The Early Sub: Premier League Team of the Season

Another thrilling Premier League season has come and gone and it’s ended with Chelsea topping the league and becoming champs for the 2nd time in 3 years. Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United failed to keep up with the Blues’ pace in that order, while Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull say goodbye to the Premier League for at least a year after finishing in the bottom three. There were stellar performances put on by some of the league’s best players, and this is The Early Sub’s Premier League Team of the Season.

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Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford (Sunderland)

I’ll start the Prem’s Team of the Season with a player from the division’s worst team. Sunderland was absolutely pitiful this year as they finished at the bottom of the league and almost seemed doomed from the start. Their were two bright spots though from the Tyne-Wear side  and they’ll both stay in the Premier League with different clubs without a doubt. We already know we’ll see Jermaine Defoe at Bournemouth as he was one of the two bright spots but the other was Jordan Pickford. His goalkeeping kept England’s best sides from putting up laughable scores over the Black Cats and he’s already being courted by the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City. He’s the future of English goalkeeping as his reflexes were absolutely top notch from short range and he has wonderful technique stopping long shots as well as he had to stand on his head countless times for this pathetic Sunderland defense. Pickford is superb and my spidey senses say he’ll end up at Arsenal to be Petr Cech’s heir in the near future. Just Missed: Petr Cech (Arsenal)

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Right Back: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)

Antonio Valencia will take the title as the Premier League’s finest right back after putting on a stellar year for Jose Mourinho’s shape shifting defense. Having to play next to the likes of Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Bailly and Blind, United had many players fill in at a depleted center back positioning and Valencia was the sole staple in one of England’s best defenses. Valencia was also a source of creativity flying down the right wing, allowing skillful Mata and Mkhitaryan were able to cut inside. Valencia often makes powerful runs into dangerous positions and is supremely difficult to push off the ball. Lethal crosses into the box would follow after Valencia’s wondrous runs as he had an 85 percent pass completion percentage while lobbing in at least one key pass every game. Changes are coming for United but I can’t see Mourinho shaking Valencia away from the right back spot next season. Just Missed: Victor Moses (Chelsea)

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Left Back: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)

Although he was played as a left wing back that had plenty of freedom going forward, I’m more comfortable slotting Alonso in at left back in this 4-4-2 formation I’m rolling out. This guy was just way too good this season to leave him out of the Prem’s best XI. Fantastic header of the ball and a lethal free kick taker, Alonso piled up 6 goals and 3 assists, making him responsible for a goal every 4 games for Chelsea as a defender. He was also strong at winning the ball back high up the field, allowing him to breakout the ball to a Chelsea playmaker like Hazard or Costa. That left side of Chelsea’s tore up the Premier League all season and that Prem trophy is proof of Alonso’s importance to the side. Just Missed: James Milner (Liverpool)

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Center Back: Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City)

Doubts were swirling around Nicolas Otamendi at the beginning of the season as many waited for his axing from new manager Pep Guardiola. Many thought he was underachieving for City and that he would struggle mightily under Guardiola’s rigorous, possession based football but Otamendi put all those doubts to bed this season. His concentration and interceptions made him one of the best readers of the game in England this season. He cut out attack after attack, making 6 clearances a game and his 3 interceptions a game was the 2nd best rate in the Premier League this season. His passing was also excellent, boasting an 88 percent pass completion rate while attempting the 8th most passes this season in the Premier League. His tackling was his best feature, winning 2 and a half tackles every game and meeting attackers with excellent timing once they receive the ball. Many thought Otamendi would struggle under Pep, but he ended up being Pep’s best defender, and the best center back in the Premier League this season. Just Missed: Shkrodan Mustafi (Arsenal)

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Center Back: Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)

The partnership of Vertonghen and Alderweireld has truly becoming something to behold at Tottenham. Arguably (and not really arguably) they’ve been the best defensive partnership in the Premier League since the beginning of last season and they solidified that this year. Together, Tottenham have conceded the least amount of goals in the Premier League for two consecutive seasons and have finished 3rd and 2nd respectively. They’re both so good, and Vertonghen adds in passing ability as well making him one of the top all around center backs in the Premier League. His passing was especially fierce this season, attempting 61 passes a game and completing 85 percent of those passes. He’s a top notch defender that deserves much more respect then he gets. Just Missed: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)

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Right Midfielder: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)

Eriksen is the 2nd of 3 Tottenham players that get a spot on this team. Can I just start by saying, what a lethal passer of the ball this Great Dane is. Christian Eriksen is the 2nd best passer of the ball in England. Only two men in Europe has dished out more assists then Eriksen, one of them is Emil Forsberg of Leipzig and the other is on this team too. 15 assists to go with a cool 12 goals this season made Eriksen responsible for 27 goals this season in 36 games. 3 goals every 4 games making him more prolific then Eden Hazard, Paul Pogba, and Toni Kroos. That’s not even his most staggering stat. He led the Premier League with three and a half key passes a game. Three and a half passes that should be put away for goals every single league game. Precise passer. Just Missed: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

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Left Midfielder: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

It’s going to be hard to keep Hazard’s section brief because there’s so much I can say about this brilliant player. PFA Player of the year two years ago, and he should’ve won it again this year in my opinion but it’s hard to argue Kante’s importance too. He was directly responsible, either by assisting or scoring himself, for a goal every 143 minutes for Chelsea. His most staggering number was his 13 Man of the Match awards this season which was only topped by Lionel Messi in Europe’s top 5 leagues. That means he won a Man of the Match less then every 3 games. He owns the game, and he can’t be stopped once he gets going. Just ask Francis Coquelin of Arsenal who was destroyed by Hazard. Or Manchester City who Hazard blew three goals past in 2 games this season. His Boxing Day performance over Bournemouth was his best performance, ballet dancing as easy as breathing past Cherry defenders and even slotting in a goal himself. In short, he was world class once again this season. Just Missed: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

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Center Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

There were many criticisms of Pep’s tactical systems this season but something was undeniable about City. They were gorgeous to watch, they bring a beautiful brand of football to England and KDB is hugely responsible. Slotted as a play making number 10 under Pep, KDB amassed 18 assists in the league this season which is the best figure in the Premier League and the 2nd best in Europe. His unbelievable vision makes him dangerous whether City is attacking from open play, or if it’s from a set piece, or even if it’s a cross. De Bruyne always seems to put on lethal balls for City’s flying attacking trident of Sane, Aguero, and Jesus to pounce on. He puts on almost three successful crosses into the box every game for the Citizens and almost three key passes every game. He also slotted in a nice seven goals, including a classy free kick against Bournemouth (Yes, I know, Bournemouth again.) Just Missed: Dele Alli (Tottenham)

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Center Midfield: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

Oh yes. Everyone’s favorite transfer. Say what you want about his fee or his lack of goals. It is a fact that Pogba had a great season and I’ll give you the numbers. He had the 3rd highest match rating in the Premier League with a 7.72 rating. Only Hazard and Alexis Sanchez were better. Critics demanded goals but Pogba was still responsible for a goal every 3 games this season from a deep lying midfield position in Mourinho’s park the bus strategizing. Critics demanded that Pogba dictate the game from the middle of the park but he attempted the 2nd most passes a game this season behind only Jordan Henderson and completed 85 percent of his passes. He would also deliver 2 key passes a game for United and he completed 2.4 dribbles a game (just as much as Raheem Sterling and more then Philippe Coutinho). He did everything that was asked while attempting to transition to England and carrying the pressure of his hefty price tag. Was he worth the 89 million Euros that United had to fork over for him? Nope. Not many can put up the numbers worthy of those numbers. Maybe only 7 players in the world can. But he was still the most influential player for a team that won the league cup and the Europa League and that makes him worthy for this list. Just Missed: Ander Herrera (Manchester United)

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Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Of course the Golden Boot winner is getting a spot on this team. 29 goals in 30 games in insane in this difficult league and he’s shown up every time Tottenham have called on him. Eriksen sends in wondrous balls and Harry Kane is unbelievable at cobbling them up and making the box his. His eye for a goal on that right boot is wondrous and at a world class level. He is the best striker in England and the future talisman of the Three Lions perhaps at early as World Cup 2018. Responsible for 36 goals in 30 games with his uncompromising 7 assists. His 3.7 shots per game is the most in the Premier League and his 1.3 dribbles per game is a testament to his ability to dribble and gain space. He is complete and a world class striker based firmly in North London for Tottenham. Just Missed: Romelu Lukaku (Everton)

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Striker: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

It was heartbreaking to leave off Romelu Lukaku who was the closest Everton player to get on this list (although Idrissa Gueye was unbelievable as well). And you’ll see at the end of this section that I’m going to once again snub another Liverpool player (I’m so sorry) but Alexis Sanchez deserves a spot on the Premier League’s Best XI. How can I not when I slotted in three Tottenham players, and Alexis is the only Arsenal player who would make the Tottenham starting XI. How can I not when he featured in every single match in the league for Arsenal this season and being directly responsible for 34 goals. He produced a goal every 94 minutes for this sluggish Arsenal side that lacked desire and fight. 2.1 key passes a game and almost 3 dribbles a game made him such a threat every single game. He’s a world class player and was mainly used as a striker for Arsenal all season. 10 Man of the Match performances was 2nd best in the Premier League. Spectacular. Just Missed: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

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Manager: Antonio Conte (Chelsea)

Was there any doubt who the best manager in the Premier League was this season? Suffering devastating losses to Liverpool and Arsenal at the beginning of the season, Conte Italianized Chelsea and turned them from individuals, to an unforceable unit. A defense that couldn’t be moved, with an offense that left defenses baffled. He turned Chelsea to tacticians, chess players, thinkers. Coming from their best thinker. Conte used his opponents strengths against them and he out strategized the opposition. He’s been doing it since Juventus, a flexed that skill at the EUROs with Italy against Spain, and he’s shown it once and for all with a dominant league win, utilizing three at the back with tracking back, forward pressing wingers. Wonderful team, with a wonderful coach. Magnifico Antonio. Just Missed: Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)

Closing Thoughts

Yes I know I snubbed Liverpool and I’m really sorry. No doubt that Coutinho, Mane and Firmino were incredible this season but both Coutinho and Mane missed time this season and Liverpool struggled against the bottom half of the league, and Firmino was absolutely a part of that crowd. You’re also probably thinking, “where’s N’Golo Kante?” Yes it was tough to leave him off because winning the title in two straight years with two different teams is an incredible achievement. He covers so much ground and wins the ball back so often but his numbers dipped mightily compared to last season. And that’s understandable because he played next to Matic which let Kante push forward. And it worked out because Kante racked up 7 assists. But he was only responsible for 8 goals, compared to Pogba who had 9 while also having Europa League duties. His tackling was wondrous but even then, Idrissa Gueye averaged the most tackles and interceptions in the game. He out Kante’d Kante. Don’t get me wrong, N’Golo is world class and one of the top midfielders on this planet. But KDB and Pogba just deserved it more in my opinion. What do you think of my Premier League Team of the Season? What does your Team of the Season look like? What league do you want me to do a Team of the Season in next? Comment below and let me know!

 

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One thought on “The Early Sub: Premier League Team of the Season

  1. Very interesting section, I love to read all coment ; I don’t now much about Europe ligues , that way I love this space give me the opportunity to know players and famous in soccer ligue.

    Like

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