With almost a fifth of the season gone, here’s the chance to present our Premier League team of the season (*so far).
GK Joe Hart
England’s No.1 is the main reason why Manchester City hasn’t conceded more this season, despite the numerous absence of skipper Vincent Kompany and a shaky start to Nicolas Otamendi’s career at the Etihad Stadium. Despite being beaten by West Ham’s Victor Moses at the near post during City’s first defeat of the season, Hart has looked in imperious form, and even has a couple of penalty saves to boot.
RB Matteo Darmian
The Italian signed for Manchester United during the summer, and has since looked like a very dependable player for boss Louis van Gaal. His ability to use both feets makes him very versatile, as seen in his recent displays at left-back. Damian has the pace and mobility to bomb forward and provide the width lacking in right midfielder Juan Mata’s narrow game, yet Darmian is still very diligent in his defensive duties. A very good start to his United career thus far.
CB Chris Smalling
smalling: possibly united’s next skipper?
With Hart proving a dominant in City’s defence, the Red half of Manchester has a certain previously-maligned Englishman to thank. Smalling has started every game for United so far, and he is probably enjoying his best form in a United shirt. Having to partner the one-pace Daley Blind for the majority of the campaign, Smalling has covered well for his Dutch team-mate and continues to lead his defence. On current form, he has to be England’s first choice centre-back.
CB Toby Alderweireld
The signing of the Belgian defender could prove a masterstroke from Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino. Alderweireld unites with his previous centre-back partner from his Ajax days, Jan Vertonghen. Alderweireld has proved a much more worthy partner than previous costly pretenders. He has settled well into the Spurs team and is forming a formidable defensive triangle with Vertonghen and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Alderweireld could be the final missing link in Pochettino’s pursuit for a top four spot.
LB Jeffrey Schlupp
The former winger now converted left-back has been instrumental in Leicester City’s flying start to the new campaign. Coming off a relegation-threatened season, Leicester’s new manager Claudio Ranieri has utilised his side’s strengths well and no where is that better seen than the permanent deployment of Schlupp at left-back. The Ghanian teams up well with right-footed left winger Marc Albrighton, and the former provides constant overlaps down the left flank.
fernandinho: goalscoring midfielder?
The Brazilian had a poor campaign last year, but seems to have shrugged it off and produced a few barnstorming performances so far, most notable against Chelsea in August. Fernandinho has regained his first choice status as the deepest lying defensive midfielder, and his return of form could be key in providing Yaya Toure with enough security to bomb forward and cause havoc in the opposition half and penalty area. Fernandinho already has a few goals to his name this season, and already looks to be upping his productivity further forward.
CM Eric Dier
Eyebrows were certainly raised when Pochettino started the centre-back in central midfield, but the move has paid off handsomely for the Spurs boss. Dier has started every game for Spurs so far, and is growing into his new role as a deep-lying midfield stopper. Dier seems to dovetail well with any of the more forward-thinking midfielders at the club, whether Ryan Mason or youngster Dele Alli. If Dier maintains his form, the Spurs man might just find himself on the Eurostar to France next June.
RW Juan Mata
The Spaniard has been in sparkling form for the Red Devils this season. As mentioned, his combination with new signing Darmian on the United right has been one of the key reasons for United’s success so far. Mata is slowly taking the creative mantle off the seemingly off colour Wayne Rooney, and the Spanish international is gradually becoming his side’s talisman. Constantly drifting infield to find key passes for his fellow forwards, Mata’s start to the season could be leaving his ex-boss Jose Mourinho with more to ponder over and potentially regret.
AM Riyad Mahrez
mahrez: probably the league’s best winger right now
Mahrez has started the season with a bang, leading Leicester City to a lofty top-half position. His left foot has been unstoppable so far, with opposition full-backs particularly worried every time the Algerian picks up the ball and runs at them. Mahrez’s pace can be absolutely frightening, and what must please most neutrals is how direct the Algeria winger is. His combination with last year’s star Jamie Vardy and this summer’s new signing Shinji Okazaki will cause many teams a host of problems this season.
LW Dimitri Payet
West Ham’s new signing has, in no time, established himself as his side’s best player so far. Payet’s creativity and ability on the ball is thrilling to watch, with the Frenchman already scoring a handful of goals so far. Payet has settled into English football incredibly quickly, and will continue to be new Hammers’ boss Slaven Bilic’s focal point in attack. The ex-Marseille man is one main reason for West Ham’s fast start to the season, and will be key to any potential European qualification for next season.
ST Jamie Vardy
Having broken into the England set-up during the summer, Vardy is currently the leading goalscorer in the Premier League. In all likelihood, this status won’t last long, but Vardy will be relishing it while it does. His game is not necessarily just about goalscoring, which may sound weird for a striker, but Vardy gives his team so much more. Unselfish runs down the channels, closing down defenders with ferocity and even tracking back at times, Vardy gives more than 100% in every single game. It is welcoming that his determination and hard work has brought him so many goals so far, and Vardy will hope to maintain his form with the European Championships on the horizon.
Do you agree with this Team of the Season (so far…)? Tell us by tweeting to @FootieFollowing or in the comments section below!