2017/18 Premier League Combined XI
About this time last season I decided to go and check all the stats I could find and examine them all to figure out what had been the Premier League’s best combined eleven of the campaign.
On top of fact-checking sites such as WhoScored, I’ve also been taking into account overall performances, influence, consistency, technical ability as well as general information from TheSportsman.com in order to find this year’s best starting eleven. Although there are still 8 games to go (or 7 for some of the league), I feel it’s late enough on in the season to make the assessment; so who makes the team?
GK – David De Gea. Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper has the most clean sheets in the league so far this season, and has received more shots on goal than any of the next 5 keepers in the clean sheets leaderboard by quite a way. This shows that not only does he have an organised and effective defence in front of him, but that when called upon the Spaniard is a brilliant shot-stopper. Nick Pope also came extremely close to being on the team, with Burnley’s fantastic showing this season owing a lot to its defence and Nick Pope in particular for his brilliant performances between the sticks.
LB – Ashley Young. Another that makes the list from United, the winger-turned-left back has the highest average match rating according to WhoScored with a 7.26, and has earned himself 4 Man of the Match awards throughout the campaign. Add to that his attacking capabilities which have contributed 2 goals and 3 assists to his side, and you have to say the Englishman has adjusted very well to his new position.
CB – Nicolas Otamendi. The Manchester City centre-back has an incredible pass success rate of 92%, in large part due to Pep Guardiola’s style of playing out from the back. On top of this, the Argentinean has been scored 4 goals for his side and earned himself Man of the Match 5 times, which is even more impressive than it sounds on the surface when you consider the other players he’s on the pitch with week in, week out.
CB – James Tarkowski. Burnley’s number 5 has been a beast in the air this season, having won an average of 5.1 aerial duels per game, and has been a rock at the back for high-flying Burnley. He has won Man of the Match 4 times in the league this season and according to WhoScored.com has gained an average rating of 7.35. Despite Arsenal’s less-than-satisfactory season, one positive for them has been honourable mention Shkodran Mustafi, who has played consistently well and scored 3 much-needed goals for the Gunners.
RB – Antonio Valencia. It’s no coincidence that 3 of the 5 defensive players in this team are from Manchester United. Mourinho has them well-drilled and well-disciplined in defence, with them looking very sturdy at the back almost all of the time this season, and Valencia has shown that even at age 32 you can contend with the aggressive and energetic pace of the Premier League.
LM – Raheem Sterling. With 15 goals and 7 assists in 22 starts, Raheem Sterling has shown once again that he is improving season after season. Though in the past finishing has been one of his weaknesses, and while he has missed a sitter or two this season, for the most part he’s shown that he has added goals to his game. Mind you, when you’ve got Kevin De Bruyne playing perfect passes to you all game every game, you’re bound to score a few. Teammate Leroy Sane and rival Eden Hazard have also had fantastic seasons, helping their teams going forward and providing some of the best pieces of skill all season.
CM – David Silva. Yet another Manchester City player, David Silva has contributed to 17 goals this season, being voted Man of the Match 4 times and earning an average rating of 7.62. While Silva has been running the midfield at City for years, being one of the most underrated players in the world due to his ‘behind the scenes’ work, his technical ability and eye for goal has proven more prominent than ever this season, and he’s finally getting some much-deserved recognition. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba has only started 18 times this season, but when he’s been fit he’s played well, scoring 3 league goals and providing 9 assists. Who knows, had he not gotten injured we might be looking at a much closer title race.
CM – Kevin De Bruyne. Many have called De Bruyne the next best player on the planet after Messi this season, and truthfully it’s fully-deserved praise. Everything the Belgian has touched seems to have turned to gold, with him showing that he is one of the best passers of the ball in the world, having racked up an amazing 14 assists, as well as 7 goals and an average rating of 7.91, the highest in the league, and landing the midfielder 7 Man of the Match awards. He’s proving to be the player and assist-king that for years many hoped Mesut Ozil could’ve been.
RM – Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian has hit the ground running since joining Liverpool this season, having contributed to 32 league goals in 27 starts so far, more than any other player in the league. With 28 goals and 9 assists he stands 4 goals ahead of the currently-injured Harry Kane, looking more than likely to win the Golden Boot at the end of the season.
ST - Sergio Aguero. The City striker has lost out on a bit of game time this season with manager Pep Guardiola opting for Gabriel Jesus ahead of the 29-year-old at times, but he’s still managed to net 21 goals in 22 league starts and has also managed 6 assists. An average rating of 7.88, the second highest behind teammate Kevin De Bruyne, Aguero has continued to show us why he’s one of the best players in the league, and one of the best strikers in the world.
ST – Harry Kane. The English striker has scored 24 league goals in 28 starts, and had it not been for his recent ankle injury against Bournemouth ruling him out until an estimated April 14th, he may well have been on his way to another Golden Boot award.
So there you have it, the Premier League starting eleven according to statistics. Let's hope those forwards keep scoring for a tight and fruitful Golden Boot race!