With the Barclays Premier League season coming to a close, the PFA team of the year has been announced. Not surprisingly, it looks considerably different to last season’s 11 which included six players from Chelsea’s title winning side. One year on and a lot has changed. This season has arguably been one of the strangest ever, although thoroughly entertaining! With just four games to go, early season relegation favourites Leicester City are top of the table and could create the most special moment in Premier League history if they become champions.
Therefore the PFA team understandably contains a few Foxes’ stars from their fairy-tale campaign. The squad is dominated by both Leicester and second place Tottenham Hotspur who make up all but three of the 11.
PFA Team of the Year: De Gea, Bellerin, Morgan, Alderweireld, Rose, Mahrez, Alli, Kante, Payet, Kane, Vardy
It’s hard to argue with that team, all selections are justified and understandable on statistics. However it is unfortunate that some of the top flights best performers are inevitably overlooked. Here I offer an alternative eleven which includes those who may have missed out on deserved credit.
Goalkeeper- Kasper Schmeichel
Table toppers Leicester City may have dazzled going forward but because of their defensive prowess, the Foxes have lost just a mere THREE games all season. Two of which were against Arsenal. Like father like son, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has been just as exceptional as former Manchester United stopper Peter Schmeichel. The Danish international has kept a league high of 14 clean sheets alongside PFA selected keeper David de Gea.
The Liverpool full back is likely to be England’s first choice on the right hand side of defence at Euro 2016 and deservedly so. Clyne offers pace and attacking impetus much like Hector Bellerin at Arsenal, the 25 year-old impressed at Southampton and earned a transfer to Anfield last summer. He and Bellerin have been the most consistent right backs this season.
One of the surprise entrants on my shortlist is Scott Dann of Crystal Palace. The 29 year-old has scored more goals than any other Premier League defender this season but has been overlooked by England, perhaps because his side are struggling near the bottom of the table. With Roy Hodgson struggling for options in central defence, Dann deserves to at least be capped once by his country.
With Leicester City captain Wes Morgan included in the PFA team of the year, his defensive partner Robert Huth had to be included in my alternative eleven. The giant German has been a rock this season and has enjoyed his best form in the later years of his career, notably in spells at Stoke City and of course now at Leicester. The 31 year-old has also contributed with three goals so far in 2015/16.
Aaron Cresswell is another English defender who is massively underrated. The 26 year-old has been paramount in West Ham United’s impressive final season at Upton Park but like Scott Dann, has never been considered for England duty. Having raised his game after moving up from Championship side Ipswich Town, Cresswell has been more than dependable for the Irons. He also provides excellent crossing ability from out wide, registering four assists and two goals so far this season. It’s clear that Cresswell is just as good, if not better than capped English left backs Danny Rose, Ryan Bertrand, Luke Shaw and Kieran Gibbs.
Ozil has to be included. The German playmaker is just two assists away from equalling the Premier League record for most assists in one season, after registering 18 already. Strangely, Ozil has been shortlisted for PFA player of the year but unlike other candidates, he doesn’t feature in the team of the season. This has probably been the 27 year-olds best season at Arsenal to date. If it wasn’t for the mid-season injury to Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean would also be on my shortlist.
Much like his Tottenham teammate Dele Alli, versatile midfielder Eric Dier has thrived this season. Spurs are Leicester’s closest challengers for the title but even if they don’t manage to catch Claudio Ranieri’s men they still have an exciting young side that can compete for years to come. Dier’s versatility is his biggest strength as the 22 year-old can play across defence and in holding midfield. He is also an exciting prospect for England and is already consistently performing for the Three Lions.
Yet another Englishman warranting of at least an international call up is West Ham captain, Mark Noble. The box to box midfielder has enjoyed his most consistent season playing in claret and blue. His leadership, passing and tacking ability are key strengths that have been successfully applied this season. At 28 years-old, Noble is in his prime and looks to have lead the Irons to a top six finish and deserves creditability.
Similar to Noble, Danny Drinkwater has been in great form this season. After making his England debut against Holland in March, Drinkwater could be lifting the Premier League trophy with Leicester in a few weeks’ time. Alongside PFA player of the year nominee N’Golo Kante, Drinkwater has been an engine in the Leicester’s tireless midfield.
At just 18 years-old, Marcus Rashford made his Premier League debut at home to Arsenal in February this year. He scored two and assisted once and has kicked on ever since. With seven goals in 13 appearances, Rashford looks like a real prospect and has been a shining light for Manchester United. His progression in such a short space of time is more than commendable.
At just 22 years old, Romelu Lukaku is already one of the best strikers in England’s first division. The big Belgian has netted 25 goals this season and deserves as much credit as England forwards Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy. Everton may be struggling in mid table but if they can keep hold of Lukaku, the Toffees will always provide a real threat going forward.