Premier League top six report cards: Bernardo Silva excels, Alexis Sanchez a symbol of expensive underachievement
Richard Jolly gets out the red pen and marks the achievements of the Premier League's top six in 2018/19
Best player: Alexandre Lacazette. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored more, but Lacazette’s overall performance level just seals it.
Best PL game: The 4-2 win over Tottenham. A remarkable match of fluctuating fortunes and relentless drama, but with the kind of major scalp Arsenal claimed too rarely at the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Biggest disappointment: That Aaron Ramsey is leaving. Or the defending, or the away form, or the way they squandered the chance of a top-four finish after a spirited revival.
The manager: Unai Emery had a 22-game unbeaten run and took Arsenal to the brink of the top four. Now it depends on the Europa League final.
Best player: Eden Hazard, by a mile, showing how Chelsea will miss him. Antonio Rudiger and Ruben Loftus-Cheek also impressed.
Best PL game: December’s 2-0 win over Manchester City. The first defeat the champions suffered as N’Golo Kante, striving manfully in his new role, scored.
Biggest disappointment: The way an unbeaten start proved a false dawn. Or Gonzalo Higuain. Or Mateo Kovacic. Or the 4-0 thrashing at Bournemouth and the 6-0 loss to City.
The manager: Maurizio Sarri could yet end up with a trophy and a top-four finish while alienating the fanbase and failing to get the best from many of his players.
Best player: Virgil van Dijk was a colossus, and virtually flawless. Honourable mentions to Sadio Mane, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Gini Wijnaldum.
Best PL game: The 3-1 win over Manchester United. Not because it finished off Jose Mourinho, but because, and while Liverpool needed Xherdan Shaqiri to come off the bench to win it, they dominated as they had 36 shots.
Biggest disappointment: Purely the reality that they did not win the league with a points tally that would have sufficed in 117 of the previous 120 seasons.
The manager: Jurgen Klopp’s shift in tactics helped Liverpool get 22 more points. His ability to generate remarkable performances was apparent in the rout of Barcelona.
Mark: 9/10. Ten if they win the Uefa Champions League.
Best player: Bernardo Silva, and not merely because he got Pep Guardiola’s vote, even though Raheem Sterling was named Footballer of the Year.
Best PL game: The 2-1 win over Liverpool. Partly because it proved the most significant came in the title race and it was a compelling encounter. But the 6-0 thrashing of Chelsea will live long in the memory.
Biggest disappointment: Only the Champions League exit to Tottenham. Hard to find any other faults with a team who got 98 points and could complete a domestic treble.
The manager: Pep Guardiola had a solitary summer signing, in Riyad Mahrez, and was without Kevin de Bruyne for much of the season. He showed he can improve others:
Best player: Victor Lindelof, though Luke Shaw won the club’s award. The Swede was rare in showing consistency, though Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba’s best was excellent.
Best PL game: Fans may nominate an injury-hit side’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool, if it cost rivals the title, though the 1-0 win at Tottenham was the best result.
Biggest disappointment: Alexis Sanchez, obviously. A tally of one league goal made him a symbol of expensive underachievement.
The manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started superbly and ended disastrously. Jose Mourinho brought toxic negativity and wretched results.
Best player: Moussa Sissoko, in a development few Spurs fans could have predicted. Heung-Min Son, Harry Winks and Jan Vertonghen also excelled.
Best PL game: August’s 3-0 win away at Old Trafford. It wasn’t the first time Lucas Moura proved devastating in a key away game…
Biggest disappointment: Kieran Trippier had a traumatic year after a terrific World Cup. Poor league results in the last three months can be forgiven
The manager: Mauricio Pochettino – Starved of signings, Pochettino showed his resourcefulness to work wonders in England and, especially, in Europe.
Mark: 8/10. Ten if they win the Champions League.
Updated: May 15, 2019 08:27 AM