With the 2012/13 Premier League season over, a campaign in which Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down as Manchester United manager and Wigan Athletic triumphed in the FA Cup at Wembley, but still went down, here is the team of the year.

WORDS | Petr Čech has had a superb season in goal for Chelsea during a campaign dogged by uncertainty at the club. (Image | Daily Mail)

Safe pair of hands | Petr Čech has had a superb season in goal for Chelsea amid many changes and continual uncertainty at the club. (Image | Daily Mail)

Goalkeeper | Petr Čech (Chelsea)

It appeared that Petr Čech would never be the same after his horrific collision with Steven Hunt back in 2006. However, he has gradually regained some of his best form, and while not the most eye-catching goalkeeper of the season, Čech been the most consistent.

When was the last time you saw Čech let in a goal and thought: “He should have done better with that?” We also cannot forget the Czech Republic international’s extraordinary save from Javier Hernández, which helped to knock Man United out of the FA Cup.

Honourable mentions: David De Gea (Manchester United), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Asmir Begović (Stoke City)

Right back | Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City)

Pablo Zabaleta deserves credit for evolving from a useful squad player into one of the first names on the Manchester City team sheet, and making himself genuine leader in the dressing room.

The Argentine has always been a solid defensive presence, but he also added greater personality and drive in attack, chipping in with a number of goals. As one of the few City players not to allow his form to tail off from last season, Zabaleta could be to City what Denis Irwin was to United.

Honourable mentions: Rafael (Manchester United), Billy Jones (West Bromwich Albion)

Left back Leighton Baines (Everton)

Leighton Baines is living proof that nice guys do not always finish last. He has an incredible engine for patrolling the Everton left side, offering solidity in defence and menace going forward.

Like David Beckham, Baines often does not need to beat his man in a one-on-one situation, because he can just as easily bend the ball around an opponent with his dangerous left foot. He is probably the most consistent deliverer of a dead ball in the Premier League.

Honourable mentions: Ben Davies (Swansea)

Centre back | Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)

Rio Ferdinand’s career as a cornerstone of club and country appeared to be over. He was injury prone, began the season as persona non grata for England, and was no longer an automatic choice for United.

While Ferdinand never got that England recall many believe he craved, the 34-year-old was restored to what had been a leaky Red Devils defence, and plugged the holes in the champions’ rearguard.

He no longer enjoys the pace of old, but instead has greater anticipation and concentration, and scored the final Old Trafford goal of the Sir Alex era. Naturally, it was a late winner.

Honourable mentions: Jonny Evans (Manchester United), Sylvain Distin (Everton), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

Starlet | In a season where many Manchester City players have flattered to deceive, Matija Nastasić has consisently progressed and performed. (Image | Rant Sports)

Serbian steel | During a season in which many Manchester City players flattered to deceive, Matija Nastasić has consistently progressed and performed. (Image | Rant Sports)

Centre back | Matija Nastasić (Manchester City)

Roberto Mancini made few correct decisions at the Etihad Stadium over the last few months, but demoting Joleon Lescott for a hitherto untried but promising centre back was one of them.

Many pundits were scratching their heads at the regular inclusion of Nastasić, but this scratching stopped by around February.

The Serb showed remarkable composure at the heart of the City defence, which is even more impressive given Vincent Kompany’s ordinary season. Expect Nastasić to be one of the division’s shining lights for years to come.

Honourable mentions: Phil Jagielka (Everton), Gareth McAuley (West Bromwich Albion), Chico Flores (Swansea City), Sébastien Bassong (Norwich City)

Centre midfielder Michael Carrick (Manchester United)

Michael Carrick is one of the most divisive players in the Premier League. Is he a cultured ball player that would be revered if he had been born Spanish, or a feeble fancy dan lacking the character to control the big games?

In truth, Carrick is neither. However, he is the best progenitor England currently have, and while not a great player, he is certainly a good one. Furthermore, Carrick has had a very good season.

He often had to hold the threadbare United midfield together on his own, striking up a good partnership with Robin van Persie and giving his defence more protection that one might expect. It is time to stop focusing on what Carrick cannot do, for the things he can do are rather impressive.

Honourable mentions: Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur), Leon Osman (Everton), Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea City)

Centre midfielder | Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton)

Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin is perhaps a surprise choice. Yet since Southampton’s unfortunate opening day defeat against the Citizens, he has been a class act.

Schneiderlin is not outstanding at any one facet of the centre midfield position, but has proven himself fairly adept at most of them. He can be used as a shuttler that can get on the end of crosses and knock downs to score.

However, last season Schneiderlin was often used in a deeper role, where his superb ability to intercept and launch counter-attacks fitted in well with the Saints’ new style of play instigated by manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Honourable mentions: Ashley Westwood (Aston Villa), James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic), Frank Lampard (Chelsea)

Right midfielder | Oscar (Chelsea)

The least heralded of Chelsea’s three amigos, Oscar was one of the most pleasing surprises of the season, especially for Chelsea fans. In the past, we have seen talented players from Latin countries struggle with the climate, physicality and pace of the English game.

Oscar, on the other hand, showed that there is an unyielding character and determination beneath his fragile frame. The Brazilian announced himself with a stunning goal against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, and demonstrated his proficient mastery of the ball throughout the campaign.

Honourable mentions: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City), Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa), Andros Townsend (Queens Park Rangers)

Wanted man | Gareth Bale's superb season has made him an £80million transfer target for all of Europe's leading clubs. (Image | Evening Standard)

Wanted man | Gareth Bale’s superb season has made him an £80million transfer target for almost all of Europe’s leading clubs. (Image | Evening Standard)

Left midfielder | Gareth Bale (Tottenham), player of the year

Gareth Bale is on the left flank in this team as it is still the closest thing we have to a nominal position for the Welsh wizard. Despite starting the season slowly, his form was tremendous after being given a free reign around the turn of the year.

Bale has progressed from an exciting talent to a genuine match winner of menace. Even though he failed to drag Tottenham Hotspur into the top four, it was not for the want of trying.

Not only was he deciding games, Bale was doing so with sheer brilliance. Supporters and pundits alike should enjoy watching him in the Premier League while we still can.

Honourable mentions: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Steven Pienaar (Everton), Shaun Maloney (Wigan Athletic)

Second striker | Juan Mata (Chelsea)

Juan Mata was not only a marvel this season, but a marathon man, playing in a mammoth 64 games. After a solid first season at Stamford Bridge, Mata, now playing in his preferred position, really showed his class throughout the campaign.

As Chelsea’s creative hub, he racked up 20 goals and an astonishing 35 assists. Mata may not be the most celebrated name in West London, but make no mistake, not only is he the club’s key player, but he may turn into a lodestar for the more technical, less robust era we are witnessing at Stamford Bridge.

Honourable mentions: James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

Centre forward | Robin van Persie (Manchester United)

In a minority among Arsenal fans, I was not frothing with bile and fury when Robin van Persie announced that he was leaving the Emirates Stadium for Old Trafford (apparently it had something to do with the “little boy inside him”).

Nevertheless, I was extremely disappointed, simply because I knew what it meant, having been privileged enough to witness at first hand what the Dutchman is capable of.

This was to drag Man United to their 20th league title, especially during the first half of the season, when the Red Devils were conceding goals for fun and could not even buy a clean sheet.

Although he suffered a dip in form, van Persie recovered to give us the champagne moment of the 2012/13 campaign against Aston Villa. He is one of the few players in England befitting of being labelled “world class”.

Honourable mentions: Michu (Swansea City), Romelu Lukaku (West Bromwich Albion), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham)

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