EPL

De Bruyne and Son join Liverpool duo on Premier League Player of the Season shortlist

By Sports Desk May 13, 2022

Kevin De Bruyne and Son Heung-min have joined Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold in being nominated for the Premier League's Player of the Season award.

De Bruyne, who won the award in 2019-20 despite Manchester City missing out on the title to Liverpool that season, is enjoying his best goalscoring campaign for the club.

He netted four goals in a 5-1 thrashing of Wolves on Wednesday, taking him to 19 in all competitions.

Salah is the only other past winner to be up for the award, having scored 22 goals and provided 13 assists (both league-high tallies) in another outstanding campaign as Liverpool battle City for the title.

Fellow Reds star Alexander-Arnold is also on the shortlist after racking up 12 assists in 31 appearances, as is Tottenham forward Son, who scored his 21st league goal of the campaign in Spurs' 3-0 win over Arsenal on Thursday.

Despite hitting 18 and 15 league goals respectively this season, Manchester United and Spurs strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane are among the highest-profile players to miss out being nominated.

The other players on the eight-man shortlist are City defender Joao Cancelo, Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka, Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse, and West Ham's Jarrod Bowen.

Bowen is one of just three Premier League players to record double figures for goals and assists this season (both 10, along with Salah and Chelsea's Mason Mount).

Meanwhile, both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are in contention to be named Manager of the Season at the end of another enthralling title race between their teams.

Guardiola has already won the award on three occasions (in 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2020-21), the same amount as Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger. Only Alex Ferguson, with 11, has won it more often.

Klopp won the award when he led Liverpool to their first Premier League title in 2019-20, while the other three nominees all manage sides currently in the bottom half of the table.

Brentford's Thomas Frank is among them after leading the Bees to safety in their first top-flight season since 1946-47, as is Patrick Viera after an impressive first campaign with Crystal Palace.

Newcastle United's Eddie Howe is the final boss on the five-man shortlist, after the Magpies became the first side to go winless through their first 14 games in a Premier League campaign and avoid relegation (three had done so and gone down - Swindon Town in 1993-94, QPR in 2012-13, and Sheffield United in 2020-21).

Public votes will contribute towards deciding the winner of each award, with Premier League club captains also getting a vote on the players' award and a "panel of football experts" helping to choose the winning manager.

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    Titans opener Wriddhiman Saha scored a brisk 31 and David Miller added 34 in a 61-run partnership with captain Hardik Pandya, who finished unbeaten on 62 as Gujarat posted 168-5 at the Wankhede Stadium.

    That total was boosted by a late flurry from Rashid Khan, who smashed 19 off just six balls, but the target seemed below par as RCB's openers raced out of the blocks.

    Kohli and Faf du Plessis made a blistering start to the chase, the India star reaching his second half-century of the tournament off 33 deliveries with a six against Khan (2-32).

    Khan then removed Du Plessis, caught by Pandya, for 44 with the score on 115-1 in the 15th over, before beating Glenn Maxwell for pace and clipping the stumps without the bails coming off with the next ball.

    Maxwell capitalised on the reprieve by blasting the next Pandya over for 21 and, although Khan had Kohli stumped in the 17th over, the Australian's unbeaten 40 off just 18 balls saw RCB over the line with eight deliveries to spare.

    RCB's playoff hopes now rely on Delhi Capitals losing to Mumbai Indians on Saturday, while IPL debutants Gujarat are already assured top spot after winning 10 of 14 games.

    King Kohli

    Before this game, Kohli averaged just 21.45 in the IPL this term – his lowest in the tournament since 2008, when he averaged 15 – and had been dismissed for under 10 runs six times, including three golden ducks.

    The 33-year-old has acknowledged he may need a break to rejuvenate mentally and physically, but he was at his imperious best here, smashing eight fours and two sixes in his 54-ball 73.

    Hasaranga keeps it tight

    Wanindu Hasaranga, who claimed 1-25 from his four-over allocation, continues to dominate through the middle overs for RCB.

    The Sri Lanka international dismissed Miller with a wonderful caught and bowled to pick up his 24th wicket of the tournament – the joint-most with Rajasthan Royals' Yuzvendra Chahal.

  • Ramsey backed by Wales boss Page to quickly respond to Rangers penalty misery Ramsey backed by Wales boss Page to quickly respond to Rangers penalty misery

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    The on-loan Juventus midfielder, brought on in the second half of extra time, missed the only spot-kick as Frankfurt prevailed 5-4 in a game that finished level at 1-1 in Seville on Wednesday.

    It marked the first time Rangers had tasted defeat on penalties in European competition since the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup when losing to Borussia Dortmund in the last 32.

    Ramsey was visibly upset after Rafael Borre converted the decisive penalty for Frankfurt, who are the first German team to win the UEFA Cup or Europa League since Schalke in 1996-97.

    But Page insists he has no worries about selecting the 31-year-old to take a penalty should Wales' upcoming World Cup qualifying play-off against either Scotland or Ukraine go the distance.

    "I have no doubt whatsoever that if it comes to penalties that he will take one," Page said at a news conference on Thursday after naming his 27-man squad for that June 5 showdown in Cardiff.

    Asked if he still has faith in Ramsey, Page said: "Absolutely, 100 per cent. It happens to the best in the world. Top players, they put themselves up.

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    Bale's agent this week suggested a return to English football is the most likely option, with the forward aiming to keep fit ahead of November's World Cup should Wales qualify for the tournament for the first time in 64 years.

    "I think everybody is probably thinking the same thing about his future," Page said. "It will depend on how results go with regards to what he does next season with a club.

    "The only person who can answer that is Gareth. All I know is whenever he turns up for us he is first class. The full focus on himself is winning this game against Ukraine or Scotland, so he can worry about that after."

    Bale has started just four games for Madrid in all competitions this season and has not been part of their matchday squad for any of their past five games because of a back problem.

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    "I think Gareth puts himself when he is fit to be available for Real Madrid like he does with us," Page said. "It is down to the manager then whether he wants to select him or not in the squad. 

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  • Kohli considering break to 'rejuvenate mentally and physically' amid slump in form Kohli considering break to 'rejuvenate mentally and physically' amid slump in form

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    Kohli stepped down as India's Test captain in January following a series defeat to South Africa, having already relinquished his role as skipper of his country's white-ball teams.

    The 33-year-old has struggled for form in 2022, averaging 21.45 in the ongoing Indian Premier League before Thursday's clash with Gujarat Titans – his lowest figure in the tournament since 2008.

    Kohli, who also gave up the captaincy at Royal Challengers Bangalore last year, has not scored a century in any format since November 2019 when he managed 136 in Kolkata against Bangladesh.

    While he averages 49.95 in the longest format, Kohli acknowledged it may be time for a rest.

    "It's not a lot of people who mentioned it [taking a break]," Kohli told Star Sports. "There is one person precisely who has mentioned it which is Ravi [Shastri] and that's because he has seen from close quarters over the last six, seven years the reality of the situation that I have been in.

    "The amount of cricket that I have played and the ups and downs and the toll that it takes on you to play three formats of the game plus the IPL for 10, 11 years non-stop with the seven years of captaincy in between.

    "It is definitely a thing that one needs to consider because you don't want to do something which you are not a part of 100 per cent and I have always believed in that in my life.

    "So to take a break and when to take a break is obviously something that I need to take a call on, but it is only a healthy decision for anyone to take some time off and just rejuvenate yourself mentally and physically.

    "Not so much physically because physical fitness you keep up with through the course of playing cricket all the time, but it is a mental kind of reset that you need, and you want to be excited for what you are doing. You don't want to feel like you have been forcing yourself into any situation.

    "It's only a thing of creating a balance and finding that balance which is right for you as an individual moving forward and I'll definitely discuss this with all the people involved – [India coach] Rahul [Dravid], the Indian team management, everyone to chart out whatever is best for myself and for the team definitely."

     

    Kohli would not be the first high-profile international player to take a break from cricket to prioritise their mental and physical health, given new England Test captain Ben Stokes did so last year.

    However, Kohli insists he is still enjoying his game as he looks to secure a playoff spot in the IPL with Bangalore.

    "Right now, there is nothing that you can point out saying there is a problem here," Kohli said.

    "I know where my game stands and you cannot come this far in your international career without having the ability to counter the situations and counter conditions and counter different kinds of bowling.

    "So this phase for me is the easier phase to process but I don't want to put this behind me. I want to learn from it and understand that what are the core values that I have as a sports person and as a human being.

    "As long as I'm ticking those boxes, I know these are ups and downs and when I come out of this phase I know how consistent I can be. I know how motivated I will be once the scores start coming.

    "My experiences are sacred to me – whatever I have experienced in this phase or in the past as well. 

    "So I am experiencing now that I value myself and I care for my own well-being way more than I would have in the past. And actually, contrary to a lot of belief or a lot of perceptions as I mentioned on the outside, I'm actually in the happiest phase of my life."

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