Kevin Palmer picks his starting XI of this season's Premier League flops
It has been the Premier League season no-one could have predicted, with a host of high profile names falling from grace over the course of a campaign that has thrown up surprises every week.
The stunning rise of Leicester, Chelsea’s unfathomable collapse and Manchester United’s ongoing soap opera over the future of manager Louis van Gaal’s future have been recurring narratives in a story that has captured the imagination from first to last.
Heroes and villains aplenty have taken to the Premier League stages and after the Team of the Season was acclaimed at the PFA awards on Sunday evening, here is our Independent.ie flops of the season, with this line-up not designed to be balanced or reliable - just like the players selected!
Tim Howard (Everton)
The sands of time appeared to catch up with 37-year-old American keeper Howard this season, as his error strewn season saw him lose his place in the Everton line-up. The bumbling defenders in front of him did little to ease his nerves.
Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
This defensive talisman was a key man in Chelsea’s title triumph last season and he was duly named in the PFA Team of the Year last April, but he has lost his way in recent months and could not stem the tide that was flowing against the fallen champions.
Joloen Lescott (Aston Villa)
Without question, this catastrophe of a centre-back has been the worse player in the Premier League this season. A disaster on the field, his ‘accidental’ tweet of a sports car after Villa lost 6-0 to Liverpool and suggestion that relegation was “a weight off his shoulders” added to his status as a symbol of his club’s demise. Why would any club seriously consider taking on this liability next season?
Steven Taylor (Newcastle)
This accident-prone defender cannot be faulted for the effort he puts into every game, but the simple reality may be that he is not good enough to play at Premier League level. Some of his mistakes this season have been pathetic.
John Stones (Everton)
He started the season as a £40m target for Chelsea and gets to the end with his reputation as one of the rising stars of the game more than a little dented. His fledgling defensive skills have been exposed time and again this season.
Memphis Depay (Manchester United)
Signed amid a blaze of positive publicity last summer, Depay has flopped in the grand manner this season. The odd flash of class has been overshadowed by consistent failure to impress and now there are suggestions that United will look to off-load this Dutchman at the end of the season.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Hazard challenges Lescott for the title of worst player in the Premier League this season and his crimes against the game are equally glaring. There is no doubting this Belgian’s talents, but he appears to have lost much of his spark since signing a lucrative contract with Chelsea last February. He is likely to be sold this summer.
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
After the chaos Sterling and his agent created in a bid to get out of Liverpool last summer, this kid had to deliver following amid all the hype and he has come up short. Not assured of a place in the City line-up, he is rich beyond his wildest dreams, but you wonder whether he has any regrets over his decision to join City.
Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United)
Okay, this lumbering Belgian had a decent game in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against his old club Everton at Wembley, but it does not make up for the successive of annoyingly brutal performances he has turned in over the last few months. Fellaini should not be a starter for a club as grand as Manchester United.
Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Arsenal fans have been pulling their hair out over Walcott’s inconsistencies for a decade and it feels like we have reached a breaking point in their patience. Injured for so long, Walcott has been a big disappointment since his return and it would be no surprise to see him leave the Gunners ahead of next season.
Christian Benteke (Liverpool)
Liverpool fans were hopeful that the capture of this brute of a Belgian forward would give them potency up front, but Benteke has struggled to make his mark at Anfield. Boss Jurgen Klopp is evidently not a fan of his talents and he appears to have lost all his confidence in what has been a season disrupted by injury problems.