Premier League is done and dusted for this season — Man City are the consecutive winners (first time since 2008/09 someone’s retained the title), Liverpool are the best ever runners-up, Chelsea and Tottenham will join them in the Champions League, while Cardiff City, Fulham and Huddersfield leave the top class to try their luck in the EFL Championship next season.
To top it all, for the first time ever there’ll be all-English finals in both the Champions League and the Europa League — congrats to Tottenham/Liverpool and Arsenal/Chelsea respectively!
A lot has been said and done about this season: some records broken, some old stories resurfaced, some managers sacked, old legends called back, unforgettable days, matches and moments in the ever evolving world of one of the world’s best football competitions.
A time has now come to recount and summarise the season — where the usual football fans stop, analysts are due to begin. As we love analysis at SofaScore, we have prepared this Team of the season. Led by various factors, 11 players in total have been chosen to appear in our lineup, and in this piece we will try to give some further insight as to why were they selected.
So, our eleven is:
GK: Alisson (Liverpool) — 6.99
DR: T. Alexander Arnold (Liverpool) — 7.38
DC: A. Laporte (Man City) — 7.19
DC: V. van Dijk (Liverpool) — 7.41
DL: L. Digne (Everton) — 7.33
MC: C. Eriksen (Tottenham) — 7.22
MC: D. Silva (Man City) — 7.32
AMR: M. Salah (Liverpool) — 7.44
AMC: E. Hazard (Chelsea) — 7.84
AML: R. Sterling (Man City) — 7.42
FC: S. Agüero (Man City) — 7.39
Some criteria that were used to select the players:
- Minimum of 60% appearances in all possible matches (at least 23),
- Average SofaScore rating (important, but not the only factor),
- Relative strength and success of a club player is playing for.
Four different goalkeepers were in the mix, four top rated in our average ratings table:
- H. Lloris (Tottenham) — 7.12
- Alisson (Liverpool) — 6.99
- Ł. Fabiański (West Ham) — 6.94
- Ederson (Man City) — 6.88
However, despite the heroic efforts of Lloris (he’s the highest rated goalkeeper according to SofaScore rating, but he managed to keep his net empty only 12 times) and Fabiański (148 saves — Best in the league, but only 7 clean sheets) this season’s beast goalkeeper is Alisson. Liverpool’s goalkeeper has kept his net empty for an astonishing 21 times what secured him the Premier League Golden Glove award. What’s more — he’s just the fourth goalkeeper since 2004/05 season who succeeded to make more than 20 clean sheets in one season.
Let’s take a look at the average ratings again.
- T. Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) — 7.38
- Kieran Trippier (Tottenham) — 7.23
- Kyle Walker (Man City) — 7.08
- Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace) — 7.03
It wasn’t a hard decision to choose the best right back in the Premier League this season. Despite Wan-Bissaka being a player with most tackles and interceptions in the league (great season by him!), Walker being irreplaceable in Manchester City’s squad and Trippier having a great season in Spurs, Alexander-Arnold has shown everyone that he was probably going to be the best right back in the world if he is to continue to play like this. 20 years old Liverpool’s right back has made an impressive 12 assists which made him a defender with the most assists in one Premier League season ever.
- Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) — 7.41
- David Luiz (Chelsea) — 7.27
- Aymeric Laporte (Man City) — 7.19
- John Stones (Man City) — 7.09
One of the centre back spots was secured for this season’s Best player of the Premier League Virgil van Dijk. Dutchman had an amazing season in which he absolutely dominated the field in duels, tackles, interceptions and — absolutely incredible piece of data — he went through the entire season without being dribbled past.
Second centre back spot was taken by Aymeric Laporte who grabbed his place in City’s starting eleven over some world-class defenders such as Kompany, Stones and Otamendi. Laporte has started 34 matches for Manchester City and played the main role in City’s defence, securing 18 clean sheets when he was on the pitch. Now, is it time for Didier Deschamps to call him up to the French national squad?
- Lucas Digne (Everton) — 7.33
- Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) — 7.15
Perhaps the hardest decision of the season. Competition for the spot on the left back position was fierce. Robertson had a great season with 11 assists and he was absolutely dominating on the Liverpool’s left side, many claiming him to be the best left back in the world.
On the other hand we had Lucas Digne whose performances looked fresh and reborn since he came to Everton from Barcelona. Highest average rating of all the left-backs (11th highest in the whole league!), 4 goals and 4 assists in somewhat weaker Everton side, 13 big chances created throughout the season…
In the end, margins decided. Digne was chosen in front of Robertson due to his better all round performance: comparing defensive contribution, we can see that Digne has made more clearances than Robertson (94 vs 31), more interceptions (60 vs 30), fewer errors (0 vs 3) and he has been dribbled fewer times than Robertson (17 vs 31).
To choose between these two was an embarrassment of riches, one would say. Robertson played an amazing season — but little bit off the radar, Lucas Digne won this contest.
We had a total of five different players competing for two spots in central midfield:
- James Maddison (Leicester) — 7.36
- Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) — 7.35
- David Silva (Man City) — 7.32
- İlkay Gündoğan (Man City) — 7.25
- Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) — 7.22
As one can see, all of these players are playing in teams which love to control the possession. Due to how Team of the Season is more often than not chosen, we avoided going for the classic defensive midfielders (apologies, mr. Fabinho and mr. Kanté!) — we were going to put our focus on creativity.
Two best rated players, Maddison and Fraser, had great individual seasons, smashing it in the midfield. Maddison was a player with the most key passes (101) in the Premier League and the 6th best player when talking about a number of big chances created. Fraser’s numbers were even better. With 14 assists he was second in the league, he also made 93 key passes (third in the league) and he was the player with the most big chances created (28 — second only to Messi in the top five leagues!). Had there been three places in central midfield in our Team of the Season, one of them would have definitely found a way to get in. Unfortunately, there was not, and this is why:
David Silva — an obvious choice because he was the most important player in Manchester City’s midfield, midfield of the team with the highest ball possession in the Premier League (68.3%). David Silva is the main conductor of Pep Guardiola’s orchestra, despite some people saying his age is finally catching up with him. David Silva decides which way ball needs to go, should they keep the possession and slow the tempo down, should they attack, should they switch sides or look for a deadly through ball. Being a midfielder with the most passes in the final third this season (774), David Silva’s intelligence is often what enables Guardiola’s team to break down their opponents.
We had another hard choice in between Eriksen and Gündoğan. However, as Spurs managed to secure the fourth spot in the Premier League which secured them a place in the Champions League, and — in absence of Harry Kane, Eriksen played the main role in his team, being a player with the most assists, key passes, big chances created and total passes in Tottenham — our choice went to the Dane whose contribution means that Spurts will, regardless of the result in Madrid, play another season of Europe’s most prestigious competition.
- Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) — 7.44
- Bernardo Silva (Man City) — 7.14
It’s a testimony to Bernardo Silva’s season that we’re even having this discussion — Mohamed Salah was the second highest rated player in the league, scoring 22 goals and assisting for 8 more, completing 80 dribbles and dragging Liverpool on despite the dry spell in February and March.
Yes, Bernardo was really Pep’s chief weapon at times this season, manager’s groundbreaking discovery and an irreplaceable asset of the championship winning squad. With 7 goals scored and 7 more assisted, as well as 10 big chances created, Bernardo Silva put himself into contention to be in the Team of the Season — but maybe the time is not ripe yet. Being only 24 years old, the Portuguese will have a plenty of time to appear.
Had Mesut Özil had a little bit stronger season (5 goals and 2 assists in 24 matches), or had Dele Alli managed to avoid injuries (5 goals and 3 assists in 25 matches), maybe some discussions could’ve surfaced about this spot.
However, this year there were none — this place belongs solely and clearly to Eden Hazard.
Top rated player of the league (7.84), only one to reach 15 goals and assists, completing 138 dribbles (to put it into context, that’s more than Sterling and Sané combined) and creating 18 big chances, Hazard was Chelsea’s main attacking threat and absolutely unplayable on some days.
If the rumours that he’s off to Real Madrid are indeed true, we can only salute him for all the performances he gave to the Premier League fans, and wish him luck in future endeavours.
- Raheem Sterling (Man City) — 7.42
- Sadio Mané (Liverpool) — 7.36
Another hard dilemma.
Mané shared the Golden Boot, scoring 22 goals this season(!), and he was the one to put Liverpool on his shoulders during Salah’s drop out of form in late winter.
Despite Senegalese winger being able to find crucial goals out of nowhere, we still decided for Raheem Sterling.
Despite scoring only 17 goals, Sterling also added 10 assists and created 12 big chances for his team, as well as completing 82 dribbles to rip the defences open. All that secured him higher average rating (3rd best player in the league) and ultimately a deserved spot in the Team of the Season.
- Sergio Agüero (Man City) — 7.39
- Harry Kane (Tottenham) — 7.29
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) — 7.11
- Jamie Vardy (Leicester) — 7.05
Four horsemen of the attack-alypse (ok, sorry, that was bad) have been in contention for the glorious place in the attack of our Team of the Season.
Aubameyang finished the season sharing the Golden Boot with Salah and Mané (22 goals each), and if he didn’t fail to score two more easy chances in the final game of the season, he might’ve yet had the glory all for himself, and the spot in this team as well.
And while the English duo Kane and Vardy had respectful returns once more (England captain’s season being marred due to few injuries), we decided to put Sergio Agüero in the top of the attack.
Scoring 21 goals, but also adding 8 assists and 6 big chances created, ‘Kun’ managed to achieve the highest SofaScore average rating of all the central forwards. His contribution to Man City’s squad can’t be measured by numbers, and it’s enough to point out that 3 of their 4 Premier League defeats this season came when Agüero was either injured or recovering from the injury.