As the saying goes, “time flies when you’re having fun,” and that certainly rings true when considering the Premier League this season.
Since the campaign’s opening weekend back in August, we’ve seen World Cup qualifiers; European and English cup competitions; managers sacked; players transferred; injuries; weather; and an ever-changing title race factor into fantasy Premiership leagues.
However, through all of that, the light at the end of the tunnel has finally been reached nine months later, as champions will be crowned in Week 38’s bittersweet season finale.
Before embarking on the last Best XI of a brilliant 2013-2014 season, let’s review how the team fared over an extended Week 37 slate of games.
At goalkeeper, Manchester United’s David de Gea produced two saves and one clean sheet across two games.
Defensively, Pablo Zabaleta and Manchester City allowed two goals over the weekend to Everton, but the Argentine kept a clean sheet and notched a sixth assist of the season in Wednesday’s win over Aston Villa.
Joining Zabaleta in defense, both Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic held their respective opponents scoreless.
In the middle of the park, Yaya Toure continued his sensational season with one goal, two assists, and one clean sheet over Man City’s pair of games.
Unlike Toure’s success, fellow Manchester midfielder Juan Mata played just 65 minutes against Sunderland, while serving as an unused substitute in the midweek versus Hull City.
One of this season’s signature additions, Mesut Ozil earned clean sheet points for Arsenal, but across London, Eden Hazard only featured as a second-half substitute for Chelsea after criticizing the team’s tactics leading up to Sunday’s match.
Up front, Sunderland’s Connor Wickham maintained his strong form with an assist against Manchester United, while Sergio Aguero scored a goal in Man City’s win at Everton.
Finally, Wayne Rooney’s captain selection turned out disastrous, as an illness combined with a groin strain kept him out of both Manchester United games.
In total, last week’s side managed six clean sheets, four assists, and two goals,
Moving into the final week of England’s top-flight, all 20 teams will close out their seasons on Sunday.
That’s when Manchester City will need just a draw at home versus West Ham to hoist their second Premier League trophy in the past three seasons.
Hoping for a miracle, second-place Liverpool welcome Newcastle to Anfield, where striker Luis Suarez could break the Premier League’s 38-game season scoring record with a goal.
Teams three through five all hit the road, as Chelsea and Arsenal play two relegation-bound teams in Cardiff City and Norwich City, respectively, and Everton travel to Hull City. However, Arsenal and Hull City may deploy weaker sides ahead of next weekend's meeting in the FA Cup final.
In the six-spot, Tottenham host a struggling Aston Villa outfit, while seventh-place Manchester United head to eighth-place Southampton in Sunday's most top-heavy tussle.
Elsewhere, Stoke City visit West Brom and Crystal Palace face relegation-bound Fulham.
Lastly, Sunday's most tightly contested matchup sees Swansea City at Sunderland with just one point separating the teams.
Now with the schedule outlined, it's time to select the Best XI for one last time this season.
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) - With Spurs in need of a point to ensure Europa League qualification for next season, Lloris - unlike other players - has much to play for this Sunday. The Frenchman will aim to keep Aston Villa off the board, something Tottenham have been able to do in four consecutive matches against the Villians in all competitions.
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea) - Although Chelsea won't be playing for much against a last-place Cardiff City team destined for the drop, the matchup certainly favors Ivanovic in defense. The Blues have kept a clean sheet in five of their past seven league games and Cardiff has gone scoreless in consecutive matches.
Seamus Coleman (Everton) - Only three teams have scored fewer goals than Hull City this season and with the Tigers prepping for the FA Cup final, their attack could be even less threatening Sunday. As such, Coleman could be bound to finish the season as fantasy's top-ranked defender with another strong performance.
Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City) - England's leader in assists from defenders with seven, Kolarov bombs down Man City's left flank. On Sunday, he'll play a West Ham side that has gone scoreless in two of their past three games, so along with potential offensive contribution, Kolarov offers a very realistic clean sheet possibility.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City) - After Wednesday's stellar finish, Toure is now third with 20 goals on the season, marking incredible production from a midfielder. City have scored at least twice in 16-of-19 home Premiership games and will be eager to fill up the scoresheet to win the title in front of their supporters. With Toure pulling the strings, he should end the campaign on a high note.
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) - In his debut Premiership season, the 22-year-old Eriksen has dazzled to the tune of seven goals and eight assists. Tottenham have scored at least three times in their past three games at White Hart Lane and Eriksen has been a big reason why, registering three goals and five assists over that span. So with Aston Villa visiting London and Spurs having scored at least twice in seven of the teams' past eight meetings, Eriksen is a fine choice.
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) - Another youngster that has really made an impression on this season, the 19-year-old Sterling has nine goals and five assists this term. Only Man City have scored more goals at home than Liverpool and the Reds will be desperate to run up the score against Newcastle in the event that City falters.
Adam Lallana (Southampton) - Lallana scored at Old Trafford previously this season, so he'll be looking to make it two-in-two against the Red Devils this time around. A breakout campaign has seen Lallana account for nine goals, which will likely result in transfer interest this summer. With that in mind, Sunday could be Lallana's last game in a Southampton shirt, potentially inspiring him to finish strong.
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) - Only behind teammate Luis Suarez for the league lead in goals, Sturridge has really enjoyed his first full season at Anfield. The Englishman hasn't found the net since late March, so he could be due for some end-of-season fireworks, especially considering he scored versus Newcastle back in October.
Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) - With a brace in both of City's games last week and another goal in Week 36, Dzeko is in top form to close the season. Also, with Sergio Aguero an injury doubt, Dzeko should lead the line in the Citizens' title quest. The Bosnian tallied two goals and an assist against West Ham the last time he faced them, so both recent form and past history bode in his favor.
Luis Suarez (C) (Liverpool) - It would only be right to include this season's top fantasy scorer in the final week's Best XI. In addition to being blood-thirsty for the Premiership's goal record, Suarez scored against Newcastle in the corresponding fixture last year. As such, the Urguayan earns Week 38's captain's armband.
Ivanovic - Coleman - Kolarov
Toure - Eriksen - Sterling - Lallana
Sturridge - Dzeko - Suarez (C)