London – The Premier League's galaxy of stars pulled out all the stops in 2013-14, producing a title race that was not decided until the final day of the season.
With the season at an end and Manchester City in possession of the championship crown, we unveil AFP’s team of the year:
Julian Speroni (Crystal Palace/ARG)
The 34-year-old had long been regarded as one of the best shot-stoppers outside the top flight, but he elevated his game to a new level on Palace's return to the Premier League, keeping 13
clean sheets and playing a major role in their successful fight against relegation.
Seamus Coleman (Everton/IRL)
After providing teasing glimpses of his vast potential in recent years, the Republic of Ireland right-back blossomed under Roberto Martinez's management this season. The 25-year-old's tenacious defending and energetic contributions to Everton's attacking style make him the ideal 21st-century full-back.
Gary Cahill (Chelsea/ENG)
Cahill is one of the most improved players in the Premier League over the past 18 months and he is now a key component for both club and country. Although Chelsea finished without silverware, together with John Terry, he formed a formidable barrier as the London club dominated against their top-four rivals, winning five of the six fixtures and conceding just two goals.
John Terry (Chelsea/ENG)
Terry has been the outstanding defender in the country this season, silencing any doubters who thought his best was behind him. Blues manager Jose Mourinho plays to Terry's strengths, asking his side to sit deep, often with two holding midfielders, and the 33-year-old has responded in typically bullish fashion.
Luke Shaw (Southampton/ENG)
The latest product of Southampton's much vaunted academy, 18-year-old Shaw is a wonderfully attacking, technically gifted left-back who looks destined for great things. He has been linked with a big-money move to Manchester United in the close season.
Adam Lallana (Southampton/ENG)
The stand-out performer in an emerging Southampton side, Lallana's excellent technique, astute passing and versatility make him a likely member of England's World Cup squad. He is also the reported target of interest from Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool/ENG)
Although the England captain's title dreams were shattered, in part due to his costly slip in a 2-0 loss to Chelsea, few could argue that Gerrard's form was one of the most vital factors in Liverpool's emergence as surprise challengers. Reinvented as a deep-lying midfielder by Reds manager Brendan Rodgers this season, Gerrard protected a somewhat fragile defence while still displaying his superb passing range.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City/CIV)
Twenty-four goals in 46 appearances this season speak volumes for the impact made by City's midfield dynamo. Ivory Coast international Toure claims African players are under-appreciated in Europe, but no one who has played against him is likely to be guilty of that. He combines power and poise to devastating effect and City invariably look a far less vibrant team without him.
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal/WAL)
After struggling to establish himself at Arsenal for several years, the unassuming Wales international suddenly stole the spotlight with a series of brilliant displays in the first half of the season. When Ramsey was injured on Boxing Day, Arsenal fell out of the title race, but the 23-year-old returned just in time to help them at least secure a top-four finish.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool/URU)
Just 12 months after his reputation hit a new low with his shocking bite on Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, Suarez has completed his rehabilitation with a superb season capped by the Professional Footballers' Association Footballer of the Year and Football Writers' Association Player of the Year awards. The Uruguayan's 31
league goals this season equalled the record for a 38-game Premier League season.
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool/ENG)
Together with Suarez, Sturridge has formed a deadly double act that destroyed Premier League defences and took Liverpool to within touching distance of their first title in 24 years. The 24-year-old, allowed to leave Manchester City and Chelsea earlier in his career, cast off accusations that he lacked character as he struck 25 times for his club in all competitions and established himself as an England regular. – Sapa-AFP