With the future of the 2019/2020 season in doubt due to Covid-19, the main questions have been based around the final team standings – relegation and promotion. But if the season was to be voided and we were to restart fresh in August for 2020/2021, who would make up the team of the season?
While it’s certainly not on anyone’s mind, unlike sports betting in this trying period, it is an interesting thought. Which of the elite stood out? Who has come out of the blue? Have last season’s surprise packages continued or proven to be a one season wonder? Our contributor Andy has given his verdict.
This season has been unpredictable for many reasons but the form of the league’s top goalkeepers has been nothing short of surprising. De Gea, arguably the best keeper in the world only two years ago, is now seen as unreliable with his seven errors leading to goals a far cry from world number one status.
The form of Ederson, Lloris and Kepa have not lit up the league while a combination of injuries to Alison and sheer dominance from Liverpool have only allowed us to see glimpses of the golden glove winner. Outside of the top six, there have been some standout team performances with Wolves and Sheffield United still in contention for a Champions League place and it is the latter who have excelled defensively, largely due to Dean Hendersons performances.
Henderson’s 10 clean sheets is the second highest in the league and with his error against Liverpool being the only one that has led to a goal, he has become one of the league’s most reliable goalkeepers and is being tipped to replace De Gea next season.
Pick: Dean Henderson
Right Full Back
While the left full back position is a one horse race, the right full position has seen several players excel in this position. Trent Alexander-Arnold has redefined the role of a right full – His range of passing and attacking threat has seen him become one of the most dangerous players going forward in the league and arguably, the world. However, he is not the only right fullback who is dangerous going forward as Wolves Matt Doherty has shown with his four goals from right wing back. A key part in the 3-5-2 system deployed by Espirito Santo, Doherty has adapted very quickly to the demand of the Premier League and proven to be a key player for the Europa League quarter finalists.
While going forward is a key part of the modern full back, the main aspect of the position is to defend and the Premier League potentially has the best defensive full back in the world at the moment in Aaron Wan-Bissaka. His most recent display against Manchester City highlighted why he is so highly rated, taming Raheem Sterling in a dominant performance. He has been a shining light for Ole’s men and would not be far off winning player of the year for the Red Devils. The only player to manage more tackles in the league this season is Leicester’s Ricardo Perreria. His 119 tackles puts him a staggering 20 ahead of Wan-Bissaka but he has also proven to be dangerous going forward, scoring three and assisting two.
While Alexander-Arnold is one of the worlds best attacking threats, his naivety in defence has shown several times this season and if he can work on that part of his game, we may just witness a Ballon D’or winner in future seasons with the opposite being said for Wan Bissaka. His attacking threat needs to improve in order to reach the next level. I’m going with Ricardo Perreria at right full as he has been the most consistent and most balanced right full in the league this season and been crucial to Leicester’s Champions League push.
Choice: Ricardo Perreria
Left Full Back
This one is the easiest selection in the team with Andy Robertson producing a masterclass this season for Liverpool.
Enda Stevens deserves a mention for his form at Sheffield United while Jonny has proven to be a fantastic addition to Wolves but the Scottish international has been head and shoulders above the rest.
Choice: Andy Robertson
The real question here is who partners Virgil Van Dijk at centre half. In terms of the traditional top six, nobody has really stood out bar the big Dutchman. It’s been the form of the surprise packages that have caught the eye. Ben Mee has the third highest amount of clearances and blocks this season while has also ranks in the top ten in aerial battles won and headed clearances. The form of Çağlar Söyüncü for the first half of the season had many believing Brendan Rodgers had got the better end of the Harry Maguire deal.
Jon Egan, Jack O’Connell and Chris Basham have been superb for Chris Wilders Sheffield United. Chris Wilder has the club on the verge of European football and what highlights the defenders outstanding performances even more is that the team have the lowest amount of shots in the league this season but yet are in the top 6, illustrating the importance of their defensive solidity. A mention has to go to Tyrone Mings who probably has Eddie Howe wishing he never sold the dominant centre half.
I’m going with Ben Mee on this one. Burnley have the 2nd most amount of clean sheets in the league this season, with only Liverpool bettering them. Mee has not received the praise he deserves with Michael Keane and James Tarkowski both stealing the spotlight but being in the top ten clearances, aerial clearances, blocks and aerial battles won proves he has multiple qualities and may be the reason Michael Keane hasn’t hit the heights since he left Turf Moor.
Choices: Virgil Van Dijk & Ben Mee
Central midfield has seen a lot of players have fantastic spells over the course of the season but very few players have been consistently at the top of their game. Kevin De Bruynes’ 16 assists has reminded everyone why he is considered one of the greatest midfielders in the world. His range of passing and precision of such difficult passes puts him ahead of anyone in the league in terms of his distribution.
Jordan Henderson has been the anchor in midfield and while Liverpool’s midfield does lack creativity and flair, the work rate cannot be matched by any team in recent history and they’re led by the Sunderland native. James Maddison has been a revelation for Leicester City this season and alongside Wilfred Ndidi, the Foxes have one of the strongest midfields in the league and arguably the most balanced in terms of defensive solidity and attacking threat.
Ruben Neves’ stock continues to rise and he has proven himself to be more than just a long distance shooter. His range of passing is fantastic but it is his tenacity and work rate that sets him aside from many midfielders in the league. Fred has turned his Manchester United career around with a string of fantastic performances for the club this season. His tenacity and work rate in midfield combined with the sensational performances of new signing Bruno Fernandes have seen the team pick up form in the second half of the season.
While all of the aforementioned were household names (or at least familiar with fans) at the beginning of the season, Emiliano Buendia was unknown to most fans but his creative displays for the club have been a huge part of the reason they still have a chance of staying up. His 7 assists only sees him behind De Bruyne, Alexander Arnold and Mahrez while his 19 successful through balls can only be bettered by De Bruyne and Maddison.
I’m going with a two man midfield of Kevin De Bruyne and James Maddison. De Bruyne is an obvious choice but Maddison’s performances have been a big part of Leicester’s rise from mid table obscurity to being on the verge of Champions League football.
Choices: Kevin De Bruyne & James Maddison
The reason I am going with a 4-4-2 is because of the sheer volume of outstanding attacking performances there have been this season and to leave some out would almost be a crime so players who have usually played in a 4-3-3 will be shifted out to a classic wingers role to accommodate them.
Saido Mane and Mohammed Salah are two names that spring to mind when you think of the world’s most dangerous forwards with the two combining for 30 league goals this season. Marcus Rashford was the league’s top scorer until his injury and has been fantastic for the club this season, scoring in big games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
Adama Traore has stepped up this season with some outstanding displays, most notably against Liverpool and Manchester City with Klopp describing him as a very difficult opponent. Harvey Barnes has directly contributed to 12 goals this season in what has been a breakout year for the young Englishman. Despite this season being one to forget for Spurs, Heung Son Min’s 9 goals and 8 assists have proven crucial to the club regarding their aspirations to return to the Champions League this season.
I’m going with the Liverpool duo of Mane and Salah. They have been fantastic this season and had to be in the team but with the form of other strikers in the league, they would have not got in up top so they will have to make do playing out wide.
Choices: Mohamed Salah & Sadio Mane
If the European Championships had gone ahead this year then Gareth Southgate would have had a huge selection headache up front. As mentioned earlier, Macrus Rashford has been excellent this season but a number of young players have made their claim to a spot on the national team, none more so than Tammy Abraham and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. While Abraham has benefited from a transfer ban at Chelsea, Calvert Lewins fortunes have turned since the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti. With the striker playing in a 4-4-2 formation, he has been able to single out defenders and his pace and power have proven too difficult for some. But it has not been all about the young guns this season with the retired Jamie Vardy leading the way with 19 goals while Danny Ings has been rejuvenated this season, hitting 15 goals before the cancellation of games. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been Arsenal’s shining light with 17 goals this season while the evergreen Sergio Aguero has already hit 16. Raul Jimenez has been fantastic this season for Wolves directly contributing to 19 goals while an honourable mention has to go to Teemu Pukki who’s goals have given Norwich a glimmer of hope in staying in the league.
I’m going with Vardy and Aguero.
In the last five seasons, Vardy has either scored or assisted 124 goals in 178 games and is one away from a century of Premier League and, for me, has been one of the best strikers in the league during that time. While Harry Kane has proven he is a world class centre forward, I have to wonder why Gareth Southgate is not begging this man to come back to the England fold. In 26 caps, he scored 7 goals including goals against Spain, Germany, Italy and Holland while he scored a crucial equaliser against rivals Wales in Euro 2016. Other than Kane, no current English centre forward has shown any form of consistency in the past two years since Vardy announced his retirement – He has scored 18 goals or more in 4 of the past 5 seasons.
Sergio Aguero has to be considered one of the legends of the Premier League at this rate. He has 16 goals in 26 appearances this season and has failed to hit 20 goals only on two prior occasions, one of which he scored 17 goals in 23 games. His clinical finishing makes him one of the world’s most feared strikers and personally, he has to be up there with Henry and Shearer when considering greats of the league.
Choices: Jamie Vardy & Sergio Aguero
Team of the Season
GK: Dean Henderson
RB: Ricardo Pereira
CB: Virgil Van Dijk
CB: Ben Mee
LB: Andy Roberston
RM: Sadio Mane
CM: Kevin De Bruyne
CM: James Maddison
LM: Mohamed Salah
ST: Jamie Vardy
ST: Sergio Aguero
Written by Andrew Kavanagh