Picking a 2019/20 Premier League Team of the Season is a greater test of memory than usual.
Needing to delve back into football from almost 12 months ago is important to avoid recency bias, and hopefully that’s been achieved with this XI.
It’s a 4-3-3 here with a well-balanced midfield and an attack that features one left-winger shoehorned onto the right - that’ll be alright just this once.
PL Team Of The Season:
Top four betting was still alive ahead of the final round of fixtures. It has been a season all about Liverpool, and they’re well represented in our Team of the Season…
Dean Henderson has been the Premier League’s best goalkeeper this season, providing Gareth Southgate with another top option between the sticks. He should be Manchester United’s number one next season.
Sheffield United have had a great campaign, despite a poor run when football restarted, and Henderson has been a significant part of that effort.
It’s not just the eye test either – the advanced metrics love Henderson.
Liverpool topped the outright winner odds for most of the campaign. Their red-hot start, combined with Manchester City’s defensive struggles, ruled out any hope of a title race.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is the first Liverpool player in this XI. He’s a unique talent, a creative force from right-back comparable to what Dani Alves did for Barcelona.
The England international was an easy pick. There’s work to be done defensively, but he’s already the most influential full-back in world football.
Virgil van Dijk
Some decisions are easy. Putting Virgil van Dijk in the Team of the Season is one of those.
The Dutchman’s impact on Liverpool has been written about, and by now, it’s universally recognised that he’s the best central defender in the world.
That £75 million looks like an absolute bargain.
Wolves have established themselves as one of the top Premier League betting teams.
Their defence is a major part of that and Conor Coady is the heart of their backline. They are top of the league in non-penalty expected goals against this season, per understat.
Coady has represented England at youth levels and can’t be far away from a call up to the senior team. He’s become one of the most dependable centre-backs in the top flight.
Andy Robertson had this spot locked up before Christmas. Left-back is one of the league’s weaker positions and Robertson, like his full-back partner Alexander-Arnold, is the best by a distance.
Liverpool’s system is designed for their full-backs to play as their main creative forces.
Robertson’s 11 assists, the same tally he managed last season, demonstrate how often he has delivered as an attacking option for Jurgen Klopp.
There were a fair few contenders for the deepest midfield place.
Ruben Neves could have got the nod, some would go for Jordan Henderson. Wilfred Ndidi has been great for Leicester, though, and his importance to Brendan Rodgers’ side has been emphasised when he’s missed time through injury.
Ndidi will attract interest from around Europe. Leicester might face an uphill battle to keep hold of him. He’s become one of the best defensive midfielders around, and crucially allows Youri Tielemans and James Maddison to play with freedom.
Plenty of Chelsea players have got plaudits this season. Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham have all had good spells.
Mateo Kovacic has been Frank Lampard’s most consistent performer, however, and the former Real Madrid man looks a different player from the one who played ultra-safe football under Maurizio Sarri last season.
Kovacic is a key man for Chelsea. He can play at the base of midfield, he can carry the ball, and he can pick a pass through a defence.
Kevin De Bruyne
It hasn’t been a good season for those who picked Manchester City as a football betting favourite, but Kevin De Bruyne has been his majestic best. The Belgian is the best player in the league.
With 19 assists and 11 goals, De Bruyne has been involved in over a third of City’s goals this season.
The form of others around him as fluctuated, and City have been far from their imperious best, but De Bruyne has been phenomenal.
A turbulent season for Arsenal could have been much worse if not for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has 21 goals to his name in the league this term.
Aubameyang, recently turned 31, remains one of the most clinical finishers in the world.
His future is uncertain, and there’s understandable scepticism about giving him a high-paying contract deep into his thirties, but he’s about more than pure speed. He makes intelligent runs, he’s versatile, and he’s an underrated link-up player.
There aren’t many wide forwards in world football that can rival Sadio Mane. A nuisance for defenders and a reliable goal scorer, Mane is relentless in and out of possession.
Mo Salah could have taken this spot, but Mane got more important goals earlier in the season. The former Southampton man made the difference against Palace, Villa, Newcastle and Leicester as Liverpool raced into the distance.
Anthony Martial and Raheem Sterling join Salah on the honourable mentions list.
Not many online betting experts would have picked Danny Ings to compete for the Golden Boot. The former Liverpool striker is two goals behind Jamie Vardy ahead of the final round of fixtures.
It would be reductive to solely pin Southampton’s turn around on Ings’ goal scoring exploits, but his production has been phenomenal.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison (13 apiece) are the only other players on bottom half teams to score more than 11 goals this season. Ings has 21.
There has been promise of a season like this throughout his career. Injuries have held him back until now.
Whether a breakout or a purple patch, he’s been a lot of fun to watch this year – what Ings’ goals have meant to Southampton gets him the number nine jersey just ahead of Jamie Vardy.
*Credit for the main photo belongs to Manu Fernandez / AP Photo*
FIRST PUBLISHED: 27th July 2020