Five Manchester United players made the six-strong Professional Footballers Association award shortlist, but only four Red Devils found their way into Yahoo! Sports' English Premier League Team of the Season.
Sir Alex Ferguson's United have had another sensational campaign, romping to a third consecutive EPL title while also surging to the UEFA Champions League final. Much of the Old Trafford club's success this term has been built on defensive stability, which is reflected in the selections of goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Liverpool is also heavily represented, with three of its stars gaining a spot. There was also room for a handful of players from outside the Big Four clubs of United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United). Is he really 38? The Dutch goalkeeper keeps getting better with age and was an automatic selection for this spot after going three months without conceding a single goal.
Glen Johnson (Portsmouth). Johnson is now living up to the promise he first displayed as an 18-year-old with West Ham before struggling for a few years at Chelsea. He was the standout in a tough season for Pompey.
Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United). One half of United's rock-like central defense, Ferdinand was exemplary once again as the Red Devils pieced together another outstanding campaign.
Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United). A truly world-class defender, Vidic often fails to get the attention he deserves in a star-studded United lineup. But that is starting to change. Even Steven Gerrard admitted the Serbian should be Player of the Year.
Leighton Baines (Everton). The little man makes few mistakes and adds attacking impetus from the left-back position. His efforts for the Toffees have attracted the notice of England manager Fabio Capello.
Ashley Young (Aston Villa). Much of Villa's spectacular early-season run came down to the dynamic displays produced by Young, who is one of English soccer's most exciting young talents.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool). See "Player of the Season."
Xabi Alonso (Liverpool). If this is Alonso's last season at Anfield – Real Madrid is preparing a blockbuster transfer bid – then he will have capped off his Liverpool career in style with an excellent campaign. He was a big reason why the Reds pushed United down to the final month in the title race.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United). Ronaldo could not match his incredible feats of last season, when he scored 42 goals in all competitions (31 in the EPL), but he was still a continually threatening presence and the lynchpin for the United attacking machine.
Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea). Anelka rebounded from missing the vital penalty kick in the Champions League final to put together an excellent season. His 18 goals match Ronaldo for most in the EPL in 2008-09.
Fernando Torres (Liverpool). Two seasons in and already the Spanish striker is well on his way to becoming a Liverpool legend. His pace and work off the ball are remarkable, and his finishing is second to none.
And now Yahoo! Sports' awards for the 2008-09 EPL campaign.
Player of the Season
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool). Quite simply, Gerrard is one of the most dominant players in world soccer. Outgoing Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink hailed him as the best player on the planet a few months back, and when Gerrard is in top form, it is hard to argue.
Gerrard will have been stung by Liverpool finishing the season trophy-less, but it was his energy and leadership that helped the club stick to the heels of Manchester United for so many months.
For all of Frank Lampard's fine efforts, this campaign firmly established Gerrard as England's standout player of his type.
Manager of the Season
David Moyes (Everton). Most EPL managers spend much of their time complaining about how tough life is for those outside the Big Four. Not so for Moyes, who gets on with his business with the minimum of fuss. He has turned Everton into a finely-tuned outfit that fully deserves its place in the new UEFA Europa League next season.
Tim Howard (Everton). Howard has blossomed into a world-class goalkeeper and is looked up to as a senior and respected figure in the Everton dressing room. He is certainly one of the finest keepers in the EPL, and probably in the world's top 15.
Most dramatic arrival
Federico Macheda (Manchester United). English soccer knew nothing of Macheda, a 17-year-old Italian, when he made his United debut as a substitute on April 5. By the end of an incredible afternoon, though, the teenager was an instant celebrity, having won the game with a superb curling effort deep into injury time. Just for good measure, he backed it up a week later with another crucial goal, this time against Sunderland.
Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United). Sure, Dimitar Berbatov cost three times as much and has struggled to live up to his price with Man United, but Coloccini – as $16 million worth of disappointment – has been symptomatic of Newcastle's drastic decline. The Argentina international is likely to be sent packing this summer whether Newcastle avoids relegation or not.
Game of the season
Arsenal 4, Tottenham 4 (Oct. 29, 2008). Spectacular goals and non-stop action lit up a sensational North London derby in Harry Redknapp's first official game in charge of Spurs. Arsenal looked to have it all wrapped up, but Jermaine Jenas curled one in with a minute to go before Aaron Lennon clinched an unexpected point in the dying seconds of injury time.
- Manchester United
- Rio Ferdinand
- Steven Gerrard
- Edwin van der Sar
- Newcastle United
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- English Premier League