by Victor Opone
It has been a season that has seen a lot of surprisingly top notch performances and some showing brief glimpses of quality at the beginning (Richarlison et al).
With the season long gone, I decided to play with the idea of picking players that would fit in my preferred tactical system and go on to win a la Manchester City this season. Football Manager is one crazy game, right? But those with the PES and FIFA gamepads know the story too!
A mix of the Manchester City style with some heavy metal was my basic feel. A pretty high defensive line and wide play too! Okay, let’s do this!
It was never supposed to be a tough decision picking the eventual winner but if I was going to sentimentally pick someone who came in January and performed so impressively it would be Dubravka of Newcastle.
Worthy mention to Lukas Fabianski who had the highest number of saves this season. Lossl also had a relatively great season. Ederson really made the number one spot assured after the Claudio Bravo of last season, but it was another man in Manchester that has cemented his place as one of the best ever goalkeepers.
If 115 saves and 18 clean sheets are not enough to put him as the true number one, maybe his haul of 4 Manchester United Player of the Year awards in the last 5 seasons would further convince you that David De Gea is truly deserving of the accolades and plaudits!
Still in doubt? Check out his performance against Arsenal in Manchester United’s 3-1 win at the Emirates.
Honestly, Antonio Valencia has been in consistently good form over the last two seasons, bursting forward with tenacity and pace but Kyle Walker slightly edges it for me. Creativity and flexibility in defence and while his team is attacking has been a massive plus. Especially under a gaffer as demanding and tasking with intricate details as Pep Guardiola.
CENTRAL DEFENDER (RIGHT)
For all of the criticism weighed at Manchester City’s defence this season, Otamendi has improved well despite some occasional mistakes. Nicolas Otamendi has consistently put in largely strong performances in the heart of that defence all season despite being paired with various partners – Kompany, John Stones, at a later part Aymeric Laporte, even Fernandinho dropping in to support at times.
Outside of the Top 6, my best over the season has been Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles. Strong, assured performances, dominating and superb coordination of the whole defence – you can ask Chelsea and Manchester United how easy it has being facing him this season. There’s Harry Maguire of Leicester too!
Consider that all three also know how to get in the goalscoring too. At the end, based on the breakout season tiebreaker and in a bid for him to be involved at the World Cup I’d pick Harry Maguire.
CENTRAL DEFENDER (LEFT)
Jan Vertonghen (Belgium and Tottenham) Playing in a shaky defence with your best defender inactive for most parts of the season and the problem of having to groom newbie Davinson Sanchez while helping leftback Ben Davies gain confidence, Jan Vertonghen has been a rock in the heart of Tottenham’s defence. I messed with some Ben Mee thoughts but the early weeks of 2018 weren’t so good for him and Burnley.
I almost wanted to stick with Marcos Alonso but his team’s performance in the league has not helped his cause. Still gets those free-kicks in but I really feel Andrew Robertson has been blazing in that Liverpool team.
Dropped at first for Alberto Moreno, it didn’t take long for Jurgen Klopp to realize that Robertson was his man for the flank given his team’s style of play. Crossing ability and the ability to combine greatly with Mane and Firmino has helped Liverpool’s cause this season.
Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester. Nemanja Matic (Mourinho’s most trusted sergeant on the field) of Manchester United. N’golo Kante of Chelsea. Ndidi made the most tackles in the league this term (138) but his disciplinary record of two red cards pushed him off at the final hurdle.
Matic was massive, playing in almost every game producing consistently great performances even when his midfield allies weren’t doing too good. Oh, and that winning goal in the classic 3-2 comeback win against Crystal Palace.
I know some are looking for Manchester City’s Fernandinho who has been largely dominant and crucial to City’s play. The spot however, belongs to N’Golo Kante. Really impressive for Chelsea all over. He just can’t stop being all over the pitch, can he?
Kevin De Bruyne! At first, you’d think Paul Pogba was going to push his early season form all through but he got lost in the inconsistency wave. 16 assists and more sublime play plus that composure and technique with both feet either on passes or shooting (seriously, he doesn’t have a weaker foot, ask Chelsea).
Outside of the Top Six, Pascal Gross of Brighton and Hove Albion brought his impresiive play from the Bundesliga into the EPL. He’s worth a mention at least but the king of all is De Bruyne!
ATTACKING MIDFIELD (CENTRE)
If I don’t mention David Silva in this Premier League XI, who will I put in? Who’s so sublime and lovable with golden technique and skill to fill up this role? 11 assists plus plenty goals of his own say a lot.
ATTACKING MIDFIELD (RIGHT)
Mohammed Salah! Signing of the season! 32 goals and 10 assists. Who else?
ATTACKING MIDFIELD (LEFT)
With the style of play I have in my head, none other than Leroy Sane. 15 assists talks plenty. Mane makes a bold claim but those moments of indecisiveness and squandered chances gives Leroy the spot.
Zaha wasn’t bad but he’s missed too many games to be included in this Premier League XI. Leroy’s insane attacking and dribbling ability drive me crazy. I imagine those Arsenal defenders still have nightmares from that match. He never stops driving that attack vehicle.
If Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have something in common, it’s their love for strikers who contribute more to the gameplay by tracking back, holding up and creating spaces for other players to get into. I’m of similar reasoning.
At the beginning of the season, I was watching Romelu Lukaku a lot but it didn’t quite work. Then I looked at Gabriel Jesus and Kun Aguero. But that was right until Brazilian Roberto “No-look” Firmino showed me how to define what I was looking for exactly – and also include him in my Premier League XI.
Brilliantly intelligent! 15 goals wasn’t a poor return but the fact that he allowed others get in the act seamlessly while giving defenders headaches is a pointblanker!
After all that’s been said and done, this is what my team looks like:
Which names wowed you over the season? Which names will you include in your own Premier League XI of the season? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts with me.
Author: For The Goal
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