What a season it has been so far in the 2016-17 Premier League season. We’ve seen records be broken, new players hit the ground running and one spectacular team completely storm over all others. This is the Team of the Season Halfway Through 2016-17 in the English Premier League! Enjoy!
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
Team of the Week Appearances: 4
16 appearances, 3.63 saves per game, 100% of crosses claimed, 2.15 saves per goal
22-year old goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has been outstanding this year and has been a silver lining in what has been a disastrous start to the season for David Moyes and Sunderland. The British goalkeeper has made more Team of the Week appearances on The Mastermind so far this season than any other goalkeeper in Europe, proving just how exceptional he has been. 3.63 saves per game isn’t bad at all while 2.15 saves per goal, the 7th best tally in the league is also enough to evidence to tell you just how good Jordan Pickford has been this season. He’s also claimed 100% of his crosses and was single-handedly the reason for all four of Sunderland’s wins so far this term. He was unfortunate to pick up an ACL injury in training recently but if he can bounce back and continue to play like this upon his return than Jordan Pickford certainly has a very bright future ahead of him.
Right Back: Cesar Azpilicueta
Team of the Week Appearances: 2
19 appearances, 80 clearances, 37 tackles, 40 interceptions, 10 chances created.
A key member of Chelsea’s incredible back three, Cesar Azpilicueta has arguably been better than any other defender in the Premier League so far this season. Despite only making two team of the week appearances, Azpilicueta has starred at right centre back, a new position to him, in all of Chelsea’s matches since the Blues moved to a back three and has played every single minute of every single game so far this campaign. In every area of the game the Spanish defender has been excellent so far this season. He has been involved in Chelsea’s attacking play with 10 chances created, 1 assist and 48 successful long ball passes while he has also been brilliant in possession of the football, completing 1,021 total passes (only Pogba and Henderson have completed more) with an accuracy rate of 88%. On top of that he has also been superb in defense, always winning individual battles, completing 2 tackles per game, 2.1 interceptions per game and 4.2 clearances per game as Chelsea have kept 11 clean sheets. Cesar Azpilicueta has had a magnificent season so far, has adjusted to his new role as a centre half wonderfully well and may be the best defender in the league at this moment in time.
Centre Back: Jan Vertonghen
Team of the Week Appearances: 1
18 appearances, 173 clearances, 28 interceptions, 77% of aerial duels won
A player who has been living in the shadows of Toby Alderweireld these past two seasons, Jan Vertonghen has emerged as Tottenham’s best defender this season particularly since the absence of his partner at the back. Vertonghen has played in all of the matches so far except for the most recent one in which he was suspended for, helping Tottenham to 7 clean sheets along the way. The Belgian’s defense awareness has been second to none in the Premier League and he has never been caught out of position nor made any kind of defensive mistake at all. His most impressive statistic is his 173 clearances so far this campaign, the second highest in the league only behind Steve Cook of Bournemouth. Vertonghen’s also been excellent in the air, winning 77% of his aerial battles to claim a total of 62 duels. He’s also even completed all 10 of the take-on’s he’s attempted proving how hard it is to knock him off the ball, even when he’s going forward. Jan Vertonghen is an excellent player and now is finally out of the shadows of Toby Alderweireld as he is the standout central defender of the season so far.
Left Back: James Milner
Team of the Week Appearances: 5
17 appearances, 5 goals, 26 chances created, 65 clearances, 73% shot accuracy
James Milner has been the best left-back in the league this season and he isn’t even a natural left-back! The retired England international has been brilliant in that position all season long for Jurgen Klopp’s side in all areas of the pitch and has looked so much more comfortable in that position than anyone could have imagined. Milner has made a total of 5 Team of the Week appearances so far on The Mastermind, more than any other defender in the Premier League and his 5 goals with 2 assists so far is by far the highest of any defender in the league as well. He’s been a key organizer of the Reds’ defense and his 65 clearances so far this season is the second highest of any Liverpool player. Meanwhile going forward he’s also been excellent creating 26 chances and having 73% of the shots he’s taken so far hit the target. James Milner has been absolutely integral in every regard to Liverpool’s success so far this campaign, missing just two matches so far as they sit in second in the table.
Defensive Midfield: Jordan Henderson
Team of the Week Appearances: 3
19 appearances, 1 goal, 4 assists, 57 tackles, 33 interceptions, 1,391 passes
Despite not receiving worldwide recognition like players such as Diego Costa, Philippe Coutinho or Eden Hazard, Jordan Henderson has arguably been this season’s standout performer. The defensive midfielder has been integral so far to Liverpool’s success so far and has captained them to 13 wins in 19 matches, the second highest total in the league. Henderson has been crucial for the Reds in all areas of the game. His tally of 4 assists in the league doesn’t do justice to his 23 chances created and neither does the one goal that he’s scored do justice to how crucial he has been to Liverpool’s attacking play as well. His work rate in defense has been instrumental to Liverpool as well, completing 57 tackles, 33 interceptions and 34 clearances to help ease the pain of Liverpool’s struggling goalkeepers and work-in-process back-line. But the most impressive part of Henderson’s game so far this season has been his ability in possession of the ball. The British midfielder has completed more passes, 1,391, than any other player in the league; 310 higher than second place Paul Pogba and despite always looking for extravagant passes has completed 87% of those attempted. Jordan Henderson is a magnificent player and has been absolutely instrumental to Liverpool’s success so far this campaign, becoming accustomed to the defensive midfield role and playing it better than any other player in Europe so far this season.
Centre Midfield: Adam Lallana
Team of the Week Appearances: 3
17 appearances, 7 goals, 7 assists, 69% shots on target, 86% pass accuracy
Adam Lallana has been so good this season that a formation change to a back three had to occur just so that the British midfielder could be included in this team. His positional change to right centre midfield has been one of Klopp’s best ever moves and Adam Lallana has been incredible in all 17 matches he has played this season. An ambidextrous player with fantastic ability in all areas of the attacking game, Lallana has been unbelievably good this season, scoring 7 goals with 7 assists as Liverpool sit second in the table! On top of those numbers, Lallana has also created 14 other chances and has had 69% of his shots on target so far, proving how capable he is in attacking areas. So smooth and comfortable on the ball, the English midfielder has also completed 21 take-on’s and has completed 86% of his passes this campaign. Adam Lallana has always been a magnificent player but this season has just been on a whole new level, becoming one of the best players in the league again as Liverpool look like title contenders.
Attacking Midfield: Philippe Coutinho
Team of the Week Appearances: 5
13 appearances, 5 goals, 5 assists, 33 chances created, 33 take-on’s
Philippe Coutinho has been injured for over a month now but has still been one of this season’s standout stars. With 5 goals and 5 assists, the Brazilian playmaker was in the best form of his life in the first 13 matches of the season before he suffered a knee injury against Sunderland. Liverpool have managed to cope in his absence but it is still undeniable how integral he is to everything they do. In addition, Coutinho has created 33 chances this season, has completed 33 dribbles and has had 17 shots on target, always acting as Liverpool’s liveliest attacker. Philippe Coutinho is just a brilliant player and was so unfortunate to get injured just when he was in the best form of his entire career. If he can bounce back strong and lead Liverpool to second place finish or higher, Coutinho will certainly be on his way to earning another PFA Premier League Team of the Year appearance.
Right Wing: Sadio Mane
Team of the Week Appearances: 6
18 appearances, 8 goals, 4 assists, 42 take-on’s, 29 chances created
No player has made more Team of the Week appearances in the Premier League this season than Sadio Mane. The Senegalese wing wizard has been amazing to start life at Liverpool and has arguably been their best player as they sit second in the table. Full of energy, liveliness, pace, power and a goal scoring touch to match, Mane has been impossible to stop this season and has given every left-back in the league a nightmare this season. With 8 goals this season, he is Liverpool’s top scorer and is only 3 away from matching the total that he achieved last season. His 4 assists this season is also just 2 away from matching what he achieved with the Saints in that category as well while 6 team of the week appearances this season is more than any other right-winger in Europe’s top 5 leagues. Sadio Mane is an incredible player, has been one of Liverpool’s star performers this season and is completely living up to the big price tag that Liverpool paid for him in the summer.
Centre Forward: Alexis Sanchez
Team of the Week Appearances: 5
19 appearances, 12 goals, 7 assists, 51 chances created, 49 take-on’s, 19 tackles
Since moving from right-wing to centre forward, Alexis Sanchez has been impossible to stop and has been far and away Arsenal’s star man this season. The Chilean should have probably been tired from all of his exertions at the Copa America in the summer where he led his country to glory for the second year in a row but he still continues to show no signs of exhaustion at all, giving it his all as he has featured in all 19 Premier League matches this season. With 12 goals and 7 assists in 19 matches, Sanchez had already achieved more than the 13 goals + 4 assists he achieved in 30 appearances in 2015-16. Moreover, his 51 chances created is the 4th highest in the league and his 49 successful take-on’s is the sixth best in the league. Sanchez has also done his defensive work with 19 tackles and has just been so integral to Arsenal’s success this season. The Gunners might not be sitting anywhere near the top of the table right now, but Sanchez is the type of player who definitely deserves to be up there with his performances so far this season.
Left Wing: Eden Hazard
Team of the Week Appearances: 5
18 appearances, 9 goals, 2 assists, 39 chances created, 86 take-on’s, most fouled player
If you asked anyone who the best player in the Premier League has been so far this season they would either say Eden Hazard or the man below. Hazard has been so much better than he was last season and is having his best ever season as a Chelsea Blue under Antonio Conte right now. In 18 appearances so far this term Hazard has found the back of the net 9 times and has added another two assists to his name. He’s also managed far and away the highest total of successful take-on’s this season with a stunning tally of 86, has created 39 chances and has been fouled 60 times, more than any other player in the league. Eden Hazard is just a magnificent player and when he is in this kind of form it is hard to deny that he is one of the world’s brightest stars.
Strike: Diego Costa
Team of the Week Appearances: 4
18 appearances, 14 goals, 5 assists, 49 times fouled, 28 chances created, 23 clearances
My personal choice for Player of the Season So Far, Diego Costa has been Chelsea’s key man this season and has been integral to their incredible 13-game unbeaten run. In 18 games so far this season, Costa has scored an incredible tally of 14 goals and has added a further tally of 5 assists, the most goals and tied for the most goals + assists in the league this season with Alexis Sanchez. He looks absolutely destined to win the Golden Boot at this point but it’s been so much more than just the goals from Diego Costa this season. His link up play, movement and defensive work ethic have all been second to none when comparing him to other centre forwards and he has an incredible habit of bringing others into the game and dropping deep to help out whenever needed. Furthermore, the Spanish striker has been fouled 49 times, the third highest in the league, has created 28 chances, has had 62% of his shots on target, a very good tally for a striker and he’s even helped out in defense with 23 clearances. Diego Costa is a brilliant striker, the best in the league and has had a magnificent start to this Premier League season as Chelsea sit as league leaders.
Although it may seem a little crazy, this team may look overly-attack minded on paper but in reality will have no problem defending. Sanchez, Mane and Lallana all have incredible defensive work rates and Henderson is tough as nails in defensive midfield. Meanwhile, Milner and Azpilicueta will do what their told and any forward will do well to get past Jan Vertonghen. And if all else fails with Pickford in goal good luck scoring.
Substitutes: Lee Grant, David Luiz, Virgil Van Dijk, Victor Moses, N’Golo Kante, Ander Herrera, Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Player of the Season So Far: Diego Costa
Costa has just been so influential to Chelsea’s attacking play and he does what no other centre forward has the ability or work ethic to do. Not only does he lead the league in goals with 14, but he’s also added 5 assists proving how willing he is to set other players up and be the provider as well. The Brazilian born striker has also been so much more disciplined under Antonio Conte and has done excellently well to pick up just five yellow cards this season. With his fantastic ability in all areas of the game, particularly his goal scoring touch, brute force in attack and fantastic work rate, Diego Costa is the Player of the Season So Far!
Manager of the Season So Far: Antonio Conte
Manager of the Week Awards: 5
19 matches, 16 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses, 11 clean sheets, 42 goals scored, 13 goals conceded
Antonio Conte is an easy choice for Manager of the Season So Far and might just be one of the best the Premier League has ever seen. Chelsea are flying high right now and with the way his players are going at the moment, the sky is the limit for his side as they look to win the Premier League in his first season in charge. Since a shocking 3-0 defeat to Arsenal on the 24th of September and a switch to a back-three, the Blues have gone 13 games unbeaten and have been so impressive that nearly every other team in the Premier League has tried out a 3-man defense system due to the manager’s success. The Blues have posted up several impressive displays this season, including a 5-0 win over Everton, a masterclass of a performance in counter-attacking football in a 2-1 victory over Spurs and a massively important 3-1 win over title rivals Manchester City. Conte’s setup and mindset that he has in instilled in every single one of his players has been unbelievable as the manager has really turned them into one big happy family. The Italian manager just knows how to get the best out of his players and make them full confidence and all of his starting players are playing their best ever football at the moment. What he has done with the front three players in Pedro, Hazard and Costa in particular has been incredible, giving them the freedom to go on and play and roam around the pitch and not forcing them to stay in their normal positions. Meanwhile he’s even turned Victor Moses into the best right-wing-back in the league and has fixed every single problem that the Blues had the season before. Antonio Conte has undeniably been the best manager in the Premier League so far and has made this Chelsea team one of the most impressive units English football has ever seen.
So there it is! The Premier League Team of the Season after 19 games. Who would make your team? Comment below to join the discussion! Thanks for reading and don’t miss the Premier League Team of the Month for December coming very, very soon. See you then and bye for now!