As the 2018/19 football season draws to a close we thought we’d publish our very own awards based on Chelsea performances this season, on and off the pitch. Eden Hazard practically cleaned up at the official Chelsea awards night but we’ve added a few more categories and given the Echo writer’s the vote in our very own Chelsea Echo Season Awards;
Goal of the season award;
This prize is obviously is for the most outstanding goal scored by a Chelsea player this season. There have been a few, some individual brilliance, some well worked team goals and some outright stunners.
Our winner – Eden Hazard’s brilliant solo effort against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup!
“Eden Hazard what a player he is!” Belted out Chelsea TV commentator Ben Andrews after the Belgian slalomed past 4 different Liverpool players, nutmegging two, before firing beyond a helpless Simon Mignolet at Anfield. A worthy winner to say the least but we’d expect nothing less from Eden.
There must be a few honourable mentions here for some other stunning strikers this season. Coming in second place in our vote was Eden Hazard’s solo effort against West Ham, another brilliant run where he took it past just about the entire Hammers team before producing a smart finish. Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s long range effort in our 3-0 win over Brighton was also a stunner, and came after another nice finish by Eden Hazard. Shoutout to N’golo Kante’s smashed finish against Man City in our 2-0 win over the champions-to-be in December as well.
Happiest moment of the season;
This award represents when our writers felt the biggest buzz of the season! We’ve had a number of penalty shoot-outs, big wins and big goals. But which moment have The Chelsea Echo found to be the best?
Our winner – Penalty shoot-out win against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-finals!
Two fine saves from the brilliant Kepa Arrizabalaga and an Eden Hazard winner on what is probably his final game at Stamford Bridge, there can be little argument that this is a worthy winner. Not only did this moment send us to another European final, the context of the shootout is what made it so amazing. Eden Hazard’s final game at Stamford Bridge, Kepa making amends after refusing to be substituted for the league cup shoot-out and the fact we were behind after Cesar Azpilicueta missed his penalty, but staged a brilliant comeback. Fantastic scenes afterwards as the players celebrated and for a very brief moment there was some harmony between fans, who have been in heated debate all season regarding the club’s situation.
Coming in second place was another penalty shoot-out victory, this time coming against fierce rivals Spurs in the league cup. No doubt that moment on it’s own felt amazing to Chelsea fans, but the fact we ended up being dumped out by Manchester City in the final probably took away from it in hindsight, meaning only a second place finish in the votes. Another mention goes to our fantastic 2-0 win over now-champions Manchester City in December. Unbeaten all season up until this game, the Cityzens have proven they are a serious force in English football but a colossal performance from David Luiz, two assists by Hazard and a victory at The Bridge ensured it was Chelsea who walked away jubilant that day.
Best player out on loan award;
Which player out on loan has impressed the most this season? As we know the club has an ‘army’ of over 40 loanees, most of which are young and exciting talents trying to earn a place in the first team. (Christian Pulisic is not included in this award)
Our winner – Reece James! (Wigan)
This was a fairly unanimous vote from The Chelsea Echo team and it’s not hard to see why. Reece James has impressed all season long on-loan at Wigan and has earned the love of fans from both clubs. James picked up the player of the month award on a regular basis and also slotted into various Championship team of the season selections as well, despite plying his trade this season at a struggling Wigan side. Despite being just 19-years-old the right back showed his immense quality this season in what is regarded by many as one of the most physically tough leagues in the world. With versatility to slot into midfield and even an eye for goal, including an absolute screamer against Bristol City, Reece James no doubt deserves a shot in the Chelsea first team.
As mentioned previously this vote was fairly unanimous but there was deserved calls for both Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori to be in with a shot. On loan at Villa and Derby respectively, Tammy has managed an impressive 26 goals this season while Tomori bagged Derby’s player of the season after an excellent campaign at centre-back. Also at Lampard’s Derby side was Mason Mount who has also impressed and been one of the best midfielders in the championship, even earning a call into the squad for Southgate’s England side. Keep an eye out for these three potentially in the first team next year. Kurt Zouma also deserves a mention, he’s been in stunning form for Everton all season and probably should be starting for Chelsea next year.
Mr Chelsea award;
This goes to somebody who has represented the team both on and off the pitch and done the most for the club as a brand and institution. This needs to be a passionate figure involved in the Chelsea community, with an eye for fans and what’s really important in the game and to Chelsea Football Club.
Our winner – David Luiz!
Yes, the ‘Geezer’ is officially our Mr Chelsea! The Brazilian is no doubt one the most passionate players at the club and on the pitch has been fantastic (at times) this season. But this award is heavily focused on what goes on off the pitch, and the way in which David Luiz conducts himself means he takes home the prize. Always involved with fan meetings, open days at Cobham and more, he always has time for people at Chelsea. He’d never say no to a photograph and often is happy to stop and have a chat, always smiling and brilliant for the young Blue’s fans. We think the dressing room and atmosphere around the club is certainly better with David around, and there’s no doubt that he does a lot for the fans community.
Second place in this particular vote was Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has had an incredible season. He’s a player who is becoming the face of the club and as an academy graduate, he is a true blue. Antonio Rudiger, Eden Hazard and Cesar Azpilicueta also picked up deserved votes for this award all of whom have proven to be key figures for this club.
Most disappointing player;
We suppose this isn’t really an ‘award’ but there have been a few underperforming players this season who had high expectations. We have no personal vendettas against any player at The Echo but we thought a vote on who’s disappointed the most on the pitch this season was needed.
Our Winner (?) – Gonzalo Higuain!
The argentine signed for the club on loan in January with huge expectation. Previous number nine Alvaro Morata had struggled in the first half the season and was shipped off to Atletico Madrid, so Higuain didn’t have much to follow but barely improved the side. He has managed just 5 Premier League goals since joining, all but one coming against bottom half opposition. The striker looks off-pace in the division and at times has missed sitters. Having managed 36 goals in 35 games when he worked with Sarri at Napoli only two years ago, Higuain had a big reputation but failed to live up to it.
Marcos Alonso came in second in this vote and has no doubt had a tough season. Emerson Pamieri has seemingly nabbed his left back spot now and the club may look to sign replacements in the summer. Cesar Azpilicueta and Mateo Kovacic also have mentions in this category. The Spaniard and captain has looked shaky at times especially going forward and with a huge reputation from Real Madrid and the Croatian national team, Kovacic has also failed to live up to the hype.
Chelsea social account award;
This prize goes to who our writers think has excelled on social media this season. All our own writers are exempt from this award and we instead ensured it was given to somebody outside of The Chelsea Echo.
Our Winner – Alex Goldberg! (@AlexGoldberg_)
An ever present on Twitter, with rants and reviews of course our winner is Alex Goldberg. His famous ’47 seconds on…’ videos always get the Chelsea fans talking and Alex has also started his very own podcast which has already featured the likes of Asmir Begovic and Liam Twomey. (You can check out The Byline Podcast HERE). Alex has now accumulated almost 60,000 followers and does sometimes divide their opinions, but that’s what football’s all about, isn’t it?
Other mentions for this award went to Louis Beneventi, WorldWideChels, VialliChelsea, 100% Chelsea, YannickChelsea, Der Purist and Pride of London. All of whom picked up votes from our writers. Chelsea social media has been a tough place this season but these guys, as well as many others, certainly do their best to improve it. Of course, if we could have voted for a certain @TheChelseaEcho we would have!
Most improved player award;
A few Chelsea players have come on leaps on bounds this season, mainly our youngsters who have broke through at the club and this award is for the one our writers think has improved the most on the pitch.
Our winner – Ruben Loftus-Cheek!
There was no doubt. This was an almost unanimous vote from our writers. Last season Ruben was a squad player at most and could barely make an appearance off the bench under Antonio Conte, however this year he has cemented himself as a starter for Chelsea Football Club. In the first half the season he struggled to get regular minutes and a back injury threatened his time on the pitch but since the turn of the year he has been one of the first names on the team sheet. The academy graduate has made 40 appearances this season in total, and managed an impressive 10 goals and 5 assists despite starting less than 20 games. Strong and athletic, good footballing brain, an eye for goal and leadership qualities have made Ruben stand out in our midfield this season. And he’s only going to get better.
Jorginho and Ross Barkley also received mentions for this accolade. Jorginho endured a tough start to life in London and was critiqued by Blues fans but has since improved and has became accustomed to Premier League football. Barkley was always going to struggle having signed in January last season but with a pre-season under his belt has become a better player tactically and scored some vital goals.
Unsung hero award;
This accolade is for who our writers think has gone under the radar with their performances this season, or has been underrated by fans. There was quite a few different votes for this one but only one winner.
Our winner – Jorginho!
Jorginho is a player who is hugely under-appreciated by a mass of Chelsea fans. His ‘regista’ role is often misunderstood but his quality in possession, under pressure can’t be questioned. The Brazilian-born midfielder has exceptional passing in tight areas but is often criticised for having ‘no assists’ but we blame the finishing of our front line for that, rather than Jorginho. He consistently played brilliant balls behind the back line which either our striker proceeds to miss or a player hasn’t quite made the correct movement. The midfielder has certainly improved over the course of this season and is beginning to gain the respect of more and more fans. Don’t forget his penalty heroics against Spurs in the FA cup either.
Antonio Rudiger came in second place in this vote and despite a few injury problems has probably been the best defender at the club this season, someone who has also shown leadership qualities and at times one of the few players to show true desire and passion on the pitch. Kepa, Barkley and Maurizio Sarri also all received votes and deservedly so.
Signing of the season award;
Chelsea spent pretty big in the summer and brought in a name or two in January as well, but which one of our new signings do our writers think has been the most impressive this season?
Our winner – Kepa Arrizabalaga!
The record-breaking goalkeeper came to Chelsea under huge pressure after becoming the most expensive player in his position of all time, ahead of Allison Becker. With the third highest clean sheet total in the league, only behind the run-away top two Manchester City and Liverpool, credit has to be given to Kepa. The Spaniard has produced a number of world class stops to save this Chelsea side this season and has often papered over cracks in the defence. Penalty shoot-out heroics against Spurs and Frankfurt also highlight what has been a fantastic season for the goalkeeper who is being touted to become his national side’s number 1 by Spanish fans. Kepa is a modern goalkeeper in the sense that he can play comfortably with his feet but also maintains a world class shot stopping ability, and at just 23 years of age he’s only going to improve. Oh, and he keeps his legs closed, unlike a certain Belgian.
The only runner up in this category was Jorginho, who as mentioned before has improved massively throughout the season. Again, he had the burden of a massive price tag on his name after the club signed his for over £50M and has been scrutinised by certain fan groups due to his ‘father-son’ like relationship with Maurizio Sarri. Our general consensus though is that he’s been a great signing.
Young player of the year award;
This award goes to the youngster who has impressed the most this season for Chelsea and has managed to break through into the first team, which is historically tough at this club. (Player must have been 22 or younger at the start of the season).
Our winner – Callum Hudson-Odoi!
This guy. Probably the hottest academy prospect at Chelsea in a decade and he’s proven it. Pace, dribbling ability and a final delivery than is rare amongst youngsters there is only one deserving winner of this award. Callum struggled for game time at the start of the year but his performances in training and the Europa League and Cup games forced Sarri’s hand and he was blessed with regular minutes and starts. Hudson-Odoi became a fairly regular name on the scoresheet and picked up a number of assists with his impressive crossing ability, his quality was proven when he was called into the England senior team to make his debut and has now earned two caps for his country. There has been off the pitch speculation and maybe Callum would be rated even higher by Chelsea fans if he hadn’t flirted with Bayern in January, but the fact they wanted him for £40M when he hadn’t started a single game says something. We just hope he signs the contract!
The runner up in the category was Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he is now 23-years-old and despite having a great season he probably is just past the ‘young’ category, although he was eligible for this award. We hope to see the likes of Reece James, Ethan Ampadu and maybe a few others in contention for this accolade next season and if we do end up with a transfer ban, you never know.
Player of the season award;
This is the big one. Who has been the best player at Chelsea Football Club this season? A third placed finish for the Blues and a European final coming up, so there have certainly been a few good performers. Who are we kidding? There’s only one winner of this one.
Our winner – Eden Hazard!
Undisputed. Every single Chelsea Echo writer who voted went for our Belgian superstar Eden Hazard. 16 goals and 15 assists in the Premier League is a truly world class output and represents a higher total contribution than any other player in the league. So often has the Belgian been our focal point and ‘get out of jail’ card, he terrorises defenders with his dribbling ability and forces teams into adapting their tactical approach just to try and nullify his brilliance. Goal scoring, creating and flair are all in abundance with the attacking midfielder and no matter what position he is deployed in there is always a threat. There have been stunning solo efforts against Liverpool and West Ham, game winning performances against the likes of Manchester City and nutmegs against just about every defender in the league. The only dampener on Hazard’s season is that it’s probably his last, with Real Madrid inevitably knocking on the door but after seven amazing years of Hazard excellence we can only be happy that it happened and accept that if anyone deserves a good send off – it’s him. Nothing is official yet and we still have a huge Europa League final to play, but let’s say goodbye to our Belgian wonder in style.
The Chelsea Echo contributor award;
This accolade is for the Chelsea Echo team member who we think has made the most significant contribution to our platform. It could be a writer, podcaster or anybody who has contributed to the page.
Our winner – Terry Sazio! (@sazio1984)
Well done, Terry! A consistent contributor to the website and has been around since the start. ‘With no Terry, there’s no Echo!’ claims owner Simon Phillips. Not only has Terry been a regular in terms of posting but also is a great help and great guy with all the other writers. A well deserved award that I’m sure he’s lapping up!
The runner up in this inter-Echo prize was Paree, who does just about everything. If you ever watch a podcast or video from The Chelsea Echo it was almost certainly organised by Paree. He also is consistently posting news and opinions to the website and helps run the twitter account as an admin, who knows how he has time for all of that?!
The entire Echo team deserve a mention for their hard work and we all know that without each other we couldn’t make the Echo what it is today! A special mention goes to Simon Phillips, who is the owner of this platform and has given us all a place to voice our opinions and a project to work towards in the Echo!
That’s it for The Chelsea Echo Awards! Let us know what you thought and who you’d give each award to.
We still have one huge game left this season and then a summer full of rumours and speculation so keep your eye out for more news, reviews and more.
Written by Dan Barker | @danbarkzr