With less than a third of the season remaining, it’s fair to come to certain conclusions about this year’s action. This week, we look to put together an XI of the best players in the Premier League. This isn’t, however, a team of the season in the traditional sense, as we have only limited ourselves one player per club – that is, the best player of eleven clubs in the league to form a starting XI.
In goal, it had to be David De Gea of Manchester United. Another stellar season for the Spanish custodian, who looks to have usurped Spain’s long-time No.1 Iker Casillas. United’s next best consistent star is probably Chris Smalling, and had we picked him, we would have given this spot to Jack Butland, who is probably having the best campaign of his career so far at Stoke City.
Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne gets the right-back spot, having defended so consistently and looking very steady in an otherwise unconvincing Reds defence. Capable of playing on the other side as well, Clyne has been the Reds best performing individual for most of the season, with poor displays the exception rather than the rule. A mainstay at Anfield for the best part of the next decade, his relatively low seven-figure fee now looks like a bargain.
Toby Alderweireld form since signing for Tottenham is one of the main reasons why the North Londoners are in the thick of an unexpected title challenge. The Belgian has formed a steady understanding with compatriot Jan Vertonghen, as well as goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and ever since the latter was struck with injury, Alderweireld has brought the young Kevin Wimmer on well.
saints’ long-serving skipper has been a rock at the back
Alongside Tottenham’s composed Belgian is Southampton’s Jose Fonte. Despite a mid-season blip, the Saints has managed to climb the table again with Fonte at the heart of it all. It is certainly a toss up whether he or his defensive partner, Virgil van Dijk, is having the better season, but since Fonte has the added responsibility of captaining Ronald Koeman’s men, he just has the edge.
Having Nacho Monreal at left-back was perhaps the only other reason why Hector Bellerin didn’t get a slot ahead of Clyne. Monreal has definitely had his best season at the Emirates, improving in leaps and bounds since signing from Malaga. Monreal is a so calm and defensively solid at the back, but is also able to link up with the likes of Alexis Sanchez down the left flank.
Manchester City started the season well before their dramatic drop ever since Pep Guardiola was announced as the Sky Blues’ next manager, but in all that uncertainty, one man that has shined is central midfielder Fernandinho. Whereas Yaya Toure has suffered drops in form here and there, the Brazilian has been a model of consistency. He was even key in vital Champions League last 16 victory and the League Cup win, when he started at right midfield to give Manuel Pellegrini’s side more solidity in the middle of the park. The 30 year old has already equalled his best ever goal tally at the Etihad, and looks to play a key role next season under Guardiola.
noble has had as good, if not better, a season as england’s new boy eric dier
West Ham’s rise under Slavan Bilic’s stewardship this year has largely been credited to the dazzling skills of Dimitri Payet, but one player deserves even more credit after yet another season of consistent, steady displays – local lad Mark Noble. The uncapped Englishman has been the reason why the likes of Payet, Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio can do much damage up front, with Noble shielding the back four while being able to bring the ball forward as well.
Willian takes up the first of three attacking positions behind the striker, with his brilliant form throughout the season one of the few positives of an abomination of a title defence from Chelsea. His free kicks have been his personal highlight, but the Brazilian’s influence within the West London club is ever growing and more important now than ever, especially with Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas suffering from a dip in form.
The No.10 role would be hotly contested, with Dele Alli and Payet likely candidates. Instead, it will go to Everton’s best player, Ross Barkley. The England international is enjoying his breakthrough season this year, forming a lethal partnership with Romelu Lukaku. Barkley is definitely on the England’s Eurostar trip in June, but might have to compete with Alli for a starting spot in the national team.
The last attacking position would go to Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City, the surprising (a severe understatement) title challengers this year. Mahrez has been directly involved in the most goals in the league this season, and is one of the deadliest players in the league right now, even attracting interest from Spanish giants Barcelona.
the pair has formed a productive partnership
And up front, we have opted for Watford’s Odion Ighalo. It may seem a odd choice to most. But the Nigerian international has been the promoted side’s best player, just ahead of his striker partner, skipper Troy Deeney. The likes of Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, even Lukaku, were of course considered, but with their club’s best performers already placed in this team ahead of them, this last spot had to go to this exciting, devilish forward.
So, who did we miss out? Does someone deserve a spot over one on this list?