This week I have predicted the 2018/2019 Premier League team of the season. I expect that many of you may disagree with my selections as there are a few surprises in my team. The formation that I have decided to use is the standard 4-3-3 as it is the most used formation in the league.
GOALKEEPER: DAVID DE GEA (MANCHESTER UNITED)
This the position where I had to do the most research because there are at least three viable selections. The standard of goalkeeping has improved greatly in the Premier League, but three players are head and shoulders above the rest. Those are de Gea of Manchester United, Ederson of Manchester City and Alisson Becker of Liverpool. All three have had great seasons and have made notable contributions to their team’s successes. However, I had to go with David de Gea of Manchester United.
All three have had exceptional seasons, but Alisson and Ederson have benefited from playing behind two of the league’s best defenses. Manchester United do not have the caliber of defender that the other two teams have. Try comparing Smalling with van Dijk or Laporte, you simply cannot. Though Alisson and Ederson have kept more clean sheets than de Gea, 17 and 15 to de Gea’s 7, a large part of that is due to the defensive capabilities of their teams.
For example, de Gea has had to make the third most saves in the league. His number of 104 saves is far greater than Alisson’s, who has made 64 saves, and much higher than Ederson’s who has made 47. De Gea has had to do far more work than any other goalkeeper in the top 6.
No keeper has had as many season-defining moments as de Gea. From saving over 10 shots in one half against Spurs to his recent display against Watford, no other goalkeeper contributes more to their team than de Gea. Manchester United need to sign him to a long-term contract.
RIGHT-BACK: TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (LIVERPOOL)
Again, this selection was an extremely difficult one to make as Crystal Palace’s Wan-Bissaka has been exceptional. Kyle Walker of Manchester City can also feel hard done by not getting a place in my team of the season, but Alexander-Arnold has been amazing this season. The right-back is one of the best full-backs in world soccer; which is crazy given the fact that he is only 20 years old.
The right-back position plays a crucial role in Klopp’s system. The significance of this means that Alexander-Arnold must make contributions on the defensive and offensive sides of the pitch.
On the defensive end, Alexander-Arnold averages 2.1 tackles per game, 1.2 interceptions per game and 2 clearances per game. The young right-back has also scored 1 goal this season and has 6 assists to his name. When adding into consideration his offensive numbers, which sees him average 1 shot per game, 1.5 key passes per game and 0.5 dribbles per game; you can see why Alexander-Arnold is the prime example of the modern full-back. His offensive and defensive contributions have seen him become the best right-back in the league.
CENTRE-BACK: VIRGIL VAN DIJK (LIVERPOOL)
This is selection will generate the least amount of controversy as the centre-back has been a monster this season. When he made his big-money move to Liverpool, from Southampton, many questioned the transfer fee involved. However, van Dijk has proven to be worth every cent. In American sports, pundits often speak of transformational talents that can change the fate of a franchise. Well, van Dijk is having this effect in Liverpool as he has transformed the club’s fortunes.
When watching van Dijk play, you feel that you are watching an elite defender and the advanced metrics back this up. Though he has contributed with 3 goals and 1 assist from centre-back, it is his defensive numbers that are exceptional. The defender averages 1 tackle per game, 1.2 interceptions per game and a staggering 5.3 clearances per game. When coupled with his pass completion rate of 89.6%, you can see why many pundits have labelled him as a complete defender. Van Dijk is under consideration for the player of the season award and he walks into this team.
CENTRE-BACK: AYMERIC LAPORTE (MANCHESTER CITY)
FIFA lovers all around the world have known of Laporte’s talents. He was one of the first player’s that everyone signed in their managerial careers, as he would grow into one of the best centre-backs on the game. His growth as a player is illustrating a similar trend as the 24-year-old is becoming one of the elite defenders in Europe. His game makes a mockery of his young age as he has the positional sense and composure of a veteran. After his big money move from Athletic Bilbao, the Frenchman’s game has gone to new heights under the guidance of Pep Guardiola.
Laporte is everything that you would expect from a Guardiola favorite. He has supreme technical abilities and is at ease with the ball at his feet. Currently, he has 2 goals to his name, but it is his defensive work which is enhancing his reputation. He averages 1.1 tackles per game, 1.8 interceptions per game and averages a staggering 3.1 clearances per game. He has been amazing at the back this season.
Guardiola’s philosophy has already been dissected in my Manager’s Corner segment and Laporte is the perfect centre-back to play in Guardiola’s system. His defensive work and his ability to pass the ball, as his 92.8% passing completion rate indicates, means that Laporte is an all-around defender.
LEFT-BACK: ANDREW ROBERTSON (LIVERPOOL)
Another Liverpool defender has made it into this team of the season and Andrew Robertson deserves his place. He is a key part of Klopp’s system and he has enhanced his reputation in the world of soccer. PSG are rumored to be tabling a $50 million dollar bid for the Scotsman, but it will need a far greater fee than that to prize him away from the Merseyside club.
Robertson is best known for his marauding runs down Liverpool’s left-hand side which is enabled by his incredible fitness levels. This allows him to make an impact on both the defensive and offensive segments of the pitch. For example, Robertson has not scored a goal in the league this season, but he does have 9 assists to his name.
Coupled with his average of 1.4 key passes a game and his 82.2% pass completion rate; you can see why Robertson is a threat on the offensive side of the pitch. Also, his defensive numbers rank amongst some of the best in the league as he averages 2.4 tackles per game, 0.9 interceptions per game and 1.4 clearances per game. The young Scotsman’s game has gone to new heights this season and he is the best left-back in the league.
CENTRAL-DEFENSIVE-MIDFIELDER: RUBEN NEVES (WOLVES)
Kante is the best central-defensive-midfielder in the world. Which makes it even crazier that Chelsea continues to play him out of position. If he were playing in his usual position, I am almost certain that he would have made my team of the season. Having said that, Ruben Neves of Wolves has been incredible this year.
The youngster made an interesting move when he first signed for Wolves as they were in the Championship when he arrived, which is a division below the Premier League. He may be a Wolves player now, but he is going to go to bigger and better things soon. Manchester City is rumored to be tabling an offer in excess of $80 million dollars for the Portuguese international and he would be worth every cent.
Neves is the modern central-defensive-midfielder that every team wants. His defensive work is admirable as he averages 2.2 tackles per game, 2.3 interceptions per game and 1 clearance per game. When coupled with his 3 goals and 2 assists, one can see why he is earmarked as a player that can become the best central-defensive-midfielder in the world. Neves has had a stellar season this year and higher honors certainly await the young starlet.
CENTRE MIDFIELDER: PAUL POGBA (MANCHESTER UNITED)
When Mourinho was the manager of Manchester United, nobody could have predicted that Poga would end up in anyone’s team of the season. However, the arrival of Solskjaer has seen the Frenchman’s fortunes change. He has started to remind us why he is one of the best midfielders in world soccer.
One of the best aspects of Pogba’s game is his passing range. From 5 yard passes to 50-yard passes; Pogba is one of the best passers in the world. He averages 1.5 key passes per game and 4.8 long balls per game, all with a pass completion rate of 83.3%. Pogba is Manchester United’s talisman and is one of the most productive players at the club. The midfielder has 11 goals and 9 assists to his name, meaning that he is having one of the most prolific seasons in his career.
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of Pogba’s game is the contributions he makes on the defensive end of the pitch. By averaging 1.4 tackles per game, 0.5 interceptions per game and 1 clearance per game; Pogba has shown that he is a complete midfielder. Pogba has all the skills needed to become the best midfielder in the world and it is no surprise that Real Madrid is rumored to be interested in the French World Cup winner.
CENTRE MIDFIELDER: CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR)
The Danish midfielder has cemented his reputation of being one of the best midfielders in the Premier League and he has been a key component in Spurs’ successes these past few seasons. Previously, Eriksen would display glimpses of his prodigious talents, but he has brought a level of consistency to his game that was once missing. The Dane has drawn the interests from Europe’s major clubs. It is rumored that PSG and Real Madrid are tabling offers in excess of $100 million dollars for the midfielder.
As usual, his offensive numbers are incredible as he has become a midfielder that dominates the flow of a game. Eriksen has only scored 5 goals in the league this season, but his 10 assists mean that he is second in the assist charts. By averaging 2 shots per game, 2 key passes per game and 0.4 dribbles per game; Eriksen has continued to enhance his reputation of being an incredible offensive force.
Having said that, his defensive numbers have also improved greatly this season and he now impacts both sides of the game. Eriksen averages 1.2 tackles per game, 0.5 interceptions per game and 1.2 defensive dribbles per game; meaning that Eriksen has become much more than just a midfielder that can attack. Eriksen is one of the best midfielders in world soccer and Spurs face a real battle to retain his services for next season.
RIGHT-WING: RAHEEM STERLING (MANCHESTER CITY)
This next selection is another no brainer. Raheem Sterling has been in fine form this season and has taken another step towards becoming a world class player. We have already taken an in-depth look into Sterling’s progression this season, which you can be found by clicking here, and I have praised him for bouncing back from a disappointing World Cup. He has become a key component in Manchester City’s starting lineup and he is deserving of all the plaudits he has received this season.
Offensively, Sterling is having the best season of his career. Sterling is one of the best goal-scorers in the league. He has scored 15 goals this season which puts him in 6th position in the goal-scoring charts. Also, Sterling ranks 3rd in the league for assists as he has 9 assists to his name. Sterling has become an all-around attacker and his contributions have been key to Manchester City’s fortunes this season.
Sterling has become a handful for opposition defenders as he averages 2.2 shots per game, 2.1 key passes per game and 2.5 dribbles per game. Another way in which Sterling has improved is in his ability on the ball. He now has a pass completion rate of 86.1% and has silenced the critics that once said he was wasteful when in possession of the ball. The sky is the limit for Sterling and I cannot wait to see how his career continues to progress.
LEFT-WING: SADIO MANE (LIVERPOOL)
After Liverpool’s incredible season last year, who would have thought that Mane would be in a team of the season over Salah? I certainly did not. Salah has been incredibly inconsistent this year and Mane has stepped up to with vital contributions. The only consistency that used to be in Mane’s game was his inconsistency. However, Mane has taken his game to a new level.
Mane is having the best season of his career and he has become one of the most feared attackers in the Premier League. His blistering pace makes him perfect for Klopp’s system and his attacking output has propelled him into the conversation for the player of the season award.
Though he only has one assist to his name, Mane has scored 17 goals this season which is the joint second most in the league. Mane averages 2.4 shots per game, 1.1 key passes per game and 1.5 dribbles per game. The Senegalese attacker is a handful for all defenders. Though his defensive numbers are nothing to write home about, his offensive contributions have propelled him into my team of the season.
STRIKER: SERGIO AGUERO (MANCHESTER CITY)
When Guardiola first took over at Manchester City it seemed like Aguero’s time at the club was coming to an end. After periods outside of the starting eleven, Aguero has come back with a vengeance. He is now one of the first names on the team sheet and the Argentinian is having a superb season.
In typical Aguero fashion, the Argentinian has been deadly in front goal as he tops the goal-scoring charts with 19 goals. Aguero has always been a natural goal-scorer, but he has also contributed with 7 assists. The Argentinian’s attacking output has been a major factor behind Manchester City’s successes this season as he averages 3.6 shots per game, 1 key pass per game and 1.3 dribbles per game. Also, with all of Manchester City’s players, Aguero has a great pass completion rate which stands at 84.4%. Aguero has been a handful for every side that he has played against this season and he has been the league’s best striker.
Aguero is approaching the end of his time with Manchester City. He has always spoken of his desire to return to Argentina so he can see out his playing career at his boyhood club Independiente. When he calls time on his career at Manchester City he will leave England as a legend. He is already the Manchester City’s highest ever goalscorer and he might leave these shores as the greatest foreign player to have played in the Premier League.
So there you have it. My prediction for the 2018/2019 Premier League team of the season! Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know by getting in touch!
Any suggestions, questions or comments then do not hesitate to get in touch! Remember, if you have any requests for future articles then you all you have to do is ask! Whether it’s about a manager’s tactical philosophy or an in-depth analysis about a specific player, if it is soccer related; I will look into it!