For most teams, there are nine games remaining in this remarkable 2020/21 Premier League campaign. There have been countless surprises and inevitably more to come, so predicting the end of season awards will be a difficult task. I’ll look at 4 different awards, and for each of them, I’ll give my top three contenders in order before finishing with a predicted PFA Team of the Year.
PFA Young Player of the Year
1. Phil Foden (Manchester City)
An emerging theme throughout this article will be the inclusion of Manchester City players and that’s no surprise. Phil Foden has taken his game to the next level this season and at 20 years of age, will almost surely pick up the first major individual award of his promising career. He’s registered 11 goals and assists in 22 league appearances demonstrating his exceptional maturity and versatility to play in a range of positions. He continues to show up big games and will no doubt be a player who will collect a whole catalogue of these awards throughout his career.
2. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
In a season in which his club have underperformed, it has been the 19 year old who has stood out ahead of the likes of Aubameyang and Lacazette. He’s demonstrated exceptional versatility and would be unlucky to not receive an England call-up in the summer. He will become a highly sought after asset in the market and Arsenal will need to improve if they want to hold on to him in the future. An exceptional talent who deserves all the praise that is lavished his way.
3. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Despite a shaky start to the season, the defending Champion and current holder of this award has picked himself up and been a shining light in a bemusedly poor Liverpool side. He’s further demonstrated his defensive ability slotting in as a third centre-back at times and while he hasn’t hit his standards for assists, he’s definitely continued to progress into one of the most, if not the most complete full-back in the world. He’ll be a long-shot to snatch the award away from Foden but has certainly been far better than most, including his England manager, have given him credit for.
Premier League Manager of the Season
1. David Moyes (West Ham United)
Very few will have predicted David Moyes to have West Ham fighting for a top four finish by the end of March but here we are. He’s transformed them from a team that looked on the decline, to a confident team full of individual brilliance and a strong collective spirit. However, he will certainly need to maintain these performance levels if he is to be crowned manager of the season as a non-title winning manager hasn’t picked up the award since 2014.
2. Pep Guardiola (Manchester United)
Perhaps the more obvious choice would be Guardiola for his 3rd Premier League title in four seasons. Not only has he closed the gap on Liverpool from last season but he’s entirely reversed it and ran away from the defending champions. He will continue to be criticised for his high-spending methods but there’s no denying their effectiveness. He’s implemented new tactics this season using inverted full-backs and false-nine systems which have allowed him to be the league’s top scorers and best defenders. He’d be more than deserving of the award.
3. Brendan Rodgers (Leicester City)
It seems slightly irrelevant to even include a third option given their inevitably that this award goes to one of the previous two options but it’s worthy noting Brendan Rodgers’ continued overachievement at Leicester. He agonisingly slipped at the final hurdle to gain a Champions League spot last season but looks set to rectify that this season as he sits 7 points clear of 5th. He’s continued to be versatile in the systems he uses and has put on some incredibly displays including commanding 5-2 and 3-1 victories over Manchester City and Liverpool respectively.
Premier League Golden Boot Winner
1. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
He can’t seem to stop scoring at the moment and despite a spell on the sidelines, he’s made up considerable ground on the out-of-form Mo Salah to equal his tally of 17 goals so far. However, with Son now facing a period on the sidelines, Kane will need to rely on Bale, Lucas and Lamela to make up for his strike partner being injured. He might be just one behind but his 7 goals in his last two games of the 2016/17 season show that anything is possible when Kane is chasing the Golden Boot.
2. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
He’s struggled as of late but Liverpool’s relatively easy run-in should provide an opportunity for him to pick up some more goals. The return of Diogo Jota will also lift the weight off his shoulders and potentially allow him to play with more freedom and less expectation. He’s still equal first in the standings but he needs to pick up form fast if he plans on receiving his third golden boot in just four seasons at Liverpool.
3. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Bruno’s goal scoring seems rather inevitable these days. Despite the criticism of his reliance on penalties, he has 8 non-penalty goals this season and will be hunting for more as Manchester United look to secure an impressive 2nd place finish in the Premier League.
PFA Players’ Player of the Year
1. İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City)
Despite the 3 most recent winners coming from non-title winning teams, I believe this year should see the end of that trend. The German has been a revelation in Pep’s midfield and despite a shaky start, has become their top goalscorer with 12 goals, 3 more than any other player in the team. His defensive ability has also been on show as he has been a phenomenal box to box midfielder. As long as he stays fit and performs well until the end of the season, I think he should win it.
2. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Perhaps the more popular choice for this award is Manchester United’s Fernandes. He picked up right where he left off from the 2nd half of last season and has maintained his exceptional goal scoring record. He’s a key contender for the golden boot, playmaker of the season, and of course, player of the year. He could definitely win the award and in truth, would be more than deserving of it, but for me the award should go to the best player on the best team.
3. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
The England captain has taken his game to the next level under Jose Mourinho this season. While he continues to chase down Mohamed Salah in the Golden Boot race, he also leads the way in the assist charts. 17 goals and 13 assists in 27 games is simply phenomenal and deserving of this award just as much as the two previous contenders. However, he’s failed to show up in many big games this season to propel his team further up the league table which may mean he’s just edged to the award by either of the above two names.
PFA Team of the Year:
Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
João Cancelo (Manchester City)
Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
Wesley Fofana (Leicester City)
Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City)
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Son (Tottenham Hotspur)