Overlooked & Underappreciated: an Alternative Premier League Team of the Season 2016/17

Andrew Headspeath
90Min

The ​PFA Team of the Season is out and it's all well and good. There's room for Chelsea's N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard of course, while Tottenham's key men Harry Kane and Dele Alli also make the grade understandably.

While some will argue that Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez is the most notable omission, there are at least 11 other stars who might just feel a little aggrieved that their teams or contributions aren't fashionable enough to have warranted consideration.

 

Call it hipster if you want, but here's an alternative Premier League Team of the Season selected from players not considered for the PFA's XI or Player of the Year awards.


GK: Tom Heaton

Manchester City v Burnley - Premier League

David de Gea may be the undisputed best goalkeeper in the Premier League, but it is Tom Heaton who has had the best season.

The 30-year-old year Man Utd reject has kept nine clean sheets in the Premier League, and no-one has made more saves.

In fact, Heaton's total of 125 is already more than last season's overall saves leader Heurelho Gomes, while a staggering 71 of those have been made inside the penalty area.


Heaton's stand out performances against Man Utd, Liverpool, Everton and Sunderland have proved the old adage that a good keeper really is worth at least 10 points a season.


CB: Gareth McAuley

West Bromwich Albion v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League

37-year-old Gareth McAuley has had an exceptional season. The journeyman Northern Ireland international surprisingly has more goals than any other central defender in the league, with an impressive six - an amount only achieved once by John Terry.

McAuley is also in the division's top ten for shots blocked and clearances made this campaign, and among the top 20 for aerial duels won, as his West Brom side chase a top half finish.

CB: Marcos Rojo

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-BOURNEMOUTH

Manchester United's season may have underwhelmed on the whole, but the Red Devils have still conceded fewer goals and lost fewer games than anyone bar Tottenham.

Marcos Rojo has been a surprise success stories from United's campaign. The 27-year-old has grown into life in the Premier League, after two mixed campaigns and has established himself as a confident, combative defender, in the mould of former Jose Mourinho lieutenants such as Marco Materazzi and Ricardo Carvalho.  

From the top six teams, only teammate Phil Jones and Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen have made more clearances per game than the Argentina international.

CB: César Azpilicueta

AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea - Premier League

The only one of Chelsea's indomitable back three not included in the PFA Team of the Season might just have enjoyed the strongest campaign of the lot.

After being converted from full back to centre back, Spain international Cesar Azpilicueta has relished and excelled in his new role with little public fanfare, and has made more tackles, interceptions, blocks and more assists than any of his defensive cohorts at Stamford Bridge.

The 27-year-old rarely puts a foot wrong for the Blues and his consistency, versatility and guile have been a key part of stabilising Antonio Conte's back three.

WBR: Antonio Valencia

Middlesbrough v Manchester United - Premier League

31-year-old Antonio Valencia has had arguably his finest season as a Manchester United player, cementing his position as defacto right back under Mourinho, after being somewhat shoehorned into the role under Sir Alex Ferguson and Louis van Gaal.

The Ecuadorian's relentless running, physicality and comfort with defending as well as attacking seem to fit the new manager's style perfectly.  Only Hector Bellerin has completed more dribbles as a defender this season, while Valencia leads Man Utd's charts for blocks.



WBL: James Milner

Liverpool v Chelsea - Premier League

It's a credit to James Milner that any debate of whether he was actually capable of playing at left back quickly dissipated at the beginning of the season.

The natural midfielder has performed his duties with aplomb on the left side of the Reds' back four, but may have been hoisted by his own excellence - as Jurgen Klopp may choose to persist with the former Manchester City man in defence next season, instead of investing in a new full back.

Milner has scored seven times this season (all from the penalty spot) and is yet to lose a Premier League game when he has netted. He has also completed more 'key passes' than any other defender this term.

CM: Idrissa Gueye

Everton v Sunderland - Premier League

Romelu Lukaku and occasionally Ross Barkley take the headlines for Everton, but Gueye dogged midfield running and safeguarding of an otherwise somewhat suspect defence has been an essential component in the Toffees transformation into European challengers.

Sometimes regarded as a budget N'Golo Kante, Gueye is actually bettering Chelsea's one man engine room in a key area this season.

Gueye leads the league in number of tackles made with 122 - 4.4 per game. While, Gueye trails Kante on interceptions (68 to 74), the Everton man has enjoyed substantially less pitch time.


CM: Gylfi Sigurdsson

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-SWANSEA

It may still end up being a season to forget for Swansea, but for Sigurdsson, it has been undoubtedly his best and most productive campaign to date.

The 28-year-old Icelander is only behind Christian Eriksen and Kevin de Bruyne in the assist charts with 11, and is closing in on double figures in goals for consecutive seasons.

Sigurdsson has had a direct hand in a fairly unbelievable 57% of the Swans' goals this campaign, and while Paul Clement will take the credit should he keep Wales' only representative in the top flight, you'd better believe they would be already down and out without their number 23.

AMR: Wilfried Zaha

Southampton v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Sam Allardyce and Mamadou Sakho deserve praise for their efforts at Selhurst Park, but Wilfried Zaha's match-deciding skill may be the key factor in ensuring Crystal Palace remain a Premier League side beyond May.

The Ivorian's six goals and nine assists from either side of a front three have been instrumental in the Eagles late surge towards safety, while no player has attempted more dribbles this season.

Considering Yannick Bolasie departed Palace for £25m last summer, expect the inevitable bids for Zaha to be even higher this transfer window


AML: Son Heung-Min

FBL-ENG-PR-TOTTENHAM-BOURNEMOUTH

Son Heung-min has been the unsung hero of Tottenham's unrelenting pursuit of the club's first Premier League title.

The 24-year-old impact player has greatly improved on his first year at White Hart Lane and boasts 12 goals (despite making just 18 starts) and has registered six in his last four Premier League games. His creative contribution has also been essential in his side's late push for the title.

The young South Korean has the potential and versatility to be an important player for Mauricio Pochettino for many years to come. 

ST:​ Josh King

AFC Bournemouth v West Ham United - Premier League


A fantasy football favourite, Bournemouth's Scandinavian front man Josh King has enjoyed his second year in England's top tier.

With 13 goals to his name, only Jermain Defoe has more strikes to his name for a bottom half club, as t he 25-year-old's clinical prowess has surely stopped the Cherries sinking into the relegation mire.


King became the first ever Bournemouth player to score at Old Trafford this year, and without his goals Eddie Howe's side would be eight points worse off and 18th in the current league standings.

wqscs


Player statistics sourced from ​WhoScored



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