It is fair to say that there were some real success stories in this year's Premier League, with a number of players outdoing themselves from their previous season's performances to ensure that they starred this time around.
There were also a handful that went on to bigger and better things despite impressing in the last campaign, and with this in mind we have compiled a Most Improved XI, as well as a substitutes bench of four who were just pipped to a place.
To do so we gathered the respective WhoScored ratings of every player to have featured in at least 19 games (half the campaign) both this season and last, with the players showing the greatest improvement from their 2010/11 rating making the cut.
Our last line of defence is Newcastle stopper Tim Krul. The fact that the Dutchman has done enough over the past 9 months to warrant a place in Holland's Euro 2012 squad tells you all you need to know about the lanky keeper's progress. Only Manchester City and England number 1 Joe Hart kept more clean sheets than Krul's 15 this season, with a solid defence allowing the likes of Ba and, later in the season, Cisse to steal the headlines in a remarkable campaign for the club.
Phil Jones’ versatility was key to ensuring him a place in England's squad this summer, with no-one batting an eyelid at the 20-year-old's inclusion and nor should they when seeing he makes our XI. The fact that he is already an easy pick at international level speaks volumes for the esteem in which Jones is held having only exited his teens in February. Not only has he impressed defensively, with 2.3 tackles per game a standout statistic, but also he has produced further up field to muster 0.9 shots, 0.6 dribbles and 0.6 key passes a match to boot.
On the opposite flank, Jones' teammate and captain at United Patrice Evra may come as a more surprising inclusion. The Frenchman upped his tackles per game average from 2.3 to 2.8 and clearances from 2.7 to 4.6 in a defensive sense but also improved going forward. Averages of 1.4 and 1.1 for dribbles and key passes per game were also both up on his figures from the 2010/11 campaign.
Everton's Johnny Heitinga takes one of our centre-back slots having featured predominantly this season due to injuries to both Jagielka and Distin at one stage or another. The Dutchman made 30 appearances, with 33 blocked shots this season a standout statistic and enough to see him rank 4th in the entire league. The 28-year-old's averages have also improved in terms of aerial duels won and clearances per game.
However, the defender with the biggest increase in rating from last season is Tottenham's Younes Kaboul. Arguably the fourth choice centre-back at the club at the beginning of last season, it would be hard to contest the fact that he is perhaps Redknapp's first choice now. The Spurs man ranks third in the entire division for aerial duels won (121), headed clearances (181) and last man tackles (4), with his averages in terms of interceptions and blocks also up on the previous campaign.
Taking his place on the left of our midfield four is Manchester City's David Silva, whose exploits in the first half of the season saw him lauded as the best player in the league. Despite a dip in form in the months after Christmas, Silva played an integral role in the club's comeback to win the title and was undoubtedly one of the stars of the season. Such claims can be backed up by the fact that he led the league for key passes (104) and assists (15) making him the division's top creator.
West Brom's James Morrison occupies the right wing, despite playing centrally more often than not this season, having had the largest increase in his WhoScored rating of any other player in the league (+0.59). The Scottish international excelled across the board for The Baggies, weighing in with 5 goals and assists apiece and ranking in the top 3 for the club for key passes (2), dribbles (1.2), tackles (2.2) and interceptions (2.2) per game.
In centre midfield we have a pair from across the Manchester divide, starting with United's Michael Carrick, who has stepped up to the plate in the absence of Darren Fletcher this season. Perhaps the biggest indicator of his growing role at the club is shown by the fact that he has made a team high of 73.1 passes per game this season, compared to 51.1 in 2010/11. His accuracy of 90.1% is also fantastic, but just outdone by his midfield partner here.
City's Yaya Toure has completed the third most passes in the entire league (2189) and ranks as high as ninth for accuracy, with an excellent 90.5%. The fact that the big Ivorian's absence was possibly the biggest blow to the champions' campaign says it all, with Toure going some way to justifying the fact that he is the highest paid player in the league. The fact that he seems to have an endless capacity to run has made him the league's best all-round physical athlete, with his sheer power perhaps unparalleled in the division.
Wayne Rooney manages to take the first striker spot in our XI having had a sensational season in terms of his goalscoring exploits to reach 27 for the season compared to just 11 in the league in 2010/11. Other than his obvious goal tally increase, Rooney has progressed from last season in terms of shots per game, pass accuracy and passes per game. His key passes per game and assists are the only real areas in which he has dropped, clearly asked to become a more selfish player, with his goal tally reaping the benefits.
Partnering Rooney up front is Wigan forward Franco Di Santo whose form, particularly towards the end of the season, left Hugo Rodallega as a mere bystander at the club. The 23-year-old's goal tally of 7 may not seem that impressive, but having netted just 2 Premier League goals in 55 appearances beforehand, it has been somewhat of a breakthrough season for the Argentine. Having also chipped in with 0.8 tackles and 0.7 interceptions per game from the front, Di Santo's hard work seems to finally be paying off.