Georgina Turner
Tuesday May 11th, 2010

With the English Premier League season complete, it's time for the critics to scratch out their reviews. Picking a team of the season is both straightforward and unfathomably difficult; it's impossible to come up with a quibble-resistant list, but here's my squad:

GOALKEEPER: Heurelho Gomes, Tottenham Hotspur (League starts: 31) Youngster Joe Hart has been this season's darling between the sticks (see my bench selections below), but I suspect that if Gomes were English, he'd be getting the same treatment. After a subpar first season, the Brazilian has shown positional sense as well as some acrobatic shot-stopping.

RIGHT BACK: Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea (28) It's hardly surprising that Ivanovic got the nod in the PFA Team of the Year -- there isn't really a right back to compare this season. He's exceptionally composed and played his part in Chelsea's attacking reign of terror, too. No wonder AC Milan is checking its bank balance.

CENTER BACK: Michael Dawson, Tottenham Hotspur (29) Dawson has been imperious for Spurs, despite starting the season as third choice. His command of the area has improved immeasurably and, most surprisingly, he's become a natural leader in Ledley King's frequent absences.

CENTER BACK: Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal (33) There's something gut-wrenchingly corny about the phrase "a center half in the Arsenal tradition," but it's hard to avoid when talking about Vermaelen. Made of steel and with the spring of an alley cat, he slotted seamlessly into Arsenal's defense and chipped in eight goals this season -- one of which helped Arsenal to top its Champions League group.

LEFT BACK: Patrice Evra, Manchester United (38) If Evra faded toward the end of the season, it's only because he played more games than any of his teammates amid frequent injury-related changes to the United defense. There have been a couple of wobbles (just ask Bayern Munich's Ivica Olic), but Evra's tenacity, pace and penetration have largely been second to none.

MIDFIELDER: Frank Lampard, Chelsea (36) Lampard was nowhere to be seen in the recent PFA vote, but to the naked eye, the Chelsea midfielder has looked barely shy of immaculate. He is the league's highest-scoring midfielder by seven goals (22 to Cesc Fabregas' 15) and top provider with 17 assists. Chelsea's best play swivels on his hips.

MIDFIELDER: James Milner, Aston Villa (36) Playing wide in the past, Milner has looked too pedestrian to really make an impression. His switch into the center of Villa's midfield ensemble this season, however, has shown him in a far better light. His patience in waiting for the right pass has been invaluable, as has his willingness play physically.

MIDFIELDER: Florent Malouda, Chelsea (33) What Guus Hiddink started, Carlo Ancelotti has finished in style: coaxing the real Malouda onto the pitch to often devastating effect for Chelsea. He has an unerring ability to find space out wide and the right pass.

FORWARD: Wayne Rooney, Manchester United (32) I know, it's getting yawnsome handing out accolades to this chap. Even he's probably bored. But that's what you get for your best season yet -- and his previous ones weren't bad. Rooney must have every kind of goal in his 26-strong collection, having ably compensated for the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo.

FORWARD: Didier Drogba, Chelsea (31) Being so massively unlikable in a league full of spoiled multimillionaires is quite a feat, but it would be churlish to ignore Drogba's goal-scoring prowess -- he's unstoppable and can do neat as well as sledgehammer You might not like him on your team, but with 29 league goals in 31 starts, by Jove you'd want him there.

FORWARD: Carlos Tevez, Manchester City (32) This has been the Argentine's best season in the Premiership by some distance. He's always been a pain in the backside for defenders, refusing to give up on every last hopeful ball, but with almost twice as many starts, Tevez has scored more than four times as many goals. Direct (14 of 22 goals scored within the line of the goalmouth), but effective.

GOALKEEPER: Joe Hart, Birmingham City (36) Hart's consistently assured marshaling of the City penalty area has rightly earned him plaudits and a strong chance of going to South Africa with England -- he's certainly had a better season than David James and Robert Green. Manchester City would be mad to sell him.

DEFENDER: Richard Dunne, Aston Villa (35) Ever dependable, he plays like he'd die trying to keep Brad Friedel from having anything to do, and has surprising pace chasing back. Worth sending up for corners, too. Manchester City was mad to sell him.

DEFENDER: Leighton Baines, Everton (37) Baines has been making eyes at England coach Fabio Capello with another solid season in a left-back position with little cover for Ashley Cole, who'll be fully fit come the World Cup. He always shows willing, whether he's working the flank (where he's weighed in with nine assists) or getting stuck into his opposite number.

MIDFIELDER: Antonio Valencia, Manchester United (29) Anyone watching United week in, week out will agree with Rooney's insistence that Valencia's passes into the box have been vital to the striker's tally. Solid rather than starry, looking for options rather than goal, he's the antithesis of that Cristiano fellow.

MIDFIELDER: Scott Parker, West Ham (31) While the rest of his team has proved once again that you can't be too bad to stay up, Parker has existed in a bubble of class. It's a shame that the Hammers have said he's the only player not for sale this summer; if anyone deserves another crack with a decent side, it's him.

MIDFIELDER: Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur (23) Kept out of Sir Alex Ferguson's paws -- for now -- by a new deal, Bale should be at the heart of things again for Spurs next season. He's pacy, direct, a superb crosser and can hit it with either foot.

FORWARD: Darren Bent, Sunderland (38) He has started every league game for the Mackems, netting half of their 48 goals. Playing with confidence and Steve Bruce's obvious regard, Bent has gone from pitiful to predatory since heading north.

Roy Hodgson, Fulham Who are we to disagree with the League Managers' Association, which named Hodgson the Manager of the Year on Monday? Fulham might have slipped in the league this season, but it still produced some great football along the way (remember that 3-0 win over Manchester United?). The team plays in the Europa League final Wednesday, England's last representative in UEFA competition. And Hodgson's barely had a dime to spend. He'll be laying on hands next.

Outraged at the absence of your favorite player? Persuade me with your winning rhetoric by e-mailing I'll address the omissions and answer your Premiership questions next week.

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