season, particularly in the absence of last year's winner Ricardo Carvalho, who was hit by injury problems.

This position was keenly contested, with players like West Ham's Matthew Upson and Tottenham's Ledley King also staking a claim.

Nemanja Vidic
NEMANJA VIDIC (defender)
Man Utd

Nemanja Vidic overcame a shaky period for Manchester United before winning the right to partner Chelsea's John Terry in my team.

The Serbia defender spent the early part of the season competing with Aston Villa's Martin Laursen, whose season was again hindered by injury and who was forced to announce his retirement from the game in May. We wish Martin well.

Patrice Evra
PATRICE EVRA (defender)
Man Utd

Manchester United's Patrice Evra fought off a late challenge from usual suspect Ashley Cole of Chelsea to take the left-back slot for the second consecutive season.

Interestingly enough, Merseyside favourites, Everton's Leighton Baines and Emiliano Insua of Liverpool, were not far behind.

Ashley Young
ASHLEY YOUNG (midfielder)
Aston Villa

Ashley Young's exhilarating runs provided Aston Villa with a real cutting edge and his consistency this season has been rewarded with a place on the left of midfield.

The former Watford man fought off a late challenge from Florent Malouda, whose recent form put him in contention.

Young won the Professional Footballers' Association Young Player of the Year award - says it all really.

Xabi Alonso
XABI ALONSO (midfielder)
Liverpool

Xabi Alonso's outstanding performances for Liverpool could not go unnoticed.

In the most hotly contested department, the Spaniard came through to join the following three midfielders I've named below, pipping the likes of Manchester City's Robinho, Chelsea's Frank Lampard and Manchester United's Ryan Giggs.

Steven Gerrard
STEVEN GERRARD (midfielder)
Liverpool

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard deserves special praise. He is the only player to be selected in my team of the season for the third consecutive campaign.

Once again, his consistent performances proved to be the Anfield side's driving force.

The only title the England midfielder won this season, the football writers' award, was a fitting tribute.

Cristiano Ronaldo
CRISTIANO RONALDO (midfielder)
Man Utd

Cristiano Ronaldo could not add the Champions League trophy to another Premier League title, with United also winning the Club World Cup and the Carling Cup, but arguably the world's number one player had no problem nailing his spot in the XI for the second consecutive season.

Fernando Torres
FERNANDO TORRES (striker)
Liverpool

Fernando Torres makes it into my team for the second season running.

The Spanish striker has had the most outstanding 12 months.

Last season, he finished with a record-breaking goal tally, then picked the German side's pockets during the Euro 2008 final, brushed his teeth, packed his bags and returned to the Premier League to frighten the life out of Manchester United as Rafael Benitez's side fought their rivals all the way before losing out in the title battle.

Rotation Rafa? Save it for the lightweights!

Nicolas Anelka
NICOLAS ANELKA (striker)
Chelsea

Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka has produced the goals and the performances that have won him this season's Golden Boot.

'Nuff said!

Roy Hodgson
ROY HODGSON (manager)
Fulham

Roy Hodgson's Fulham is an expression of the man. Cool under pressure, understated, authoritative but fair.

The sort of manager I would like to have played under.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Stoke boss Tony Pulis may not have his team playing the most attractive brand of football but the passion of the manager and the support of the fans can be a terrifying combination. Rule Britannia!

Defender Brede Hangeland has been a rock for Fulham and one of the reasons for their outstanding season.

A long-term injury to Everton midfield maestro Mikel Arteta stopped him from playing a bigger part in this season's selections.



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Barclays Premier League Table
01 February 2010 22:00
    P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 23 38 54
2 Man Utd 24 36 53
3 Arsenal 24 32 49
4 Tottenham 24 20 42

5 Liverpool 24 16 41

6 Man City 22 14 41
7 Aston Villa 23 13 40
8 Birmingham 23 -1 34
9 Everton 23 -1 32
10 Blackburn 24 -15 28
11 Fulham 23 -2 27
12 Stoke 22 -7 26
13 Sunderland 23 -10 24
14 Wigan 22 -23 22
15 West Ham 23 -9 21
16 Bolton 22 -15 21
17 Wolverhampton 23 -21 21

18 Burnley 23 -23 20
19 Hull 23 -26 20
20 Portsmouth 22 -16 15


see also
Gerrard elated by writers' award
13 May 09 |  Liverpool
Moyes wins record third LMA award
26 May 09 |  Football
Giggs earns prestigious PFA award
26 Apr 09 |  Football
Garth Crooks's team of the season
13 May 08 |  Premier League
Garth Crooks' team of the season
15 May 07 |  Premier League


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