Chelsea stars and Londoners dominate team of the season
Terry, Fabregas, Hazard and Costa shore up the team of the season, with De Gea the only player from north of Watford
With the Premier League done and dusted for another season the experts have been selecting their teams of the season, and after Chelsea won the title so convincingly it is no surprise that the Blues dominate the line-ups.
Indeed, some of the teams feature as many as seven Blues stars – including ours.
Here's the pick of the experts' picks:
Goalkeeper: David de Gea (Manchester United)
A universal choice, but the only United player to get a look-in this season. "Without him, United would be watching next season's Champions League on TV. And the Glazers would be asking very serious questions of Ed Woodward and Louis van Gaal," says ESPN pundit Gab Marcotti.
The only thing close to a dissenting voice comes from Alan Smith in the Daily Telegraph, who suggests that Chelsea man Thibaut Courtois is a better keeper. But he too selects De Gea because the Spaniard "has been granted more of a chance this season to show his numerous talents".
Defence: Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry (all Chelsea), Jose Fonte (Southampton)
It would have been possible to field a five-man defence made up of players who were on Chelsea's books at the start of the season, but only three players make the cut. Utility back Ivanovic is Chelsea's "most consistent player in recent years and a vital member of their defensive line-up", says Garth Crooks of the BBC. "I cannot recall a single campaign during his time at the club where the Serb has not played a crucial role in the big games."
Spanish international Azpilicueta gets the nod at full back despite the claims of Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Clyne of Southampton. "He is never exposed, possesses pace, joins in attacks and is a superb one versus one defender," says Paul Mariner of ESPN.
Terry is the third Blue at the back after another extraordinary season marshalling the Chelsea defence. Like De Gea, he was a unanimous choice. "The Chelsea captain is always there, always playing as if making his debut, always in charge and probably irreplaceable," marvels Alyson Rudd in The Times.
The final berth goes to Fonte of Southampton. It seems remarkable that some expected the Saints to be relegated this season, but led by Fonte they excelled. "The 31-year-old has grown in stature since he was given the captain's armband," says Sports Mole. "[Southampton] conceded 33 goals during their 38 outings, which is only one more than champions Chelsea. The inspirational displays that Fonte has put in at the heart of the defence were a major reason behind that."
Midfield: Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Eden Hazard (all Chelsea), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
The former Arsenal man excelled for Chelsea this season and picked up his first Premier League title after returning to England from Barcelona. "While his form has tailed off towards the end of the season, the fact he is still miles clear at the top of the assists' chart with 18 for the season (Santi Cazorla is second with 11), shows the huge impact he has had," says Goal.com.
Matic is "the daddy of holding midfielders", says Alan Smith of the Telegraph. "Not only does the Serb know how to break up attacks, he moves forward in possession with tremendous authority and no little style. This isn't an anchorman intent on just playing the simple pass, he gets Chelsea on to the front foot very quickly with some progressive passing."
Player of the season Hazard is inevitably a key figure in the team of the season. "This season he has underlined his burgeoning reputation as one of the game's sublime talents and he is the benchmark of flair in a Chelsea side that can leave itself open to criticism for a workmanlike obsession," says ESPN. James Ducker of the Times adds: "The £32m Chelsea spent to sign the Belgian seemed a lot of money at the time but a bargain now."
The final berth goes to a player in his first season in the Premier League, Arsenal's latest talisman, Sanchez. "The €42m summer signing from Barcelona has been worth every penny, after a brilliant debut season for Arsenal. The Chilean’s combination of flair, skill and tireless running has thrilled fans and he is comfortably the Gunners’ top scorer with 24 goals," says Goal.com
Attack: Diego Costa (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Spurs)
There were three candidates for the two positions up front and despite being the Premier League's top scorer with 26 goals, it is Manchester City forward Segio Aguero who misses out.
Chelsea man Costa gets one of the spots and is among Gary Neville's selections for the Telegraph. He also impressed Garth Crooks. "An uncomplicated striker who doesn't take kindly to being bullied by defenders, he keeps everything simple but is assassin-like once he enters the penalty area – a point that was demonstrated with devastating effect in 24 outings and 20 league goals this season," he says.
The final spot goes to a young Englishman who provided the fairytale of the season as he burst into the Spurs team. But does Kane deserve to be picked ahead of Aguero? Sports Mole believes so. "Not only was he the only player other than Aguero and Costa to score 20+ Premier League goals, his contributions to Tottenham were worth a staggering 25 points, which is ten more than his closest rival to that honour (Hazard)," it explains.
"The unassuming, home-grown Kane has become a superstar and the reason England might win a trophy next summer," adds Alyson Rudd of the Times.