The 2018-19 season is done and dusted in Scotland’s Premiership, and Celtic are once again champions for the eighth time (and counting?) in a row. Still, while the Hoops once again are the top team in the Prem, The Full Scottish’s annual Best XI will have a much more diverse flare this time around than it has in recent seasons.
Such is the case when the gap between the Bhoys and the rest of the league appears to be narrowing (finally). Without further ado, here is our Scottish team of the season for 2018-19
By Brian P. Dunleavy
Liam Kelly (Livingston)
This, ironically, is probably the toughest position for which to identify a top performer. Celtic’s Craig Gordon and Scott Bain effectively split the campaign for the champions, meaning neither saw enough playing time to deserve the mantle, although Bain did chart an astounding 15 clean sheets in 20 league matches. St. Johnstone’s Zander Clark logged the same number in 34 league appearances to lead the Prem, but for us, Livi’s Kelly takes the honors.
Kelly finished with 14 clean sheets in 36 matches (three of which came against Celtic and Rangers) and finished second to Clark (116) with 105 saves. In all, he allowed 40 goals, with nine lost to Celtic and Rangers. His performance in 2018-19 raised more than a few eyebrows and got him on the radar of the Scottish national team.
Kieran Tierney (Celtic)
Injuries limited Celtic’s young star this season, but he is still the best player at the position in Scotland by a country mile, even though he made only 21 league appearances this campaign.
James Tavernier (Rangers)
The ’Gers’ skipper played in 37 matches for the Ibrox side and chipped in 14 goals and 14 assists. Pretty nice return for a defender.
Dedryck Boyata (Celtic)
Scott McKenna (Aberdeen)
Boyata, bound for Hertha Berlin, may have started the season in ignominious fashion, by sitting out the Hoops’ Champions’ League qualifier against AEK Athens, but once he started playing he showed why he is a poor man’s Virgil van Dijk (okay, a very poor man’s). McKenna is the Dons’ Most Valuable Player, literally and figuratively. Can they hold onto him or will Celtic finally get their man?
James Forrest (Celtic)
Callum McGregor (Celtic)
Scott Arfield (Rangers)
David Turnbull (Motherwell)
As we’ve written in the past, McGregor is Scotland’s best all-around player; he does everything well. Arfield could perhaps be a bit less “chirpy” for some, but with 11 goals and six assists in 29 league games, his play backs up his boasts.
Turnbull, the biggest surprise on this list, despite poaching 15 goals for the mid-table Steelmen, is reportedly wanted by both of the Glasgow giants. Honorable mention goes to Celtic’s Ryan Christie, who deserves recognition for having a breakout season when he appeared all but out the door at Parkhead in August.
Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)
Odsonne Edouard (Celtic)
Morelos was left out of the Colombian squad for the Copa America, but that may have been down to his poor disciplinary record. No, Scotland’s Premiership isn’t the EPL, but Morelos did score 18 goals in 30 league appearances.
Edouard, Celtic’s biggest-ever signing (£9 million from PSG last summer, after starring for the Hoops while on loan in 2017-18), proved to be worth every penny, netting 15 goals in 32 appearances, despite battling niggling injuries throughout the season.
As long as he doesn’t start mailing it in—like former Moussa Dembele did at the end of his time in Scotland—Edouard will only get better. Finally, we’d be remiss if we failed to mention Aberdeen’s Sam Cosgrove here. The 22-year-old scored 17 goals in 35 league appearances for the Dons.