No Erling Haaland, no Bruno Fernandes, no Mo Salah and no Bukayo Saka. Sounds mental but hear us out, then have a go and join us in a pit of despair…
Picking a Premier League team of the season is simple. But once you impose the entirely unnecessary restriction of being able to select just one player from any club, it becomes a Bank Holiday Monday-ruining head-melter.
No Haaland is the obvious point of contention here. We could go 4-4-2 to accommodate him and Harry Kane, which would also see Mo Salah come in on the right, but Alisson demands to be picked. Omitting Bruno Fernandes is just wrong too, but here’s the XI.
Seriously, try it. Misery loves company…
GK: Alisson (Liverpool)
Liverpool have had a pretty miserable season, certainly by their own usual standards, but it would have been so much worse were it not for the Brazilian in net. Alisson conceded 10.1 goals fewer than his xGA, bailing out the Reds almost on a weekly basis. And it’s hardly as though there are many team-mates competing to represent Liverpool in this XI. Mo Salah, maybe…
RB: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle)
Trippier was the best of a very impressive lot, with the defender taking home Newcastle’s Player of the Season award. As well as being a solid defensive presence, Trippier recorded more shot-creating actions in total than anyone not named Bruno Fernandes, while he was head and shoulders above anyone else for SCAs from dead balls.
CB: Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa)
Mings started the season unable to get in Steven Gerrard’s XI. He ends it back in the England squad having played a leading role in getting Villa back into Europe. Mings has been an ever-present while Villa conceded only eight goals in their last 15 matches to charge up the table, with few Villans benefitting from Unai Emery’s guidance more than the centre-back.
CB: Ben Mee (Brentford)
Mee was an absolute steal for Brentford last summer, when they picked him up for nothing at the end of his Burnley contract. While other clubs were only willing to offer 12-month deals, the Bees saw more longevity in the 33-year-old and they have been rewarded with an assured presence at the heart of their defence. Mee picked Gabriel and Lewis Dunk in his team of the year, but Brighton’s slot goes to…
LB: Pervis Estupinan (Brighton)
Selling Marc Cucurella to Chelsea for £55million and replacing him with Estupinan was just another masterstroke on Brighton’s part. The Ecuadorian has been outstanding in Roberto De Zerbi’s defence, forming a brilliant left-sided partnership with Kaoru Mitoma, with Levi Colwill just inside him. Estupinan was superb at the World Cup and maintained those standards while featuring in every game since Qatar, contributing five assists amid Brighton’s surge for Europe.
CM: Joao Palhinha (Fulham)
The Portugal midfielder was outstanding on his debut against Liverpool on the opening day and he has proved it wasn’t a one-off by bossing Fulham’s engine room during a hugely creditable season for the Cottagers, who could double their money by flipping Palhinha this summer. No player in the Premier League won more tackles, with the runner-up 26 short of Palhinha’s 83.
CM: Declan Rice (West Ham)
The Hammer of the Year in what looks set to be his final season at West Ham and the only player in this XI to come from a bottom-half club. He’s just got time to lift a European trophy in Prague before the inevitable summer saga when Arsenal start by low-balling the Irons over their captain.
CAM: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
This is where it gets head-meltingly difficult. This would be Bruno Fernandes if there were viable alternatives to Marcus Rashford on the left. But there’s not, and Odegaard’s inclusion – which means Bukayo Saka misses out – needs little justification. The Arsenal skipper has had more shot-creating actions in open play than anyone other than Fernandes, adding 15 goals of his own.
LW: Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
A 30-goal season, including 17 in the Premier League, off the left flank has powered Manchester United back into the Champions League in the absence of a proper, fit-for-purpose centre-forward. Erik ten Hag reckons Rashford can get 40 next term, which he might if he’s playing alongside this fella…
CF: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
You may notice here the absence of a blonde-locked goalbot. Which is obviously ludicrous. But here’s one of the many head-f*cks about this selection. If there was another left winger, Bruno could play behind Kane and Erling Haaland, with Bukayo Saka on the right. Instead, the City spot goes to someone else and since there’s absolutely no rival for a Spurs place, Kane’s ridiculously wasted heroics – including another 30-goal Golden Boot-less contribution – earn him the centre-forward gig.
RW: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
More assists than anyone else for the third time and more shot-creating actions and goal-creating actions per 90 than anyone else, De Bruyne remains the Premier League’s most creative force. In April, on the way to 16 for the season, the Belgian became the the quickest of the five-leading assist-makers in Prem history to reach a century.
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