james debate
james debate

Monday, 13 May 2019

Welcome to another end of year retrospective on a great season of Premier League football. Here at The Ephemeric I'd like to use this moment to take stock of the season gone by and bestow a few carefully considered accolades.

Manchester City champions 2019
It has been a nail-biter of an end to the season; not just in the Premier League's record breaking title race, but in the relegation and European qualification battles that last right up until the final curtain. It has been riveting stuff, and best of all since Manchester City won again, I don't even need to look for a new picture for this article!

Liverpool ultimately finished runner up with a frankly astonishing 97 points, a haul that would certainly have won the title in just about any other season. It is a testament to two highly accomplished sides, both of whom can look back on the season with a great deal of pride.

Meanwhile, a battle for Champions League qualification that featured Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United proved fascinating for quite different reasons. Each of those four teams has had an absolutely torrid end to the season, playing poorly with results to match. The fact that Chelsea, out of the running for much of the season and seemingly completely incapable of a win in the latter weeks, managed to eke out third place right at the death speaks more to the utterly shambolic form of their competitors than it does to their own performances. Time and time again Chelsea dropped points in a pathetic manner, only to be granted a reprieve by their equally dismal rivals, such that fans of the eventual victors and losers alike can only help but be embarrassed for each other.

Otherwise, it was a season of high drama, but relatively few shocks. Everton, West Ham and Leicester took their customary position in the top half of the table, yet entirely clear of European contention. Nouveau riche Wolves delivered a hugely impressive campaign as expected, whereas on the other hand noveau riche Fulham delivered a limp relegation-bound attempt at a season, as frankly few expected.

But someone had to go down, and this year that burden falls to Cardiff, Fulham and Huddersfield. Cardiff and Huddersfield will hardly have come as a surprise to anyone, but Fulham had been expected to make a decent go of it on the back of a £100 million pound spending spree, and there will rightly be an inquest as to what has gone wrong this season.

Now without further ado it is time to move on to the Ephemeric end of season awards, followed by our carefully selected Premier League team of the year.

The Ephemeric Premier League Awards 2019:

Winners: Manchester City- Winners by a hair, and still undoubtedly one of the world's top sides. Deserved champions.

Relegated: Cardiff City, Fulham, Huddersfield Town - Little was expected of lightweight Huddersfield or the shambolically run Cardiff City, but for Fulham to have even been in the relegation discussion after spending so much money will surely go down as one of the league's great flops.

Player of the Year: Eden Hazard (Chelsea) - While his team may look increasingly unimpressive, Hazard remains the league's standout talent and he proved as much again this season by leading the league in assists whilst also achieving a new personal best in goals. No single player has been directly involved in as many goals this season.

U-21 Player of the Year: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) - A second year in a row for Alexander-Arnold, undoubtedly one of the great young fullbacks in world football and a potential star of English football for years to come.

Best Goalkeeper: Ederson (Manchester City) - It has been a formidable season for the Manchester City shot-stopper, whose reliability between the posts has been a huge factor in the often narrow results that eked out the club's 1 point advantage over Liverpool.

Manager of the Year: Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) - A difficult choice between the top two, but whereas Pep inherited a largely title-capable side, few can discredit the singular impact that Klopp has had on transforming this Liverpool team into one of the world's best.

Top Scorer: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) (22 each) - Rare to share this award, even more rare to split it three ways. Last year's winner Salah may not have hit the astonishing heights of last season, but nevertheless ended up as one of the league's leaders alongside teammate Sadio Mane and Arsenal's much improved Aubameyang.

Most Assists: Eden Hazard (Chelsea) (15) - See above, arguably his best season yet in a blue shirt, despite the struggles of his club.

Overachievers: Wolves - It is true that many, including this blog, had predicted this heavily invested Wolves side to be something of a surprise package in this year's Premier League, but actually going and living up to that promise is another matter. For a newly promoted side to have such a strong debut season, ultimately finishing the best of the rest outside the top six, is an impressive achievement, regardless of how much has been invested.

Underachievers: Manchester United - Last year's Premier League runner up had been expected to number themselves among the frontrunners in this year's title challenge, but that's not how it turned out. For United to have not even qualified for the Champions League will have come as a bitter disappointment. One manager has already been sacked for it, and we may yet have a second face the chop before too long.

Best signing of the season: James Maddison (Leicester City) - Making the step up from Championship to Premier League is a big ask for any young player, few succeed. James Maddison has thrived and established himself as one of the league's brightest new faces.

Worst signing of the season: Fred (Manchester United) - Every season has a big money move that fails to live up to its billing, and this year that is Fred. A £52 million fee makes Fred the 4th most expensive signing in the club's history, and yet he has only managed 10 starts in the league. Fans will be hoping for more next season.

The Ephemeric Premier League Team of the Season 2019:

english epl bpl premier league best team xi of the season 2019

So there we have it, another season of Premier League football gone by. We'll see you again next season!

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Written by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Produced by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Amy Pascal
Starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Mahershala Ali, Hailee Steinfeld
Studio Lord Miller Production
Running time 117 minutes

spider-man spider man into the spiderverse 2018 film oscar academy

Spider-Man is one of geekdom's most iconic superheroes, and yet it was not until the early 2000s that it received a full cinematic effort, with the Saim Raimi trilogy. Since that time, the franchise has become something of an IP football to be fought over by both Sony and Marvel film studios, which has prevented the sort of long-term continuity that has become the norm for these big superhero franchises and result in a number of disjointed reboots and interpretations.

Needless to say, when Marvel finally managed to wrest the live-action rights from Sony once and for all, it was a big deal, and Spider-Man has now joined the multi-billion dollar pantheon of Marvel's Avengers franchise. Meanwhile, Sony have been quietly working away on Spider-Man products in other forms of media for which they retain the rights. Yet for all the hype of Tom Holland and Homecoming, it is Sony that might just have come up with the best Spider-Man film yet made.

I recognise that I am a bit late to the party with this one. After all, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse did just win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature and receive near unanimous critical acclaim. But despite all the high praise, I came into this one skeptical. This film was coming so soon after the critically and commercially successful new live-action adaptations. In addition, there is also a certain stigma attached to animated films that means they are usually taken less seriously than their live-action counterparts. So when I began to see all the claims of greatness: yes, I was skeptical. When it fend off both Disney and Disney Pixar to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, an award that has historically been so utterly dominated by Disney and Disney Pixar that it might as well be the Oscar for Best Disney Feature, I was intrigued.

There are a lot of qualities that make this such a special film. Most obviously, the production quality is extremely high. This is a visually striking film, with masterful use of sound and music. The all-star cast contains some great talent, from Shameik Moore and New Girl's Jake Johnson to Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. The supporting roles, too, are full of big names including Chris Pine, Oscar Isaac, Liev Schreiber and Nicolas Cage. So while this may be an animated spin-off of the larger franchise, it is clear that no effort has been spared in making this something of an event picture.

But the real key to this film's success is Lord and Miller's script. It is clever, surprising, and genuinely funny. It is full of loving references to past Spider-Man films, online memes, and the wider Spider-Verse of the comics. This is not just some light entertainment for the family either. The script knows when to take itself seriously; there are several moments of real pathos and a plot that proves surprisingly poignant.

Animated or not, this is just a good film. An engrossing and original story well told and presented through a highly accomplished production. This is a film that can be enjoyed by both newcomers and die-hard fans. This really is the best Spider-Man film yet made, and arguably one of the best films of 2018 in general. Easy to recommend.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home