Blowing Bubbles Awards 2019: Fabianski and Rice win big

​The Blowing Bubbles Monthly team of writers select our End of Season Awards winners

Player of the Season: Lukasz Fabianski

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The Polish international received 10 votes and here’s why our shotstopper was top of the pile:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: He was outstanding. What I love about him is his willingness to make the ball his own rather than parry it. When he makes a save it generally means the end of an opposition attack rather than panic stations in the penalty area.

​LUCY WOOLFORD: If you took him out of the equation this season, it could have been a completely different story. He’s kept us in tight games and potentially won us a few points with vital saves.

GEOFF HILLYER: He’s the best signing we’ve made in a long time. Responsible for any number of top quality saves – and points gained in the process. Adds confidence to the defence, and confidence to us fans who are quite used to seeing previous goalkeepers making a rick.

JULIAN SHEA: Fabianski has given us a confidence at the back we’ve not had in years.

MEIRION WILLIAMS: I would be afraid to total up just how many points he saved us this season. I wasn’t sure of him when we signed him but he really was the star of the show.

DANNY LEWIS: No matter how the rest of the team performed, Fabianski was consistently brilliant all season. That he made the most saves of any goalkeeper in the league is evidence enough of how good he’s been.

BRIAN PENN: Good goalies come at a premium and we are lucky to have him. I would say Fab is the best we’ve had since Phil Parkes. He’s been outstanding this season and made the difference between a mid-table finish and relegation battle.

GREG RICHARDSON: In my ind, there were lots of contenders which makes a change, but only one winner. I think Balbeuna has been immense but obviously missed a chunk, Rice has been a revelation and Anderson, Antonio, Noble and Snoddy have all done bits, but Fabianski has been brilliant and is pound-for-pound the best keeper in the league.

DAVID BOWDEN: Super Fab was the man I picked at the start of the campaign to be our key man, and boy has the Polish international delivered. He has been superb between the sticks, winning us points at times single handily. It has been a long time since I have felt comfortable with a goalkeeper at West Ham but in the former Swansea man we have a very assured pair of hands. A terrific debut season.

Fabian Balbuena and Mark Noble shared the remaining votes in this category:

JAMES JONES: While so many will be looking at Fabianski and Rice, Balbuena’s first season at the club and in England has been faultless and deserves far more credit than it’s got. Bargain of the summer.

ROBERT BANKS: My vote goes to Balbuena. We didn’t realise how influential he was until he was out of the team.

WILLIAM PUGH: I’ll go for Mark Noble. While it is difficult to overlook Fab, Nobes deserves huge plaudits for this campaign. Thirty two years old, 32 appearances, five goals, five assists. Shouldered stick for the team and a barrel-full for himself while still bossing the midfield. Fronts up to the media, guides youngsters and represented all that is good about West Ham.

Young Player of the Season: Declan Rice

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It was only going to be one player winning this award wasn’t it? It’s the second year that he’s won our Young Player of the Year Award and third season he’s been shortlisted. He received all 13 votes – here’s five of our team praising the youngster:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Hard to think of Declan Rice as a “young player” after the mature performances he put it this season. But the award definitely goes to him – one of many honours he will undoubtedly receive in what will surely be a glittering career.

LUCY WOOLFORD: He’s become an absolutely key part of this team. He’s learnt so much so quickly and slotted in with ease. He’s as cool as a cucumber and his ability to tackle is superb. A captain in the making too.

GEOFF HILLYER: He plays like someone significantly more mature than his tender years. This man is a natural-born leader and is destined for great things, and hope and pray that those great days are with us.

JULIAN SHEA: Rice shows all the prospects of being a once-in-a-generation talent. Let’s not put the pressure on him too early, it’s very easy to forget just how young he is, but he seems to have it all. After taking Lampard, Cole and Johnson, it was about time Chelsea gave us something back – and he was worth the wait.

ROBERT BANKS: Declan’s composure and awareness are at a level well beyond his years.

WILLIAM PUGH: Declan Rice – Need I write anything else?

MEIRION WILLIAMS: Declan really came into his own this year and showed at times real leadership qualities. One of the first names in the team sheet in my eyes. I just hope we can keep him.

DANNY LEWIS: Declan Rice has been incredible at the heart of the midfield this season. Really hope that he stays for the foreseeable future, as he is someone the team can be built around.

BRIAN PENN: It’s easy to forget how young Declan still is. The maturity he displays on the pitch is all the more remarkable because he is still learning the game. Let’s hope he continues to develop in the same vein.

GREG RICHARDSON: Declan Rice has been sensational. To think he started the season by getting pulled off at half time at Anfield, the way he has developed into one of the best CDMs in the league has been so impressive. Just hope we can keep him

JAMES JONES: Declan was genuinely outstanding throughout. He’s going to play at the very top of the game and we’re lucky to have him.

DAVID BOWDEN: Declan gets better and better with each passing game. Now a full-time England international we have a genuinely world class player on our books – now just the tricky task of keeping him from the clutches of the big boys

Goal of the Season: Michail Antonio v Tottenham Hotspur (A)

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One of most open categories we’ve had since we started these awards following the 2012/13 season with eight goals receiving votes but it was Michail Antonio’s winner away at Spurs that secured the majority:

JULIAN SHEA: Antonio has my vote, not just because of the occasion, but it took me a few views to realise how superbly set up and taken it was. The context was just the cherry on the cake.

ROBERT BANKS: This goal has got my vote because it was Tottenham, it was the first goal in the first away win at their new place, and it has really got under their skin!

JAMES JONES: Not just because of its significance but this goal gets my vote because of the brilliant build-up play, outstanding assist from Arnautovic and the bullet finish. Wonderful.

BRIAN PENN: This was a well-worked goal executed with great technique. The fact it was against Spurs is neither here nor there. It’s a shame new stadiums don’t open more often, we seem to be first to beat clubs in their new home!

Felipe Anderson’s goals against Manchester United and Crystal Palace were a close second and third while Robert Snodgrass’ screamer against the Eagles, and Mark Noble’s excellent goal in the last game of the season away at Watford were also shortlisted. One of Marko Arnautovic’s goal against Brighton, Declan Rice’s first Premier League goal and one of Grady Diangana’s efforts against Macclesfield Town completed the list.

GEOFF HILLYER: Watch Felipe Anderson’s goal against Crystal Palace again. It’s a thing of beauty. He picks up the ball just outside the penalty area, in a place where he has no right to shoot from. When he takes the shot, there are four Crystal Palace players in the way. And the best bit? He makes a brilliant goal look so easy.

DAVID BOWDEN: We have scored some lovely goals this season but for me, it has to be Felipe Anderson’s little flick past De Gea in the home win against Manchester United. It is just one of those aesthetically pleasing goals that you don’t often see a player in claret and blue attempt, let alone score!

WILLIAM PUGH: Robert Snodgrass’ goal at home to Palace gets my vote – It was a lovely finish to equalize in a game that could have gone sour if he hadn’t scored when he did. His first Premier League goal for the club and we went on to win. The ball bounced awkwardly in front of him and he did well to keep it down and curl it into the near post. Bravo Snoddy.

MEIRION WILLIAMS: I’m going to go for an odd one here as it wasn’t the most spectacular but one I enjoyed the most and that was Mark Noble’s mazy goal against Watford in our last away game of the season. He just kept on going, and his delight as it went in was a joy to behold.

LUCY WOOLFORD: Mark Noble almost made a last-minute dash into the running on the final day of the season. But I think Felipe Anderson’s flick into the goal against Man Utd was quality. Goals like that are what set players apart and he just did it so casually.

DANNY LEWIS: Declan Rice’s goal vs Arsenal may not be the best, but it is by far my favourite goal this season. He took it really well and the celebrations after the goal showed just how much it meant to Rice and his team mates.

GREG RICHARDSON: I’ve gone for a sentimental one rather than the goal I think showed the best quality. I’m going with Grady Diangana’s 2nd goal vs Macclesfield – made by the academy with Rice, Coventry and Powell all involved in the build up and capping off a great night.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: For me it has to be Arnie’s equaliser against Brighton in January. I live in Hove and the thought of the stick I was going to get locally if the Albion did the double over us for the second successive season was almost too much to contemplate

Best Team Performance of the Season: Against Tottenham Hotspur (1-0 A)

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With Michail Antonio’s match-winning goal scooping our Goal of the Season gong, our performance away at Spurs was always going to be a candidate for Best Team Performance of the Season and secured the majority of votes from seven games selected.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: We were sensational in the away game at Tottenham. I genuinely thought we never looked like losing – and it’s not very often I feel like that. And here’s a fact to savour over the summer: unlike Spurs, we have a 100% success record at their new stadium!

LUCY WOOLFORD: It was a confident performance and one that the players clearly enjoyed. Beating Man Utd at home came a close second but it doesn’t feel as poignant as the Spurs win, especially given United’s form.

MEIRION WILLIAMS: I was at every home game and two thirds of the away games, and I saw some great and not-so-good performances. The best has to be the one at the new Spurs stadium. Every person in a claret and blue shirt played their part and all showed just how much it meant to us the fans.

DANNY LEWIS: This was a great performance, clean sheet, the first ever away goal and win at Spurs’ new stadium, all signed off with a trademark Michail Antonio celebration. Simply glorious.

GREG RICHARDSON: It was a toss up for me between the 3-1 win against United at home and the 1-0 win away at Spurs. We were more attacking v United but they were vulnerable at the time, whereas Spurs were unbeaten at their gaff until we rocked up so that just edges it for me.

Our performances at home to Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, and also away at Everton, Southampton and Manchester United were also voted for.

GEOFF HILLYER: Yes, we drew at home to Liverpool but this was the league leaders being comfortably held at bay. The only reason they scored was because it was off-side. We should have won, but we effectively cost them the league. It was a great performance.

BRIAN PENN: I still eulogise about us beating Manchester United at home because everything clicked for us. It was fulfilment of the style that Ron Greenwood and John Lyall purveyed; they would have purred with delight.

JAMES JONES: After four consecutive league defeats, visiting Everton – a ground we never win at – was daunting but the players put in a superb performance to get our season up and running with a 3-1 win.

DAVID BOWDEN: Between two away performances for me – the obvious at the New White Hart Lane – to be the first team to win and score there was lovely and will always give us tiny bragging rights. But for me Everton away was the kick starter Pellegrini and the club needed, after four straight defeats it was beginning to look a little ropey for the Chilean but that performance at Goodison Park gave everyone belief that we could play free-flowing positive football in this new founded era.

WILLIAM PUGH: My vote is for Southampton away. Excellent all-round team performance, we dominated the ball, bounced back after a disappointing home defeat to Watford and we saw Anderson being used to his full potential. Classy away win during a packed Christmas schedule.

ROBERT BANKS: Arsenal weren’t much to write home about on the road this season but this was a complete team performance. Dominant, clean sheet, first goal for Declan. Job done.

JULIAN SHEA: I’ve gone for Man Utd away. Shocking decisions, but they only spurred the team on more. We didn’t take a step back, looked full of confidence and, as cheesy as it sounds, were the moral victors that day. A performance that made you feel genuinely proud of the team

Best Individual Performance of the Season: Felipe Anderson v Southampton (2-1 A)

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In another category that saw a number of different votes, there was one player who popped up twice. Felipe Anderson. His performances away at Southampton and at home to Crystal Palace picked up votes with one of these picking up the most votes overall.

JULIAN SHEA: My vote is for Anderson at Southampton, because of the way he changed things individually, taking the game by the scruff of the neck and making things happen, in a way people rarely do these days. He injected excitement into the game all by himself.

BRIAN PENN: I’ve picked Anderson’s performance in the Southampton game because it shows Anderson’s destructive potential when he’s in the mood. He scored both goals and ran Southampton ragged. It may have come against struggling opponents but you felt he could have done that against anyone.

JAMES JONES: Anderson single-handedly won us the game in the second half and could’ve had a hat-trick. Only just outshines Declan Rice’s performance at home to Arsenal for me.

ROBERT BANKS: I’ve gone for Felipe Anderson v Crystal Palace because he showed some incredible skills and capped off the display with a fabulous goal. He had energy, pace, accuracy, determination and guile. A complete performance.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: It’s sometimes said your best performance comes in a game you don’t play in. If that’s true, Felipe Anderson was brilliant in the debacle against Everton. It was only one of two Premier League fixtures in which he didn’t feature ¬– and how we missed him. His absence proved just how important he is to the side

Declan Rice’s performance against Arsenal came second – James’ vote was the deciding one – followed by Mark Noble v Spurs, Andriy Yarmolenko’s effort away at Everton and Ryan Fredericks v Southampton.

DANNY LEWIS: Ryan Fredericks’ performance vs Southampton gets my vote. It’s been an up and down season for Fredericks, so I was delighted for him when he got his first league goal and a perfect 10 on WhoScored. Hopefully he can push on next season.

GREG RICHARDSON: Noble against Spurs at their place is my choice. As he always does, he set the tone for the intensity of that performance and reminded people just how good his passing and control of the game can be. Was a throw back to his 2015/16 form.

DAVID BOWDEN: For me, it has to be Declan Rice vs Arsenal. A first goal, and one of the most dominant central midfield displays I have seen from a West Ham player. He was everywhere, his goal capped off a memorable day for the youngster.

GEOFF HILLYER: I’ve also gone for Declan Rice v Arsenal. The match when I thought, “he reminds me of a young you-know-who”. The goal topped the performance off. What a player, what a performance.

WILLIAM PUGH: I’ve chosen Declan Rice at home to Arsenal. They set out to stifle the youngster from the off and despite the close attention from the Gunners, Dec managed to run the game on his own, keep things tight at the back and notch the winner. Class.

LUCY WOOLFORD: I’m going to go for Yarmolenko against Everton. In my mind, that was the game he announced himself and made me excited to see more of him. When I think back on the season, I can still see him bossing the right-wing that day. I was gutted when he got injured.

MEIRION WILLIAMS: I’m going to give my vote to a surprise candidate and that is Grady Diangana against Macclesfield. I have to be honest I had never heard of Grady before this game and he was the absolute star of the show. Yes, it was against poor opposition but he simply grasped his chance and and fully deserved his goals.

Click here to view the winners of Blowing Bubbles Awards 2017/18

Click here to view the winners of Blowing Bubbles Awards 2016/17

Click here to view the winners of Blowing Bubbles Awards 2015/16

Click here to view the winners of Blowing Bubbles Awards 2014/15

Click here to view the winners of Blowing Bubbles Awards 2013/14

Click here to view the winners of Blowing Bubbles Awards 2012/13

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