The Professional Footballers' Association announced the Premier League Team of the Year on Sunday, and appropriately, there were a few surprises after what's been a wild season.
Here's a look at the XI, via the PFA's official Twitter account:
While you can make the case that Chelsea defensive stalwart John Terry was snubbed, the biggest shock of all was the fact Arsenal and Manchester United were both shut out of the award. Although anyone who has been following the 2013-14 Premier League campaign knows that both sides have underperformed to this point, it's still startling when two of England's top clubs are missing.
With the XI revealed, let's take a closer look at the award-winning squad and some of the top storylines from 2014's lineup.
|2014 PFA Team of the Year|
|CB||Vincent Kompany||Manchester City|
|M||Yaya Toure||Manchester City|
|PFA on Twitter|
Liverpool Trio Highlight Squad
As already mentioned, there wasn't a single Arsenal or Manchester United player selected for the PFA Team of the Year in 2014. And as a result, there was plenty of room for Liverpool's prolific trio of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard has had his fair share of struggles with yellow cards this season and has made a living at the penalty spot. However, his 13 goals and 10 assists in 32 league appearances make him a no-brainer in midfield.
Meanwhile, Suarez and Sturridge have formed an unstoppable one-two punch this season, scoring 30 and 20 league goals, respectively, and ranking Nos. 1 and 2 among all Premier League scorers.
ESPN football pundit Tommy Smyth points out Suarez's journey from villain to Player of the Year:
In March, Sturridge talked about what's made the Reds' core so successful, via The Guardian's Jacob Steinberg:
I'm demanding. Stevie's demanding. Everyone's demanding. It's not just Luis that's demanding of the players. The manager's very demanding of the players. It's important that everyone's demanding if you want to be successful and everyone's pushing each other to get the best out of each other, and that's what we all try to do.
To put their dominance into perspective, Suarez and Sturridge have outscored 11 Premier League clubs by themselves this season. And when you factor in Gerrard's 13 goals, the award-winning trio has outscored 16 Premier League clubs, including defending champions Manchester United.
Liverpool's loss to Chelsea on Sunday keeps the Premier League title race wide open and puts Manchester City in the driver's seat, but with Suarez and Sturridge both in the Reds' lineup, you can't count out Liverpool just yet.
Chelsea Get Defensive
While the high-octane Reds fill plenty of spots at the top of the lineup, the defensive-minded Blues were well-represented on defense, where goalkeeper Petr Cech and center-back Gary Cahill each earned PFA Team of the Year honors.
Elsewhere, fast-improving Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard made the cut. The 23-year-old, who also won the PFA's Young Player of the Year Award, has battled injury of late, but he showcased his nose for goal and creativity by scoring 14 goals and assisting on seven others in his first 33 league appearances this season.
Cahill was among the many to congratulate Hazard on his breakthrough season:
It's not crazy to think that Chelsea could have landed four players in the XI. After all, veteran John Terry had another splendid season on the Blues' back line and could have potentially beaten out Manchester City's Vincent Kompany, who made a handful of costly errors for the Citizens over the course of the year.
Teenager Luke Shaw Earns Well-Deserved Spot
Southampton left-back Luke Shaw was in the running for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award this spring, but he wound up settling for a spot on the Team of Year. Still, not bad for an 18-year-old.
In addition to boasting an average league match rating of 7.1, per WhoScored.com, Shaw earned his first-ever appearance for the England senior national team in a 1-0 friendly win over Denmark earlier this year.
Although you can make the case for some other left-backs, Shaw's consistency has definitely stood out. He earned Man of the Match honors in the Saints' draw with Aston Villa on April 19, winning every single one of his aerial challenges and remaining composed throughout.
Shaw has a long way to go in order to become a mainstay in the PFA Team of the Year, but there's no doubt that the future is bright for the English prodigy.
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