Ben Wills picks his top XI of the season as an extraordinary Premier League campaign comes to an end.Embed from Getty Images
Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United)
By Manchester United’s lofty standards, finishing fifth was by no means good enough, but without goalkeeper David De Gea, it would have been even worse for the Red Devils this season.
Due to Louis van Gaal’s rigid system, United often struggled to find the back of the net, but they were better defensively, with De Gea saving their skin on regular occasions to keep them in a top four fight up until the final day of the season.
Everyone connected with the club have been thanking their lucky stars that De Gea’s proposed move to Real Madrid fell through last summer, but without Champions League football for United next season, the Spanish stopper may actually be on the move this time.
Right-back: Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Tottenham’s late season crumble – that led to them somehow finishing below north London rivals Arsenal for the 21st year on the trot – should not take away from how good they were defensively this season.
Kyle Walker was one quarter of the joint-best defence in the country; one that let in just 35 goals in 38 games and only conceded more than two goals once throughout the season – on the final day.
An impressive showing from Walker may have cemented his place as England’s top right-back going into Euro 2016.
Centre back: Wes Morgan (Leicester City)
Leicester being crowned champions is without doubt the best achievement the Premier League has seen since its formation in 1992, and captain Morgan was vital to the Foxes’ defensive quality.
In the final third of the season, Leicester gained a reputation for grinding out 1-0 wins which saw them over the line to create history.
Morgan was dominant in the air for Claudio Ranieri’s men, winning 58% of his aerial duels, and he was rewarded with what will be one of the most iconic images in English football, as he lifted the Premier League trophy aloft.
Centre back: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur)
Like right-back Walker, Toby Alderweireld was a key part in Tottenham having one of the meanest defences in the Premier League.
The big Belgian was Tottenham’s main defender as Spurs kept 13 clean sheets over the course of the season, and were in a surprise title race until the last few games of the season.
Left-back: Christian Fuchs (Leicester City)
Leicester may have billionaire Thai owners, but despite that, their league title fairy tale was the result of relying on bargains, with Christian Fuchs one of the poster boys.
Fuchs arrived in the Midlands on a free transfer from Schalke in the summer, and his European and international knowhow added vital experience to the Foxes’ ranks.
The German was consistently efficient defensively, especially in the crucial period from late April to early May, where Leicester kept five clean sheets on the bounce.
Right midfielder: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
Leicester City have had more heroes this season than you can shake a stick at, but the general consensus is that Riyad Mahrez is Leicester’s Zeus – the King of the Gods.
That claim is backed up by his well-deserved PFA Player of the Year award, as the previously little-known Algerian scored 17 goals and registered 11 assists over the season.
Their Premier League win could launch Leicester to even more uncharted territory, but they are going to need stars like Mahrez to stay around.
Centre midfielder: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
This season was the year of the underdog in so many ways, and Dele Alli certainly proved that, as the young midfielder took no time adjusting to the rigour of the Premier League.
Alli made his Premier League debut in August after just two previous years as a regular starter – both of which were in League One – and he looked like a seasoned professional immediately, showing no fear after jumping up two divisions.
Nine assists, 10 goals, one PFA Young Player of the Year Award, six England caps and one England goal later, and he finds himself in the Euro 2016 squad. A truly exceptional career surely awaits this young lad from Milton Keynes.
Centre midfielder: N’Golo Kanté (Leicester City)
Without doubt the signing of the season. Even in the age of the football hipster, where every fan seems to be an expert in everyone and everything, none can claim to have been an expert on N’Golo Kanté.
The £5.6 million unknown man from Ligue 1’s SC Caen proved to be one of the biggest bargains ever in football, as he became the most dominant midfielder in the league.
Kanté won 125 tackles, made 156 interceptions, and cleared the ball 68 times over the course of the season, as he won the midfield battles over and over again.
Left midfielder: Mesut Özil (Arsenal)
The reappearance of Arsenal’s traditional February slump meant that the Gunners have now gone 12 years without a title win, but until the latter stage of the season, they were contenders, which was largely due to Mesut Özil.
Özil fluxed his creative muscle throughout 2015-16, creating 144 chances, breaking a Premier League record that was previously held by Frank Lampard, and the German also notched 19 assists and made 125 key passes.
His fans will no doubt love his weekly shift, but the worry for Arsenal fans is that with no league title again, their prized asset could move on to pastures new.
Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
A slow start to the season – six games without a goal – led to some labelling Harry Kane as a one-season wonder. Well, a Golden Boot win royally shut those doubters up.
Kane scored six braces, and even bagged a hat-trick in a 5-1 demolition of Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium, to really give Spurs fans a season to remember.
His goals guided Tottenham to the Champions League for the first time in five years. Kane has conquered England, twice – now Europe awaits.
Striker: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Jamie Vardy’s story has been told practically every week, but that is only because it is such a good one, with the latest chapter ending with him being crowned a champion of England.
Sunday League to Premier League in a short few years is nothing short of remarkable, and his 24-goal season has led to him being named in the England squad for the forthcoming European Championships in France.
Will Vardy’s story culminate in the perfect way by helping England their first international trophy in 50 years? Stranger things have happened.