The Premier League has finally reached its rather anticlimactic end. Manchester United have long since been crowned champions, QPR and Reading were relegated weeks ago, Arsenal pipped Spurs to Champions League football, again, and Liverpool underachieved, again. Arguably the biggest surprise was that Wigan finally failed to prolong their stay in the top flight as they have managed to against the odds in recent years.
That is not to play down the drama or quality of the season as a whole, though, with plenty of stand out performers and performances along the way. According to WhoScored.com's unique statistical rating system, the best XI this season is as follows.
As one of only 5 ever-present players in the Premier League this season, Sunderland's Simon Mignolet deserves some credit for his side avoiding relegation. In making 149 saves, only West Ham's Jussi Jääskeläinen (166) made more all season, with the Belgian having kept out 72.0% of the shots on target he faced this season - one of the best save success rates in the Premier League. Furthermore, Mignolet has also fared well when dealing with balls into the box, having punched clear more crosses than any other stopper (39) and also successfully claiming a cross on an impressive 47 occasions.
Manchester United's young Brazilian Rafael has had an excellent campaign, solidifying his spot in their starting XI and in the process establishing himself as one of the Premier League's best right-backs. Scoring 3 goals whilst setting up 3 more, Rafael provided attacking impetus from defence whilst also making 3.1 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game. His wondergoal at Loftus Road was the crowning moment in a hugely impressive season.
Jan Vertonghen has been a great success since his summer move to White Hart Lane, and even before his goalscoring exploits saw him win the April Player of the Month award, his performances were noteworthy for his defensive work. Only 3 players made a higher combined total of tackles and interceptions than Vertonghen (204) whilst he also made a gigantic 296 clearances; markedly more than any other player from a team who finished in the top 5.
Alongside the Belgian at the heart of the defence is Swansea's Chico Flores. The Spaniard made a great start to life in the Premier League and has been an integral part of Michael Laudrup's team, forming a partnership at the back with Ashley Williams. While Williams is the ball-playing part of the duo, Chico is the enforcer, winning 2.5 aerial duels, 3.3 tackles and 3.6 interceptions per game. The Swans have kept 10 clean sheets with him in the starting XI, and he certainly has played a huge part in their first ever top half finish in the Premier League.
Leighton Baines has arguably been Everton's most important player this season given that he is the only outfielder to have played every minute in the top flight. Much of his importance comes from his dead ball threat; the left-back has laid on more goalscoring chances (116) than any other play in the division and that has resulted in him picking up 5 assists to go with his 5 goals.
Usurping Chelsea's Juan Mata on the right side of midfield with a string of fine performances in the final weeks of the season, Theo Walcott finds his way into the team of the season. As one of only 4 players to have reached double figures for both goals and assists in the Premier League, he has proved his worth to the Gunners when many were questioning it. He scored 3 goals in Arsenal's last 4 games, each of which was hugely important as they chased that 4th spot finish. The England winger had 3 more one-on-one attempts (9) than any other player in the league and much of that was thanks to teammate Santi Cazorla.
Time and again, Cazorla put his colleagues in on goal, with his 30 accurate through balls significantly more than any other player managed. In fact, it is 13 more than anyone else and also more than 11 of the 20 Premier League teams overall. Like Walcott, Cazorla also made it into double figures for both goals and assists, and as the only Arsenal player to feature in every match, he should certainly be credited hugely for their eventual qualification for next season's Champions League.
Having scored 8 goals and set up 3 more by the start of December, Marouane Fellaini made a barnstorming start to the 2012/13 season. A dry patch around Christmas saw him go 6 games without directly contributing to an Everton goal, but he bounced back with 3 more goals and 2 more assists before the season's end. 10 yellow cards is nothing to be proud of, but his aggression and hunger to win is a large part of what makes his so effective. Only Michu scored more headed goals than the Belgian, and after yet another fine season, he might well have won himself a big move this summer.
Gareth Bale has won countless awards for his performances this season, and he can add the top rated player according to WhoScored ratings to that list. With 9 goals from outside the area, including late match-winning goals against the likes of West Ham, West Brom, Southampton and Sunderland, Bale is one of the hottest properties in world football at present. Having taken 165 shots, it is little surprise he managed Tottenham's first 20 goal haul by a player since the mid-90s, but that should not take anything away from just how impressive a year the Welshman has had.
While Luis Suarez did his utmost to convince his fans that he wasn't a suitable winner of any individual seasonal awards by biting Branislav Ivanovic a few weeks ago, there is little questioning the impact he has had this season, nor the fact that he was one of the league's outstanding performers. With 187 shots in only 33 matches, he had nearly half the number Stoke managed in total, while his 95 successful dribble attempts isn't that far behind the Potters either (160). The Uruguayan also created 80 chances from open play this term, by some way the highest in the league even though he missed out through suspension on 5 occasions.
The only player to net more times than Suarez (23) is Manchester United's title-winning goal machine Robin van Persie. The Dutchman scored 26 goals on his way to the golden boot, recovering from a major dip in form around March this year to eventually score the goals that took the trophy back to Old Trafford. Van Persie's threat in and around the area is second to none, and while he scored the most clear cut chances (17), he also missed the most (23). The talismanic forward clearly is the striker that the club were lacking last season, and deserves all the plaudits he gets.