Picking the PFA Team of the Year (2020-21)

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The 2020-21 Premier League season has certainly been one of the most unprecedented in the history of the competition. Due to the state of the outside world and the novel coronavirus pandemic, very few players and very few teams were able to gain any sense of consistency over the course of the season. Some of those “very few” aforementioned players fall under the star-studded Manchester City umbrella, and were able to escape the heavy storm relatively unscathed. But a few other stars from around the league consistently performed to high levels, and certainly the Citizens can’t claim to have the best player of the season in each and every position. With that, here is our Premier League Team of the Year, as though we were the players picking the team ourselves.

goalkeeper: emiliano martinez

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Arguably the very best goalkeeper in the league this season, Emiliano Martinez has been the best signing Aston Villa could have hoped for. The Villa keeper has saved the fifth most amount of shots in the entire league, with 99, but has only conceded 30 in his 28 matches. Villa face a fair amount of shots outside the box, that part is true, while they have also improved defensively with the signing of Matty Cash and improvement of the other three regulars in the back-four. But you cannot take anything away from the stellar form of Martinez so far. All of the other keepers in the league who have faced a similar amount of shots are well within the bottom half of the table, but Martinez has managed to keep his side in the top ten throughout the season, despite having several games in hand at certain stages. With 14 clean sheets and an impeccable saves per goal conceded ratio of 3.3, the highest in the league, Emiliano Martinez certainly deserves the crown as the goalkeeper of the season.

right back: joao cancelo

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At the start of the season, Joao Cancelo wasn’t even a guaranteed starter for Manchester City. But with Oleksandr Zinchenko out injured, Cancelo was given a run of matches and grew into his own in Pep’s inverted fullback system. The Portuguese defender has been instrumental for the Citizens this season, putting up impressive numbers in both defense and attack. The Portuguese fullback has made the most tackles of any Manchester City player (2.3 per game), and has assisted 3 goals to aid City’s impressive winning record. Easily the best right-back in the league this season, Cancelo has been key to Manchester City’s improved defense, and their ability to keep 16 clean sheets this season.

centre back: john stones

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John Stones has had the season of his life in 2020-21. Revitalized this season under his newfound partnership with Ruben Dias, Stones has been a crucial component to City’s impressive defensive record. The Sky Blues have conceded just 21 goals in 30 matches, with 16 clean sheets along the way. Stones personally has performed well, playing a particularly crucial role in their build-up and the team’s ability to keep possession. Importantly, he’s also chipped in at the other end with 4 goals. Encouragingly for Pep, the Stones and Dias partnership could last another five years. For this season, it’s been paramount to the team’s ability to win the league with ease.


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In just his first season in the Premier League, Ruben Dias has accomplished some remarkable feats. A definite Premier League winner and PFA Player of the Year nominee, Dias has been an instant leader for Pep’s team. With the highest passing percentage the league (93.5%), the Portuguese defender has also been crucial to City’s build-up and possession. Since his arrival, he’s hardly missed a match and hardly missed a tackle, picking up just three bookings in the league. Given that he’s only 23-years-old, Dias looks destined to become the next Vincent Kompany for the team and should be an incredible leader for years to come.


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One of the very best players in the Premier League this season and almost undeniably the best left-back in the league at the moment, Luke Shaw is in the form of his life. After making his big move to United in 2014, Shaw had a difficult spell full of injuries, heartache and criticism. But this season with Alex Telles breathing down his neck, Shaw’s game has soared to new heights and he’s been United’s second best player. The United fullback has assisted 5 goals in his 25 appearances, creating an outrageous 2.1 chances per game from his defensive position. Whether or not United should just continue to sign left-backs until Luke Shaw turns into the best in the world remains to be seen, but it’s been an excellent season for the 25-year old.


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Forming a formidable partnership with Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek, Declan Rice has been immaculate this season at the heart of everything good for West Ham United. The 22-year old plays beyond his years with so much poise, composure and class, dictating the tempo of the game and putting up incredible defensive numbers game in, game out. His statistics in all regards are actually quite good, and he’s been a key figure for a West Ham United side that sit sixth place in the table, to the surprise of absolutely everyone.


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The undeniable surprise of the season – no one would have predicted Ilkay Gundogan would turn into such a capable goal-scorer in 2020-21. The German’s bagged 12 goals in the league, and has done so through clever, intelligent movements forward at exactly the right time – almost Frank Lampard-esque in his play. Gundogan’s always been a neat and tidy footballer and he’s always been important to City’s possession and passing, but his incredible goal-scoring form has been such a pleasant surprise. This was amplified given that the Citizens were playing without a recognized striker for the majority of the season, but it’s still incredible that Gundogan will likely end this season as City’s top scorer. His best goal-scoring season prior to this one was 2018-19, in which he scored 6. The 30-year old only even bagged 2 goals last campaign. His rise really has been remarkable, and so important to City’s ability to sweep the rest of the league away with ease.


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It feels incredibly difficult not to pick Heung-Min-Son in this position (despite also not being a true right winger himself), but Kevin de Bruyne cannot miss out on the Team of the Year. He might have missed a few weeks to injury, but the 29-year old midfielder has still claimed 5 goals and 11 assists in his 23 matches this campaign. With over 3 chances created per game and a simultaneous increase the amount of shots he’s taking on (3.3 per game), de Bruyne has firmly established himself as City’s greatest attacking weapon yet again, as they prepare to win the league in a few weeks time. He’s also improved in possession and defense, while increasingly becoming more and more of a leader for his team. Kevin de Bruyne remains one of the best footballers in the league and has to be selected for the PFA Team of the Year, even if it is a bit out of position.


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Bruno Fernandes has been on a different planet this season, playing an invaluable role in United’s rise to second in the table. Since he joined the club, the Portuguese midfielder has been United’s best player since Wayne Rooney, and looks set to win the PFA Player of the Year for his performances in 2020-21. For an attacking midfielder to score 16 goals with 10 assists in 29 matches is really something remarkable, and sets Bruno apart from any other number ten in the world. Most importantly, he’s led United’s rise up the table and it’s unimaginable to think about where they would be right now without him.


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Jack Grealish has arguably been the player of the season in the Premier League, and Aston Villa have lacked all sense of creativity since he’s been out. One of the most impressive things for Grealish is that the Lions were nearly relegated in 2019-20, yet under his guidance and leadership, they’ve been nowhere near the drop in 2020-21. Grealish has been instrumental to the success of Smith’s Villa this season, scoring 6 goals with 10 assists in 22 Premier League matches. He’s also won far and away the most fouls (a whopping 4.5 per game), created the most chances per game (3.4) and sits fourth for dribbles per game (2.8). We can’t forget that Grealish is still only 25-years old and his career could only go up from here. For his individual performances alone, Jack Grealish certainly deserves to be in the conversation for Player of the Year, despite missing the last month due to injury.


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Given how bad Tottenham have been with Harry Kane and Heung-Min-Son playing so well, it’s scary to think about where they’d be without them. The British striker has scored 17 goals and assisted a further 13, leading the league in both categories. If he goes on to win the golden boot and remains top of the assist charts, he will become only the second player in the history of the Premier League to do so, after Andy Cole. That alone earns Harry Kane a certain spot in the Team of the Year, without even considering how vital he’s been to saving Tottenham’s season from utter embarrassment.

formation: 4-2-3-1

Substitutes: Ederson Moraes (GK), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB), Youri Tielemans (CM), Tomas Soucek (CM), Heung-Min-Son (RW), Mason Mount (AM), Marcus Rashford (LW).

So there it is! The PFA Team of the Year as chosen by TheMastermindSite.com. Who would make your team? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below, or on Twitter @mastermindsite. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

You might also enjoy…

-> Pep Guardiola – Manchester City – Tactical Analysis (2020-21 Edition)
-> Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – Manchester United – Tactical Analysis
-> Thomas Tuchel – Chelsea – Tactical Analysis


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