Columnists, Sports

English Premier League Team of the Year so far

As the halfway point of the English Premier League approaches, I am taking a look at some of the outstanding performers of this season so far. The chosen formation would be a 4-3-3 with a holding midfielder and two center midfielders on either side.

Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno
It might be strange to see a goalkeeper who has kept just two clean sheets this season make this list — but these stats have not been for lack of trying on his part. It has been his defenders who have repeatedly let him down. He has made the most saves this season in the English Premier League and without him, Arsenal might find themselves in a much tougher position.

Right Back: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Alexander-Arnold picked up exactly where he left off last season, with his now iconic corner kick propelling him into stardom and finally allowing him to receive the plaudits he rightly deserves. He already has six assists this season and scored from a thunderbolt shot against Chelsea to give them the lead at Stamford Bridge. Finally, the left-foot switch of play to his full back counterpart Andy Robertson against Manchester City on the counter which lead to a goal, was a moment of pure brilliance.

Center Back: Çağlar Söyüncü
After losing Harry Maguire for a record fee, and then not going out to purchase a replacement, many believed that Leicester City would struggle at the back. But now we’re halfway through the season and Leicester has kept the most clean sheets and conceded only 10 goals, the lowest in the league. This is in large part due to the influence that Söyüncü has had on the team. He has a calming presence on the ball and is very good both positively and in the air. An argument can be made that Leicester has a Maguire-upgrade in the making.

Center Back: Tyrone Mings
From a purely defensive point of view, Mings has the most blocks, the second-most clearances and the fourth-most headed clearances in the league this season. Aston Villa might have conceded their fair share of goals, but would be struggling much more without Mings. His performances have been so good that he has been rewarded with his England debut.

Left Back: Andy Robertson
Similar to Alexander-Arnold, Robertson has continued from where he left off last season, with an irresistible ability to supply tantalising crosses into the box and get Liverpool into goal-scoring positions. He has contributed with five assists this season as well as one goal. The draw at Old Trafford Stadium this season, when Manchester United suffocated the left side, showed Liverpool’s dependance on Robertson.

Center Defensive Midfield: Wilfred Ndidi
For many years, Leicester tried hard to fill the N’golo Kante-shaped void in their midfield. Ndidi has finally come through to provide the stability the team needs. He has made the second most tackles this season and has been vital in not only winning the ball higher up the pitch and starting counter attacks, but also screening the defense. He recycles possession effectively and a ton of Leicester attacks flow through him.

Left Center Midfield: Matteo Kovačić
Win or lose, Matteo Kovačić has been the best performer for Chelsea Football Club this season when he plays. His ability to dribble past players is second to none, and this trait helps Chelsea effectively break out of opposition press and start counter attacks. He is as adept at passing as the some of the best in the league and his assist for Kante against Manchester City showed his varied range, too.

Right Center Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne
At times, it seems like Kevin De Bruyne is playing in a league of his own. He has the ability to take people’s breath away and is easily the most talented player in the league. His nine assists this season have often gotten City out of tough positions and his goal against Newcastle United Football Club will surely stand as a goal-of-the-season contender.

Left Wing: James Maddison
Maddison has been a creative force for Leicester and his link up play with Jamie Vardy is a sight to behold. He has the most through balls this season, which points to how Leicester like to play and his eye for a pass. With five goals and three assists in the league, he has been improving his numbers and had been rightly rewarded with his England debut this season.

Right Wing: Sadio Mane
It is often difficult to see what Sadio Mane’s weaknesses are. He seems to have it all: dribbling, finishing and an eye for a pass. His two assists for Liverpool against Everton Football Club were sublime and he has already scored nine goals this season with two headers, four right foot and three left foot, showcasing his all round abilities. For all his ability on the ball, it is often his work off the ball that puts him into a different class when compared to his peers. His pressing and ability to close down opposition allows Liverpool to literally defend from the front.

Striker: Jamie Vardy
At the age of 32, Jamie Vardy is aging like fine wine. He is the top scorer in the league with 16 goals, putting him ahead of the pack by five, there is no stopping Jamie Vardy. He is on course to break his own record of scoring in 11 consecutive matches and seems to be able to finish any chances that fall his way. His shooting accuracy of 72.7 percent is simply ridiculous and his xG of 10.53 point to the fact that he is scoring from extremely difficult chances and with regularity. With him in such fine form, it might just be the case that Leicester will not only cement top four, but also be front runners to challenge Liverpool for the title.

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