• Matthew Whiley

Team of the Premier League So Far

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

The Premier League has been back for just over a month, and so far, it certainly hasn't disappointed, has it?

Well, the action hasn't, at least. More about pay-per-view and Project Big Picture another time, I think. Spoiler alert: look away if you thought either of those were a good idea.

Anyway, although it hurts to see the empty stands, the quality of football has been excellent so far, and one thing that's really struck everyone, besides the current top two having a very 1980s feel about it, is the number of goals we've seen.

48 games, or just over one-eighth of the season, has gone by so far, and the figure for goals-per-game currently stands at 3.58. For context, the figure for the 2019-20 season was 2.72 per game, and for 2018-19, it was 2.82.

Maybe Covid-19 is playing a role in discouraging defenders from getting too close to the opposition strikers, but one thing is clear - with the level of quality we've seen so far this season, it's been hard to pick a stand-out XI, but I've done my best to give it a go, plumping for a 4-1-3-2 formation.

I'm sure this won't cause any controversy at all, will it?!

Goalkeeper: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)

The big Argentine moved to the Midlands from Arsenal this summer for a fee that could reach £20 million, having made only 38 appearances for the Gunners' senior side since joining their youth set-up in 2010. With three clean sheets and 14 saves from four games, he's been instrumental in Villa having the league's only 100% record, and he also threw in a penalty save (on his debut, no less), stopping John Lundstram's effort in a 1-0 win over Sheffield United.

Left Back: Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United)

The modern full back is closer in his style of play to a winger than a defender. Flying up the touchline, it's his job to plant in crosses and create opportunities from the wide areas - well, West Ham's Cresswell certainly does that. He's put in 33 crosses in just five games this season and bagged himself three assists in the process, a league-high for a defender, including two in the 3-0 shock win at Leicester before the international break.

Centre Back: Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa)

It was a close call between Mings and his central defence partner Ezri Konsa for the first centre back spot, but Mings just takes it for me. Both Konsa and Mings have a goal, but Mings also has an assist - of Konsa, coincidentally, in Villa's win over Sheffield United. In addition, his 100% tackle success rate and 23 clearances mean he's been as influential as Martinez in Villa having conceded a league-low two goals in their excellent season so far.

Centre Back: Gabriel Magalhães (Arsenal)

Gabriel is the second man to make this team who swapped sides over the summer, joining Arsenal from Lille in a £27m deal, with Sky reporting that the highly-rated young Brazilian picked the Gunners over Manchester United, Everton, and Napoli. From his performances so far, it's not difficult to see why Europe's elite, and Everton, wanted him. He scored on his debut in a 3-0 opening day win at promoted London neighbours Fulham, and has since played a full 90 minutes four times this season as Arsenal have formed the league's second-stingiest back line.

Right Back: Timothy Castagne (Leicester City)

Another new recruit to the Premier League this season, Leicester signed Castagne for £21 million from Serie A outfit Atalanta after Ben Chilwell's departure to Chelsea, but he's since become more settled on the right flank. He's rewarded their investment with a tidy return of two assists and a goal, the latter of which was very similar to Gabriel's - it also came on his debut, also in a 3-0 opening day win, and also at a promoted team, on this occasion, West Brom.

Defensive Midfielder: Allan (Everton)

Picking a defensive midfielder can be difficult, because they don't often stick their head above the parapet - they knuckle down, do the hard yards in the middle of the park, and ensure everyone else can do their jobs to the best of their ability. Allan doesn't have any goals or assists, but Carlo Ancelotti really rates the Brazilian, and once you probe a bit deeper, it's not hard to see why. His energy, passing, and composure when he's on the ball have been brilliant, and he's fired in nine accurate long balls, really helping to get the best out of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He's improved Everton's midfield by a factor of ten.

Left Winger: Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)

This man is an absolute gem of a footballer, and has been for a long time. He's finally getting some of the credit he deserves, but he's long been one of the best players in the league, and I'm a huge fan. He's formed a telepathic partnership with Harry Kane this season, with the England captain assisting six of his joint-league-high seven goals. He's begun to return the favour as well, assisting Kane twice in the last two games. That simply magnificent four-goal game at Southampton will live long in the memory too.

Attacking Midfielder: James Rodríguez (Everton)

This was the signing of the season, bar none. He was free as well! James has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, and it's no coincidence that Everton have done as well as they have since he arrived. All too often, young players sign for an elite club, don't get in the team, and their career tails off, but James has lost none of his considerable ability despite falling out of favour at Real Madrid. He's netted and assisted three times, and it's led to Carlo's Everton being one of the early teams to beat.

Right Winger: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)

I'm possibly playing Aston Villa's talisman out of position a bit, but he's definitely capable of playing on the wing and he simply has to be in this team, so out wide he goes. Grealish has certainly picked up this season where he left off in the last, posing a constant threat to opposition defenders with his pace and guile, scoring three goals - Villa's highest this season - and assisting three more, in just four games. He made his full England bow just before the start of the domestic season, which was richly deserved, and Villa have pulled off a brilliant bit of business by tying him down to a new long-term contract.

Striker: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)

It would be insane not to, wouldn't it? The unbelievable goalscoring form of DCL sees him stroll into this team as the league's joint-top scorer, level with Son. After netting just 24 times in 114 games prior to this season, he's set the league on fire with seven in five. It's led to a debut England call for him as well, and what else could he do against Wales at Wembley other than score on his debut? All I can say to the defenders yet to face him is, well, good luck.

Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

England's captain has turned provider this term, laying opportunities on a plate left, right, and centre for Son to tuck away, as he's made seven assists, a figure that leads the league and is just one fewer than his previous three seasons combined. The huge upturn in his provider ability hasn't diminished his goalscoring skill either, as he's also netted five times, which is joint-fourth in the league. He remains one of Europe's elite strikers, and I'm glad he's English.


Goalkeeper: Karl Darlow (Newcastle)

His league-high 28 saves mean he has to be in the picture, but Martinez's three clean sheets to Darlow's one put the Villa man ahead.

Defender: Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)

Chelsea have got themselves a brilliant full-back. That league debut performance against Crystal Palace was special, but Cresswell's three assists to Chilwell's two see him swipe the left back spot.

Defender: Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton)

Salvaged a point with a late, late goal at Chelsea in their last game and has a 100% tackle success rate. Makes a strong case for inclusion in the first XI, but Gabriel just squeaks it for now.

Midfielder: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

Manchester United's top scorer and joint-top assister this season has been continually brilliant since his January move from Sporting Lisbon, but James has fired Everton to the top, while Bruno's United sit 15th.

Midfielder: John McGinn (Aston Villa)

Another Villa player who's been inspired this year, notching four assists, but I'd say James's individual influence on Everton has been greater than McGinn's on Villa.

Attacker: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

I love him, and it doesn't feel great to bench a Red in favour of a Toffee, but Calvert-Lewin has been amazing this season.

Attacker: Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

I love him as well, given his Halifax connection, but he's behind Calvert-Lewin and Kane for the same reasons, despite a brilliant haul of five goals this season, including three at Manchester City.

There we have it. I wonder who would manage the side? Let me know your thoughts by commenting on Facebook or replying on Twitter. I think we'll have to do this again later in the season and see who remained consistent, and who turned out to be a flash in the pan.

Signing off,