PFA Awards 2019: Date, Nominees List, Predictions and More

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2019

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk gestures during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Virgil van Dijk should walk away with the PFA Player of the Year Award, with the Liverpool centre-back having enjoyed too strong a season for his performances not to be recognised by the majority of voters.

The big defender can hold off Manchester City pair Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva, one of whom should take home the Young Player of the Year gong.

The ceremony is slated to take place at London's Grosvenor House on Sunday, 28 April.

It will also feature awards in the women's category, where Manchester City captain Steph Houghton is among the nominees for the main award. Meanwhile, Bristol City goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley is the only stopper nominated as she's in with a chance of winning the Young Player award.

The PFA released its full list of nominees in both categories on Saturday:

Van Dijk Set to be the Big Winner

It's hard to make a credible case for any other nominee to take home the PFA POTY. It's not that City trio Sergio Aguero, Sterling and Silva have been inconsistent. Nor have Liverpool's Sadio Mane or Chelsea attacking talisman Eden Hazard.

Yet none of the other nominees has had the kind of immediate and significant impact Van Dijk has had on Liverpool. The former Southampton man has transformed what was a suspect defence into the meanest in England's top flight.

Van Dijk hasn't been without support. Full-backs Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have added athleticism and technique alongside the main man:

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker and holding midfielder Fabinho have also helped. Even so, Liverpool's solid foundations at the back would soon crumble without Van Dijk's aerial power, closing pace and reading of the game.

Van Dijk is chiefly responsible for a defensive turnaround that's changed Liverpool from a nearly team to credible title contenders. It's a transformation that has to be deemed award-worthy.

Sterling and Silva Deserve a Prize

While Van Dijk has inspired a change all by himself, Sterling and Silva have benefited from the system and strong supporting cast already in place at City. To their credit, each player has embraced the framework around them and arguably made last season's champions even better.

It's tough to pick a winner between the two, but Sterling's case for an award may be slightly stronger. The 24-year-old has completely altered perceptions he can't finish.

Sterling has refined his technique in front of goal and added the necessary composure when chances come his way. The results have been spectacular:

City's second surprise package has been Silva, who has replaced his more famous namesake David as the most important midfielder in the squad. The 24-year-old former AS Monaco star is the perfect fusion of industry and artistry for manager Pep Guardiola's system.

Guardiola demands relentless pressing as well as cultured and astute use of the ball. Silva has made all those things staples of his performances this season, with Saturday's 1-0 home win over Tottenham Hotspur just the latest example:

While there's something a little disconcerting about 24-year-olds being given a Young Player award, the PFA will find it difficult to ignore the superb seasons enjoyed by Sterling and Silva.

Miedema Can Beat Houghton to Top Prize

Houghton's case to win the Women's POTY award is more than credible. The 30-year-old defender is on course to win a treble with City, provided the club can add the Women's Super League title and FA Cup to the Women's League Cup.

It's not beyond a talented squad also featuring Houghton's fellow nominees, midfielder Keira Walsh and forward Nikita Parris. Houghton's experience, defensive nous and leadership skills are key in keeping City on track.

However, if there's one player who can deny the England captain this award it's Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema. The Netherlands international has found the net 27 times in the league already this season.

It's a staggering record for a player still just 22 and explains why she has been nominated in both the senior and young player categories.

There is more to Miedema's game than goals, though. She's also proven herself to be Arsenal's creative catalyst.

Numbers like these are surely too good for voters to ignore. If Houghton doesn't take the main award it will be Miedema who leaves her disappointed.

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