With the season coming to an end it is finally time to pick an eleven of players who have been leaps and bounds ahead of their competition. Here’s my team of the season for the premier league
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
One stat will help sum up this inclusion. David De Gea has prevented 13.82% expected goals, to compare, Courtois has prevented 0.6% expected goals. Nothing else shows how influencial and important the Spaniard has been to Manchester United this season. He has been key to so many victories for United. The most memorable of these has got to be the game at the Emirates. De Gea managed to make 13 saves to stop arsenal from continuing an impressive home run they had at the time. I never understand why arguments can be made for De Gea not being the best on the planet. In my opinion he is the best keeper I have ever seen. I have never seen a goalkeeper this important to a team.
Right Back: Kieran Trippier
Kyle Walker is the obvious choice. But I’ll be choosing his replacement. Trippier has surprised me so much this season. I always viewed him as a generally solid player, but wouldn’t be able to fill Walker’s shoes. Trippier not only has filled them, but has made them his own. He is extremely good going forward, averaging 1.7 key passes per game. For a fullback that is sensational. Walker has been brilliant, but Trippier has given 7 assists as well as giving a consistent threat.
Left Back: Ben Davies
Trippier’s partner in crime, Ben Davies has also been brilliant in very similar ways. He also averages 1.7 passes per game and has added a high number of assists. Not much can be said here, since I will be repeating what I said about Trippier. Both full backs as a whole have been brilliant and deserve their place. He has stepped up his game and given very solid, consistent performances.
Centre Back: Jan Vertonghan
I wish I was able to choose more players, but all of Spurs’s defenders have seriously impressed me. Vertonghan is another one who has shown some real leadership in a Spurs side missing Alderweireld. I could have easily chosen Davidson Sanchez here too. For a young player in his first season he has truly not looked out of place. But Vertonghan has been brilliant for Spurs for three seasons now. Spurs, as seen by my choices, have been solid at the back. Having a defender, who doesn’t get injured, and shows some real maturity is important to have. He wins 3.5 aerial duels per game, 1.9 tackles and 1.8 interceptions. He has been defensively sound and deserves his spot here.
Centre Back: Nicolas Otamendi
Finally another team! I feel like many of the old fashioned football fans don’t see Otamendi’s qualities. Yes he still has the occasional moment where he is caught on the counter attack, but to say he has not been good or isn’t a good player is just absurd. Otamendi has a destroyer role, meaning it is his role to rush out of the back to win the ball back quickly, and because of that people assume he is out of position, when he is just doing his job. It’s the role of Stones or Kompany sweep up after him, so the opposition doesn’t take advantage of Otamendi’s reckless style. Not only has he been good defensively, he has also been excellent on the ball. He has a pass accuracy of 92.8% and averages 92 passes per game. That is absolutely insane. That is almost as many as pass master Jorginho and just as much as midfield genius Marco Veratti. Otamendi received the ball so much because he is so confident with it. Defenders who can pass the ball like that are a one in a million, and city are winning the league with him.
Defensive Midfielder: Fernandinho
The PFA team of the season have the best players together, without thinking of a team. I’m trying to at least make this team look like a team. Fernandinho has by far been the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League. He’s been the main glue on why Man City have been so good going forward, because they know he will be there behind them. He adds a experience, grit and reliability, while still adding plenty of quality to a team already full of world class talent. Like Otamendi, he has over 90% pass accuracy, while completing 90 passes. I think what astounded me the most while researching his stats, he averages 3.6 long balls per game. One tactic city utilise is quickly switching the ball out wide, to stretch the defense and open gaps for Silva and De Bruyne. While watching city this season, the assumption was that Dr Bryune mostly does this, but it turns out Fernandinho also does this. My biggest compliment to City and Tottenham will always be one word. Balance. They are the only teams in the top 6 who have this. It’s the most important element for a team to succeed. Fernandinho is the Ying to De Bruyne and Silva’s Yang. He’s been incredible.
Central Midfielder: David Silva
A quick spoiler, the entire midfield will be Manchester City’s. As mentioned, their balance is so impressive that all their players need to be here. I think Silva is one the best central midfielders to ever play in the premier league, probably behind Viera, Scholes and Lampard. The way he is able to move the ball and find that perfect pass is just astounding. His contribution to the team has also been brilliant. He has scored 8 and assisted 11. His pass accuracy is lower than Fernandinho’s, but the difference is the passes attempted by Silva are much more dangerous. The Spaniard averages 2.2 key passes per game, while Fernandinho averages 0.6. Silva has been excellent in putting the ball in dangerous places. He also has 1.9 shots per game, which I find quite surprising. He never came across as a player who shot that much as a midfielder. Silva seems to be improving with age, and at 32, he seems to not slowing down.
Central Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne
He is my choice for the Balon d’Or this season. It might sound a bit extreme but I genuinely believe he has been that impressive. He is having a Steven Gerrard/Lampard wonder season, where he is everything to his team. He has scored 7 and assisted 15. 15! That is just incredible considering Aguero has assisted 6 and Silva has assisted 11. While I said Silva’s creative numbers are brilliant, De Bruyne’s are from another planet. He not only makes 3.5 long balls per game, he also makes 3.1 key passes. That’s 0.9 more than Silva! How can a player be this creative while having other quality creators around him. Not only has he been the best in the world at creating, he also contributes defensively very well. He averages 1.8 tackles and 0.9 interceptions per game. That’s more tackles than Fernandinho and Otamendi. Not much more needs to be said for the Belgian. He’s honestly had a flawless season.
Right Wing: Mo Salah
It’s pretty ridiculous how good Salah has been. In his second season in England, returning after a pretty forgettable time at Chelsea. Salah has scored 31 goals for Liverpool this season, which is almost a premier league record. Everyone seeing him this season for the first time are pretty surprised, but actually looking at his record at Roma, it’s clear that the only way was up for the Egyptian. Last lesson in 29 starts, he scored 15 goals and 11 assists. He was averaging roughly a goal a game. He was having 2.6 shots per game and 2.3 key passes per game. While some of these numbers have dropped, being his pass accuracy dropping from 80.4% to 76.9%, and his key passes created have dropped to 1.7, his shooting numbers are elite. He’s now having 4 shots per game, nearly double of what he was doing at Roma. He’s also dribbling almost twice as much, now doing 2.3, beating his 1.2 dribbles per game at Roma. There many reasons for these improvements. Two key ones being the style, and the strikers. Kloop plays with three forwards being almost interchangeable, giving them more freedom to move around the field, and especially on the break. That being the reason why his shooting numbers are better. His creative numbers have dropped off because of the striker next to him. At Roma, Spaletti wanted Dzeko to be the vocal and most attacks to end with him. At Liverpool all attacks go through Roberto Firmino, and end with the wingers. It explains why his creative numbers have dropped, because he doesn’t need to create as much anymore. This might have seemed a bit unnecessary, but I was also trying to explain how this transfer hasn’t made Salah a significantly better, it has just brought the best out of him because of the system he’s playing in, and how much it can change a player and how it brings the best out of them. Salah was always this good, but we’re now seeing him at his best.
Striker: Roberto Firmino
While Harry Kane is in many’s team of the seasons, he’s rubbed me the wrong way for claiming a goal he doesn’t deserve, and then the FA apologising for a tweet making a joke about Kane, because he was offended, has really ruined how I view him. So for all that, I’m choosing probably the best false nine on continent. He’s scored 15 goals and assisted 7 in the league. In a team with a phenomenal Mohammed Salah, and a brilliant Sadio Mane, he is still getting a very impressive return. He averages 2.3 shots per game and makes 1.6 key passes per game. What’s most impressive about Firmino is his tackling. He makes 1.8 tackles per game, and for a forward, that’s very impressive. It showes how far up the pitch Liverpool like to play. He is a big reason for that. He is always the first to press, the first to win the ball back and the first to get the ball on the counter attack. What’s most impressive about Firmino is his movement. His ability to drag defenders away, to open space up for Salah and Mane, or making those late runs into the box to get on the ball. He’s been sensational this season, and if the wingers in this team are going to be at their best, having an intelligent player like Firmino is perfect.
Left Wing: Raheem Sterling
I really like Aguero but shoehorning him in on the left side is pretty ridiculous. Why an inform Raheem Sterling wasn’t picked is beyond me. The fact that a player can go from pacey winger with no end product, into one of the best wingers in the league is incredible. He’s scored 18 goals and bagged 8 assists. I think what will be remembered the most about Sterling are some of his goals and how important they were. He’s bagged three important late winners against Bournemouth, Huddersfield and Southampton. He’s been a big player, showing plenty of mental ability to be able to win city games the way he has. In an interviewer, Sterling said that Pep told him to stop taking too many touches when receiving the ball, and instead hit it forward. It’s made Sterling so much more direct when looking out for it. His ability on the ball has definitely improved and in front of goal. There have been moments where his old habits resurfaced, against united being the prime example. But overall Sterling has blossomed into a real deadly player, one who hasn’t looked out of place in a league winning team.